We had tickets to visit Xcaret (pronounced sha-caret) on Tuesday but Ken was still too sick to go. Being the frugal sort, I asked for the meal and drink tickets that accompanied his non-refundable admission. They meant extra snacks to share and a second meal for me. The bus picked us up at our resort at 8:20 and we were at the front gates by 9:00. With twelve hours of amusing Reid ahead of me, I decided that we should sign up for the short “swim with the dolphins” session and snorkeling trip. Ken says that, based on all of the brochures from dolphin swim companies, swimming with dolphins was inevitable but I never consciously decided it until there at the front gate.
We got our bathing suits on and walked straight to the dolphin enclosure for our class. We were early enough in the day that there were only 8 participants (including us) than the usual 10. “Our” dolphins were named Ilaan and Xiika and were 5 years old. Reid wasn’t as impressed as me by this latter fact since she is 5 *and a half*! Apparently 5 and 5.5 are not close enough to be interesting. We got the standard dolphin kiss – I did mine wrong; Reid looked like she practiced for ages – at the beginning and then kissed them and held out our arm for a nose bump. Then, the trainer sent us out to line up and be jumped over and we also formed a circle while holding hands and a dolphin swam around quickly to create a whirlpool effect. Each pair of us also got to “talk” to the dolphins with our hands to get them to do a trick. The session finished with the dolphins swimming among us while be pet them on their bellies or backs. Dolphins feel like nothing else I’ve ever touched. They’re springy or spongy, a bit like a wetsuit but not the same texture at all. They’re not scaly like fish or smooth like my skin. I’d highly recommend the 30 minute dolphin swim, if you ever get the chance. (I don’t know exactly what else is included in the 60 minute session, other than a “foot push” but I can’t imagine that it’s worth the extra money – refer to me being frugal above.) Once we were out of the water, we were shown a video and pictures from the session. Digital video and still cameras must seem a godsend for such people. I was feeling sad that Ken hadn’t been there and also I’m an easy mark for such things, especially since there was a special price if I bought the video AND the pictures (not sure that qualifies as frugal).
Afterward, we went to get our snorkeling equipment and then had a quick buffet lunch before our boat set sail. Technically, the captain turned on the engine but there is no romance in that. It took about 20 minutes to get to the dive spot and we had 45 minutes scheduled to dive. Reid was the only small kid on the boat and this led to us having our own guide, Jorge, who was completely and totally amazing at teaching her how to snorkel and what to look at. He fed some fish so that they’d swim around them and even let Reid give some food out, too. Reid was delighted to “pet” the brilliantly-coloured fish. We saw beautiful coral and Jorge also found a sea star and some sort of sea urchin for Reid to hold. I mostly trailed along behind them and figured out what was going on as best I could. Until I finally had to announce that I was feeling seasick and needed to go back to the boat. We arrived only a minute or two before the rest of the group but I still felt sorry for cutting Reid’s adventure short. I’ve been snorkeling at sea twice and been sick both times. I should probably stop trying it. But I love what I see when I snorkel. Well, right up until I see the vomit, anyway. The boat ride back to Xcaret was uneventful (thank goodness) and we took a break in some hammocks near the water’s edge until my stomach settled. Reid was solicitous and tried to take good care of me in my moment of need.
Once I recovered, we walked to see the Mayan village. There were traditional crafts for sale and artisans working on them. I bought a dress for Reid and another for Reid. Hers is cream-coloured with bright embroidery. I was probably crazy to buy Reid a cream-coloured dress but it’s so traditional and so pretty. I just won’t let Reid eat or play while she wears the dress, I guess. We tried on some sombreros and Reid tried to persuade me to buy a chair-hammock to hang on our porch. We also spent a significant amount of time in a cemetery. The graves were arranged in a spiral going up a hill and were decorated with cement and/or wooden sculptures and were brightly-coloured. “Bright” was the word of the week. On our way back through the village, we saw a dance story being performed. I didn’t understand any of the words and there was no explanation but it had something to with fire. Reid was concerned for the dancers, who were handling fire, but they didn’t seem to be hurt.
We ate supper at a buffet restaurant featured traditional Mexican foods. Ordinarily this would have appealed to me but my stomach wasn’t up to it. For her part, Reid was too tired to want to try new foods. On our first pass, she chose Mexican rice, cucumbers, grapes and bread. Knowing I would be paying $14.95 for Reid’s dinner made me a bit crazy but it wasn’t worth a fight. When I went up for my dinner, though, I found shrimp and Reid ate at least $15-worth. The restaurant was next to the horse show and we had a table right beside the performance area. It was a great way to wind down before heading to the evening spectacle. The guide that had accompanied our bus from the resort had recommended the restaurant and the timing, as well as the times for the dolphin swim and snorkeling and he was a brilliant planner.
The evening show, lasted from 6:00 to 8:00 and represented Mexican history from the Aztec and Mayan periods, through contact with Spaniards and to present. The first half included a ball game in which the players moved the ball around with their hips and managed to get it up sloped sides and into a ring suspended from the side wall, just about at waist-height and perpendicular to the floor. Reid and I were amazed that they scored. Next, there was a game that was played with what looked to be hockey sticks and a burning ball slightly smaller than a volleyball. This was also impressive, with the speed that the ball moved about in the dark and the added element of danger of burning. The second half had many different dances and songs. I most liked the fellow with the cello who danced with his instrument as easily as the fellows playing the guitars and fiddles did. Reid and I were both enchanted by a dance where men with canes and old man masks danced and jumped around at high speed. It was even more fun at the end when they took off their masks to reveal themselves to be men with grey and/or balding hair. I asked if Reid could imagine her grandpas or grandmas dancing like those men and she giggled. By the end, Reid was stretched out with her head on my lap. “If I don’t blink or talk, it means I’m asleep,” she told me when I asked if she was planning on going to sleep. As her questions slowed, I made her walk to the top of the stairs and stand and then we left in the middle of the last song. I didn’t want to have to carry Reid to the bus and it was nice to miss the crowds in the bathroom. We got back to the resort shortly after 9:00. I’m not sure exactly what it cost us to go to Xcaret but I do know it seemed a good deal for 13 hours of entertainment. Unfortunately, I hadn’t communicated the length of the excursion clearly to Ken and he was a bit worried by the time he met us walking on the path to our room. Poor man, feeling sick and wondering where his womenfolk were.
We had a fairly quiet day on Wednesday. Ken was feeling better and joined Reid and me for breakfast. And for an interrogation, it turned out. He brought a plate with a couple of kinds of buns on it to the table. Reid looked at the plate carefully and demanded (not asked – demanded), “Where’s your protein? What fruit or vegetable are you having?” I explained that his stomach was still grumbly and he couldn’t eat much yet. Reid takes seriously the need to eat three of the four food groups at breakfast. I’ve taught her to make it easier for her to request what she wants – I hate meal planning and don’t see any harm in sharing the burden. Except when she grills her dad on his food choices. Couldn’t resist the pun, sorry ;+)
The beach was unblocked and so we were able to play at the edge of the surf, though the water was too rough for swimming, and build our castles with sand that had been wetted by nature instead of my cup (my trick from Monday). Reid likes to be buried in holes in the sand. She has since she was little. The idea creeps me out but it’s always a good diversion for her. We built a sea monster from sand and decorated it. Ken had to nudge me a bit to let Reid “help” me. Her artistic vision and mine don’t always match and I sometimes forget that I’m required to act like a mom. ;+) We showered off and went swimming in the pool after our creation was finished. Reid prefers swimming in the pool; I like the waves – like swimming as a kid in Lake Erie but much, much warmer!