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Friday, 8 February 2008

Whale of a time

Oh me oh my!!! Mina and I ventured out on a guided tour to do some whale watching yesterday. The boat was one of those inflatable tubes… I was just hoping no sharks thought it to be a meal on rubber! We learned so much about whales, particularly the humped back, particularly how the mother keeps her 1 tonne baby over her pectoral fin (her wing) so she can lift him up for air. Not to mention, there is always a third whale that glides below the mama and baby called, the escort. This is essentially their protector. Sure enough, we came across a mama and her little baby… well, I’m not sure that the term “little” can be used for something that weighs more than a tonne! Up we see the little spout and back followed by the bigger mama. Oh it was just incredible! Eventually, after we followed them for a while, the little one decided to get rambunctious and started jumping out of the water for a splashing good time. Oh he was soooo cute! I could just picture the mama sighing as her little one jumps about… I bet you she was trying to get him to go down for a nap!

The lessons learned on the trip were much appreciated for today…

Duane hired someone to transport Mina, Anika, himself and me by motor boat across the Banderas Bay to the other side where Mina and I would be swimming with dolphins. On that boat ride, I saw a shark jump out of the water only feet away as we whizzed by… much to Mina’s distress… poor girl… it was only two years ago that she couldn’t go swimming in a pool without getting her cousins to make sure there were no sharks in it.

Moments later, the boat came to a stop not even fifty feet away from a huge whale tale flapping against the water… OH MY GOODNESS!!! I grabbed the video camera and captured the incredible display! I’ll try to convert the video and upload it because I find it truly phenomenal… a highlight of the trip for me. He smacked the water over and over as Anika watched with fascination. We all were! Eventually, his back came up and he made an incredible noise from his spout. Oh you guys… it was unbelievable!

We followed this with our dolphin swim, Mina’s favourite animal. This, too, was an unforgettable experience as we swam with our own dolphin per group of five people. She was so rubbery to the touch and super duper fast! She would disappear and then suddenly pop up right beside you! Good thing we were in water… Mina certainly seemed to be in her glory and I hope this is something she'll cherish for the rest of her days. I know I will!

When we jumped out, we all got a chance to get a “kiss” from a huge sea lion! Man o man, this huge head came whipping around and placed its whiskers and fishy mouth on my cheek while some guy snapped a picture… this thing could swallow my head whole! But she was sure cute! Stinky, but cute!

Jeepers, I think that was the best day EVER!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Advil Liquigels Bus

Ah yes, riding the buses of Mexico… I call it a ride because the only other place you’d experience anything like this is at an amusement park. I’ve never been bounced around so ferociously in my life! Poor Anika, I held on to her so tightly… although she LOVED the bus and almost always falls asleep on it. Mina has accepted it as the way to travel around here.

To my dismay, I watched as the bus driver barely stopped to pick up a young mother who was nursing her baby. She hopped on, paid the bus driver as he continued to pick up speed and round corners, and she found a seat without batting an eye. Her baby didn’t even stir!!! I can barely carry that much grace IN my chair holding on for dear life!

I think those buses should carry sponsored logos by any headache or nausea remedy!

Yesterday, we got to visit with Duane’s uncle Jack and his wife Nancy and her parents, Doug & Florence. It was a delightful visit. We ventured into Mismaloya where we dined in a restaurant that literally had free-ranging chickens running around and a pitiful looking dog wandering about our feet. Hmmm, who mentioned the sanitary issues here?? It was challenging trying to let Anika walk around yet steering her away from chicken poop and stray dog germs. But the openness is something I absolutely fell in love with here. There are no doors or glass windows, just wide open space into shops, stores, vendors, restaurants… just wide open.

Trying to picture Winnipeg attempting that kind of openness during summer months… no one would leave their homes due to mosquito human massacres!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Leaping Lizards!

My fever lasted three days but with every passing day, the beauty of Mexico took over all uneasiness and began to fill me with awe. Sunday we walked through Mismaloya to the local zoo. We laughed at the many different animals and the freak out sessions when we’d feed them zoo treats. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw an ostrich… I had no clue those things were so massive!!!

By far the best part was playing with the tiger and leopard cubs! Mina and I went into the pen and held tuckered out little cubs. They were surprisingly heavy for their size and their huge paws reminded me of what these “cuties” would eventually become.

Later that evening, we rode the bus to town (a story in and of itself) and walked the Melecon (boardwalk). Sundays are when all the locals come out and it is one big fiesta along the ocean… performers, musicians, vendors, lots of food, etc… The waves were crashing along the shore and the mood was certainly captivating. Quite a cultural experience.

Monday, as I was walking out of our internet café at the hotel, I noticed a lizard scurrying by. Of course, I giggled because they look so funny. I followed it to the edge of the pool (which by this point was quite nice and warm much to Mina’s delight). Thinking I had cornered the little stinker, I inched closer to him. To my dismay, he got up on his hind legs and RAN ACROSS THE WATER!!! Even the lizards are religious!!! LOL! I nearly bust a gut laughing my head off! You should have seen him. He looked like he was leaning back and his feet were running like the road runner. Man o man, if only I’d caught that on video.

So far, Mexico is certainly starting to grow on me… just like these strange bug bites.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Feverishly Hot

The drive to Minneapolis on the 30th went off without a glitch. I think I even did ok as a back seat driver (although perhaps Duane would attest to that differently). We arrived around 5:30 pm and welcomed the opportunity to stretch our legs, particularly poor Anika who managed phenomenally well in a van for nearly eight hours! Mélina didn’t even ask “are we there yet” once! It really was a good drive out.

The next morning, however, would not prove to be quite so non-glitchy. I woke up feeling positively wretched… feverish, dizzy, nauseous… Dear Lord, help this pass QUICKLY! We were shuttled to the airport and were airborne later that morning. Mina and I were cramped with Anika on my lap and Duane sitting a few rows ahead. There were no videos to watch and Anika hadn’t napped yet in the morning. Finally, thirty minutes from landing, she falls asleep. Mina and Duane switch spots and I am left looking up at Duane with dizzy eyes and an increasing fever. I thought we were supposed to get sick IN Mexico not on our way there!.

To top it off, our layover in Denver left us with only thirty minutes to board the next plane. We got off at gate 70 or some ridiculously high number and we had to boogie to gate 26 lugging three fifty pound carry-on bags… yeah, good luck! By the grace of God, there was a motorized vehicle at our arrival gate and they shuttled us the several miles to our next gate where I shoved some lunch down Anika’s throat and boarded yet again.

At this point, I’m trying not to faint.

Finally all three of us get to sit together on this next plane and we each have tv screens right in front of our faces. Anika tolerated the flight quite well considering her cold.

At painfully long last, we arrive in Mexico. At this point, I am convinced they will take one look at me and send me back home. Luckily, we pass through customs without a glitch. We make our way to collect our five hugorama pieces of luggage where we come across a nice Mexican man offering to help us with his trolley. Duane is relieved and proceeds in loading it up. The Mexican makes conversation and walks us to his buddy who is a cab driver… oh, well isn’t this nice? Duane proceeds to pay the guy five American dollars at which point he stares blankly at the bill in his hand. I ask him (again, trying not to faint or slur my words) “do you need pesos instead?” only to have his “buddy” say “give him more!” Oh really? For walking with us for five minutes? So Duane gives him ten… still not enough… we give the guy 15 flippin’ bucks for doing diddly squat!!!

Welcome to Mexico!

Now I am convinced that the cab driver is going to take us to the middle of nowhere and demand that we give him all our money or he’ll leave us stranded. I think I’m going to throw up…

After many silent prayers, and sixty dollars later, we arrive to Casa Iguana. At long last, our vacation can finally begin!!! Oh, apparently we are NOT getting a suite on the main floor… great. Up we go with stroller and luggage to the second floor. We open the door and…. Yikes, this is not at all what we were expecting! It’s quaint and cute but quite small. Upon closer inspection, it is infested with tiny ants crawling everywhere, our fridge was barely working and our two element stove top only had one element working… great. I can barely walk straight and I tell Duane and Mina I’ve got to go lie down. I nearly got a concussion from lying on our bed which was as hard as plywood! Mina, who had been waiting anxiously all these weeks to go swimming (because she is secretly a fish) wasted no time. As I began to pass out, she was already in her swimsuit ready to “test the waters”. When I awoke later that evening, Duane let me know that Mélina had cried herself to sleep.

WHAT?? Now what?

Casa Iguana had just refinished the pool and filled it with water that day so it was freezing cold.

Okay… what have I done??? I am ready to go home NOW! My fever was well over 103… I was scared to fall asleep and find out ants had been crawling in my mouth and ears… I thought my hips were going to break off from the firmness of our bed… I didn’t know where to put any of our groceries down without ants laying claim to it… and now my poor Mina couldn’t do the one thing she wanted to do the most. What have I done?
So folks, we started off the trip feeling positively miserable and desperate for a miracle that would change our hearts. And as always, the Lord delivered…