Saturday, April 20, 2019

Traveling without wheels--Central America

Everyone has asked for photos and details of our recent 15 day trip to Central America and the Panama Canal.  I hadn't planned to blog about it, so didn't take many photos.

The trip began on April 3rd and George and Linda picked us up in the rental van at 4:45 AM.  We made a stop in Gila Bend for breakfast and continued the drive to San Diego.  I must say the traffic was not bad at all.  George dropped the 3 of us at the pier while he returned the rental car.  He said it was less than a mile and walked back.    

We planned to use this trip as a vacation, not our usual exploring and discovery adventures that we enjoy so much.  We've done the Panama Canal full transit three times.

Everyone knows that we prefer the small river cruises and do not like crowds, but the 1400 passengers didn't bother us on this cruise.  There were no lines and waiting like some other ships we're been on.  

Even though we travelled together, we didn't see George and Linda much during the day.  They did what they wanted and we did too, but we always had dinner together in the dining room in the evening.

Our first stop after spending 2 fabulous days at sea was Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.  It is much cleaner and nicer than our last time here.  I never want to have a stop the first day on a cruise as you don't have a chance to relax before you're in a port.

Our next stop was Huatulco, Mexico.  These local residents were dressed to greet the tourists.  This small village is my favorite port in Mexico.  It hasn't changed much from the last time we visited it.  

The day was perfect and I believe Bill was pointing at the beach saying we should go back and get the bathing suits.

This was the only welcome sign I remember from our last trip here. 

Our next port and country that we've never been to was Puerto Quetzal,

I always try and find a Christmas tree ornament from all the different countries we have visited and found one right away.

Bill can find a museum anywhere!

When we arrived in Corinto, Nicaragua, another new country for us, the local children were dancing wearing native clothing.  Bill and I took a three wheeled bicycle tour of the town, but my battery died on the phone so I didn't get any photos. 

Later when we returned to the ship the children who were dancing on the dock were invited on the ship for lunch.  You could tell they enjoyed it as well as the passengers. 

Our next port was Puntarenas, Costa Rica.  I had no idea that Costa Rica had no Army and also had one of the best education systems in the world.

A German 500 passenger ship was in port at the same time as we were but this was the only time during the entire voyage that we berthed with another ship.

The following morning, everyone was up early as the ship had an early appointment to go through the canal.  The weather couldn't have been any better.

The tug came alongside and three pilots came onboard to take the ship through the canal.

It was overcast with a nice breeze.  

Here's a natural gas ship going through the other way as we were in one of the locks.

Here's a container ship that was in a lock and you can tell how far it needs to be raised to go through.  It takes nearly the entire day to transit the canal.

Bill didn't want to get off the ship in Cartagena so George and I walked ashore.  I wanted to get another Christmas ornament from Columbia.  

One of the Toucan's tried to bite my toes. My battery died before I could get a photo of the monkey's.

This was our last Gala night dinner.  Notice that Linda is skinnier than when she got on the ship.  

Not a great photo but Bill had a chance to wear his bolo tie.

The dining room crew were awesome.  

The housekeeping staff had so much extra time on their hands that they made extra towel animals.

There were more than 50 towel animals around the pool area.

We always seem to add some adventure even to sedate travels like a cruise.  When we anchored in Half Moon Cay we had to take a tender (small boat) to shore.  The tender was really bouncing and you had to walk across the plank from the ship to the tender.  The plank was tied off but when I stepped on the plank the tender bobbed and the plank became detached.  Bill was directly behind me and they yelled at us to move.  I jumped over onto the tender.  Nothing like looking down and seeing nothing but water.

We will never forget this place in the Bahamas.

This beach is even prettier than the one in South Africa.

The water was gorgeous and this is what a beach should look like.

Yes, we got wet and yes, I know I gained weight!

The water was so clear, I could tell the color of my toenail polish when I was up to my shoulders in the water.

The following morning we docked in Fort Lauderdale.  We were off the ship by 8:15 and walked directly through passport control thanks to our global entry card.  We took the transfer bus to Miami airport for our non-stop flight to Phoenix.  As in the past, it didn't go quite as smoothly as predicted.  We ended up stopping in Oklahoma City for more fuel due to the fact that the winds were so strong, they needed to add more fuel.  It meant we arrived back in Phoenix two hours late and we felt bad for Sherry and Dave having to wait for us.

It was truly a vacation and we enjoyed it immensely.  Now that we're back home, I'll be spending some time checking out where we'll go next.  If anyone wants to join us on the next trip, let us know.

Turtle Safely.........