Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beginning of the End... Already!

This contract has felt like a weird mix of flying by and dragging along. For a while it seemed like it would never end but now our 10 and 11 day itineraries have come to an end and its only 3 weeks until the crossing to Europe! All of a sudden the weeks just zip by!

By now, if you’ve been following our blog, you’ve gotten a feel for some of the places we dock and kinda know what they’re all about. We have managed to break through the daily grind of ship life and experience a few new things over the last few weeks.

In Aruba we finally took a bus down to the hotel district and we sure wish we’d done it sooner. That area is a ton of fun! Beautiful beaches, stunning resorts, a variety of restaurants, bars and shops – there’s something for everyone! 

Ron and I escorted a tour to De Paz Rum Factory in Martinique. We toured the beautiful grounds and sampled some rum that the locals will tell you is the best in the world. We both thought it was pretty yummy and considered buying a bottle to bring home and share, but we’re not really rum drinkers so the samples sufficed. 

During our last time in Dominica, we were very lucky to escort a river tubing tour. We drove about an hour away from the ship to a remote river in a very deep canyon where we were given large yellow inner tubes and set off down a gently flowing river. A few minutes of floating quickly but peacefully led to interludes of rushing rapids that tossed us around and propelled us forward even faster. We had a blast bouncing around, splashing, and spinning down the Layou Gorge. Though I am still partial to river rafting, I would never turn down another river tubing trip. So much fun! I wish I had pictures to show you but we have yet to invest in a waterproof camera which would have come in handy on more occasions than not over the last two contracts. We’re going to miss Dominica. I wasn’t expecting much when I heard it was on our itinerary so I was pleasantly surprised to discover so many fun activities and hidden beauty on that island.

Ron & the Pitons in St. Lucia

Last time we were in Fort Lauderdale, Ron and I got to escort an excursion to see the Everglades. This is another one of my favorite excursions of all time. We got to ride on an airboat through the everglades which was in itself a really cool new experience. The captain of the little boat got us right up close to the alligators. Seriously, I was less than two feet away from one of them! I’d like to say that I’m very brave and wasn’t scared one bit, but I  know how far those little buggers can jump and wasn’t too keen on the idea of a potential live demonstration of their skills. I was relieved when we backed away. 

However, both of us were brave enough to hold a baby one at the sanctuary we visited after the boat ride. Everyone I told asked me what it felt like. Have you ever picked up a really good quality alligator handbag? If you haven’t, then I recommend a field trip to Saks’ handbag department. It feels exactly like that. 

We were also offered the opportunity to hold a giant python. I wouldn’t even consider that kind of behavior as a viable option for me. I. Do. Not. Do. Snakes. Ron passed citing the fact that he has held snakes a ton of times at supper camp as his reason. Of course that is the case. It wouldn’t be that the thought of holding a giant snake is terrifying… On the other side of the sanctuary, we fed corn to a pig and saw a peacock with his feathers displayed. Having spent a few years of my life in Palos Verdes where peacocks are so abundant they are considered to be pests, I’ve seen a lot of them, but I can’t recall having seen one in its full glory. Such beautiful birds! 

Ship life the past few weeks has picked up a little bit. It’s interesting how different each contract has been. While Ron and I were especially social during the last contract, we’ve barely gotten out much at all this time. We did make friends with another couple on board, Brian and Jenny, and are really excited that we will be on the Eurodam with them next contract too! We have a lot in common – including a love of craft beer – so we’ve instituted “Beer Night” on board. We each chose a few bottles of craft beer from a specialty liquor store in Fort Lauderdale and brought them to the OB along with a snack. I made 7-layer dip and homemade salsa with the help of my Magic Bullet. I love that thing! Our fun little double date caught the attention of some other beer aficionados and next time we have a Beer Night our group will have grown quite a bit. We’re looking forward to that night next cruise. Oh, and for all you other beer buddies out there, we were introduced to a beer called Voodoo Donut by Rogue Brewing. Try it at your own risk. It tastes like bacon and syrup. Ron and I hated it. But if you are interested in grossing out your friends, by all means, pick up a bottle of that stuff and share it.

We also were lucky enough to find a few fellow Christians on board and have started up a weekly bible study. We take turns finding a topic, some material like a book or a recorded sermon etc, and writing flow questions for the group. It’s such a huge relief to have some like-minded people on board with us this time. It’s a small group, but it feels great to pray and study God’s word with other people. Huge blessing!

This week has three really good things in it. First, we were in Puerto Rico today which we have been looking forward to since last contract. We love that place! We’ll be sure to tell you all about our day in the next blog.

Second, we got to see the cast of the Zuiderdam on Half Moon Cay this week. We LOVE those people and were so excited to spend a day catching up. We miss them so much!

But most importantly, Ron and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary on April 5th. We’re minimalists and tend not to make a huge fuss over special occasions so I was happily surprised when Ron arranged for the florist to arrange a dozen red roses for me first thing in the morning.

I wasn't dressed like this in the morning - we took the picture later. 

We have a tradition of eating a cheeseburger for our anniversary. It started on accident when we happened upon a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Exton, PA on our first anniversary and decided it was as good a place as any for lunch. We were so stuffed after lunch that we ended up skipping dinner and we thought it was comical that our big celebration was a casual burger. We had such a fun day that day that we decided that a cheeseburger each year instead of a big event and expensive meal would take a lot of pressure off and keep the focus on our marriage instead of all the “stuff” surrounding it. Now we have fun keeping track of fun places to get burgers for the years to come. Since our actual anniversary was on a sea day, our burger was delayed a day. We decided it would be way more fun to celebrate with a cheeseburger from Margaritaville in Grand Turk than a greasy Lido burger. Now, half of our anniversary burgers have been eaten at Jimmy Buffet themed restaurants. I guess we’ll have to start working Jimmy into our yearly tradition now too!

Well, that covers most of the highlights of the past month or so. Oh! For the readers in our lives – I have been reading books vociferously lately and am looking for some suggestions. I would LOVE it if you would let me know some of your recent favorites. I need to stock up for the crossing next month. I recently read all three Hunger Games books in less than 72 hours (first one was great, second one was almost as good and the third one may as well not have even been written. I’m thinking about writing to the author and asking her to start that one over). Then I read Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (I should know better. I only have myself to blame. I can’t stand anything that woman has written since My Sister’s Keeper and this is no exception. Quite possibly the most prejudicial and ineffectual book she’s put out),and then Heaven is For Real by Todd Burfo and. Up next, if I can get my hands on it is, Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly. I'm gonna need some suggestions for the 6 days at sea in three weeks.  

Happy Easter everyone! This week Ron and I are remembering God’s sacrifice of His son Jesus who was given over to death to save us from our sins. We are thankful for His death and resurrection. He is risen, He is risen indeed! 

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