This turned out to be one of the best days yet, even if it started quite rocky with a very early get-up to get out on the road. This was not helped by the fact that I’d had a migraine even earlier in the morning. We were on the road for about four hours to get to Panama City Beach. My meds hadn’t quite worn off by that point so I kept nearly nodding off in the van, but knew if I did I’d feel worse afterwards. We also had an issue with people forgetting the tray of cutlery at the last place. Oops! I felt guilty and I wasn’t even involved!
After checking into our next hotel we headed straight out to our dolphin tour that Derek had booked for us during the ride. It was fantastic! There was another group on board besides us and we all ended up talking to them. One lady laughed when I freaked out over a butterfly, clearly thinking I thought it was something else. When I explained that I was just scared of butterflies she was really apologetic for laughing, to which I said it was fine since I knew it was odd. I really do have some of the weirdest fears. The lady was actually there with her sister-in-law. They totally reminded me and Kel of Mom and Auntie Ann – you could hear them laughing a mile off!
The captain Gordon and general deckhand/assistant Brandon were both funny and real nice too. There were a few snorkel spots, the first of which was over a shipwreck! Of course I had my usual sea panic and then hating myself for it, because how awesome would it be to see an actual shipwreck?! The water was really black though and I was mollified when the others told me that you couldn’t really see it anyway. At the second spot I was trying to make myself be brave, and it was actually Brandon who motivated me into it. He told me there were no fish around the boat and where they would be, and that I could just stay by the boat if I was nervous. So I grabbed a snorkel and some flippers and in I went. I didn’t stray far from the boat at all and I ended up hyperventilating every time I put my face under (I know, it’s ridiculous) but I was still in there! First time in at least ten years. And Brandon was right – not a fish in sight. This obviously pleased me.
I chatted to Brandon a bit more on board. He’d asked if I liked sting rays, which I said I did, and he offered to take me over to see one on the one side of the boat. Very sweet (and was appreciated even more since he was pretty hot) but a little too much for me to take on! Got to spend more quality time with the girls on the boat though and we all ended up a bit delirious from the fun by the end of it. The boys had both opted out on the trip.
Brandon and one guy from the other group brought some wildlife aboard from their diving for us to check out. A puffer fish (which I missed), a sea urchin that we all had a feel off, and some kind of hermit crab. It didn’t stay out of its shell for very long, but it was pretty hilarious – it had really googly eyes. I was then admiring some seashells that they’d brought on board too. It turned out it was Brandon who’d found them. I was really taken with the sand dollar and he said I could keep it! It looks and feels like a cuttlefish, with a starfish-shaped image imprinted into it. It’s so pretty!
From there we then moved further out to try and find some dolphins… And we did. It was incredible! They were only small, but there was still quite a lot of them swimming round the area in small groups. Some of them even did a few jumps for us! Normally we would have been able to get in and swim with them at this point, but there were hundreds of jellyfish in the area. And I mean hundreds – it was like that scene from Finding Nemo. Robyn had already been stung by a small one in the first snorkel spot, so we didn’t want to try it. Instead we got to have a go at blowing a giant seashell like a horn, then Jayda got to dock the boat!
Actually had a good amount of time to shower and get ready to go out this time. Got stuck with another burger for tea, because for some reason the places are always out of what I want. Food places are mean to me. I did have nicer sangria than the night before though. After that we went to a bar called Newbies. It was part regular music and part kareoke, and full of bikers. American measures are crazy too! They gave me a fair-sized glass with three quarters worth of vodka and then a splash of orange on the top. It only cost four bucks too! Derek left after one drink because he was driving, and Tanya’s throat was playing up so she went too.
The night was hilarious. Paula was totally on it again, so we had much amusement watching her. Some American kid sang Footloose on kareoke, which I was clearly happy about. All of us girls got to have a good dance too, including to the Cupid Shuffle (Americans get way more into it than we do!) Also got to talk to Adam more, which was nice since he’s generally the one we see the least of during the days. He even instigated the conversation too! He was also saying we should do another Walmart stop to get some bubbly for my birthday, which was super sweet!
We then got harrassed outside by a man called Kenny, who must have had a glasses fetish or something because he took a shine to both me and Paula. He kept making creepy noises and had no top teeth. He also pegged me as Adam’s wife for some reason and kept mentioning it, which was totally awkward. Then when our taxi turned up it was a limo! The driver even opened the door for us when we got back to the hotel and gave us all a hand out. Definitely don’t get that in England! All in all a great day AND night.