My husband and I decided we wanted to take a cruise for our first-year anniversary. We booked our first cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line out of Miami, Florida. For our excursion in Grand Cayman, we decided to experience Stingray City. Guests are boated out to a shallow spot in the middle of the ocean and stingrays come in to be fed by visitors. As we boated out to the location, the tour guide gave us the safety protocol and what to expect once we arrived. One of the instructions given to the group was if we wanted to feed the stingrays, make sure the “fishy food” does not touch any part of your body except your hands. Once we dropped anchor, guests were required to jump off the back of the boat. I am not a scaredy cat when it comes to water activities, but my only requirement is that I am able to see my feet. Of course, the water in Grand Cayman is like jumping into bathwater, crystal clear and the perfect temperature. I was the last guest to launch off the backend of the boat. My husband was already in the water and was waiting on me. I jumped and I landed, not on the bottom of the ocean, but on the biggest stingray in the ocean. It was so slimy and huge! It was like a reflex and I found myself climbing my husband like a spider monkey. The next spot I perched was on my husband’s shoulder, but it was a precarious position for the both of us. I had one leg over the top of his head with my heel tucked warmly in his nostril, the other one was wrapped around his waist, and my arms had a death grip on his neck. My husband started twirling around in attempt to try to get the barnacle off, but no such luck. At this point, it was survival of the fittest. He finally succeeded in peeling me off and proceeded to toss me into the pit of despair! I was surrounded by the angry mob of swimming giants. My husband was totally in his element. He was feeding the rays of death every chance he could get. Every now and then he would glance up from the feeding frenzy and squint to make eye contact with me since I was a mile away. Yes, I was a mile away from the action. I was so far away that I only received one or two passersby probably from some of the lost rays. I was so excited when the guide called us back to the boat. I was the first one back on board. My husband was the last one to board the boat. He was having so much fun and did not want it to end. When he sat down beside me, I turned to talk with him, and I burst out laughing. My husband was covered in hickeys! Between laughs, I asked him if he forgot the rule the guide had given us about not letting the food touch any part of your body except your hands. He said he just got excited and some must have dripped down his neck, arms, and stomach. He had to walk around Grand Cayman covered in “love bites!” Fast forward twenty years, we were back on a Caribbean cruise headed to Grand Cayman. This time, my dad and son were on the excursion with us. I debated going back, but I felt like I needed to face my fears. We anchored and the guests jumped off the backend of the boat. Of course, I was last again. This time I made sure there were no stingrays anywhere near me and I crawled into the water. I was being so brave this time around. I stayed near the action too, but I still did not feed those gentle giants. I was doing great until the guide requested we pose for a family picture!!! Being a parent makes you do terrifying things, with a big smile on your face, to show your son how courageous you can be.
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