Friday, July 16, 2010

Cruise-Costa Maya

No, I haven't been cruising out there for the last two months. Just a litte blogcation. So much going on. Fodder for future reports.

Back to our cruise----and boy, I desparately need another one right now.

I left off just after our tour of Belize. Just read this week that a Carnival cruiser, 14 year old girl, was killed on an excursion in St. Thomas (I believe?). Caught in the middle of a gang war shootout. Wow. We believed we were so safe in all our ports of call but after discussing this yesterday with a co-worker, I could so imagine our school bus getting stopped in the middle of the Belize jungle and being hijacked by criminals of some sort. With just Mah-lisa and our busdriver to protect us. We were just a busload of naive tourists and quite lucky tourists at that. Never take your surroundings for granted.

So the day after our Belize experience, we floated on up to Mexico and stopped at what they call Costa Maya. I don't believe this is actually a town. More like a pier with quite alot of stores.

Notice in this first picture, the green by the shore and away from the shore is all gray destruction. Hurricane Dean hit this shore dead on several years ago. It was descimated. The gray are all the dead trees that still remain. You'll see this alot in the following pictures.

And I apologize for the quality of some these pictures from Costa Maya. I bought an underwater camera (to prepare ahead for the sinking of my kayak) and the quality of the film was very poor but it was all I had on this island.

So as I mentioned above, we were going a Clear Kayak excursion at this port. The night before I started getting a little anxious about it all and was sharing my fears at dinner. We were doing our floating in the ocean. I had never kayaked before and was concerned about the boats being closed top kayaks and I might turn over and not be able to exit from it successfully. I shouldn't have worried so much ABOUT THAT part. They were open kayaks, more like canoes.

So at the end of the pier we hooked up with our excursion leader who was glad to see us BUT explained the weather was kind of treacherous today with high waves, etc. and were we sure we wanted to do this? What kind of question was that? I was getting more terrified by the minute. I looked at Papa who threw it back to me and after asking "were we gonna die out there", our leader assured us we were going to be just fine but here sign an additional waiver that says "I informed you about the weather and ocean conditions releasing the tour from responsibility in the event of.......... "

Regardless of this gloomy outlook, we had quite a few people in our excursion group and so we all headed to our safari bus that would transport us to the fishing village of Mahahual.

See what I mean about the hurricane aftermath. So very sad. This was the one place that I really felt like my tourism dollars might do some good. That's all they seem to have.

After about a 20 minute bus road, we arrived at the village which is basically a long strip of stores, restaurants, bars and sections of the beach that have been cordoned off as "private beach areas". The rest of our cruise group had optioned for a private beach day at this port and so they found themselves in this area as well.

Anyway, we gathered at our "excursion bar" to lock up our valuables and went to the beach where we received our 5 minute kayak tuitorial, loaded up and started paddling.

More setting of the stage. I was getting a bit sunburned by this time in our vacation and so I opted to wear some capris and one of Papa's shirts versus a swimsuit trying to avoid an all out sun-scalding. SO VERY GLAD I DID.

So off we paddled:

and who did we pass by. The Weatherman and Cracker on their "private beach". When they spotted us paddling by, they started yelling and flailing about, amazed that I had gone through with it (after discussions from the night before at dinner when I admitted I was terrified of doing this). That's the Weatherman, front and to the right...Cracker is a little behind waving her arms.

So out to the open ocean we went. It was pretty wild. We were going out so far to a reef but as we would get closer, the water breaking over the reef was quite abit over our heads. One kayak got swamped and started sinking but it wasn't our's.....I should tell you now that there was a leader of our group who we were following and following all of us was a speedboat with our rescuers aboard. We were told that if anyone just wanted to quit, get their attention and they would pick you up or if anyone had a problem, again just get their attention and they would be rescued. By the end of our time, they had picked up 2 boats worth of folks but again wasn't US.

Now if you've been reading this blog long at all, you will realize that Papa and I sometimes see things differently and butt heads from time to time. Paddling a canoe, I found out, was something we should have done with different partners. Papa kept telling me I was paddling on the wrong side than him and not paddling fast enough, and just basically not doing it right. THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME. I was in the front, how do I know what side he is paddling? And I should be doing opposite? And this was not a race, I wanted to enjoy our little ocean voyage not come in first. And we were on the open ocean....a very wild, wavy ocean and the whole thing was just a tad bit FRIGHTENING to me. I barely had time to snap a photo here and there and no time whatsoever to apply EXTRA SUNSCREEN TO MY EXPOSED CALVES. I'm sure you can see where this heading.

So needless to say, the Bickerson's paddled along yelling at each other. It was so hard for me to refrain from knocking him out of the boat with my paddle to shut him up (only because I knew I needed him to help me get back to shore!) We ended up battling the ocean and wind and the waves and each other for about an hour but viewed no ocean life through our kayak bottoms. Our leader finally gathered us around and said we were heading back to shore, the conditions were a little bit dangerous. WHEW....and so we paddled back to shore. I was partly relieved and partly proud that I wasn't one of those in the rescue boat. I HAD DONE IT and SURVIVED.

We ended up receiving alot of free drink tickets from the bar since our excursion was cut short and were set loose on the beach, to eat, drink, or shop. Which is what we did.

We stopped by and visited Cracker and the Weatherman for a few minutes and received a serenade.

Then it was time to meet up with our group once again for the bus ride back to the the Costa Maya pier.

Those that didn't have a safari bus ride, had to use a taxi to get back to the pier. Quite the little traffic jam to get all the cruise boat (more than one at this port) passengers back to their ships on time. DD and SIL had a smashing time but it seemed to be exhausting for them as well.

That's SIL in the big straw hat toward the left.

That night was our final formal night for dinner. The winds and high waves on the ocean were a precusor to a bad storm at sea that evening, so after showering and getting dressed up, I slapped on my sea bands and took a Dramine and off we went to dinner.

Cracker and the Weatherman enjoyed their port time much so, they called it an early night and went to bed, passing on dinner. Papa almost made it to the dining room but when he passed by the sushi bar, the seasickness had it's way with him and back to the room he went. I continued on, lurching down the boat until I made it to the dining room and met DD and SIL. DD was hunched over stating she was just going to eat some bread for dinner but we convinced her to pack it in and go back to the room if she felt so awful. So SIL and I had dinner together that night and participated in some more singing and dancing with Lim, our waiter.

Then I called it a night.

Next report will be our cruise wrapup.

For now....Grammy

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