Tuesday, May 26, 2015

From Manatees to Seal Lions! Cozumel continued - 2/13/15

We couldn't make up our minds when we picked Chankanaab as to if we wanted to do the Manatee Encounter or the Sea Lion Encounter.  I mean, really, who could pick?  So we were able to get a discount combo package and that sealed the deal!  After we finished up with the Manatees, we met our group for the Seal Lions and went over to where this encounter would take place.

This is done right in the theater where they do the show. This encounter was very different from the manatees. I assume because the sea lions are trained for shows they have to be handled very specifically and very cautiously. Not that they are more delicate exactly, but that the trainers don't want the encounter to interfere with the trained behaviors that they have learned. Everything was very precise. From where we could stand, to how we held our hands, to where we could touch the sea lion.

There were 6 in our group, my family of 4 and another family of 2. We were split into two groups, with 3 of us in the water, and 3 on the stage. 

The water group, ready!

So, first the sea lion would pass by them, and they could pet him as he went by. They had to keep their hands up and when he went by he would slow down and they could pet him gently.

Then the sea lion would swim up onto the stage and one of us would be in position for a kiss!

Then back in the water for another pass by pet

And back on stage for some more kisses!

Ooh - right on the lips!

Then we had some careful instructions on how to stand, kneel and then pet the sea lion

Back in the water, and they did a "hold" the sea lion pose

And they even did some in black and white!

And then we switched. This part was a bit challenging for Megan and me. Being short, we had a hard time standing because the water was just a bit too deep for us! We had to hold on to the edge of the pool so we didn't float away! Which made it hard to hold on and pet the sea lion! 

And then Keith got his kisses too

Alex holding the little guy

and me

And Keith petting the sea lion!

Megan wanted no part in trying to hold the guy. She figured she'd float all over the pool and end up hurting the sea lion or herself! The last thing she wanted was to be yelled at by the trainer! 

And that's sort of how it felt at that encounter.....while it was pretty cool, and a unique experience, it was nothing like the manatees. This was so precise. For example, when we knelt down to pet the sea lion when it was out of the water, you had to wait until it was already lying in front of you to go from standing to kneeling down. I didn't remember this, and I knelt down before he got in front of me. Which actually made me more comfortable - I have a bad leg/hip and if I'm going to go from standing to kneeling I'm usually pretty stable, but if I wobble, I'd rather not wobble ONTO a sea lion!! But since I did it in the wrong order, the trainer had to "reset" and have me stand up and have the routine start again, with the sea lion back in the water and me stand back up. 

We all enjoyed it, but I was really glad we also did the manatees, and if I had to only choose one, the manatees would definitely be my first choice, just because it was much more interactive and we learned more about the animals. The sea lions, while very unique and something most people never will experience, was a bit too methodical to be as enjoyable as I would have liked it to be. The sea lion was an amazing and beautiful animal, but the encounter felt a bit more like it was built around posing for pictures rather than enjoying the time with the animal.  Again, we enjoyed it, but it had a different feel to it.

So, after we were done there, we did go back to the photo area and looked at all of the pictures. There are probably over 500 between the manatee and sea lions. One of the customer service people asked me if I was going to purchase the photos and I told him that someone earlier told me they would work with me on the price, and that I couldn't pay the full price for two encounters for 4 people. He said no problem - pick your pictures and let me know what you want to pay. Bottom line here - the price they quote is very negotiable, so going in, if you want the pictures they take, make sure you ask what the actual price is, especially if you are doing more than one encounter. They turned out really well, and I would hate to have not asked and not have these memories.

And our day isn't even half over! We had lunch at the little restaurant by the lockers. I know there are are a few different areas there to eat, but this one was convenient to where our stuff was, and we could eat and then put stuff in the lockers and then go over to the beach and snorkel, or whatever!

Next up, our afternoon at Chankanaab!

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