February 14th, 2009

vacation

CRIKEY!: Day 6

We got into Georgetown pretty early in the morning. Breakfast was delivered to the room, and we got onto a tender that took us to shore while the sun was still relatively fresh in the sky.

The "waiting area" for our excursion was right off the pier, and we had a little time to wander the shops and look at all the Grand Cayman Kitsch before hopping on a bus that took us to the other side of the skinny island. From there, we loaded onto a patioish boat, and shuttled out to the part of the sand bar called "Stingray City."

SPLOOSH into the water, and all of the sudden we were surrounded by more stingrays than you can shake a didjeridoo at. The two guys who were crewing our boat went out and brought a small herd back to us. We got to hold them and pet them and give them smooches. Some folks got stingray backrubs. They were very much like eager dogs. They'd swim up and rub up against you until they realized you, specifically, weren't holding on to any food for them, then they'd move on to someone else.

It may have been the coolest thing ever. We were standing in waist deep bright blue waters, at least a mile from land in any direction, surrounded by a bonzer load of sting rays. There was even one that was born without a tail. Her name was Frisbee.

From Stingray City, we moved on to a coral garden and snorkeled there for a while, looking at the coral and tropical fish, and drinking alot of sea water as we (I) dunked my head too deep and flooded our (my) snorkel.

On the way back to shore, we stopped briefly, and one of the guides dove off the boat and came back up with a conch shell. He pulled the conch out from inside, and brought it around for us all to examine, and then he cleaned it and we all munched on some fresh conch sashimi.

Back on shore, we had lunch and mudslides at Hammerheads, where we were caught in a sudden, extended tropical downpour. Thankfully table umbrellas kept us MOSTLY not wet while we ate (and drank).

After a brief bit of shopping, it was back to the ship where we sailed slowly away from a really really neat place. Apparently if you want to move there, you can stay for up to 7 years before you have to go home. Tempting.

All the swimming and the seawater swallowing made me a little achey and sore, so I tried to nap a bit after dinner, and before going to see the comedian in the Degas Lounge. Then it was off to early bed. Sweet, sweet, early bed.
compton

Chop Out Your Heart: Day 7

Friday was a nice "Sleep in" day, as we didn't get into port in Cozumel till 10AM. But those of us who had mainland excursions had to meet early in the forward lounge so they could give us that "we WILL leave you behind" talk, and so they could sneak us off the boat before everyone else. It was just Stanley and I on our own for the day, as everyone else was going dune buggying or snorkeling, or catamaraning in Cozumel.

Stanley and I loaded up the camera and hopped a ferry to the mainland, then jumped on a bus for the 45 minute ride to ancient Mayan city of Tulum. Our tour guide, Gama, was really funny, and did a great job, especially with the subtle sales during the stop at the little Mayan Cultural Cooperative before we arrived at the ruins. We got alot of historical and cultural information on the way there, and Gama gave us a short walking tour of some of the major points once we were inside the city, then let us loose.

We had about 2 hours on our own to wander the city and the beach. Tulum was an ancient trading port right on the water. The area you can explore is about 2 blocks deep and 4 blocks long, right on the coast. Their biggest temple sits on a cliff about 40 feet over the beach. The views were just crazy beautiful.

Stanley got ALOT of attention, and fellow cruisers as well as locals wanted their picture taken with him. Apparently Muppet in Spanish translates loosely to "Cookie Eater." Alot of the sales guys at the shops off the parking lot asked me "how much for your baby?" Someone actually offered me $5 for him. I got to use my limited restaurant Spanish to tell him "Hell no."

I could have used 4 or 5 more hours to explore the ruins at LEAST. Of course the timing put us there right in the middle of the day, so the sun was right overhead-- not the best time for photographs. But hey, I got there! And it was awesome.

We were the last tour to get back to the boat, so shortly after getting back on board, we departed Cozumel, getting lots of waves and flashes from the Carnival Legacy that was parked next to us (remember the Naked Cruise?).

Dinner was (insert previous praise here, it's all good). Then we went and hung out in Blues piano bar for a while before heading off to bed.

Fun times. Fun times.