Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Up bright and early today for Alex's special treat, swimming with dolphins. There are only 5 of us in the group and we're met at the dock by Diego who takes us in a taxi to Chankanaab, a nearby nature reserve. Imediately we arrive Alex is handed a parrot and iguana for a photo, then Diego shows us around. It's a smart complex with woodland walks, a pool and a beach as well as the dolphin pools, which are open to the sea. A big group arrives and we are split into groups of 10 and allocated lifejackets. There's brief instruction using a stuffed dolphin to demonstrate how we should interact with the dolphin and then we are led to the pools.

Our dolphin is called Regina and she has a baby called Eddie. First she swims by so we can stroke her then, one by one, we all get a kiss from her and touch her oustretched pectoral fins. Then we each have to swim out and get into position for a belly swim. Regina swims alongside then stops and turns over so we can grasp her pectoral fins then takes off at speed across the pool - fantastic! Finally, we all have a turn at being pushed along on a body board. It's quite disconcerting when Regina comes up behind you and pushes you hard on the sole of your foot, but great fun. What an amazing experience!

Then a bonus, as we are taken to another pool containing manatees and nurse sharks. The manatee swims slowly past so we can stroke her, and her trainer feeds her lettuces. We didn't expect this, it's a real surprise.

We buy a couple of the professional photos on CD, then spend some time in a little sandy cove watching the fish. They range from tiny to perhaps half a metre long, but the only ones we recognise are pipefish. Then we stroll down the beach and find some hammocks to lounge in. Finally Alex an I swim in the pool. All too soon it's time to leave. We go back to the ship for lunch, then Alex and I go back to the shops on the quay to buy him a wrestling mask. He goes back to the ship while I shop some more. Then we meet on the pool deck for sail away.

After we get changed for dinner Alex reads in the cabin and Simon and I go up to the lawn bar to watch the sun set. It's quite surreal standing barefoot on grass while we watch the sun slip into the sea. Dinner tonight included a fantastic seafood risotto. All in all, a day of highlights.

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