Xcaret, Part I: The Animals

Thursday, March 25, 1999

part of Jin and Eve's Cancun Adventure!
Xcaret is a beautiful, wonderful place, and it is so hard to describe! It is perhaps best explained by summarizing everything we've done there, which was nearly everything the "park" had to offer, except some of the fancier stuff like scuba diving.

We began by swimming down an underground river, from the entrance of Xcaret to somewhere in the middle of the grounds. The river was lit by shafts of natural light, shining down from above. The swim lasted about half an hour, which gives you an idea of the enormous scale of Xcaret.

We then visited some animal habitats. We went underground to a bat cave, walked inside a butterfly sanctuary, and saw large cats (a jaguar and a puma?) mostly just sleeping. Later in the day we also saw the aquarium, huge turtles, a crocodile, and, not part of any display, two big lizards, which made Eve very happy (she thinks lizards are cute).

But the highlight of the day was swimming with the dolphins. We hadn't the time or the money for both of us to partake in it (it was expensive & cash-only), so kind Jin insisted that Eve be the one to do it, since she had been excited about the prospect for so long.

After that, we went snorkeling. The beach was beautiful, and many people were just sitting there enjoying it, even though there was so much Xcaret to explore. The fish were nice, but didn't compare to the ones in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. However the snorkeling was interesting for a moment because the two following unrelated events occurred in this order:
(1) Jin told Eve to get out of the water.
(2) Jin started excitedly pointing down at something under the water, which Eve couldn't see.
This led Eve to imagine that Jin was telling her to get out because there was a shark below her. She screamed and flailed wildly. It turned out that Jin was just pointing at some pretty fish.

In the evening, we went to Xcaret's ball stadium where the type of ballgame described to us at Chichén Itzá was played (with some minor differences).

After the game, quite a performance was put on by Xcaret singers, dancers, and doers of crazy deeds.

Eve pets a dolphin.

The dolphins jump over the swimmers. It was a tiny bit unnerving.

The "official" picture Xcaret took of Eve with a dolphin. This is actually a photograph of that photograph, since we don't have a scanner here. Notice the scratch marks on the dolphin's head. All the dolphins have such marks all over their bodies. We were told that they bite each other when they play, when they fight, and when they're in love. It, of course, reminded us of Alex, who similarly likes to bite all his friends.

The guide had us put our heads under the water to listen to the dolphin's sonar, which the dolphin used when the guide threw a ring for him to fetch. Jin also recorded some dolphin sounds using our digital camera. You can hear their rapid clicking noises and their squeals above the chatter of the people.

This dolphin liked to have his tummy rubbed.

Feeding time.

How 'bout a little scratch under that fin?

The dolphins certainly stole the show today, but we hate to leave out all the other animals we saw. There was a large cat (a puma, in Jin's opinion) who briefly arose from his slumber, a fish with a funny rectangular head who was as interested in us as we were in him, a butterfly which we had to exercise extreme patience in order to photograph, a man putting caterpillars on plants to stock the butterfly sanctuary, a crab hiding behind a brain-like sea creature with its claw protruding, causing quite a frightening effect, baby chickens, just hatched, a fish that would be easy to step on, a crocodile and its smaller iguana cousin, bats (no flash, just long exposure), and a turtle being measured (so that they know how much soup they can make, Jin teases).

Continue to Xcaret, Part II

Feedback is welcome. Text, images, and sounds by Eve Andersson and Jin Choi.