What's Going Down

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Girly Man Makes Good

Miles is an intellectual. A thinker.

Also, he's kind of a big wimp. I'm his mother, so I can say this. He's not really into sports, doesn't like getting dirty, and overall, he just doesn't care.

He is now 6.5 and every other child his age (and some MUCH younger) know how to ride a bike without training wheels. I've tried embarrassing him into wanting it, tried bribing with legos, tried forcing.  We even went so far as to take the pedals off so he could attempt to ride it like a strider bike. No dice. He really just didn't care.

Today I mentioned to Miles that it would be really fun if we could all ride bikes together over to our local Italian ice place. His face lit up. I put the pedals back on the bike, gave him a push and he was off. Just like that.

And for the record, this was the ONLY time he rode the bike without a helmet all day. From that moment on, it was firmly strapped to his head.

Once again, this kid surprises me daily.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Costa Maya (and the rest)

Our last Port was Costa Maya, Mexico. 
Being that it was our last port, it was the one we had done the least amount of research on. We didn't know what we wanted to do, or how to get there. In short, we had no plans. 

We decided the night before to just get off the boat and look around. According to reports there was a large pool just inside the port that was free. If all else failed, we'd just swim there. 
 Lounging? Waiting for something to happen? Who knows?!
 We did shop around quite a bit. We were on a mission to find Matt a hat. He'd been wanting one since before we left Florida. 
 This is a lovely shot of us pretending we weren't taking a picture of ourselves. We are just so awesome.
 This was actually the first port where we ran into any type of law enforcement. That gun? Real. We asked to take a picture.  He begrudgingly told us: Only one. Twenty seconds later three hot chicks asked for a picture... he was all smiles. 
What did we end up doing? Have I even told you about our love of the Golf Cart? No? 
 We ended up renting a cart for three hours. We drove all over the place in this thing. 
 We ended up at a private beach that has a deal worked out with the golf cart people. They allow people to sit on their beach for free. We also had access to a sea kayak (had we wanted to go out ... I did. Matt did not). Plus, their drinks/etc were super cheap (in comparison to some of the places we had eaten). 
 You can see our cruise ship smack dab in the middle of the picture. We did a little bit of snorkeling. Laid out for a little bit longer.
 Poor me. I had to go there. Life is so rough. We did end up ordering a pina colada (virgin, of course) which Matt deemed the best pina colada he'd ever had. It was pretty freaking good. We walked along the boardwalk area (shops and beaches) for a bit... where Matt FINALLY found his hat! 
 We enjoyed a coconut water. But between you and me, I'm not sure what all the hype is about.
We decided to hop back in the golf cart and go exploring. 
 We drove along this little road for a couple of miles. It was gorgeous. 
Did I mention we love golf carts? It's a disease maybe.
 This was our view as we left Costa Maya. There is a pool like area over there... it's a dolphin tank. For the low low cost of your firstborn child, you can swim with a dolphin. It seems to us like something it might be worth it to pay for one of your children to do.
 One last shot of the ship. It really was a massive beast of a boat.
 At dinner that night we were looking mighty crispy! And happy. Honestly, of the four ports I think Costa Maya was my favorite. It was just so relaxing. And beautiful and not nearly as touristy as some of the other ports. 

The next day was spent entirely at sea as we sloshed our way back to Florida. We spent it napping, and hot tubbing.
 And we finally got around to doing the onboard Mini-golf. Don't we just look the part?
 Apparently, I needed all my concentration.
 I have to say I was doing pretty well, even though we didn't keep score.
 And Matt, featuring the one thing on board that we didn't get around to: the waterslides. It was always filled with kids and I didn't feel like waiting in line. 
 Don't we look refreshed? And happy? I know we felt it. 
 And finally. I never talked about our tablemates. We got lucky and they sat us at a table for four. Which meant that we only had to worry about two potentially strange dinner mates. But we needn't have worried. We got to meet Rakesh and Gurjeet. They were a very nice couple about our age (so what if we were older!) who were extremely pleasant! We found ourselves looking forward to dinner so we would have someone to share the day's adventures with. 
Yes, we've already friended them on Facebook. 
That brings our cruise travelogue to a close. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roatan, Honduras

Also known as the slightly scary experience where we ate some weird but good food.
 Port day Three landed us in Roatan, Honduras:  a sliver of an island only four miles wide. Our goal for today was just to go to the beach and do some snorkeling.  We ended up deciding to hire a somewhat shady taxi driver named Benny to drive us out to a private beach. Private meaning you have to pay to use it. So, yes. A Tier 3 decision. As we were being ushered around in a 1992 Honda Accord with no a/c, Benny told us a little about Roatan. Apparently, they produce nothing. They have no exports, only imports. Their main industry is tourism.
 Despite being a little leary of Benny, he did as promised: delivered us to a gorgeous beach. The he waited around for us while we snorkeled, laid out, got sunburned, and drove us home.
 This was my view for much of the day. There were a TON of locals who walked up and down this beach hawking their wares. "Wanna massages, lady?" We purchased nothing. On the way back, we got into a discussion with Benny about the fact that they hunt (illegally) and eat iguana. He asked if we were feeling adventurous. Sure!
Benny took us to this little roadside restaurant.

This, ladies and gents, is Iguana. Looks like chicken? Tastes like a chewier, slightly gamier chicken. Also, beans and rice and fried plantains. I thought it was just meh. Matt, on the other hand, loved it. Which is good because we ended up trading plates. I got this: 
 Steamed Grouper. It. was. amazing. Easily the best food of my whole trip. I'm craving it now. My mouth is watering.
 This nice gentleman above is Bertie. I'm fairly certain he's preparing more iguana right now.

 Once again, the road takes you right along the coast. Some really cool views.
 I wish I could remember the details about this ship but I did ask if it had been dragged there and they insisted that it was a real ship that had run aground and been abandoned.

We headed back to our ship sorta early and took a nice long shower and nap. This is me. Dorking around on my Kindle. I hope you enjoy this super closeup of my feet. 
 My dinner outfit. Mostly, I just love the bracelet I picked up that day in Roatan. It's made of Tagua Seeds.
 And Matt was there too.
 And just some random shots.  This was a black forest cake we bought while on board. It was okay. Meh.
 The view from the Lobby all the way up to the top of the ship. Also know as the Dream Atrium.
 This was by far my favorite dessert of the trip. Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. I had it three times. Judge me. It was amazing.
 And this was a delicious looking Tiramisu. I didn't have any so I can't tell you if it was any good.
Tomorrow: Final Port... Costa Maya

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Our second port day found us in Belize. When you cruise to Belize, they park the cruise ship about a 15 minute boat ride away from the shore (because it's too shallow) and you ride a Tender (smallish boat) over to Belize City. 
 (Belize City from the Tender)

 We walked straight past the Carnival tours and found a Tier 2 gentleman who bartered with us for what we wanted: Cave Tubing and Ziplining. The final price we agreed upon was about half what Carnival cost. Score!

We piled into a van with 8 other very nice people and our fantastic tour guide. As he drove through Belize City he gave us a very fascinating and informative tour. Probably my favorite little factoid was that while there is a Speed Limit in Belize, they do not employ ANY highway patrolmen. I really wouldn't mind going back to Belize again. I found it to be a charming and beautiful country (where the official language is English).

We drove about an hour into the country for our excursion. We started out with a Cave Tubing tour. It was so cool. We took about a 25 minute hike through the jungle/rainforest with our tubes. I saw the largest anthill I've ever laid eyes on. We also saw some Howler monkeys. I didn't get ANY pictures of the cave tubing because again... it was a water excursion and we didn't feel like risking getting the camera wet.

I would like to point out that the zipline excursion is the main reason I wanted to take THIS cruise. I wanted to go ziplining in Belize. Bucket List check!
I would also like to point out that I wasn't even the least bit scared. These guys working with us were extremely careful and safe. It was awesome. I can't recommend it enough. 
Plus, I had this totally hot guy (the barechested one) along for the ride.
 I really wish we'd had more adventure type excursions like this one. 

Toward the end of the Zipline thing, one of the guides leaned over and pointed to something on the ground.  It was this: 
 He assured us we need not be afraid of her because she was laying her eggs. Oh sure. Sorry. Didn't help. Spiders are not my favorite thing.

Overall, the zipline was easily my favorite part of the trip. 

 I'd do it again. And again. And again. 
 Especially with this guy by my side. I'm so freaking lucky!
Then it was back to the ship. That evening, after dinner, we attended a dance performance. It was pretty good! I enjoyed the dancing much more than the singing, but it was a better use of our evening than what we had done previously (aka: fall asleep... hey! we're old, leave us alone). 
 Self portraits just aren't self portraits without duck face, right?
We are just SOOO klassy!

Tomorrow: Roatan, Honduras

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Being that Cozumel was our first port, Matt had done a lot of research about the best way to get around, what to do, etc.

The way I describe your excursion choices is by tiers.
Tier 1: Book through Carnival. Everything will be organized for you. But you will be in a group with a million people. Also, the most expensive option.
Tier 2: Keep walking. After you pass all the Carnival people, there will typically be another company waiting there to offer their version of Carnival's excursions. Pretty reliable, smaller groups, about 1/3rd to 1/2 less expensive than booking with the cruise line.
Tier 3: Keep walking. You will come upon a somewhat sketchy looking group of locals who are willing to drive you (usually no more than 2 people) all over the place in their own car. Usually, dirt cheap. Sometimes, (as in the case of one of our shipmates) they may need to take a detour to go to a different dock and pick up a package for their brother and deliver it before they can take you where you wanted to go. Possibly a little scary.

For all of our ports we chose options 2 or 3.
In Cozumel, we rented a car. Not just any car. This sweet little ride:
A convertible smart car. It worked perfectly and cost the same to rent as a compact would have. Plus, when you're driving on crazy streets that you aren't familiar with... yeah. Smaller car is better.
Also, check out how awesome we look!
Speaking of crazy streets...I guess I need to point out that I have never been outside the United States unless you count going to Canada (and I don't). We had been driving for less than a mile in Cozumel and we came across this nice gentleman. He was a one man pothole filling machine. No cones. No orange vest. Just this one dude who carried about his job while people whizzed by him on both sides. 

The plan was to drive out to the San Gervasio ruins which are the largest Mayan ruins on the island of Cozumel. The drive out there was lovely. I am continually awed at some of the ramshackle places that people were actually living in. I don't think I can ever complain about our home again.

Matt has plans to paint this home. Probably minus the car. People in Cozumel are not afraid of color.
 According to the very nice and knowledgeable tour guide at the site the San Gervasio Ruins were once a hub of worship of the goddess Ix Chel, deity of the moon, childbirth, & fertility. Apparently, it's where everyone went to get married and get pregnant. I told Matt we chose the wrong ruins as I was NOT there to get knocked up.

 There were a lot more pictures of the ruins, but frankly, you have to be there to enjoy it. The pictures don't do them justice. The reason these are ruins instead of more fully formed buildings is because when Spanish explorers came knocking, they blew the place sky high looking for Gold. Nice, eh?

One of my favorite parts of the park is that it is also a wildlife refuge. I saw about 20 (probably more) large iguana just lying around.

 Apparently, they don't bother people. We'll talk more about iguana when we go to Honduras...

The worst part was actually the mosquitos. I put on a TON of bug spray and sunblock and while my lily-white skin didn't get burned, I managed to walk away with about 8 bites. 
 After we left the ruins, we drove over to a recommended restaurant (apparently, locals will ALWAYS refer you to a tourists restaurant). When we got there it was nice and quiet. Just Matt and I in the entire place. I ordered fish tacos and Matt ordered grilled fish. While we waited for our meal we sipped on $3/bottle water. Grrr.... AND THEN.... Two (2) tour buses arrived with people from a Carnival excursion. We were SO annoyed. Fortunately, we ate quickly (and our food was pretty good) and left.
 This was the view as we drove down the coast. California and Florida have got nothing on this. 
We stopped at one of the free beaches on the way (Corona Beach) where we did some snorkeling. We don't have any pictures of anything we saw because we didn't have an underwater housing for the new camera and our experience with disposable underwater cameras is not good. We got to see some brain coral, lots of little fish that seemed to follow us around and even a barracuda. We returned our rental car, haggled with some vendors for some souvenirs for the kids and headed back to the boat. 
Overall, Cozumel was our least favorite port. It was the most developed and definitely the most tourist driven of all our destinations. We had fun anyway!

Tomorrow: Belize!

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