It was in the mid-80s when I was in the Cayman Islands two weeks ago. When I went to work last Wednesday, it was -17 degrees outside. I’m getting use out of my Tardis hat (I’ll eventually get a pic posted, when I don’t have frozen snot-cicles hanging off my face).
Soooo, random mid-winter vacation happened and, obviously, I’ve done no legitimate writing since approximately Christmas Eve. There was post Christmas detox. There was vacation pre-gaming (I threatened to pre-game with back-to-back viewings of Titanic and the Poseidon Adventure). There was vacation. Then there was last week: back to boring routine and getting up early and no more ice cream on the Lido Deck.
And then, midweek, our luggage finally made it home.
The Super Bowl isn’t doing much for me this season (my highlight was Tom Hiddleston in a Jaguar commercial and The Preschooler calling a “first down” a “first left”), so I’m finally getting caught up with social media and blogging and whatnot.
Needless to say, The Hubs and I went on a cruise. It was The Hubs’ first cruise, so I prepared as if I were taking a senior citizen to Cedar Point: I bought Tums. I bought Immodium. I bought Dramamine and chapstick and eye drops and put a plastic bag in my carryon in case someone decided they had to puke. We got up at 3am. We left our car at a park and ride at 4:30am. We were through security and sitting at our gate before 5am.
Bienvenidos a Miami!
Prior to boarding the Carnival Glory, we stayed in the Hilton (I bought the less expensive breakfast and may have eaten off the wrong buffet table, but no one exactly stopped me), shopped at Bayside (I had an expensive drink at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and saw a rat down by the water), and managed to maneuver our way back and forth to the airport and to the Port of Miami relying solely on free transportation (hotel shuttle anyone?). I ate really expensive macaroni and cheese.
The picture to the left is proof The Hubs was actually on the cruise. He’s in like, four pictures because he’s elusive like the Sasquatch.
So, anyway, our first stop was in Cozumel. Viva Mexico! We went to a seminar. And when I say seminar, what I mean is a seminar about tequila. It was a very informative seminar. We started off with what might have been an education video about Mexico (add some sports footage and they could send that puppy off for an Olympic bid). We saw traditional artwork. Then we were presented with the tequila. Three champagne flutes filled with three different ages of tequila: blanco, reposado, and anejo. As it was still well before ten o’clock in the morning, it occurred to me that I probably hadn’t eaten a big enough breakfast for this. It was an accurate thought and I’m going to bet it was probably the last responsible comment I made for the next three or so hours. Because after we were done smelling and sipping and swishing, we were to move onto the next room. For frozen mango margaritas.
And I said to myself, “You paid for this excursion. You’re going to drink every last drink.” Which I did.
The next words out of my mouth were, “Do you think they’ll let me ride that donkey?”
The Hubs, who had also finished his tequila but thankfully has some apparent and bizarre immunity to the effects of alcohol, said, “No.”
I took a picture of the donkey. “I bet I could ride him without a saddle. I bet I could compete.”
The Hubs did not respond the this. Whatever. I took a few hilarious drunken selfies and drank a frozen mango margarita. Then, we were treated to what were some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten: delicious shredded pork and shredded beef, and rice and beans. I skipped the sketchy looking white sauce. Because, no matter how much I’ve had to drink, I’m going to skip over random odd sauces. It’s just how I roll.
After Cozumel, came Belize.
Belize. I was not adequately prepared for Belize. Things started poorly when they loaded us into a small, small transport ship since the coral reefs make it impossible for cruise ships to actually pull into the port. I had breakfast with a Dramamine chaser. The Hubs and I went to visit Mayan ruins, at a site called Altun Ha. Prior to Altun Ha, we drove through Belize City.
I was not overly concerned about, you know, things, until our bus stopped approximately thirty-seven times for the driver and guides to fix the sound system. At one point, when we were pulled off pretty much in the middle of the road, The Hubs kind of mumbled to himself, “We really just need to keep moving.”
The site at Altun Ha was gorgeous, up against lush green rainforests and oozing with all kinds of history and things that “might have” happened. The guides told us that they’re pretty sure human sacrifice did not occur at Altun Ha, but that platform I’m standing on was where they did ritual bleedings of people. I commented to The Hubs that they weren’t specifying how much bleeding was going on. Have you seen Apocolypto? Because I was thinking Apocolypto. Altun Ha was actually more of a mercantile hub though, from what we learned.
On our way back to the port, I looked down to my cell phone and noticed, to my horror, I had a bug bite on my thigh. What I did next can only be described as the reaction of someone who has just had a limb torn off by a zombie: I slumped down against the window and sighed, dejected. I covered the bite with my phone. The Hubs can’t know, The Hubs can’t know.
Then I blurted out, “Something bit me.”
He did not have the reaction I anticipated. He told me I could go to the Medical Bay on the boat (no) or track down a local doctor (NO), so I instead wiped if off with eye makeup remover. Because…that’s got alcohol in it, right? That’s practically an antiseptic.
Our next stop was the island of Roatan. Prior to wandering around Belize, I was most afraid of Roatan. I have a very dear friend who went on a mission trip to Honduras and a girl I used to babysit is now a missionary in Honduras (I’m so oooooooold). Prior to our trip, I read a horrifying article about an American murdered in Roatan. So, I was not anticipating good things.
And I was wrong.
Roatan is gorgeous. Whereas Belize was flat as a pancake, Roatan had hills and rocky terrain. It had beautiful turquoise water and kids trying to peddle Conch shells to Americans (I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to bring Conch shells back to the states, or so, word on the street has it).
We went to a nature park called Gumbalimba. They promised us Pirates and Parrots and Monkeys. I was hoping the monkey part just part of the title and not an actual part of the tour. I hate monkeys. Hate monkeys. This is due to the fact I read the book, Congo, when I was thirteen years old and in the very first half a page or something, a monkey throws an eyeball at a guy. Honestly. That’s practically real life, people.
So, when our tour guide, Henri, said that we’d actually be interacting with said monkeys, I nearly peed my pants. A guy in the front of our van said, “Oh hell no.”
Oh hell no is right. That thing is going to rip my eyeballs out and throw them at small children. Henri warned us not to punch the monkeys because they’ll punch us back.
Oh my God.
Despite my better judgment, and vowing not to let The Hubs book our excursions again, I followed our group into the monkey paddock. It was not actually called the monkey paddock. It was basically just moving from other there to over here, because there aren’t cages or fences or anything. Next thing you know, I’ve got a monkey on my lap. Then he was on my shoulder, sticking sunflower seeds in my hair.
“Creepy little monkeys with disgusting little hands” suddenly became “adorable little sweethearts with warm little hands that are more like cats than anything and, oh, I can pet him too? Really? Are you taking my picture because you really need to take my picture.”
Do I think monkeys still have the capacity to kill? Yes. Yes, they’re just biding their time.
Our final stop was the Cayman Islands. I bought a sweater. Look, it’s cold here in Western Pennsylvania and the sweater was on clearance. What’s that? A bonus.
One word to describe Grand Cayman: Turtles. Turtles! I got to hold a baby sea turtle, which, honestly, was like some kind of bucket list cross off moment. I pulled him right out of the baby turtle tank. After easing two or three turtles up for a photo op, I told The Hubs I was ready to compete.
There’s one downside to handling turtles: the risk of salmonella poisoning. My friend Jocey got salmonella when a turtle sneezed in her eye. Yeah. I didn’t know turtles could sneeze either, but with that in mind, I washed my hands. Then sanitized with suspicious warm sanitizer. Then I washed. Then I sanitized. Then I got back on the ship and washed again. And then I secretly lamented the fact I didn’t have internet access and couldn’t look up salmonella poisoning on WebMD to see if I was having symptoms.
I think Grand Cayman was my favorite. Aside from the turtles, we also went into a semisubmersible submarine and looked at fish and reefs, to a rock formation area called Hell, and to a rum factory where we bought rum cake and sampled banana rum that made my eyes water. The rum cake did not make its way back to the United States. It lasted like, half a day once we got back to the ship. And that was us pacing ourselves!
Coming home was depressing. We got off to a wrong foot when we discovered the temperature was nine degrees. Nine. Things also got progressively bad when we realized a) our luggage was not showing up on the luggage carousal and, b) it wasn’t in the airlines baggage system, which meant it wasn’t scanned in when we left Miami.
My reaction can only be illustrated by Willem Dafoe at the end of Platoon. It was just….ugh, let down. Dresses. Shoes. Seven days worth of dirty laundry and fourteen pairs of dirty underwear. The bottles of alcohol we bought in Mexico!!! NOOOOO!!!!
I tweeted US Airways. I tweeted Carnival Cruise Lines. And then, in the morning, I frantically called Carnival Cruise Lines. “Describe your bag for me,” the representative said.
“Well, it has seven pairs of my underwear in it and seven pairs of my husbands. It has one pair of jean shorts, two pairs of khaki shorts, two cloth shorts, a pink bikini, probably five or so dirty pairs of socks—-”
“Okay, other than clothing.”
“Two bottles of alcohol and two green shot glasses.”
“We have your bag. By the way, it weights thirty-four pounds.”
Look, I have no idea what happened. I’m not concerned about where my bag when and who was forced to lug it around back and forth, either to the airport or just from the cruise ship to the administrative office. The important thing is that Carnival over knighted our bags to us. Sure, FedEx may have just slowed down and little and threw them on the lawn. But all underpants are accounted for and nothing (cough cough alcohol cough cough) got broken.
We’ve already booked our next cruise.
Soooo, now what? Other than the fact we’re supposed to get up to eight inches of snow on Tuesday (poop) and my book getting published…..I’ve got nothing. Like I said, we’re back to consistency and routine. No more tequila before 9am. No more getting bit by red ants in Roatan and scrambling up Mayan ruins in Belize. And, even worse, no more shorts and short sleeves until May. Or June.
This weather, guys. I can’t. No more whining about global warming. You keep your sad little polar bears and sad penguins over there. I saw a bird frozen to the road the other day. It was thirty degrees on Friday and when I walked outside at 6:30am, my first thoughts were, “It’s glorious! I don’t even need a jacket it’s so warm!!!”
Goodbye paradise. Hello big, gray bucket of suck.