Friday, December 16, 2011

Sharing my cruise with you

The cruise from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Panama Canal was incredible! Weather in Cabo San Lucas was hot and sunny. Water azure blue - Land's End and Poseidon's Arch just what I hoped! That had been on my bucket list, but wasn't sure I'd ever get to see it. I loved it, but Cabo is too expensive to spend a lot of time there! This was my first time anywhere in Mexico but the border towns and very different.

Puerto Vallarta was fun - also hot - expensive - beautiful! Didn't get in the water there. Visited a beautiful old church, walked on the new "boardwalk" which is really a wide curving picturesque sidewalk along the bay where everything happens. We were bused up into the mountains to see a UNESCO World Heritage site in Mismaloya - A Tequila Factory! Also stopped above the site where "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. There were not even roads into the site at the time. They brought everything into the pretty little bay by boat. Everything is so lush and green with huge trees of every kind and exquisite flowers of every hue.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica and the rain forest was lovely- also hot and humid but a great experience. We were bused to the top of the mountain, walked on suspension bridges above the rain forest for awhile, then worked our way down to the bottom of it. The little town of Puntarenas was nothing - quite poor in direct contrast to the resorts in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. But our tour guide was delightful and gave us all the history and lowdown on her beloved country. We did get to see lots of crocodiles. Our boat man got out, almost wrestled with a huge monster, then put some fish in his mouth, bent over toward the crocodile and the behemoth snapped it right out! We thought he was going to lose his head!!

The Panama Canal was probably the highlight for Glenn. He spent the first part of the cruise reading David McCullough's book - 750 pages about the building of the canal - so it was very meaningful for him. What an engineering feat! We sailed through from the Pacific into the Atlantic - took about nine hours but didn't get to stop in the city which may have had more high rise buildings than Los Angeles!

Cartegena, Colombia was really special because Shelley (youngest daughter) was working in Colombia that week auditing the huge mine there (one of the biggest in the world) and flew up that morning to meet us at the big famous fort - one of the oldest in South America. She arrived an hour or more before us but chatted with the natives until our buses arrived. She said she'd look for the buses of old people - but that's all there was - bus after bus of old white-haired people! :) She spent the day with us seeing Old Town, the Fort, New Town, neat churches, learning about emeralds - we didn't buy any!

Then we dropped her off at Old Town and went back to the ship and she shopped a couple of hours, caught her plane and flew back to Bogotá, then to Miami, then home - arrived just in time to go to work the next day. This was the port they told us "If you aren't with an organized tour, don't get off the ship." Shelley worked with a girl from there (had been with her all week) who said Cartegena was one of the safest cities in South America because the President of the country loved to be there so he made sure it was safe. I loved it. It was my favorite city. I could spend a week there - all the beautiful old Colonial buildings and feel of history. But we learned that Michael Douglas didn't really jump off that fort in Romancing the Stone (Hollywood trick) because there is no water around it! They also had lots of high rise buildings surrounding the bay.

We were really blessed there - it had been pouring buckets of rain for the preceding nine days. That morning the clouds cleared and we had beautiful warm sunshine. Really warm! Then as our ship pulled out of port and back into the Caribbean, the rain began again. We were worried that Shelley's flight wouldn't be able to take of!

Next stop was Grand Cayman and this was really a super treat! We got into that incredibly azure blue Caribbean water out on a sand bar miles from shore and fed the sting rays! You hold a piece of squid in your fist, thumb tucked down, and they swim right across your hand and suck it up. I got a massage from one - our guide picked it up and held it to my back and it fluttered those marvelously soft fins across my back. The water was so fantastic we didn't want to get out! We had probably 25-30 sting rays swimming around us. The only problem was you couldn't bounce around. You needed to keep your feet planted in the sand, but the waves kept sweeping me off my feet! If you step on one, they will sting you with that long tail, so we did have to watch the tails!

Then they took us to another area over some coral reefs and we got to snorkel and watch the multi-colored fish swim in and out of the beautiful different kinds of coral. The white sand on the bottom was like sugar! What a day! We ended up going to Hell, a little tiny town with a post office and a patch of very sharp volcanic rock poking up, then a turtle farm which was fascinating! They had the world's largest (as far as they know) green sea turtle who has laid over 10,000 eggs. 80% of them have hatched. We were blessed again. They said if we had arrived on any one of the previous four days, we would not have been able to go out in the water because of the terrible weather they had been having!

Got back on the ship and steamed into Tampa Bay the next morning and after two excruciating flights home, we arrived to rain and snow! So much for Sunny California! But no complaints. We had our two weeks of "paradise." Now to prepare for Christmas, which can't possible be just next week! Merry Christmas to you all! And may you have a delightful cruise in your not-too-distant future.

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