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Dolphins: A Mystical Experience

This is a story that I wrote twelve years ago.  It will be the first of several dolphin stories that I will share.


In May 97 I traveled from Naples, Italy, where we live, to Rimini on the North East coast of Italy. We stopped there on our way to Venice and because we wanted to visit the tiny Republic of San Marino. After checking into the hotel, we went to have dinner in a local restaurant then decided to go for a walk along the seafront. It was as we were walking that we noticed the bright lights and signs for a dolphin show, and so began my love affair with dolphins.

I need to mention here that I had seen dolphins before. We had lived in Norfolk, VA for two years and on many visits to the beach we had seen whole families of dolphins jumping and frolicking about 200 yards from shore. At the time I remember thinking, "Wow that’s neat", then getting on with the business of sunbathing.

That evening in Rimini, we bought our tickets and headed into the seating area around the dolphin tank. My husband and daughter made a dash for some front row seats around the other side of the pool, but I walked over to the edge of the tank and looked in. There were five dolphins in all, swimming around and gliding and rolling over each other. We learned later on that the biggest dolphin was the father, a 30-year old creature, and that he was accompanied by his mate and their two off-spring, a male and a female, and one other female – sister to the other adult female.

I stood there for a few moments mesmerized by their sleek bodies and their fluid, effortless movements. Suddenly, the father broke away from the group and swam straight towards me. He came to a halt in front of me, raised himself up somewhat in the water and gazed directly into my eyes. Even now, as I recall that mystical moment, I feel a strange warmth flood through my body along with a rush of emotions that sit right there in my chest and the back of my throat.

His eyes were large and liquid and full of a compassion that I had never experienced before. I felt rooted to the spot yet wanted to run; I felt like crying and laughing at the same time; I wanted to scream and shout but also wanted to sit in perfect silent harmony with this awesome creature. I have no idea how long we remained in that amazing communion of the soul, he bobbing gently in the water and I clutching fiercely onto the rail around the pool.

"Mummy, Mummy, come and sit down." I heard my daughter’s shout from far away as though in a dream world. "Come on Mummy." I dragged my eyes away from my new soul friend and acknowledged my daughter then turned back to look at the dolphin. But the moment was gone. He leaned his head over slightly to one side then nodded to me, almost in salute, before he rolled over and returned to the group and continued to swim around, leaving me with a sense of loss and a huge emptiness inside.

I watched the show and was truly amazed at the agility, the intelligence and the beauty of these unique creatures. It was also very obvious that there was a special love and relationship between the trainers and their mammal friends.  There was a connection that I would describe as a meeting of the minds and of the souls. I felt both humbled and in awe.

As we walked back to our hotel my husband commented that he could see that something very special had happened to me, that the experience had left a deep impression on me. I couldn’t speak. I was aware of the tears welling up in my eyes. He just held me tight in understanding. When I could finally voice my feelings, two phrases came to mind reflecting what the experience had meant to me. The first was that it had felt as though I had been looking into the soul of the universe.  The second was that it had felt as though I had had the wisdom of all ages right there before me. No wonder I had felt so bereft when it was over!

I will never forget my Rimini dolphins and I hope to get back there again one day.

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