Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise, Part 4

We're down to the home stretch. . . .

2012-12–20 Thursday: At sea. Calm weather today, warm with a mix of sun and cloud. The piped-in music that plays constantly in the halls has now turned into Christmas music. We had a chance to get a picture of the kids with the whole gang of characters dressed in their holiday finery. Mom and Dad then gave the kids a couple of hours of time at the Oceaneers Club and Flounder’s Reef so the grown-ups could go to a class, take a walk, and have a formal lunch on their own. We then picked up the kids for a nap for Eliza and pool time for Landon. Someone had an “accident” at the little kids pool, so it got shut down and Landon went over to the big kids pool. We opted not to do tonight’s formal dinner and instead went topside to watch the sunset and a bit of a movie before going to Beach Blanket Buffet for a casual dinner. Hallie went to see a musical called Dreams while Mike put the kids to bed and watched the BYU game. Go BYU!
The many colors of the Blue Caribbean

We see that the ocean on this side of the continent tends to be different colored than that on the other side.

The kids and the gang. We almost didn't get the shot because they only gave us one (long line), and Eliza didn't want to cooperate once she got up close to the characters. 

Do you see the hidden Mickey?

Workers were doing maintenance, so we got to see some of what goes on behind the paneling throughout the ship

Hallie and Mike made masks for the kids while the kids played at their own activities. 

As we decided to sit out of the formal dinner, we went to Beach Blanket Buffet and then watched Sleeping Beauty and the gorgeous sunset on Funnel Vision.

Lounge chair trampolines 

We went down to sneak a peek at the Officers Ball.

2012-12-21 Friday: Costa Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico. We happened to be in the lands of the Maya to start the new cycle of their calendar. Pretty cool coincidence. We opted not to take Eliza with us this time, and that turned out to be a good decision. We left the ship thinking we were running a little behind but basically on time for our Chacchoben Mayan ruins and cooking trip. When we arrived at the desk, however, no one was there. Apparently, there was some confusion regarding our shore excursion due to our early arrival at port and the difference between the ship’s time and the local time. We had shown up on time for our excursion according to the directions on the voucher, but everyone else, including the company providing the tour, decided to take off without us an hour early. Fortunately, we were able to catch up with our group, only missing the first twenty minutes or so of the beginning portion thanks to one of the employees personally chauffeuring us the 45 minutes out to the ruins in another vehicle. Our guide, Casey, helped us find our group quickly. The ruins, while smaller than those at better known sites like Chichen Itzá, were quite impressive. Landon really got into the idea that he was climbing ancient pyramids. Everything seemed to be going well for him until he was stung by a yellow jacket. He started screaming, and we and the guides got him taken care of. This boy continues to amaze. While the sting hurt, he got right back into his explorations. After spending time walking around the ruins and learning some Mayan history and culture from Joel, the guide who directed the tour, we drove to the village of Chacchoben. At the village, we went to the home of a local family and enjoyed lunch made by decedents of the people who had originally lived in the area. We made corn tortillas using a hand-shaping technique and enjoyed chicken, tamales, vegetables, and dessert made with local ingredients and techniques. We purchased some handicrafts and then returned the 45 minutes to the ship in the vans thinking that we were about an hour later than we wanted to be, but we were actually a little early back to the ship. Once we set back out to sea, we ran into some of the weather the eastern half of the US had been experiencing so it was windy and the ship moved around quite a bit. The captain predicted 10-12 foot swells. Good thing none of us seems to get motion sick!

Our guides, Joel and Casey. Casey's grandfather was American, so he raised  his children bilingual, and his son (Casy's father) did the same, so she has no accent. 


Stung. Ouch!

Going up the gran basamento, or large foundation, leading to the sun and moon pyramids

The sun and moon pyramid

Looking back down

You'd hardly know he had gotten hurt.

On the road to the home of a Mayan family in the village of Chacchoben

Stone walls in the area are repurposed materials from the ruins.

Beautiful blooming bougainvillea

Hallie's perfect tortilla

The boys didn't do too badly themselves.

Delicious almuerzo of chicken, tamales, veggies, black beans, and rice

Dessert consisted of crema, papaya, jicama, and pineapple.

Landon was fascinated by the tiny sweet local bananas.

He also got a kick out of drawing water from the family well.

Hallie with two of our mamitas

Stormy weather from the eastern US ahead

2012-12-22 Saturday: Last day at sea. We had a lot of wind this morning, but we generally settled back into gentle rolling. We cruised north of Cuba today, but we were too far north to see anything from our stateroom veranda. We spent a fair amount of the day finishing our packing, but we did manage to get some fun in. Hallie took Landon to the Oceaneers Club one last time, and Mike took Eliza to a last origami class. We walked around the decks taking in the breezes and the sun, hoping to soak up enough for the chilly winter snow and ice we hear will meet us upon our return. We had a final celebration dinner at Triton’s with the wait staff and bid our farewells to new friends made here. The kids had a hard time going down tonight. Perhaps seeing all the packed bags clued them in that time has come to say goodbye. We debark in Miami bright and early tomorrow morning.

Baked Alaska for dessert!

The staff at Flounder's Reef nursery. Lifesavers!

2012-12-23 Sunday: “Miami morning,” or debarkation day. We arrived at port before dawn. We basically got up, got our backpacks, went down to Triton’s Restaurant for breakfast and to say our goodbyes to staff and friends we had made while on board, and then waited our turn to debark the ship. The real adventure/challenge came after we got off the ship with all our luggage in tow. We took one shuttle to the Fort Lauderdale airport and then another to our hotel for the day. Hallie heard all sorts of interesting information about the area from the first shuttle driver, but the rest of us in the van could not hear him. When we arrived at the hotel, the staff let us get into our room early (thank you!). Mike finally took care of some much needed paperwork for school that required Internet access, and then he took the kids down to the pool. The kids had a hard time getting settled in the evening. It’s a peculiar sensation to be back on land after two weeks at sea when you finally get quiet and are lying down to rest. You want to rock to maintain some sense of motion. We had such a great time while on the cruise, and we hope that Landon will have many memories and that Eliza will be entertained by the stories she hears of this extraordinary experience.

Goodbye, stairs!

Artwork gracing the corridors and landings

All done: From LA to Miami by way of the Panama Canal

4867 nautical miles equals 5601 regular miles or 9014 kilometers.

Goodbye, Wonder!

We think our stateroom veranda is one of those on the second row down.

See you real soon!

Wish we were going up those escalators, but it's time to get back home. 

No comments: