ONE giant smooch! It is said that everything is big in Texas and it deserves a kiss of the same proportion. The Lone Star State was the final destination of the first leg of this journey, which I must say, I was glad to reach 65 hours and six airports after jumpstarting this US travel.

Sleep was the first entry in the itinerary.

After a deep, pill-induced sleep, I woke up to a beautiful sunny San Antonio day. The weather was perfect to go Shamu-ching. The child in me was giddy with excitement.

Destination: SeaWorld. This is one of the top attractions in Texas, “the largest educational and marine-life theme park in the world” when it debuted, and the birthplace of Baby Shamu, aka Kayla, the first killer whale born at this park. The San Antonio marine mammal park, oceanarium and animal theme park is the biggest among the three SeaWorld chain in the US (the other two is in San Diego and Orlando) and sits on a hundred hectare spread in the Westover Hills District of the city.

A park this huge is impossible to enjoy in a just a day. The trick is to choose what appeals most to you and enjoying the thrilling rides and shows with the company you’re with. In my case, it’s with a huge contingent of Pinoys.

But not all rides are made for everyone. I, for one, may seek for thrills but my gut can’t handle it. Guess which of these SeaWorld rides I took? Is it the Great White (floorless roller coaster), Steel Eel (roller coaster ride with 15 story drop), Journey to Atlantis (part coaster, part water ride), Rio Loco (“crazy river” ride on a round craft), or the Shamu Express (kiddie-coaster ride)? Clue: It was on those I got wet (not by myself, puh-lease!)

Sea shows will always be amazing. The all-new Shamu show, One Ocean, and Azul, where beluga whales, dolphins, colorful birds and human acrobats perform together, were very exhilarating and truly inspiring. I’m sure the rest of the shows we didn’t catch were as well.

From the exhibits the group caught moving from one show to another, the closest we got to the stars of the park were at the Dolphin Cove during the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins’ feeding time. I called it the “happy zone”, I may have seen jaws drop in amazement at the shows but this area surely had the biggest smiles when both kids and adults got crazy feeding and got to pat the dolphins.

With so much more to do and see at so little time, how does one end the visit? By stopping at the most thrilling destination at the park— the souvenir shop. Even if the events of the day were captured in hundreds of photos, nothing beats shopping and taking home an item or two (or more) of the theme park’s goodies with you. Every time you get to wear the piece or see it on the tabletop or refrigerator door, the good vibe brought about by the memories of the fun times is priceless.

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