Monday, December 19, 2011

My Belize City Guardian Angel

The lady with the blue shoulder bag made sure I stayed on the straight and narrow down in Belize City as I made my way back to the cruise ship.  I had spent a couple of hours in Belize City and headed back in the direction I thought was correct.  But I was not sure.  So I stopped this young lady and asked her for directions.  What made her my Belize City Guardian Angel is that she took the time to stop on two other occasions (guess she was kinda heading in the same direction) over the next fifteen to twenty minutes to clarify the directions and to ensure that, because of the high crime rate (40%, whatever that means), I did what she said: no going across the street; no going down a side street.  So, a big thanks to the lady with the blue shoulder bag for helping me out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cruise Stuff: Photo Collage and Diane's Recap

Diane's recap of our Carnival Liberty cruise:

We left here on Nov. 30th to drive to Miami to catch the Carnival Liberty cruise ship that left on Dec. 3rd. Got there in record time because much of the distance was on the "super-highways" where people go from 70 to 80 mph. That covers a lot of ground in a short time!  Got good mileage with the Yaris and found gas prices were less as we moved south. 

Miami traffic flow is impossible. Looks like their freeway system "grew like Topsy" and is difficult to maneuver in the best of times.  We got very lost more than once.  We liked Miami Beach, both the town and the beach, though it was cool and windy when we were there. We stayed at a motel that offered free parking and free shuttle service to the docks.

We were on the ship when it left the dock at 4:00 on the 3rd.  Our stateroom was small and got smaller every day...  but it was very clean and compact and convenient. We were among the inside rooms on the 8th deck (pretty much mid-ship all around).  The motion of the ship and the sea was pretty much continuous but I found it relaxing and lulling. I LOVE the ocean and could sit quietly and watch the water for hours on end. I slept like a baby.
I wouldn't have cared if we hadn't stopped at any ports.

First stop was Cozumel, Mexico.  We bought a tour that included a very beautiful video of Mexico, a museum of Mayan/Mestizo/Mexican art, and a walk through replicas of the many Mayan ruins around the area, complete with a running explanation and commentary from an excellent guide.  Mike wanted to take photographs of the people living on the interior rather than along the boardwalk and tourist-y shops, so after the tour we made our way along the streets that led away from the dock.  He got some great shots and we found the people to be very friendly and smiling and accepting of our presence.  No one seemed resentful of our being on their street, nor of taking their picture, and no one ran alongside trying to sell us something.

Next stop was Belize. I stayed aboard and Mike went out for his photography session. He can tell you more about that, but his main impression was that the people of Belize were less well off than those in Cozumel, the streets, houses and shops more dilapidated and unkempt, and his security a bit more threatened....  not that any of that bothered him...  several people helped him stay out of trouble :)

Mahogany Bay on Isla Roatan off the coast of Honduras is a Carnival Cruise Line creation, and is made up of shops and stores selling tax and duty-free stuff like cigarettes, cigars, alcohol, jewelry, perfumes, etc.  (There were "adventure tours" for sale online and on the ship for all of these four stops we made, but we didn't buy any of them ahead of time.  Turns out there are the same tours offered once you get off the ship, and they are cheaper.) At this stop we just took a short walk around the "mall" and then onto a path called a "nature trail".  Ha.   Beautiful place if that is what you want... America in Honduras.

The last stop was on Grand Cayman Island, and it was again very tourist-y with lots of small shops and stores.  The Cayman Islands are still quite British, and some famous people visit there regularly or own homes there...  and it is also known for its many banks that hold lots of money for rich folks who use it like the Swiss bank accounts we all hear about.  Anyway, it was pretty European and American there. No "natives" visible. We found an internet cafe there and Mike emailed for the first time.  It was very costly to buy internet time on the ship and the cell phones didn't work anywhere, so we were pretty much cut off from communication.  I got seriously overheated in the sun and humidity of the island, so Mike walked me back to the ship and then continued his exploration of the island.  Then we set off for Miami, disembarked and drove home.  Yay!

I loved the ship, the staff, the vacationers...  but most of all the water.... calming, soothing, boundless and beautiful.  There was always something to do and plenty, plenty, plenty of food available around the clock.  Buffets and formal dining rooms, and a burger bar, a deli, a pizza bar, and always juice and coffee and tea and ice water. There were two "elegant" nights when the women dressed to the nines.  I just "dressed up" one night, not the second. We ate three big meals a day and had continuous access to all the ice cream I could ever want.  Heaven!  There were lots of activities and entertainment far into the night.  A person could stay drunk and party for 7 straight days if they wanted.  There were shops and pools and hot tubs and a spa and an exercise room (that we never found).  There were people from all over the world, of all ages, both large and small families and groups, even some singles. One could be a non-stop people watcher.  We met some amazing people with interesting stories, and we both enjoyed the babies, small kids and teens. 

Escape to the stateroom was always an option, but we seldom took advantage of that.  We had a good balance of time together and time apart and it was all good. Every morning we got up before or just at dawn and walked the jogging track. We also scorned the elevators and walked the stairs... lots of them, lots of times.  I got aching leg muscles and Mike got out of breath.  He gained 2 lbs.; I lost 3.  Go figure. 

Got back Sunday night the 11th around 8:00, safe and sound. Here at home I am still putting things away and opening mail, wrapping and mailing Christmas presents, catching up on email.  Went shopping for groceries today to restock the frig.  Bought a rotisserie chicken for dinner because I'm just not ready to cook yet.  Chopped up some greens for a salad and had a late dinner, watching PBS news.  Can't say I'm in any hurry to get back to the old routine, but it's inevitable.  

So there you have it.  Lots more to tell, but you'll have to ask specific questions or I'll be typing this all night!!  I highly recommend cruising :)


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Diane At Miami Beach - On The Beach

On Miami Beach yesterday after leaving Deerfield Beach and heading to Miami.  We're about to head on out of here - the shuttle to the ship (Carnival Liberty) leaves in 45 minutes.  After experiencing Miami traffic yesterday, I need about a year at sea to recover - what madness...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Diane at Crescent Beach Just South of St. Augustine

Today:  Traveled from Macon down through St. Augustine and Crescent Beach (we see the Atlantic Ocean!) and then to Deerfield Beach just north of Miami.

Diane at Sunshine China III in Macon, Georgia

On our way to Miami, Florida for a cruise.  Stayed in Macon our first night.  Today we get into Florida and drive down the east coast getting as close to Miami as possible.