Saturday, November 19, 2011

Home From Paradise

I got home late Thursday from my birthday cruise to Mexico. What a fantastic trip! My sister and I flew to Tampa, Florida on the 11th and had a nice lunch with our only remaining aunt and uncle the next day in Clearwater. We boarded the ship later that afternoon and set sail at 4:30. Many people gathered on the helipad deck to watch us go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge - we had 9 feet to spare. Then, across the Gulf of Mexico. It was quite rough, but luckily I don't have trouble with sea-sickness.

Our first port was the island of Cozumel. It was beautiful from the ship, but not so much when we got off to do a little shopping. It's really not much more than a tourist trap and they're so aggressive about trying to get you to come into their stores and buy from them. I was not impressed.

Our second port was Costa Maya, which I found out didn't even exist ten years ago. The property was bought by the cruise ship lines and developed for tourists. Again, not impressed, but at least this was newer and cleaner. We didn't do any shopping there, as it was the same junk shops as in Cozumel. Our reason for getting off the ship was to take a 2-hour bus ride into the interior to see the Kohunlich Maya Ruins.

We had a fantastic tour guide and I found it to be very interesting. He pointed out wildlife and explained what was known about the Maya culture. We saw moths that looked exactly like the bark on the tree and you wouldn't know they were there unless someone pointed them out to you. We saw snakes, howler monkeys and lots and lots of rocks. It's hard to believe that the Maya people just abandoned these impressive cities and disappeared.

When the tour was finished and we got back to the bus for our return to the ship, the air conditioning was not working. And, boy howdy, was it hot and muggy. Apparently, a belt had broken. So off we go with the windows open for about 20 miles, when we see another tour bus headed towards us. The two buses stopped in the middle of the road and the driver of the other bus handed ours a belt. We pulled over and five minutes later we were riding in cool comfort. I was glad that our driver was also a mechanic - it was 91 degrees!

Our ship was the Jewel of the Seas and one of the first things we did after boading was get a fruity drink. Later, I found out I really like Champagne Bellini's and so we hung out at the Champagne Bar in the evenings after dinner to drown our sorrows from losing money in the casino. I won my money back on the fourth night, so I didn't gamble any more after that.

The staff was friendly and helpful (especially Lorenzo, who insisted on mixing up lots of "medicine" for my twisted knee after the day climbing around the Maya Ruins.)

And, of course, you can't go on a cruise without experiencing the incredible food. Both in deliciousness and quantity. I swear, now I don't want to eat a thing... until Thanksgiving, that is... then Christmas... uh oh! This could be bad. I already know what my New Year's resolution should be.

But, we had a marvelous time and now it's back to reality. So far, I've made it through the giant pile of mail and done two loads of laundry. Now, since I got used to taking a nap every day, I think I need to go lay down. I swear, I'll get back to work on Monday!!

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