Nobody’s Fat in the Water

Not only is Discovery Cove a relaxing day doing things you don’t get the chance to do very often, it’s also as fine a nightmare inducer for children as you can find.

First, squeeze your kid into a swim vest or wetsuit.  Then slap a diving mask on them so they’re not only being constricted around their torso, but now they can barely see and can’t breathe through their nose.  Now toss them into cold water surrounded by fish and stingrays.  Some of the kids I saw yesterday will be lucky if they ever take a bath again from the amount of screaming I heard.

Discovery Cove s an all-inclusive Sea World park where they limit the number of guests it allows in each day.  Basically, it’s a cruise on dry land — all the food and drink is paid for, and you only have lines for bathrooms and beer.  Thanks to Hannah’s discount, we got both of us in the for the price of one.  This is probably the greatest perk of working in the theme park business; I don’t think I’ve paid to get into a theme park since the Reagan administration.

So right off the bat, you’re given a diving mask, a snorkel, and your choice of a swim vest or a wetsuit.  Hannah went with the wetsuit to keep as much sun off of her as possible, but since I wasn’t in the mood for a sausage-making simulation that day, I went with the vest.  Better the world see the ungodly amount of hair on my arms than mistake me for the Michelin Man on vacation.

But once I was in the water, well, I’m starting to seriously think we should all go back to the sea.  It’s amazing the amount of energy you have when water is helping buoy up the extra weight you’re carrying around.  It took a little adjusting to get the hang of the snorkeling thing — which consisted mostly of realizing that yes, you are underwater and no, you are not going to drown — but once that was behind me, we bobbed and swam around the river that circles the whole place and had a great time.

As for the fish pools, well, it’s so cold it knocks the breath out of you, so adding “You’re going to freeze to death” to “You’re underwater and going to drown” was a bit overwhelming at first.  I finally got the hang of it, but could only manage a few seconds at a time, it was that cold.  Hannah’s wetsuit came in really handy for her here; she was a damn Jacques Cousteau out there.  Me, I was content standing with the stingrays watching them glide by.  Oddly peaceful to watch.

And when you’re sick of the water, there’s an aviary with probably the hungriest birds I’ve ever seen in my life.  I guess they know where the gravy train is, because we were in there not ten seconds before one landed on Hannah’s head.  And fortunately, that’s all that landed on us; unlike my visit to the aviary at Animal Kingdom, I did not get used as an outdoor toilet.

But the highlight of the day was our swim with the dolphins.  Part of me thinks this is every bit as entertaining for the dolphins as it is for us; they probably look at us sloshing through the water making our flat, dull sounds and wonder how we ever manage up on that flat, dry place we come from.  And I think I didn’t come across very well with the one dolphin we swam with.  One of my hands slipped off him as he was pulling me back to shore, and so I was flailing around behind him like a bag of laundry, desperately trying to keep my legs away from his tail and to keep him from thinking he should just leave me there and see how evolution has treated me.  Inter-species embarrassment aside, it was really neat being that close to them.  They really seemed to enjoy the attention, although I have a nagging thought they’d much more enjoy being out in the ocean.

And as if to underline the idea that dry land has it in for me, on the way to the dolphin swim I stubbed my middle toe on a chair, and so spent most of the first part of the swim with my foot throbbing in the cold water.  So, better buoyancy, less chance of tripping on things. Yeah, the sea is looking better and better.

Okay, all sarcasm aside, it was a really great day.  Hannah and I haven’t had a lot of time together due to her work and school schedules, so it was nice to have a day where there was no class or job to get to later.  And it was worth it to see how genuinely excited she was about everything.  Even with a bird on her head.


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