☀️ #33 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Xel-Ha, Cozumel, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

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Yay…It’s Sarah’s Birthday!!! I wonder if it’ll be memorable?! 🤣  

Good morning WordPress family! Are you up for some ‘River Tubing’ today? We‘ve never tried this before and after our kayaking yesterday we thought it would be a relaxing way to gently float downstream ensconced in the lush landscapes and soothing sun ☀️  Well here goes…

Our initial thoughts were this excursion really wasn’t for us as it sounds like a big park where you have to find all of the events yourselves (that’s not our strong point as we both have sight problems). We are much better with a tour guide who we can follow than to be left alone and get lost…But we really wanted to try ‘River Tubing’ so let’s do this! 😀 

It was an 8 hour excursion and when it took 2 hours to get to Xel-Ha (a seriously bumpy boat and a mostly smooth coach) we thought “If it’s 2 hours here and 2 hours back, surely not even we can get too far lost in 4 hours?! Lol famous last words” 🤣  

Welcome to Xel-Ha… 

An exciting adventure awaits you at the sacred Mayan paradise, Xel-Ha. In this natural lagoon, which was sacred to the Mayans, you can experience some fabulous snorkeling in a natural tropical aquarium, viewing an amazing variety of multi-colored fish and tropical marine life in beautiful clear waters. Upon arrival, your guide will escort you through the park for an orientation, then you are on your own to enjoy time to swim, walk the jungle paths, stroll the beach, relax in a lounge chair,or snorkel at this beautiful lagoon.

Xel-Ha offers a collection of coves, caves, inlets and lagoons. Both the Caribbean Sea and the network of underground rivers and springs feed this area, filling the lagoon with both salt water and fresh water. This sometimes gives an almost 3-D viewing of the alluring coral formation and the myriad of tropical colored fish.

an amazing panorama of the whole lagoon at the mexican

Leaving the coach and making our way to the lockers and changing rooms Sarah managed to take this stupendous panorama. It’s a beautiful place 

Sarah said “There is no way i’m swimming in there!! I don’t mind the crystal clear sea but no way will you get me in there” “That’s ok my love you don’t have to swim when your river tubing anyway, so we can just relax and enjoy. We just need to remember where the changing rooms are when the guide leads us so we have a reference point”. 

Shortly after, the guide stopped and said to meet him in 4 hours back at the main entrance so we can get the coach back. I said “Oh, the entrance is miles away as we’ve been walking for a while and i have no idea where it is, lol But here are the changing rooms so i’ll wait right here for you”. I like to be the pack donkey on all of our tours and i carry the towels, sun cream and other stuff and if Sarah goes swimming, i carry her insulin pump etc. This works really well for me as i don’t really like swimming…I don’t think i’ve been swimming at all since going blind 16 years ago! 

Yay, Sarah’s here so let’s try and figure out where things are…😕

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

 Oooo another panorama from Sarah! Well at least we’d found the river again, so if we follow it up hill we should find where the river tubing starts?! This sounded like a good plan until the multi direction trails didn’t follow the river. After walking for quite a while in the scorching sun, we somehow managed to find the bag check-in for the river tubing, yay thanks Sarah! 😀 

Sarah had to now unplug her insulin pump and put it in my backpack, and after a quick blood test (ouch, her blood sugar was good) i hesitantly handed in my backpack. As we havn’t got a GoPro or anything (really wish we had one after all of these trips) we had to hand in our iPhones too, so i knew we wouldn’t get many photos of the day, sorry! 😢 

Right, let’s go ‘River Tubing’…

We entered another locker room and most of the people in front of us were putting on flippers and snorkelling gear, i said “Oh, i’m not dressed for any of this, i didn’t think you had to put all of the gear on. I thought it was just the river tubing up here?” “Don’t panic we are only here for the river tubing but you can also (if you want) do snorkelling etc” “Excellent, thanks”. Sarah is fantastic at sorting things out . “I’ll sit in the rear hole and you sit in the front hole as i will weigh the back down and it will look like a speedboat”. 🤣  

After we laughed loads as we had many attempts of climbing aboard, we were ready! 

The Mangroves…

“Wow those branches are low” i said while ducking even more although i was practically lying down. It was my first experience of mangroves and as we had no outboard engine we were using the branches and the sides to propel ourselves forward. As it looked exactly like the old Tarzan films i’d watched as a kid, i was picturing (in my mind) a crocodile (or 10) sliding in from the side and tactically stalking us ready for the barrel roll! Nevermind the flesh eating lizards sat on the branches waiting for dinner to float by, lol.

As my mind was racing but our river tube wasn’t going anywhere fast, i focused on all of the laughter going on around us. There were lots of us slowly getting to grips with how to manage this new speedboat. Sarah said “Wow there is a tiny baby strapped to the front of that woman in one of the other boats so it can’t be that hard, lol!”. After about 10 minutes we cleared the mangroves and the beautiful landscape unfolded before our eyes! 😀

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

There wasn’t much current and the river didn’t slope much, so our progress was slow…But wow, the feeling of floating downstream through this film set landscape with my arms around my lovely wife Sarah was beautiful ❤️ 

After a while the river tubers were thinning out and there were only a few of us left, this made it even more blissful and quiet.

Then…

Time was passing by easily, and we quickly realised there wasn’t anyone around and the river had got quite wide (with our eyesight anyway) and we were alone! The river tube wasn’t moving, even our hand paddling had little effect. I suddenly felt a burst of speed as Sarah had sat up and put her legs in the water and was kicking her feet (like the flintstones). Suddenly she whipped her feet back up and said “i think a fish (or octopus) has just tried to grab my leg?!” “Oh no that’s not good” i said as the ‘Master of obvious”. Then she said “No wait there, my trainer laces had come undone whilst under the water and started stroking my leg, lol!” “Ok” i said “We need a action plan” 

 Our predicament…

We were floating alone, the river banks were getting wider and wider and we knew it joined up with the Caribbean sea at some point. We couldn’t hear anyone and we were thinking we’d maybe already passed the exit of the river tubing and we were floating out into the sea. The midday sun was scorching and we knew it was time to act.

We’d passed a huge board (see below) whilst walking up to get the river tubes that displayed all of the fish/sharks that live in the water, and as it’s fresh water going to sea water the fish grow much bigger. I’m glad i couldn’t see what was on the board!

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Knowing all of this, and knowing i havn’t swam since going blind…I knew now was the time to “Man Up” and lay down my life for my wife and save her! 💪🏼  

The plan…

I said to Sarah “I’m going to jump in the river and grab hold of the back of the river tube and then stretch out and kick my legs like a snorkeler and pretend to be an outboard motor, and you can sit up front and be the navigator and try and get us back (or anywhere we can get off)”. “Right sounds like a plan…Let’s do this”.

I jumped in and instantly regretted it. I thought i could still swim in my head but my body didn’t have the same idea. After coughing up loads of water and nearly drowning through lack of swimming ability…I slowly adapted and grabbed hold of the river tube. 

At least we were now gaining speed  and heading in what we thought was the right direction. After what seemed like 10 weeks (it was more like 10 minutes) Sarah said (I still can’t see anywhere to get off the bank and it all still looks the same…But there are a few rocks sticking out of the water where we can hopefully stop and rest whilst regrouping and updating our plan. 

The rocks…

Yay, we made it to the rocks…Oh wait a minute, wow these rocks are super slippy (i was like Scooby Doo slipping on a banana skin) ! Sarah was already on top of one of the rocks and looking to see where we could go next and if there was a way out of this crocodile and Piranha infested water. Just as i’d steadied myself and caught my breath (i was exhausted) Sarah slipped backwards…😨 

All i heard was a loud thud and a “Aagghhh” noise from Sarah “Sarah, are you alright?” I knew we were surrounded by so many pointy rocks and if she’d slipped and hit her head on one of those rocks…It was curtains. We had no phones or anything out here and no way of calling out as we can’t hear anyone or see anyone. So when i heard “It’s ok i just slipped” from my warrior wife…I felt so relieved. I said “What was the loud thud sound? Are you ok?” “Yeah i missed the more pointed rocks and just hit my back on the other rock. I’m ok though”. I let out a huge sigh (just like our Boxer dog Bruce used to make).

Just then i spotted a slight movement out of the corner of my blurry eyes “What’s that Sarah?” i said while pointing downwards near her feet. “Wow, it’s a snorkeler” “That means we can’t be too far away now…Or it means there are some massive fish, sharks, octopus or crocodiles around here”. Just after saying this the snorkeler had gone and it was time for us to carry on and hopefully find base camp. 

Sarah was sat firmly on the front of the river tube and i was hanging on for dear life while trying to get a nice solid and consistent thrust from the back. Sarah was expertly navigating from the front and when she said “right a little” i twisted and kicked until the river tube turned to the right,, we are getting the hang of this, lol. 

My thoughts quickly returned to “Any minute now i could get savaged by any of the mutated creatures in here, and they would start on Sarah next! But then Sarah said “I think i can see a way out of here?! It looks like there are long steps on the right bank and we could climb out onto land. “Wow, let’s go” I said whilst trying not to drown as i was getting really tired now. 😰

“Yes, just a little further. It looks like we can pull up here alongside these steps”. We finally hit the steps and Sarah climbed out. The steps were really long but only went a couple of steps into the water, so when i grabbed hold of the first step my legs flew underneath and tried to drag me under. Thankfully i had jus enough energy to hang on and throw my leg over and onto the steps (i’m sure Sarah didn’t have this struggle, lol). Pulling the river tube up onto land, we sat back on the steps and thought for a moment about what just happened?! We also knew that Sarah hadn’t done a blood test for quite a while and hasn’t got her insulin pump attached, so her blood sugar could be anything.

As we sat on the steps totally thankful we’d made it out of the water, i looked down directly into the water right next to the steps…”What are they?” I was pointing at what looked to me like a fleet of black stealth submarines taking cover next to the steps. I know my eyes are really poor but if i can make something out…It must be massive, lol! Sarah said “They are fish (i think) and they are massive! “I was just right there a minute ago” i said not quite believing how close they were…But we’ve made it out of the infested waters. Now we might have the same challenge (but on land) as we try and figure out where we are??

The next stage…

We were just pulling the river tube further inland, when…”Is that music i can hear?” i said as i was trying to clear my ears of water “Yes it is” Sarah said “It’s coming from over there”. Sarah took my arm and we started walking towards the sound. Almost instantly the trail opened out and we were standing at the bag check-in desk! “No way” we both said at the same time, i said  “It’s not possible that we’re here, we’d gone miles into nowhere! Is the Bermuda Triangle near here?” 😁

After i got my backpack and Sarah had her insulin pump connected, she quickly did a test and her blood sugar was perfect! 😀 We found the changing rooms and when we were all changed we headed for the inclusive lunch.

As we only had to follow our noses (it wasn’t far at all) Sarah found a table in the sun and we sat down. “Woah” i said “How did that quickly turn into a ‘Blind Sightseers’ dramatic adventure?” “I know, but how amazing how we ended up right back here! Anyway, let’s get you a burger…You’ve earned it” 🍔  

After a lovely burger and an ice cold bottle of water, we started walking around to see if we could find anything else. Don’t worry, we stayed on the larger trails and we kept other people in earshot.  

Sarah stood in front of the a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

Sarah’s Sunglasses…

As Sarah also has sight problems…She has a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a particular polarised lens (normal lenses don’t help her eyesight) but like the photo above shows…They are gone!! 😢 We have no idea when (or where) they had gone missing, we only know they are gone. I handed Sarah my own but they only had normal lenses and were not any good for navigation etc…But they did help stop the glare from the hot sun. ☀️ 

Sarah stood in front of the amazing landscape of the river going into the sea with rolling hills all a round

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You’ll never guess what we found next??? Yay, a zip line…

Sarah said “Wow a zip line, i’ve never had a go on one of these. It looks amazing and i can’t believe we’ve found it”. What…Can i really say no?! 🤣 

Sarah sat on a zip line seat going left to right with a big smile on her face

Wow, the action never stops, lol! Sarah must have had spinach for lunch as she seems to have more energy than Popeye and the Duracell bunny combined…I just wanted to sleep, lol! But how can you stop when that smile burns hotter than the sun! 😀 ☀️  

And finally…Yay , she’s not a machine! 

Sarah lying in a hammock which is tied to some trees

It’s time to start heading back…

After one more ice cold drink we asked the server which way the main entrance was, she pointed in the general direction and we thanked her. We started walking and talking about the day we’d had and how amazing the place was even though it’s not quite over yet. “We’ll defo remember this place” i said (we talk about this day all of the time). Arriving at the main entrance area Sarah said “There is a photo kiosk over there, let’s ask and see if they have any photos of us?” I said a little confused “I didn’t know they were taking photos but it would be great if they have any of us river tubing etc”.  

The photos…

Sarah was not happy after speaking to the man as he had just dismissed her saying “If you didn’t scan your armband before each event then we can’t find you on the system” Sarah had told him that we were both registered blind and we weren’t told about scanning for photos and we certainly can’t see it. Sarah continued “We will buy any of the photos you have of us as we really want to remember the day”. The man was having none of it and walked away. Sarah started walking back to me when she saw another man stand behind the kiosk. She returned and said the same to him…He was really helpful and understood our problem, he continued to search the whole day, looking through thousands of images to see if he could find any shots of us…

Then he saw Sarah on the zip line. “Yes we’ll have it” Sarah said, she waited a while longer for him to search some more. The coach was arriving any minute too and we were running out of time fast. He frantically started searching but he couldn’t find anymore photos. “Ok” Sarah said “Can i buy it here?” He said no and that she had to go over the courtyard to have it put in a sleeve and then she can buy it. Sarah came and grabbed me as she knew i’d be worried as it’s been taking longer than expected. “Where are your sunglasses (my sunglasses)” i said “Oh man, don’t say i’ve put them down somewhere and i’ve lost them too?” 

After buying the photo (see the fantastic zip line shot of Sarah above) Sarah was adamant (she wasn’t losing 2 pairs of sunglasses today) and blitz between all of the counters she’d been at…Nothing. Then she asked the man and he started searching all around…Nothing. Then just as everyone had given up, the man had found them in lost property where one of the staff had put them. Phew! 😀  

We also managed to get back to the coach in the nick of time and now we can relax for a couple of hours as we return to the ship.

In the coffee port…

As it was Sarah’s birthday she ordered an amazing chocolate, waffle, ice cream coffee dream cake…Sarah had a tiny taste with a tea spoon (as she’s diabetic) so it was left for me to step up to the plate, man up (again) and try to enjoy this delicious coffee cake thingy! It’s tough sometimes being the husband of a T1D (Type 1 Diabetic) I’ll give it my best shot! 🤣  

plate fo fresh fruit on a table top in front of a view outside across the ocean

 We had a lovely evening meal and as always Sarah had the lovely cheese board to finish. I think that’s what the photo below is showing?!  

Fance cheese and biscuits for Sarahs birthday

Finally we finished off this amazing, challenging, exhausting, conquering and blessed day with (yes you’ve guessed it) Sarah’s special sugar free Mojito and i had a BBC. 

Me on the left with arms around sarah and both smiling at the camera with braided hair and a cocktal in hand

 Thank you so much for celebrating Sarah’s birthday with us, it’s a day we’ll never forget (and haven’t). 😀 

The ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…💪🏼  

 ⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day  ➡

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About Steve Rebus

✞Follower of Christ, Husband, Guitarist, Drummer, Photographer....Oh and i'm also Blind too! 😀

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