Xel-Há

Oh… it’s already July 31st… and I really want to post pictures from our whale shark trip!  But we did go to Xel-Há on the 29th so I really should talk about that first.

We first went to Xel-Há eight or nine years ago and had a wonderful time snorkeling around in their waters.  We’ve talked about going back several times since then, bet never quite made it.  This time we did finally get there.

Well, maybe we’ve been spoiled from all the wonderful places we’ve gone snorkeling (and diving!) but Xel-Há wasn’t quite as exciting as we remembered from so many years ago.  Although there were some cool aspects of the trip.

We got some wonderful close up views of rays swimming around us (I thing they were going to a spot where they offered a “stingray experience“).  We got a taste of the experience without the extra fee!

Click here for more pictures from our snorkeling.

After snorkeling for a bit, we took a break, had some lunch and a little siesta in the crowded rows of chairs set up in an area next to the water.  We would occasionally have people stepping over our legs to get to their own chairs further down the row but we still managed to have a nice rest.  Of course after we were done with our siesta we found a nice area filled with hammocks.  I suppose it’s just as well we never got a chance to use the hammocks… they looked so comfortable we may have just slept through the rest of the afternoon.

I was beginning to collect keys around my neck as our belongings were left in different lockers around the park.

And we didn’t want to waster the entire afternoon… we still wanted to go tubing down the river.  So we got ourselves up and started hiking up to the river head.  Apparently it was a bit of a distance, long enough that they had a little train to take you up there.  Or at least they had signs for a train.  So we followed the signs, walking along the path, looking for the train.  And we walked.  And we walked.  I began to wonder if this was just a trick – there was no train, but they knew they could keep you walking as long as there was the promise of a train.

Here’s where the tubes gather before their migration down the river

The train did exist though… well it was more of a bus.  It was completely open with bench seats that did not have backs so you had to sit down and hold yourself in place while we bounced up the road into the mangrove trees and eventually found the tube farm where we choose a double tube so we could ride down the river together.

 

This is not nearly as comfortable as it looks

Okay, so we’re in our tube and the guy handing out the tubes kindly took our picture and then gave us a push off.  Now what?  Shouldn’t there be some sort of current?

We’re looking down the mangrove tunnel floating in our tube but not really going anywhere.  So we start grabbing branches and pulling ourselves down the river, occasionally spinning around out of control.  It’s kinda hard to do anything from the awkward position that we’re laying in.  But with a little bit of pushing and splashing and pulling we slowly make our way down the river until we saw the daylight at the end of the mangroves.

As we emerged into the sunlight, I continued to improve my technique.  I watched a ten year old kid move his flippers to his hands to improve his paddling… I immediately copied him and we picked up speed.  It was at this point I met my new enemy.  Wind.

We watched the cliff jumpers as we drifted down the river (by drifted – I mean I paddled like mad)

It was bad enough that we were in the world’s only currentless river but now with the wind, unless I kept my paddling up, we were being pushed back up river.  Oh – and Sandy had finally figured out how to be comfortable, by using me as a pillow, so now I had to paddle hard enough to defeat the wind, but gentle enough not to disturb the little princess.  Eventually we decided to abandon the tube and snorkled the rest of the way down the river.

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