Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cruise 2008

This year, we took our first-ever Southern Caribbean cruise. Below is the map they show in the brochure.

Since the cruise departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday, and we stayed overnight on Friday, December 12, and finally got to see San Juan's Christmas decorations at night.

This was actually the clearest picture I managed to take all night.
These are decorations in a park located in the heart of Old San Juan.

Also, in one of the parks, there was an exhibit of photos by Yann Arthus-Bertran. One of these aerial photos just happened to be of Puerto Rico:
So, this is a picture I took of his picture. Old San Juan, surrounded by the city wall and fortress, is in the foreground. All of these pictures are stunning, so if you have time, hop on over to his website.

And of course we took a walk along the old fortress,
and visited the cats. They are everywhere, and another visitor pointed out to us that the spayed females all have a notch cut in their left ears. After she told us that, we saw clipped ears everywhere.

Then, it was off to Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, where we strolled around town for a bit before settling in by the beach with some beer. It was a beautiful day.

Then, on Dominica, we took a little hike through the rain forest. It rained. It got muddy. We got wet and muddy. I took a picture of my shoes, but it doesn't do the mess justice.

But, we did make it down to the falls, and it was beautiful.

And no, I did not kill my camera. Miraculously, by the time we drove back down to the beach, it was sunny and hot again.

This is a black sand beach, because it's volcanic. It was The Mud and Black Sand Tour. We looked mighty fine, by the time we got back to the ship. (We got our shoes dried and cleaned up quickly, but I didn't even bring the socks back to the ship with me.) It was a memorable day, and the bus tour was interesting, too. We saw cocoa trees, and bananas growing (they are high maintenance!), and all kinds of local sights.

We just barely got off the ship in Grenada, an island that looks like a work in progress. Actually, the 1980s US invasion of the island killed their tourism trade.

On Bonaire, we chose to simply bask in the sun, since we didn't have much time there. We did not get to go birdwatching--the island is known for it, particularly the wild flamingos--because it would have taken too much time to get to these reserves and back, but we did have some interesting company--

these guys come out, expecting to be fed, and one by one, all of us touristy people did just that.
Hey! There's the ship

The last stop was Aruba, where we visited Palm Beach. This was a most excellent day.
We got to spend pretty much all day at Palm Beach.
We ate lunch at a little restaurant/bar out on a pier, and it looked like a postcard. The lucky dog above belongs to the owner.

And of course the ship was decorated very nicely, and we sometimes got dressed up.

On the last day, a sea day, we found a nice quiet spot on the fourth deck, away from the madding crowd, and enjoyed the sea.
Under the lifeboats, down by the could almost be a song
I thought about stopping the clock, but I couldn't get up there.

On board, we also went to a couple of wine-tasting activities and had a grand time listening to the pianist at Michael's Club--they call him Wally B, he's from New Orleans, and he really tickles those ivories. Also, there was an excellent close-up magician named Carl Andrews, who was billed as a comedian, but he's really a FISM Winning close-up magician.
Good times!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Riveria Maya, 2008

We're in love with a certain Iberostar resort in Playa Paraiso, which is evident because we've been there four times now. This year, the beach was especially perfect; no debilitating storms had been through to cause debris or the need of repair, the water was perfect, and Iberostar has built another resort beside our favorite, which is very pretty to look at.

The big white and maize-colored building in the background is part of Iberostar's new resort, called The Grande.

And we couldn't ask for better weather.

We also hung out at the pools a lot. Ekim took a very sexy shot of me reading with my butt stuck firmly in a tube, my shoulders covered by a t-shirt after spending enough time in the sun.

Gee, these pictures make it look as if we have the place to ourselves, but that wasn't exactly the case, though we did get a free upgrade to The Maya, the slightly-posher sister of The Lindo. It's not quite as pretty, though. It's hard to be as pretty as a place called The Lindo. Most of the restaurants we visited are at The Lindo and as usual, I took my share of pictures of the lobby! I won't repeat the same views, though. Here are some pictures of The Maya:

There's some scary furniture in Maya's entrance. You WILL enjoy this vacation, grrrrrrrrr!

Back at the poolside, though, I'm afraid that some violence did break out--

It appears that the pawns started the melee, and by the end, both knight and bishop were felled in their effort to save the queen. And boy, does she need work--a little plastic surgery should do the trick.

Meanwhile, the cats were hangin' out, relaxing on a table or under our deck chairs,

--that is, when they weren't being chased off by the gangs of coatis outside the lunch buffett.

This year, there were signs on the beach asking people not to feed the coatis OR the cats, and at first, I thought the darling coatis were gone. I'm either naive or stupid. People are feeding the coatis AND the cats, but not on the beach, anymore. Coatis don't care, they like the vegetation on the way to the beach and will hang out on the bridge, as well as right outside the pool area. And the cats never hung out at the beach.

A coati waits for a scufflaw to exit the lunch buffet.

It was a very relaxing week, and I'm still recouperating. It's hard work. For one thing, I'm definitely in guacomole withdrawal. I had either avocados or guacomole at every meal. It's very good with scrambled eggs. With time, though, I shall overcome.