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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belize


Today is Belize.  I've been wanting to come to Belize since my last cruise 5 or so years ago and from what I'm hearing about Belize - I don't know why I've been wanting to come:).  I came down for my morning latte and ran into Willy and Lilly and we talked for a while.  They had heard it was really poor, smelly and possibly dangerous.  I guess we'll see.  We can't come to a different country and never go on shore!

We've anchored out so no willy-nilly going on shore and off shore.  We have to tender off and on the boat with local charter companies.




It took about 30 minutes to get to shore and there was a friendly Belizian talking to everyone - and we can't forget the group of Spanish speaking tourists from some crazy country that kept on yowling and sending their old grandma up to one of the deck poles to so pole dancing for them.  I can't tell what they were clapping and yelling but it seemed to be "Toga, toga!!" We're still not sure but it was not attractive!


Lots of waves and lots of in and out sun, and besides the crazy Spaniards, an enjoyable ride over - and no foul smells hit us on the dock.

We got off the boat into the tour city area and decided we wanted to go see more Mayan ruins and the rainforest so - we found an on shore tour company and got stuffed into a van sardine-like with 13 other fellow tourists as trusted that we'd make it somewhere safely.


The ride there proved to be exceedingly interesting as there was a wonderful couple from Texas seated in the front and twinging and twanging up a "bless her heart" storm.  Telling stories about their trip to Brussels where no one spoke English and a cruise they took up in British Columbia, all prefaced with y'alls and "they done"s.  And what was even more amusing is that they were seated by a couple from Victoria, Canada with their little accents "we went ew-t" and going on about how they speak French and all the great things they have in Canada.  Cruise ships definitely have quite a concoction of passengers -provides for hours of entertainment.

We're now getting a linguistics lesson from our driver... He's saying that the Belize dialect is close to Jamaican which is a mix of English and Creole.  He gave a for instance that if you want to know what time it is you'd say "how much o'clock?"  

The last 14 miles to the ruins the driver called the "adventure" part of our tour - the drive there on the "2 lane" road... 

And now we're on the "highway" to Mexico.  Apparently if you stay on this road it will take you about 3 days to get to Mexico. It actually seems like its going to take us 3 days to get to these ancient ruins!... Actually, I do believe we'll be ancient ruins by that time!

We finally got to the ruins and were accosted by a hundred different locals peddling everything from mohagany wood carvings to coconuts and dried bananas.

We got our tickets ...

And entered the ruins of 

There were some of the ruins we could climb so of course - they had to be climbed!




The ruins were pretty interesting - and pretty - ruined...:)

And then we also got to stroll through the rain forest at the back of the ruins.



We got back to the front and our guide took us over by a little "restaurant" there. I'm sure we were supposed to buy from his friends.  


I spotted some kids across from the restaurant and so I opted to make some new friends...:).  They belonged to the woman who worked in the kitchen at the restaurant and poor things just wait there for her each day.  We had fun coloring and playing with cars until it was time for me to go.  I think we shared solidarity - 5 brothers and sisters and I told them there  were 5 in my family too.  3 sisters and 2 brothers - they all liked that.





And now we're back in our van, on the "Mexican highway" headed back to the dock - hopefully in time to make it to the boat.

And because I'm attempting to finish this to get free wifi because I'm almost done with my boat wifi - Ill leave you in suspense until tomorrow to find out if we made it back to the Caribbean Princess!

















Roatan


Here's where we are today!  Mohagany Bay in the Honduras!

Watch your bags and don't go anywhere outside of the tourist area without being especially vigilant!  At least, that's what we're told.

Our adventure du jour is glass bottom boat - yay! - kayaking!!! My fave!  Well at least the kayak part.  The glass bottom boat will be extremely interesting.  And afterwards its snorkeling.  Not sure if Ill do it as I'm not the hugest snorkel fan (especially when you have to use community snorkel gear rather than your own) but Dawn wanted to try it so we got a little combo package.  I might do it with her just for friend solidarity -depends on what the gear looks like.

But for now were sitting roasting in the sun on a bus while we wait for all the latees to come (we were supposed to be checked on at 10:15 which Dawn and I were but apparently no one else was).  

We filled up our bus and then left for a 30 minute drive across the island.  These islands always make me sad because they're such a tourist destination and all the foreigners bring their money in but the islands still stay so poor and backwards.  There are dirty children and three legged dogs standing in doorways of houses that can barely be called houses.  Garbage floating in tides onto beaches where locals sit and sleep and eat.  The crime rates are high and there are police everywhere.  


And here we continue on to another resort where we're given bottled water and lockers and instructors who show us how to kayak and snorkel and tell us that we need to wait in a certain spot to be taken back to our ship.  It definitely feels touristy and "American" and sometimes you just want to jump off the bus and talk to those dirty kids and the women who have babies on their hips and the men who are trying to repair the road with a pick axe and a shovel.  It's definitely places like the Honduras that make you think how blessed you are, but how much that blessing just may ask you to give back.

And with that whole contemplative outpouring...
Back to vacation...:)

So glass bottom kayaking... Dawn rocks!  We made an awesome team in our two person kayak as we flew past everyone else on our group!  The glass bottom was pretty cloudy so you couldn't really see much of anything.  Technically - it should probably be plastic bottom boat or polyurethane or whatever it's made out of.  Still a cool idea.

Onto snorkelling.  Dawn ended up going and I just enjoyed the littered beach and the sun:)






Back to our stop waiting for our bus back to the Caribbean Princess!

Met a few very interesting people in our group.  It's just so interesting getting people's stories!  Especially on a cruise ship - so many different backgrounds and classes of people.  Most of them are pretty basic down to earth people.  Dawn and I paid about $400 for 7 days for our very basic inside the boat, no light of day stateroom.  And today we found two other "couples" (a mom and daughter and a military guy and his girlfriend to be exact) who actually paid $329 for their cruise and paid $10 extra to upgrade to an outside stateroom with a window but it was only $10 more because it was an "obstructed" view.  They said it was pretty obstructed indeed but there was at least light.  We would give anything for that sliver of light!  Especially last night it was really rocky, it would have been nice just to see we were indeed still floating:). We're learning from people like Willy and Lilly and our other new friends who cruise more often, you can actually cruise cheaper than we did.  Crazy.  Next time - we're getting a window!:)


Ah - one more... Blue crab!  It actually changes color in the sun.















Monday, April 14, 2014

Tulum


I'm excited this morning!  We're in Cozumel and the excursion that Dawn wanted to go on was Tulum!  I love Tulum!  The last time I cruised I did Tulum but it was far from fun as my friend Danielle didn't want to go so I went by myself which is never as fun.  Then I had camera problems so I didn't get but one shot.  I also got sunburned really really badly.  It was just a long string of yucky stuff that made my last visit to Tulum- well, yucky.  SO I'm pretty excited that I get to redo it and that I get to experience it with Dawn!

It's 7:45 right now - we're sitting in the place where we had our muster station and we're waiting to go with the group.  It's an early morning and will be a long day but it will be worth it!



8:15 and we are now on the ferry from Cozumel being transported to Playa Del Carmen and are being briefed by a nice little Mayan gentleman who habitually uses the word "guys".... "The exit is in the back guys.  Guys watch your heads guys.  Guys the bathrooms, guys, are in the back and front, guys".... I had to stop listening because I started laughing.  Makes me wonder how often I use the word "guys"?...

The bus ride to Tulum was about 45 minutes.  Our tour guide talked about Mayan culture all the way and then got us to Tulum and gave about a 30 minute tour and then let us off in our own.  Her English was amazing and her tour was just great.  I definitely paid more attention to get than my last tour guide, but I think it helped that there was a nice breeze coming off the ocean.


We had to walk about 10 minutes from the bus to the Tulum entry and when we got there, there was a big replica of the city where our guide showed us what we'd see.  It stuck my funny bone when she said "and here is where the end of the tour is.  Here is where I'm going to finish with human sacrifice and astronomy."   And then she got this look on her face and said "no, no- I mean I'm going to TALK about human sacrifice and astronomy".  Of course no one else thought it was funny like I did - I tend to be the one still laughing 10 minutes later at faux pas like that.  :). You have to admit that is a funny thought - finishing with human sacrifice from a tour group.  I'm sure sometimes she only wishes!

We then walked down to Tulum itself - this is the entry into Tulum - it's little just like the Mayan people... I think she said it was 5 feet tall which would be the tallest Mayan man.

When we first got into Tulum, Lille, our guide, walked up to the first site and these iguanas were sunning themselves and they literally ran over to her.  She said she always brings them a treat, usually a hibiscus flower.  She had one and she threw it to them - there was one greedy iguana that pushed the others aside and grabbed it.  It reminded me of the buffet line on the boat at lunch:)

Dawn and I then just walked around Tulum and down to the water before heading back to the taco/margarita place right before the bus. Btw - if you're ever in Tulum and stop at the taco place, do not get the fish tacos, extremely bland!  On the other hand, Dawns beef tacos were amazing.  They had this awesome curry flavor.  Ok - back to Picts from Tulum which I was actually able to get this time!

Lille was nice enough to take our pict so we held het little bus sign which was blowing away in the wind.



I liked this one - if you look closely in the front of the pict - it's apparently an ancient Mayan sprinkler system?...

The ocean was spectacular!  It's this amazing tri color blue!




Rules are made to be broken!  That's my philosophy:). (Btw - I wasn't really sitting on the little rope for anyone who might be concerned I really am bad..:)


4:23 now - on the ferry headed back to Cozumel.  I actually had to work for about 15 minutes:(. I had a conference call with a hospital in CA and I had been concerned that something would happen that I wouldn't be able to phone in, but all went well.  Extremely good call with an extremely good prospective customer - such a good customer they made sure to tell me to have a Mai tai for them!  I told them I'd have two!:)

We're actually exhausted and sweaty and ready to just get back to it little tiny stateroom (why do they call it a stateroom?  It's nowhere near the size of a state and if it has something to do with a "state" of mind - that's a pretty sad state of mind... Just thoughts I have:)

Tonight -dinner and then we're coming back to shower and watch a movie!

Is this what normal-people vacation is like?....
I kind of like it:)

Another side note - ok, maybe two...
First of all - in case you didn't know, The Love Boat was actually a Princess boat (Pacific Princess), so the Princess tv broadcast plays continuous Love Boat episodes.  Thought that was funny because I honestly didnt even know the Love Boat was affiliated with an actual cruise line!

Second - we got back in time for dinner again tonight and so we were once again at our table by Willy and Lilly!  And I'm even more in love with them!:). They are SO sweet and they just love each other so much - and they love everyone around them and its just contagious.  I can't wait to have dinner with them 5 more nights!

Oh - and I met a crew member tonight that I ended up chatting with for a while - from Hungary!  Seget in fact where another one of my friends is from.  

Small boat!  Interesting boat!

Now back to vacation!






Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day At Sea

Sunday.  Beautiful Sunday!  I believe this is the first "day of rest" Sunday I've had in years and years.  We had absolutely nothing - NOTHING to do!  It was a complete shock to my brain and my body, but there was this little voice in me that said to body and brain, quite loudly - Deal with it!  And so deal with it I did.

For as dark as our room was, between Dawns and my inner clocks, we were up at 8:30 and getting ready to head down to breakfast.  A quick stop at the cafe for my morning breve latte and then we headed to the main dining room.  Past walls of glass that looked out on the vast ocean that seemingly want nowhere, we just had to stop and gape in awe.... And then some nice old gentleman offered to take our pict and we were happy to have one together!


After breakfast I immediately hit the sun deck while Dawn went back to charge.  I'd like to say there was some exciting adventure we had in the afternoon, but this was it...!



The evening brought the first of two "formal" dinners.  The last cruise I was on, the "formal" meant that people got out of their jeans and out khakis on.  This ship - they're serious when they say formal.  Well, I suppose relatively serious, not like tux serious but pretty close.

They offer places all over the ship where you can have your portrait taken on formal evening and Dawn really wanted to so I complied and we stopped to have our picture taken.  We were kind of laughing at all the couples having their portraits taken and we were mimicking their stances.  It got to us and we did a normal pose and then he wanted us up out our arms around each others waists and look at each other.  You should have seen the looks on our faces and the immediate "we're just friends!"  The line of people that had been standing behind us was absolutely dying with laughter.  I didn't really notice until Dawn pointed it out but I think now we'll definitely be known as the women who are "just friends!"  Hopefully we get a good friends pict out of it too.  In the meantime, here's our own snap - it's our "just friends" pose:)

Our evening dining setting we chose a table for two, but our table is right next to another with only a small glass partition between us.  The chair side is seated right next to the neighboring chair but the bench side you can't see the next table.  So night one, Dawn was seated in the chair and just started a chat with the woman next to us primarily because she saw them praying.  Their names are Willy and Lilly.  They also mentioned today was Lilly's birthday.  There was something about them we liked so because of that and it was her birthday and because - well, I really like flowers... I suggested and Dawn was happy to oblige with getting a little bouquet of birthday flowers for Lilly's birthday.  She absolutely loved them and I got to sit next to her tonight so we got to chat.  I LOVE to get people's stories and so after a short discussion where she expounded a little on who they were I found out they were not only believers, but he was the pr of a small church outside of San Francisco.  I ended up asking their faith story because I love hearing how people came to Christ - it was such a touchingly sweet story.  Basically they used to work on Wall Street, they tried and tried to get pregnant -got pregnant and were told the baby was dying.  She carried full term, had the baby and the baby died the next day.  Willy had accepted Christ a few weeks before and the pr who talked to him asked to visit Lilly, shared the gospel with her and she accepted.  She said that she had so many questions before, why did God take her baby, etc, and when she accepted Christ she said it was like this total blanket of peace covered her.  That was 19 years ago.  Willy left Wall Street and went to seminary.  They're both Puerto Rican so he now pastors a church in CA in a predominately Spanish speaking area.  We talked about Bible studies and food pantries and all kinds if ministries and blessings and I've totally fallen in love with these two amazingly beautiful people!!!!  Lilly had asked if I've ever been to San Fran and I had to laugh - when she found out I go there often she was so excited and was insistent that I come and stay with them and she'll cook Puerto Rican food for me- and what she described I do not want to miss:)!

Oh, Willy is now working on his doctorate.  It will probably take him 5 years or so but good for him!  His dissertation is going to be on revival in the church.  We ran into them again at a show we went to see and he talked a bit more about his thesis and all.  Pretty interesting.

So tomorrow is our shore excursion in Cozumel.  Can't wait!  It seems I got a little more sun than I figured today:)  So tomorrow will be an SPF 30 day:). Dawn is probably medium well - just a touch of pink:)

We have an 8am day tomorrow so - good night from our very very rocky boat!