Communing with Ernest Hemingway and other tales of my non-writing vacation

And I’m back.

After all good intentions of sitting by the pool and writing/blogging/reflecting the glow of the sun with my paleness, were cast to the wayside and openly mocked over cocktails, I have Cha Cha-ed by way back from The Caribbean!

For those just tuning in:

My mother and I went on a cruise to Key West and Cozumel.  This was my first cruise and my first journey to Mexico which,012 frankly, was horrifying to me.  I had visions of constant sea-sickness followed by unwittingly consuming water I shouldn’t or hitting an iceberg in the middle of Caribbean.  Because, you know, I never jump to conclusions out or anything (Phantom Toll Booth reference!  Phantom Toll Booth reference!).  Here’s what my mother learned about cruising with me:

  1. I’m a bad influence
  2. I go to bed really, really early.

It takes skill to be a bad influence while simultaneously falling asleep in a piano bar.  But I did it.  I bought my little Baptist mother shots.  “Heather, I’m not doing shots.”  She said.

“But look!  You get to keep the glass!”  I like to validate spending money under the guise of commemorative glasses.  “I”m amassing a collection!”

She agreed to let me buy her a shot.  She sipped it.  But she liked it and then she bought vanilla liqueur in Cozumel.

As a child, my best friend’s mother told her I was a bad influence.  This is just confirmation that yes, despite the fact that phrase was uttered upwards of twenty years ago (vomit), I am indeed a bad influence.

And I go to bed at 11:00pm.  Even on a cruise.

The Highlights

Key West

033Very little was done in Key West.  I attribute this to the fact that it was approximately 200 degrees out.  Look, I’m from Pennsylvania.  I’m not built for sun and warm weather.  We don’t have sun and warm weather in Pennsylvania.  We have rain and snow.  Anyway, my mother and I decided we’d shop and take a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house.  Embarrassing admission: I’ve never read Hemingway.  Never.  I’m an F. Scott Fitzgerald girl.

And I’m apparently a six toed cat girl because, guys.  Upon review of the photos I took in Key West, the majority were of cats.  Cats drinking water.  Cats drinking water and looking in the opposite direction.  Cats sleeping on pavement.  Cats sleeping on Ernest Hemingway’s bed.  Cat’s sleeping in Ernest Hemingway’s writing nook.  I feel as if I need a writing nook.  In lieu of that, I took a picture of myself standing in his writing room.  Good vibes, guys, good vibes.037

Then I had a daiquiri at one of his favorite bars, Sloppy Joes.  Most surprising thing to me was the fact that they actually serve sloppy joes there.  Who knew?  Probably everyone but me.


Ah, Mexico.  My knowledge of Mexico is limited to, oh, lets say the 1950s Disney movie, The Three Caballeros.  And the fact you shouldn’t drink the water.  Our excursion was called Salsa and Salsa and the concept was mind-blowing: learn to make salsa.  Learn to salsa dance.  Drink margaritas the entire time.

Sign.  Me.  Up.

After what ranks as one of the Top Three Most Terrifying Taxi Rides of My Life, we arrived at the resort.  We were promptly064 given vegetables and margaritas.  I gave the side eye to bottled water that had “bottled in Mexico” displayed on the cap.  We made red salsa, green salsa, guacamole, dessert salsa, margaritas on the rocks, strawberry margaritas; we ate chips and salsa and quesodillas and taquitos and homemade vanilla bean ice cream covered in Rompope, the best darn vanilla liqueur I’ve ever had.  Then we learned to salsa dance.

I can confidently say, I also learned I am a terrible salsa dancer.  Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle.

Fun Day(s) at Sea

Prior to going on the cruise, I thought I’d have time to sit by the pool and write.  I bought a new notebook.  I bought new pens.  The reality of cruising, though, is that you’re so busy doing fun things and running amok and getting your picture taken with towels shaped into a platypus, that there is just isn’t time for down time.  I stood by the pool once.  I drank an ice tea at a table on the other side of the deck.  But I never even took my notebook out of my book bag.

086I made lots of references about the Titanic, though.  Because Lord knows my mother never gets tired of that.

Comedy clubs.  Dance classes (Cha Cha and…we’ll call it Disco Inferno).  80s music party.  I bought rum punch in a cup shaped like a disco ball (only because I got to keep the cup…).  I went to a piano bar and bought my mother a diet Coke.  And we took a behind the scenes tour of the ship where I got to:

  • Make a radish and carrot flower in the galley
  • Stand in the freezer and look at frozen meat
  • Watch a machine dry, iron, and fold bed sheets
  • Ogle Italian officers on The Bridge
  • Meet the Captain

And yes.  I got a commemorative hat.

Oddly enough–well, maybe not odd to those of you who have been on cruises before–I was dizzier today than I was on the ship.  Example: I was standing by the copier and almost fell over.  True, some times this happens on its own.  But today I088 just felt dizzy.  The only time I felt the ship rock was when I was sleeping and woke up with heartburn from too much alcohol.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

It took like, four and a half days to get home.  Technically, yes, it took like, two days to sail back to Florida from Cozumel.  But then, the actual flight home?  Well.  Let me tell you.  We got off the ship with no issues.  Following that, however:

  • The guy in the customs line mocked me for only spending $38.00 in Mexico
  • Our bus got pulled over by the police on the way to the airport for allegedly going 95 (Overheard on the bus: “The only way this thing would hit 95 is if it was going headfirst.  Off a cliff.)
  • Our flight was delayed by two and a half hours and there is apparently only one electrical outlet in the Fort Lauderdale airport.  Some guy wedged himself behind a vending machine to use it, so I had to turn my phone off to keep the battery from running out
  • Once in Atlanta, we had to get from Concourse A to Concourse D in twenty minutes.  This is approximately the same  distance as from Altoona to Guam.
  • Our final flight home was punctuated with turbulence, which conveniently hit just as I was served my beverage and nearly dumped it all in my lap.  My lap and the white pants I’d selected to wear home.  Excellent.

But we made it.  And it was a fantastic trip!  I’m ready to go on my next cruise so watch out Caribbean.  I’ll be back.

In the meantime, I need to get back to writing.  It’s been like, over a week since I worked on my novel–any novel–and the mental dust is starting to gather.  I can feel my participles starting to dangle.  Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle.



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