"The love affair with dophins was mutual

by James Woodin

The trip aboard our ship included stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Los Cabos. These cities surprised me as they are more like small little communities, filled with friendly people that seemed to care about your enjoyment of their area. Each offered at least one major state of the art hotel and some spectacular views. I personally couldn’t, in fact didn’t, stop eating the meals prepared for us and nothing came close to what is served to us in the states as true Mexican faire. The blend of spices, fresh meats, fruits and veggies and their presentations were like nothing I was expecting. To put it correctly….the food was perfect, full of the flavors of Mexico and had the eye appeal like I’ve experienced in very few restaurants. The countless Margaritas and Tequila shots weren’t bad either.

I saw the cliff divers. They really scared me as they barreled into the water missing the rocky terrain by inches before sliding into the shallow water below. Amazing to say the least.

My visit was made perfect and the story behind it began over fifty years ago. In December 1938, Broadway impresario and showman Earl Carroll opened a theatre on Sunset Blvd., just east of Vine Street in Hollywood. In 1953 it became Frank Sennes’ Moulin Rouge. Mr. Sennes presented some of the greatest performers from all over the world at this location. Toward the end of the fifties, Mr. Sennes produced an outdoor spectacular at Marineland Of The Pacific in Rancho Palos Verdes. I was involved in that show and I became a fan of one of the most intelligent mammals on this earth---dolphins.

At this time in my life, I was involved in a local television show and proposed to everyone I could that my TV character should visit the park and I could get into the water and visit with the dolphins. The idea was turned down as the powers that be felt it was too dangerous and possibly to costly.

We now jump ahead to the present and while traveling along the Mexican Riviera I’m asked if I would like to get into a dolphins pool for an hour. This generated an excitement and visions that kicked my energy levels way to high and all I could talk about for the next two days was how I was filled with anticipation for this hour. I called every relative and friend I could think of and expressed how much I was looking forward to this event.

Upon arrival I was met by the staff and they told me they could see the excitement I was filled with. They fitted me with the equipment required and I marched, I actually ran, to the pool entrance. The sun was overhead and it hitting my untanned body set off a glare that nearly caused total blindness for those around me. “Mr. Jim” the trainer called out, stand still, hold your arms out and place your hands on the surface of the water, palms down. The trainer blew an inaudible whistle, I spotted her, this sea creature coming close, then stopping, my hands now against her smooth skin. She swam away then turned, coming towards me. It’s the eyes, she has piercing eyes, you’d think they can see into you. She stops and I stare, it’s not my imagination running wild, the eyes have a quality that explodes with love and gentleness.

You feel comfortable, it’s best explained by saying it’s like holding a baby in your arms, looking into the child’s face and feeling the love that engulfs you. She again swims away, but now you feel bonded like you do with a new puppy except there appears to be a sense of understanding, a sense of caring and I’m overwhelmed with the feeling she really cares. We swim a little together and then in water, slightly deeper, she moves ahead of me and the trainer instructs me to grasp a fin. I can almost hear her tell me to hold tight as her head turns slightly to check me out and the eye has a twinkle in it. We’re off, she’s taking me around the pool faster then I could ever begin to swim it. We go a second time and I think I’m yelling louder then ever. “Let go Mr. Jim!” I do and the dolphin disappears from my view. I’m then instructed to float on my stomach, cross my legs, feet together, hands joined in front of me. I did and felt nothing, then suddenly I am bolted threw the water with an incredibly strong yet gentle force. My screams of excitement have now become deafening. Around and around we go, my body is actually being lifted out of the water by my speed, propelled by the nose of the dolphin pressing against my feet. This is an adrenalin rush like no other.

This is an experience that everyone, especially youngsters, should have. Your appreciation for these amazing animals, who I truly believe communicate to you without saying a word, is worth the price. We did some other fun things together and then it was time to leave the pool, she swam over, then her body running parallel to mine, her fins came forward and we hugged. She gave out a couple of squeaks, we’ve all heard them before and then she sank slowly into the water and swam away.

When this day ended I received a color photo of myself and the dolphin and a DVD of my encounter. It’s a lifetime treasure!

Visit Mexico, take a ship, a bus, a train or fly in and experience, not the country, not the people, not the food, not any of the negative things your mind and negative reporting has described, but a community filled with caring people, a great history, real freshly prepared Mexican faire with flavors and textures that delight ones palate. You’ll find world class accommodations filled with amenities and walking trips over streets and walkways steeped in Mexican lore. Everywhere I found nothing but people that seemed to care, to welcome with open arms, to help, suggesting side trips, a walk threw a church, the town center, a historical theatre, the seat of government and so much more. Do yourself a favor; treat yourself and your family to a real glimpse of our neighbors to the south. If you have time, go inland and you’ll find so much more to see and experience. Check out a Jai Alai game, a bull fight or visit the pyramids of Mexico, just don’t ask, after walking very narrow steps to the very top of a pyramid, without hand rails, how the elderly lady reached the top of the pyramids with a fifty pound block of ice and cases of water and soda, that couldn’t appear at a better time. You’ll look down from this amazing structure and decide another water or soda is going to be required for the trek down. I remember reading about the Inca’s and their pyramids but for some reason never associated Mexico with either. Pyramids in Mexico are so very close and are a part of history, a man made marvel that still baffles ones mind.

There is one thing I hope you don’t encounter, perhaps it’s my imagination, then again, I don’t think so…as I left the dolphin pool, I looked back and saw two dolphins whipping their tails, which allowed them to appear standing almost entirely out of the water, they seemed to be smiling and I believe I heard them exclaim as I walked out of sight…”That guy was as huge as Shamu!”.

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Last Update:6/10/10

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