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What am I doing It's all fun and games till Annette faints and Carlyn gets her pants slashed... who am I kidding, it's still fun

Finally... Swimming with the Dolphins

BOLIVIA | Monday, 8 October 2007 | Views [820]

So the plan was to get up at 5ish to go sit in the boat and look for morning animals... oh, believe me I was thrilled about this idea… get up early? Yea! Sit in a hard dug out wooden canoe for a few more hours? Fantastic!  Not having anything to eat until I’ve been awake for 3+ hours? Super!

Ok, so needless to say I wasn’t all that excited about the morning wildlife viewing.  So, when our guide Juan slept in there was no complaining on my part.  But… we had to get in the boat anyway. 

I personally spent the entire time counting down till 8 o’clock when we were supposedly going to eat breakfast (it really ended up being more like 8:30)    I think we saw monkeys or something… I wasn’t really paying much attention, I was far to hungry. 

I am learning that extra time on these tours is filled with nature walks.  Long tedious jaunts into the grass in the search of animal (which we usually don’t find) So, in the time between breakfast and lunch, we went on one of these walks. 

Highlights:   Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, parrots (which are apparently much more rare than anything else… go figure, something you can see at a pet store) a toucan (I didn’t actually see this) capybara (looks like a 120lb hamster) baby capybara, some more caiman and of course a wide variety of birds.   As far as nature walks go, it wasn’t half bad.  Quite a bit of nature.  But it all led up to the reason I had signed up for the pampas tour in the first place… the swim with the dolphins.

So, a little background information for any of you that don’t know my swim with the dolphin story.  I was 12 (or 10, I don’t really remember… the important part was that I was just too young) and my family was on vacation in florida, visiting my Grandmother.  We went to one of those little marine zoo things.  You know, like sea worlds second cousin without the Anheiser-Busch backing.  But the important part was that you could swim with the dolphins.  You could put a life vest on and actually get in the pool and do all the stuff you see in the shows.  You could pet them, they would push you by your feet … every little girls dream.  

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was just too young.  So, instead of getting to live the dream, I got to watch all my relatives have the time of their lives, an create unforgettable memories of the time they got to swim with the dolphins.  I on the other hand have spectacular memories of how excited all my relatives looked when they got to swim with the dolphins. 

To appease me, my parents promised me that we would come back as soon as I was old enough (has this happened? No.  Do I foresee follow-through on this promise in the near future? Not so much)  And, if you cant tell, I’m a bit bitter.  I’ve been holding a grudge for  15 or so years now.   (and if your reading this mom…dad… guess what would be the best christmas gift ever?)

So, I figured these pink river dolphins would be my chance.  I could finally swim with the dolphins.  If you happen to be thinking of those piranhas I ate for dinner last night and wondering why I would get in the water them, well, I’m not ridiculously brave, nor am I stupid (although this statement often times can come under question)  The theory  here is that since the pink river dolphins main food source is piranha, they stay clear of the large mammal.  I was willing to believe this story for the chance to swim with the dolphins.  And they’re just piranhas right?  How much harm could they do?  Hahaha.  Oh, and if you saw the water you would think twice about getting in also.  It is a lovely coffee brown with about 2 in visibility, so you cant actually see whether or not the piranhas have been scared away. 

But I got my bikini on and got in anyway.  My first reaction was to get my feet off the river bottom (not the nicest feeling) Then, swim as fast as possible towards the dolphins (now, you cant really see the dolphins, due to lack of water clarity, but occasionally they do have to come up to breath,  so you swim in that general direction thinking that is where there would be no piranha)

I guess I was hoping for something more like my memory of my relatives interaction with the dolphins…  life vests, clean water, happy squeaky grey things coming up and pushing me.  Frankly, “swimming with the dolphins” was more like swimming in a dirty puddle, occasionally being bitten by a fish, and wondering whether or not there were even any dolphins in the water.  Imagine watching the dolphins from the boat, only my perspective was lower, I was wet, and I wondering if getting this water in my ears would give me some weird disease. Oh, and not to mention the entire time I was in the water I was concentrating on not peeing because of that great little fish everyone had warned me about… seems all my friends watch “House.”  So, when Naudia from Belgium mentioned something about leaches that was the kicker, back to the boat ASAP.

So the moral of this story: my parents still owe me a swim with the dolphins… the murky, piranha infested, leach containing, water level viewing of the pink river dolphin does not count. 

Crane... one of many

Crane... one of many

Tags: The Great Outdoors

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