I have returned, in high spirits, but no less tired.
My extended family had been filtering in for about a week before last Sunday, for both my sister’s and my graduations were happening. With the last of them in, 17 ppl occupied our house to go on the cruise, with Evan’s family of 7 coming with us.
After project grad, I got in about 3 hours of sleep between stuff before a charter mini-bus came to pick us up. We had an enormous amount of luggage and far too many ppl, and so this apparently was our best choice (I could be really nice and put the pictures in here, but that sounds like work. Use facebook if you want to take a look at the pictures).
The other side of my family had been on a cruise mebbe 5 years ago to Alaska, and going with the same company and on a ship of almost identical design, it didn’t take long to get used to it. Named the “Rhapsody of the Seas”, the ship was certainly large enough to accommodate everyone and have variety, while still having pockets for us to reliably hang out at.
And that we did. Not entirely sure why, but the kids in our group spent an amazing amount of time playing cards in the card room. Yes. We’re on a cruise ship, and we’re engaged in ERS, idiot, and nine-down (a really cool game similar to Spades, except playable with any number of players). I’m still trying to figure out how justifiable that was (I hate knowing about sunk costs; that can be so unintuitive)
Of course, cruises are just big feasts, so meals are not to be skipped or shortened. The breakfast buffet worked out as I finally realized this year that the reason I hated eating breakfast out was because I hate bacon, sausage, and many generic breakfast foods. Instead, I got to dig in on omelets every morning. Lunch was pretty much whatever, but the dinners in the dining hall were pretty much amazing. I also discovered that I have a bad addiction to soft serve ice cream.
Our first stop was in Jamaica, and my sister Lisa and I joined my Uncle Ben and his family on a tour centered around a fruit plantation visit. Our tour guide was decent, and managed to keep us interested with good information and jokes. We first stopped at a church, which I have a couple pictures of, then at a schoolhouse.
The schoolhouse was quite something. 80 kids, 3 teachers, 1 building, and used to visitors. No apparent lighting, little equipment, and minimal space. I guess for people living in places like suburban North America (like me), it’s hard to imagine how poverty goes, but I’d imagine that being it. While one can understand that it happens, actually seeing it is a different experience.
We then went to the fruit plantation, which was actually something of a disappointment. The rain made it less hospitable, but we really didn’t get to see where ‘nething was grown or learn much about the process. We did, however, get some good samples.
Grand Cayman was nasty, nasty rain. My sister Lisa and I had intended on going para-sailing, but all of that was canceled because of the rain and winds. Instead, I walked around some of the touristy shopping stuff right along the shore.
Note “right along the shore”. I could tell from appearances that the tourist stuff ended quite soon past the water-front, but Evan and Thor apparently just went for a walk, and ended up in the residential areas soon after, with few accommodations for ‘nething. I guess I had the misunderstanding that the entire island like that was just one giant resort area, with shops and tourist stuff spread across all of it. Even, so I’d say that the shops and stuff only stood at most 10 blocks across and two back. And in that area, several jewelry shops stood. What a contrast.
Cozumel was probably one of the more fulfilling experiences. That day, I went on a trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum with Evan’s grandparents and step-sister. Fortunately, the rain decided to let us have one clear day despite only a 40% chance of such.
The trip to get to it from the ship was about 2 hrs between a ferry and bus, but worth the trip. Tulum was some Mayan coastal fortress type-thingie, with much of the ruins intact. While they didn’t let us actually get inside or very close to the buildings, I think I got the best of it on camera (thanks Lisa for letting me borrow your higher-quality camera!).
The site was actually a little nasty. The sun was very hot, and the mosquitoes were everywhere. I wish I had taken a picture of my shirt to show you how many there were, but suffice to say, I had to sweep my shirt quite often to get rid of all of the ones that clung to it and my skin. According to the tour guide, they only come out like that on the day after rain. It rains, they thrive, and but in another day of the heat, they all die. Well, I’m not going to complain; better than viewing the site in the rain.
The ruins were coastal, of course, so we had the opportunity to go down to the beach that I took pictures of. While we didn’t, it was quite beautiful. The water was completely clear, so the blue spread all the way to the horizon and picturesque sky. Right along the shore was really cool as well. Whenever the tides came in, they’d grab some of the sand, so there’d be an area of a mix of sand and blue water. And I realize I can’t explain it very well, but it was pretty amazing. Even the pictures don’t do it justice.
So I don’t like this entry very much, because it’s kind of a summary, without either detail or insight, but I figure I have to blog about the trip. It was fun.