Sunday, March 9, 2014

Today.......I got the bear

7:15  wake  up call,   coffee,    muffin   and   banana.   Then  downstairs  to  wait  for  our  pick  up.  Olive  joined  us.  While  we  waited  I  visited  with  the  huge  parrot   that   lives  in  a  cage   out  front.  A  pretty  miserable  existence.  I think he  gets  out  once  a  week  when  the  hotel does  it's  pirate  themed dinner.  He   came  over   to  the  bars  so  I  could pet his  feathers  and  scratch  his  head.   He  has  some  random  things  hanging   in  the  cage  and  brought  me  the  edge  of  what  looked  like  a  little  wind  chime so  we  could  play  tug  of  war.

Captain  Marvin's  van  came,  the  founder of  the  company  is  still  alive  at  97  and  sometimes  makes  appearances,  but  not  today.  Got  shuttled  to  a  dock and  aboard  a  medium  size  boat,  not  packed in.   The channel we  used  to get  to  open  water  had   homes  on  either  side,  nice  homes,  expensive  homes.   We   rode  out  to  the  area   where  the  stingrays  come  and  there  were  only  about  4  other  boats  there.  We  got  our  instructions  and  could  see  the  rays   all  around.   The  water  was  only  about  waist  deep  and very  comfortable.  The  guides  gave  us  squids to  hold  and  the  rays  glided  over  our  hands  and  sucked  them  up.  They  are  naturally  bottom  feeders   so  the  amount  of  suction from  their  mouths was amazing.   They  just  swam  around  us,  seeming  to  glide  with  those  beautiful  wings.   They   didn't   seem  to  mind  being  touched,  their  tops  can  be  a  little  rough  and  bumpy  but  the  underneath  is   like  velvet.  They  stayed  as  long  as  we  had  food.  The  guides   spotted Orion,  an  older female  who they  have  seen  for  years.  They  know  her by  the pattern  of  the  white  age spots  on  her  back.  We  saw  a  few  with small wounds,  the  guides  said  it  happens  sometimes  from  other  animals  or  the  coral.  Orion  let   Eric, our  captain,  hold  her  and  he  let  us  hold  her  and  give  her  kisses.  I  was  in  seventh  heaven.  Olive  told  us  that  when Ivan  passed  through  in 2004  they  were  worried  about  the  stingrays,  whether  they  had  become  too dependent  on  human feeding  and  if  they  would  get  swept  out  to  deep  sea.  After  the hurricane  passed,  within  a couple  days   they  started  coming  back,  seemingly  no  worse  for  wear.

Back  on  the  boat  to  a  spot  we  could snorkel.  I didn't  see many  fishes  there  but  the  water  was  clear  and  the  coral beautiful.  We  moved  next  to the  Coral Gardens,  and  there  I  saw  lots of different fish.  I  tried to  use  one  of  the guides  to  identify  them  but couldn't figure  it  out.   That was  our last stop,  it  was  great  including  the  boat  ride.

We  grabbed   lunch from  the  deli at  the  hotel,  ate  and  had  a  nap.  The  sun  really   takes the  stuffing  out  of  you.  It  was  nice to  have  Olive along,  she  and  her  husband  have been  coming  here  for  years  and  now  live  here  part  of  each  year   so she  knows   what  to  see  and  do.   She  is a  very  pleasant  person  and I  enjoy  her  company.

In  case  you haven't  figured it  out,  I'm  having  trouble getting  pictures  on  this  thing  again.  Will continue  to   work  on   it.

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