Lookit! A for real blog post! I did it!!
This was mine and David's second time to Grand Cayman. The first time was on my senior year trip with my family. The grandmothers and Mom went to Hell and to the turtle farm while Dad, Noah, Peter, David and I went snorkeling. Back then (wow, that was eons ago...), shore excursions were a lot more adventure-y and a little less tourist-y. Not saying the excursions now are lame, they're really a lot of fun, but times have changed. And people are stupid, so they had to make the excursions more "safe." Back then, they took us out on a catamaran literally to the middle of nowhere. I guess they knew where they were. But we anchored right above a reef. They gave us a few rules before we jumped in...
1. Don't touch the coral because a.) this is a protected reef and 2.) you're too dumb to tell which is the fire coral and if you touch fire coral, your skin will feel like it's on fire. So, NO TOUCHY!
2. You may or may not see some reef sharks. Leave them alone.
3. If you touch the coral or see a shark, let somebody know.
4. Have fun!!
I'm telling you...excursions aren't what they used to be.
So, this year, since we already went snorkeling (and since "snorkeling" now consists of you swimming in a 5 x 5 enclosed area about 20 yards from shore), David and I decided to do something we had never done before, but always wanted to. Swim with dolphins!
I've swam with wild dolphins off Shell Island in Florida before. That was INCREDIBLE. We saw them swimming in a little cove and we got the boat a little closer and asked Dad if we could jump in. Since Dad always let us do more crazy stuff than Mom would, he said "Sure!" So, Sara and I jump in with goggles. I love the ocean, but I'm a little scared of it. It's very big. And seeing a huge gray mass swimming towards you is a little intimidating. But, I mean, Flipper's nice, right? RIGHT? Yeah, these dolphins were cool. They swam around us for a little while, just checking us out. And then one appeared right in front of me, opened his mouth and sang to me! I'm so not kidding. It was one of those moments in life I'll always remember. Cheesy, I know, but it happened. Out of that whole experience, the only thing Sara remembers is that she forgot to take her Gigapet out of her pocket and the water killed it. Her Giga-Monkey was 18 years old...he died that day. Sara, what did we learn from this? Gigapet ≠ swimming with wild dolphins.
Anyways. Aside from petting a dolphin at SeaWorld or something, David and I had never really petted or hugged or kissed one...and we wanted to. The excursion came along with a stingray swim (blegh) and a visit to the turtle farm.
The turtle farm was really cool. I always hate seeing animals that should be in the wild enclosed in pens and stuff, but I realize they're doing important work and helping rebuild the sea turtle population. And they do release them in the wild. It was neat to see them raised from little hatchlings to these GIANT, ever so lovable creatures. THEY. WERE. SO. ADORABLE. Ha, that makes me think of that episode of Friends when they're in Barbados and Joey says, "We have to go snorkeling right now! A kid told me about this turtle that, if you blow bubbles in his face, he chases you! But, I don't want to go by myself because I'm not really sure what happens if he catches you..."
These were the younger turtles...about 3 months old.
They would flap around and slap your hands, give you high fives. They were rad little turts.
Look how sweet!
AGHGHGHGHHHHH SO CUTE!
These were the adolescent turtles. That's food, not poo, floating with them.
These were the adults. I didn't do well at giving you a perspective of how big they really were. But remember how on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow said he tied two sea turtles together and floated home? Totally feasible with these guys. They were massive.
Then, we went to the incubator house where these little guys and gals had hatched recently. LOOK AT THEM!!!
After the farm, we headed to the dolphin place to swim with Alma the Dolphin. It was amazing. I highly recommend a dolphin swim. We bought the video of us swimming with her and doing tricks and what not, but it's fairly long so I'll just tell you about it. She would push us on our feet and we'd fly through the water. We'd grab onto her fins and she'd swim around. She danced with us. She hugged and kissed us. It was unreal. They're huge animals...a teensy bit creepy to be in the middle of this huge lagoon and see the trainer send her off to come get you and watch her disappear beneath the surface. And you wait...and you wait...and you have no idea where she is. I almost panicked once because she was supposed to be pushing my feet any second now and I was like, "Where is she? Where is she?! Pull it together, Ruth!!"
Alma was such a good dolphin. She swam up and laid in our arms while we petted her and she would sing to us and do that little dolphin chirp. And then the trainer got her to do some tricks. It's amazing how high they can jump. Incredible creatures.
We weren't allowed to use our own cameras because "they might get wet". Riiiiiiiiiiight. But, no worries, they had their own photographer there. Of course. And the only pictures we had of the whole experience were mounted in 24 karat gold frames inlaid with diamonds and sapphires and the feathers of an angel's wings–you would think from how much they cost. BUT, we still ended up getting them because they were the only pictures we had and it was worth it. And I wasn't about to put my precious/over-priced pictures in a scanner, so I took a picture of a picture (really, I just didn't want to move all the stuff on top of the scanner). Here are two of David and I getting a kiss from sweet Alma. We have some of us kissing her, but those are slightly inappropriate for some of our younger viewers.
After our swim with Alma, we got back into the water and visited some stingrays. Ruth's not the hugest fan of stingrays. I'll explain in detail another time, along with pictures, but I was viciously attacked by a pack of wild stingrays a little over two years ago while helmet diving...I barely made it out with my hands or my face...yes, they were eating through the 3" thick steel helmet. But, this was better because we were separated from them by a little net and just got to pet them. They're very slimey...like the top of a portabello mushroom. They also had some starfish and Queen Conchs in there. Conchs are weird, y'all. They're just...wrong. Anyways. The funnest part of that ordeal was dude in front of me totally eating it as he stepped into the pool. Thankfully, he just fell into the water, as opposed to the concrete side of the pool, but still. And then his wife hit him for apparently "embarrassing" her?? I dunno.
The picture we got out of it was world's better than a previous encounter.
I think I've grown. And I'm a very adventurous person. The ocean just scares me a little, despite how much I absolutely love it. Well, it's not the OCEAN, I guess...just the things in it.
Our ship, on the left, another Carnival ship leaving and the RC. Grand Cayman doesn't have a big enough pier or port to hold larger vessels, so we tendered.
It's really neat how varied the Caribbean islands are. Some are very flat, like the Caymans, and others are pretty mountainous, like Cuba and Jamaica. And I think that Key West is, like, 2 feet above sea level.
And right as we were about to head back inside from the balcony...what, what is that? Whooooaaaa ho ho hooooo...IT'S A FULL ON DOUBLE RAINBOW ACROSS THE SKY! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?? (sob sob sob) OH MY GOSH! IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL! IT'S A DOUBLE RAINBOW!! (sob sob sob) It's so vibrant and clear!!! (sob sob sob)