Thursday, May 24, 2012

Swimming with Sharks

Thursday the 17th.

This afternoon I am slightly sunburned. Not too bad, and luckily only on my shoulders and upper back (and five days later, my back is itchy itchy itchy).

We went to Typhoon Lagoon. The best part was swimming with the sharks. We got to use face masks and snorkels so we could swim about forty feet over a saltwater tank filled with manta rays, bonnet-head sharks, and leopard sharks.  And pretty blue fish.

I was surprised how many folks quickly swam over the surface. I sculled my hands and kept my arms next to my body, which was warmer. The water was seventy degrees Fahrenheit; they warned us a lot that the water would be cold, but actually, the cleansing showers when we got in were worse.

I think the oddest experience was another Parents Behaving Badly moment when a mother and a father forced their screaming nine year old daughter to get into the water with them. Even with my ears under the water, I could hear shrieking protestations and loud arguing and a life guard calling to them, "Ma'am, do you need any help?" I'm not sure what it is about the water parks, and maybe it's the time of year that we've visited, but it's the place I seem to notice the most Brits Behaving Badly.

Anyway, the blue fish seemed to like me a lot and came right up too me. It was slightly alarming when one of the sharks became curious and angled up from the bottom to about the mid-level of the tank. I liked the manta rays, and seeing the sunlight ripple along the aquarium bottom and on the fish was beautiful.

This was my first time snorkeling, so I did the classic "look too far to the left and get a load of salt water in the snorkel" move. Of course I did this after I had just exhaled, so I had to stop floating, tread water, and fiddle with my snorkel to get a breath and clear it. Something about floating face down in the water looking a pretty fish is relaxing, and I noticed my breath slowing to a hypnotic exhale-inhale rhythm; it reminded me of how I breathe when I dream I can breath underwater. Then a blue fish came right up to me and startled me.

After the forth time through (there wasn't much of a wait), I found myself shivering a little, so I trouped over to the monster tidal wave pool. For about a half hour, I was in a pool with about a three hundred other folks. There would be a kind of hydraulic popping sound at the far end of the pool, then a giant wave of water would swell up from nowhere, and everyone (who had been waiting for this moment) would scream and try to catch a massive, six to four foot wave. Repeat randomly every two minutes or so.

The combination of the sun, saltwater and other chemicals has tightened my skin. We'll see if that's a good thing or not. Swimming instead of walking everywhere was kinder to my feet, and I felt much more limber by the end of our pool park visit than I did when I woke up. We'll see if the muscles I used swimming complain tomorrow (editor's note:  they didn't).
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