The year was 2011, the place was London, England. One rainy day I saw a movie about a dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap. By the end of the movie I was crying with joy, I fell in love with Winter and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and made a promise to myself to visit one day.
Seven years later that day arrived. Mum and Dad and I had breakfast in St Petersburg, where I had just bought an apartment. We’d been busy furnishing and seeing to all the details and finally had some time to relax. I am a wheelchair-user and somewhat dependent and I suppose I'm used to putting my desires to one side but there was only one thing I wanted to do next.
As my dad was headed back to London the next day (and my mom and I don’t drive), it felt like it was my last chance.
To be sure, the day before Christmas is probably not the best day to set out for a long-cherished excursion. When we arrived at 2 pm after an hour’s drive, the Aquarium had just closed!! I thought, Well, I've waited seven years, I could wait a bit more...
I saw Mom tearing up. Maybe so did the kind-hearted young staff member who heard our plight.
From feeling totally crushed, we suddenly heard that the staff would make an exception, putting off their Christmas Eve plans to give us a private tour! Was this really happening?
First stop was Winter, of course, and there was Hope right behind her. Like real stars, they both love attention and came almost nose to nose with me, posing for pictures like real pros. Afterwards we visited Rufus, the mischievous pelican who we heard was amorous as well as the resident trouble-maker.
We saw many photos of past residents and heard their dramatic tales from lovely Marielle -- though only a recent employee, she shared her impressive knowledge with dazzling enthusiasm.
We left with posters and pictures and the guarantee that we’ll be talking about it for ages.
Thank you Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a wonderfully memorable visit!