While speaking to Nickolas’ teachers months back, Michelle and I were finally ridden of the guilt that we must take Jacob and Nickolas on enjoyable excursions together. We had been so fixated on spending time as a family, we were limiting the places and fun we could have based on Nickolas’ sensory issues. Our poor adventurous Jacob was left waiting on the sidelines, bored to tears. So we planned a trip to the Maritime Aquarium for just him, me, and Michelle.
The aquarium’s website was promoting a Chocolate World Expo on January 26 where you could sample sweets while spying sea life. Just like that, we had a date, time, and something fun for both parents and children in one fell swoop. Yum!
We found out later that hundreds of other people had come to the same conclusion. An employee revealed the aquarium normally doesn’t see a quarter of the visitors who came out for the Chocolate World Expo. By the afternoon, it felt as though we were plodding about in Disney World, the halls were so congested. Thankfully we are morning adventurers, so avoided most of the heaviest gridlock.
Michelle, Jacob, and I arrived ten minutes before the aquarium opened, earning us a clear view of the aquatic attractions and first pick of the tempting treats. Fish, crabs, sharks, turtles, manta rays, frogs, salamanders, jellyfish, and seals were all in attendance. And Jacob touched every one he could, much to the disgust of his mother.
Jacob absorbed most of what he knows about sea life and the ocean from cartoons like Wild Kratts and Octonauts. While admiring one seemingly ordinary fish tank, he started schooling me in the ecology of the coral reef. His retention of detailed knowledge for subjects he loves seems magical to me.
Watching an otter dancing in loops through the water was Jacob’s favorite part. We visited that exhibit at least three different times. I have a soft spot for the illuminated jellyfish tanks myself, both for its beautiful tranquility and its ability to keep Michelle squirming in horror. I’m a naughty husband.
Overall the Chocolate World Expo was a little light on the chocolate. There were definitely lots of sugary treats, but we expected many more chocolate treats in an event headlining chocolate. Aside from the fudge and chocolate chip cookies—I loved the cheesecake and red velvet fudge!—most of the free samples involved dark chocolate, which Michelle and I are not big fans of. Add to that a strange mix of flavored peanut butters, rum cakes, teas, cheeses, and other foods that do not scream chocolate, and you may start to understand our confusion with the event’s theme.
When it came down to purchasing any one treat out of the whole place, Jacob chose a strawberry gelato and Michelle got a teeny bit of chocolate with a Chips Ahoy sorbet. I was torn between the piña colada rum cake and the fudge, but hefty lines at the time kept me from either. So sad.
The feeding of the seals was another highlight of Jacob’s day. He attentively waited almost a half hour for it to begin, making friends with one of the workers by asking her a ton of questions. Michelle and I sat back at a table on the opposite side of the pool enjoying the whole interaction. I couldn’t help but jest how proud I was that Jacob was working his moves on a cute redhead. Michelle agreed that us Cortés men are all the same in our love of the ladies.
We left the Maritime Aquarium after four hours of fun. We might have stayed longer if not for the immovable crowd. Next time we’ll skip the special event and go on a calmer day, but it didn’t stop Jacob from enjoying himself immensely.