Visiting Cabo San Lucas’ El Arco With Autistic Kids

 Cabo San Lucas is one of the best destinations when cruising the Mexican Rivera., made famous back in the 1980’s by the popular  Love Boat TV series.
For first time families traveling with kids that aren’t strong swimmers and can’t snorkel, a glass bottom boat tour to the iconic El Arco’s (Land’s End ) where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean are a good choice.

Since weather can be stormy or windy at different times of the year, it might be best to book a tour the very day the ship docks in port instead of ahead of time..

Land’s End

Travelers will see multiple vendors offering the glass boat tours upon arrival at the pier. Since the cruise price isn’t fixed and can be ‘negotiated’ you can get a better and cheaper deal if you are part of a larger group.
For families seeking an interactive experience check out the Buccaneer Queen pirate ship offering day and sunset trips that include a buffet style meal and unlimited drinks.

During the short cruise, you can enjoy spectacular rock formations some home to colonies of sea lions and pelicans that feed on the local fish without even getting off the boat. If you chose to get off the boat, you could check out the area’s famous beach called Lovers’ Beach with its calmer waves that are best suited for families and younger kids.Those seeking adventure can try ‘Divorce Beach’, yes, that’s what the locals nicknamed it; with rougher waters and better snorkeling opportunities. Needless to mention that families with younger kids can just opt to play in the sand or watch the marine wildlife.

Autism travel  tips

As the boat sails into the open sea, the water waves often  get rough, so if you or your kid are prone to sea sickness, you may want to take some Dramamine pills or patches before boarding.Many of the boats are open to the elements so have your kids sit on the inside part away from the water to avoid them from falling into the water or getting wet.If your kid is temperature sensitive look to book a boat that is partially covered and provides some sun shade. It would be useful to bring a  one dollar packable poncho along to cover him /her from the water splashing on them when the boat speeds up if they are sitting in an open vessel.
There aren’t many places to buy any food items particularly for those with dietary restrictions so bring along snacks, bottled water, and sunscreen in a day bag from the cruise ship.
Closed toe shoes such as Crocs or water shoes are highly recommended for getting on and off the boat where there are slippery floors to negotiate.
In case, your family members are planning to swim or snorkel consider purchasing life jackets and bringing them along since the beaches authorities do not employ lifeguards.
Remember to warn your kids against climbing the steep rocks since they can get seriously injured.


Have you visited Cabo San Lucas with your family; if so what are your tips?

 

Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands

Guest post by Jeffrey Francus

             Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands masks

       

 So what’s the scoop?

The frigid water was a sharp contrast to the balmy weather of the Caymans, I thought, stepping into the seas. Soon after plunging, a white, bulky helmet was thrust upon me, necessary apparel to breathe on the ocean floor. At that point, I had already become used to the cold water and wondered how much the white breathing helmet would weigh—the guide had told us that it was impossibly heavy on land—when I reached the sandy beach below.

Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands man

“When you go down the ladder and into the water, it’ll start feeling lighter,” one of the guides assured me; I smiled nervously. Even if I had something, the helmet prevented any sound (like my voice) from being heard. As I descended the ladder, I saw the cloudless blue sky being replaced by the crystalline waters of the Caribbean ocean. The helmet presented no issue, but, as the guide had promised; my ears were popping.

Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands fish

 

Scary but there’s a helping hand!

My discomfort must have been quite visible, as the second operator who was guiding me down the ladder motioned me to swallow and keep my jaws apart (to minimize building pressure). The ladder had ten steps, each foot and a half lower than the previous, and I was still on step one.

Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands shorts

I continued down slowly but surely, finally reaching the halfway point, a crossroad—should I proceed into the unknown, or return to the safety of the boat? As I got deeper and deeper into the water, the popping intensified, and my rapid heartbeat and panicked demeanor did not help either. How could twenty feet feel so deep? Every impulse said to turn back, yet the allure of sea life up close made me persevere.Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands group

Wow-corals!!

To quell my anxieties, I reminded myself that no known person has yet died from this—so far, though—but then, I see my parents and brother waiting impatiently on the sea bottom. So what’s it going to be? Throwing away my fear, I take another step, and feel the sandy floor of the sea. My jaw dropped and eyes opened: I was under the sea, watching fish float by in the waving coral!

The color, the light, the brightness, and intensity of it all! Disregarding safety and all, I rushed off the ladder and joined up with the group. Schools of fish of all colors floated nonchalantly by, grazing the coral and the open palms of group members holding food for them. The colors of the ocean floor and the life frolicking beneath the sea took my breath away ( not literally).Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands swimming

My family’s  travels have exposed my brother and me to different cultures, tastes, sounds, and places. Yet, the Grand Caymans adventure holds importance because, as my travels as a young child to Yosemite, the Sea Trek endeavor this past April introduced us to the beauty of nature in the most far off of places.

While I was accustomed to beautiful buildings and artwork in cities, nature had always represented something to be avoided, because of my sensory integration disorder. I still recall the days when I would scream at the sight of sand or the potential touch of water, so to walk on the ocean floor for me was to accomplish the incredible.Besides, the sea trek adventure helped me combat one of my worst fears—fear of the unknown—and enjoy my time in the water, far out of my comfort zone.

Over the years, we’ve visited many places and seen many things, but this one qualifies as both the most educational and inspirational of them all. .Sea-trekking in the Cayman Islands yoga

So, after reading my story would you like to go sea-trekking with me next time I go?

 

Princess Tiana’s Magical Autism Awareness Moment

Ever experienced a ‘down’ day when you’ve felt your work is unnoticed and under appreciated?
Well, I had one of those days, yesterday, while stressing over the writing of an article titled, “The benefits of Autistic Travel.”

And then the incredible happened. One of my website readers, Denise Klipsic, unknowingly inspired me!

So, I had to share her uplifting letter and adorable photograph with everyone to remind them that magical moments do happen if you wait patiently and never give up.

“As a mother of two Autistic Children, our vacations can be pretty challenging. But that hasn’t stopped us, however, from seeing the sights and doing some ‘globetrotting’ ourselves.Our kids love the change and novelty of travel. As long as we are aware of what they are feeling and what they like to do versus things that may scare them, we do alright and have a lot of fun.

During a recent trip to Disneyworld, we had a beautiful experience that was the highlight of my visit.It was one of those moments that made my daughter, and I feel good inside because of the effort that one beautiful person made to understand our world.My little girl, Abella (5), is non-verbal and likes Disney World on her terms.

Her favorite ride is the Disney Buses that take us to and from the parks and the carousel. Otherwise, she loves to see the sights in the park and enjoy it from the comfort of our rented stroller (which we named Happy Chappy).
She doesn’t like the parks at night for fear of the fireworks and the loud noises that come with them, so we visit the parks during the day and try to see as much as we can in the daylight hours.

One afternoon, when we were visiting my daughter, took a curious interest in Princess Tiana from the Princess and the Frog, who was meeting other park guests.
She smiled when she looked at her and indicated to me; she wanted to see her.Safe in her stroller, we waited patiently in line to visit with the princess.The castle, which was not far from where we were, had a show going on. As it ended, fireworks went off, scaring my daughter.

Immediately, she put her hands to her ears in panic mode and indicated to me that it was time to go. I pointed to the princess and asked if she wanted to see the princess still. She only retreated into the safety of Stroller.
Safe in her stroller, we waited patiently in line to visit with the princess Near the front of the line then, our turn came to see the princess and her prince.
As my son interacted with them, she watched curiously with her hands still pressed against her ears. After my son had got his picture, both Tiana and her prince approached the stroller to say hi.
Sensing her fear, the prince backed off and let Tiana talk to her a little. She held out her hands to my daughter, reluctantly Abella reached out one hand to touch Tiana as if to say thanks, and then quickly put it back to her ear.
Tiana tried to calm Abella down by talking for a little while and then attempted to coax my daughter out of the stroller for a picture.
With no luck after a few tries, Tiana came up with a better idea.
Instead of asking my daughter to come to her, she came to her. With no regard for her dress, Tiana fell to the ground and got as close to the stroller as she could.

Princess Tiana put her hands to her ears too, and they smiled together!
.It was adorable to see them interact and the patience she had with my daughter and what she was feeling. God bless that moment and the wonderful experience she gave us!”

The beauty of the moment caused me to tear up. Even as her parent, I sometimes forget that her perspective on the world is different than ours, and often we try to bring her from her world back into ours. However, in this one moment, Tiana’s actions made it clear that it doesn’t have always to be that way, by making herself the outsider and entering my daughter’s Autistic world.

 

 

Princess Tiana's Magical Autism Awareness Moment

photo credit Denise Klipsic

Visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Amsterdam

During our frequent visits to the different European and American cities, my son would often beg me to go and visit Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Frankly, though I wholeheartedly support going to explore most museums, this genre seemed like the ultimate tourist trap to me and as such, I refused to give in.

Although I continuously explained to him how unreasonably expensive it was, how kitschy it looked, and what a total waste of our precious travel time it would be to go, I would still get the occasional childish whine of “but why not..?”

One day I finally cracked. We were in Amsterdam, on a rainy day and had already seen everything I had set out to see; like the famous Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh and Modern museums along with Anna Frank’s home, and Rembrandt’s Studio.
We had extensively walked around the canals, visited the beautiful squares, and even wondered unknowingly through the Red Light Zone. Besides, I reasoned with myself–my kids had enough educational tourism, so let them have some fun.

Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum dalai lama

And that is how I ended up taking the boys to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum for the afternoon alone, of course since my dear husband made it abundantly clear he was not wasting fifteen euros for the admission ticket

 

.Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum einstein

The Museum.

We walked in after I signed off thirty euros on my credit card slip(kids were 50% off) and entered a dark and crowded room that looked like it had been borrowed from a run-of-the-mill theme park. At this point, as my son was busy running from exhibit to exhibit, I was wondering, “why did I do this to myself?”
Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum bush
Luckily that dark Halloween-like room viewing lasted less than ten minutes, and we finally got to the real part of the museum-the wax figurines. And that was where my real surprise was about to be unveiled.

We leisurely went from exhibit to exhibit discussing all the famous people there.Right there, I later realized, was the best history lesson any kid, especially an autistic kid could get. Suddenly, the likes of Churchill, Lenin, Picasso, and Einstein were standing right there in front of us, almost ready to shake hands.

The boys commented on their height and speculated why Gandhi wore his famous austere sari while Elvis appeared in sequined suits. During those two hours in there, I managed to explain and cover more than a century’s worth of history in politics, art, music, and cinematography.

 All in all, it turned out to be a productive and highly entertaining afternoon for the three of us, while I learned to reconsider my biased opinion of tourist traps.

 

Autism Travel Tips.

  • The museum might be a bit crowded during peak hours, so it is recommended to call ahead and ask what time is best to arrive.
  • For kids scared of darkness and ghosts-skip that exhibit as it might be a bit frightening. 
  • Reiterate the rules to your kid as to what is or isn’t permitted including touching the exhibits.
  • Some of the exhibits may be PG13 so you might want to ask the staff that ones they are and decide whether they are or aren’t appropriate for your child..

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