Jan 31, 2012

Cruise: Level 2

I enjoyed the cruise and I really did have a lot of fun, but I would be lying if I didn't tell you how I REALLY felt about everything.

On the first day, within maybe an hour of boarding the ship, we were getting our lunch while our luggage was being delivered to our rooms.  One thing that amazed me were the amount of people that work on the ship.  Seriously so many and they are everywhere and are so helpful.  Anyway, we were eating lunch with a few of Randal's friends and one in particular I had never met before, but I had heard Randal talk about him and he seemed to like him well enough.  Well there was a table that was dirty but it was out of the sun so we were waiting for it to be cleaned up and while one of the employees was cleaning, this boy looked at him and starting clapping his hands and saying "chop chop, hurry it up!".  I was instantly mad.  Like I said, I have never met him before but I flat out told him, "don't say that to someone around us again".  He bumbled and mumbled something and I just told him again, "If you want to sit with us, you will not act like that.  That's incredibly rude."  He got kind of quiet and didn't really look at me in the eyes for the rest of the trip. haha.

But I'm so glad I said something.  People should not be allowed to treat others like that!

Anyway, so that was something that bothered me about the cruise.  Some people, certainly not everyone, treated the workers like they were second class citizens.  I couldn't believe it.  But on the other hand, I did see a few people going out of their way to thank the workers.  That was so nice to see.

That incident bugged me but not to the point that I was too upset.  But after our trip to Costa Maya I ended up coming back to our room and just crying.  This was the poorest place we went and these people had nothing.  Everything that was "fancy" was simply for our enjoyment.  I remember while everyone was playing volleyball on the beach, I looked over and saw a bunch of school aged kids riding 2 to a bike to school (I'm assuming anyway).  They had tattered uniforms and they just looked at us as they rode by.

It broke my heart.

I felt like why do I deserve to be waited on by these people and demand that they help me.  I should be helping them!  There was one boy walking around selling banana chips and salsa (they were delicious) for 2 dollars but everyone was able to talk him down to selling them for 1 dollar instead.  Someone even mentioned that he looked sad that he had to sell them cheaper, but he did it anyway, knowing that we wouldn't buy it if he didn't.  Now, I know I'm to blame too because I LOVE to get the best deal.  I will never buy something like that if I know I can talk someone into giving it to me cheaper.  It's like a game for me. But then I had to realize that this it isn't a game for them.  This is their livelihood.  Realistically, I can afford to pay 2 dollars for banana chips.  A dollar extra may not mean that much to me, but it may mean a lot to them.

Like I said in my other cruise post, I got a massage on the beach in Costa Maya.  Randal was able to talk the ladies into giving me one for 15 dollars.  Before he left, he stuffed cash into my hands to give to them when I was done.  I didn't know how much he gave me, but I was planning on giving them just the 15.  That was until I looked down and saw through that little hole where you put your head during the massage the shoes of two women who were giving me my massage.  Their shoes were in such bad shape and their pants too.  I felt so uncomfortable lying their as they "worked" for me.  I can't explain it, but I just felt so sad and guilty.  After the massage was finished I looked at the cash and was so thankful that Randal had given me 21 dollars.  I gladly handed over all the money and left.  Later Randal asked me for the change and said he had given me 21 so that I could get 5 dollars back and give her a dollar tip.  He said he knew I would give her all the money haha.  He knows me well.

Later back on the ship while I was upset and we were talking about our day, we both decided that we were happy that I gave her the extra money.  These people had nothing, and while as a student I may think that I am poor, I really am so blessed and I have so much that I can give.

This experience made me sad for others.  I have never really been to a third world country before.  I went to Mexico once with a previous boyfriends family, but for some reason it felt different.  This experience really shook me up.

I'm not sure how to help, but I know that I want to.  That I need to.

*I'm sorry this post is so long, but it is pretty truthful.  I'm also not trying to blame anyone for getting anything cheaper, because I did the exact same thing.  

And because every good blog post needs pictures...

El Sallita.

Jan 27, 2012


We knew we had to get out to Florida for the cruise, and we also knew that since we would be flying standby, we needed to leave early so we would for sure get out there in time.  We left a few days early and decided to rent a car and check out the Everglades.  Not wanting to spend a ton of money, we decided to do this vacation cheap.  We slept in our car and got food from Target, a non english speaking Target.  It was weird, but good.  I was amazed that NO ONE in Miami spoke english.  It was like a different country.  But I love Florida, seriously.  It's so beautiful and relaxed.  I can see why people go there to retire.  In the debate of California vs Florida, Florida is the clear winner.

After sleeping in our car that night and waking up at 7am to look at alligators.

Randal literally almost ran into this guy.

Baby gators with an even tinier runt riding piggyback.

Up close with an alligator from our airboat ride.

Our native american tour guide grabbed this gator under his jaw and pulled him into our boat.

Photo bombing.

Robert is Here fruitstand.  The menagerie out back was crazy.

Do you see it?

This poor tortoise had goats using it as a step ladder.  It's front legs kill me. ha!

At the Flamingo National Park visitors center.

After another night of sleeping in our cars we got up to watch the sun rise. 

The only crocodile we saw. (In the back by the trees)
Anyway, so we spent our time in our car traveling throughout the Everglades.  We saw tons of alligators and some crocodiles.  It was a really good time and I'm glad we went early.

I have a video from the airboat tour but I need to figure out how to upload it first.

Jan 21, 2012

Cruise: Level 1

The company Randal worked for this summer, HomeShield took us on a cruise.  It was my first and I had a really good time.  We got some cheap souvenirs and I even got a massage for 15 bucks (kinda).  It was so nice to be away and enjoy a vacation together.  After the Everglades, we headed to the Port of Miami and got on our cruise ship.  It was crazy how big it was.  The workers took our baggage at check in and put it in our rooms for us so we just had to get on the ship and go have lunch and not have to worry.

Our first picture on the boat.  We were just happy to have a bed after the Everglades.

Could not get a decent picture of the theatre. 
The giant tv screen where we could watch movies.  The boys liked watching the football games here.

Port 1: Cozumel, Mexico
After a "fun day at sea"  we made it to our first port.  We rented a scooter and drove around the island until we found a beach to snorkel.  We brought our own gear and it was nice to be able to dive right in.  We decided to have a boat and guide take us out to a National Park with lots of reef to snorkel some more.  We saw a HUGE lobster, like massive, tons of fish and some sting rays.  It was worth it except we went with a group of like 10 people and the guide kept making us stay with him.  Our cameras both died this day so we don't have a ton of pictures from Cozumel.

Beautiful double rainbow as we were leaving. 

It went straight to another cruise ship.
Randal is convinced that we need to sell this picture to them. ha! 
In front of our ship.

After snorkeling.

Taking the boat out with the group snorkeling.

Ridin dirty.

Some place in Mexico.

Port 2: Costa Maya, Mexico
We were scheduled to go to Belize and I couldn't wait.  But as we were boarding our boat we found out that it would be too congested and that they rerouted us to go to Costa Maya.  Everyone was bummed but it ended up being a good time.  Basically the whole HomeShield group went to a beach and played volleyball and swam.  It was nice to just relax.  I got my massage on the beach by some lady and Randal talked her down to 15 dollars for 45 minutes.  It felt really nice but I accidentally gave her 21 dollars instead.  Oh well, it was the tip.
While we were there I left early with a group to go back and look at the souvenir shops while Randal stayed behind.  We got magnets from each place we went, so I got that, a bracelet and a mini sombrero for Sally (picture at the end of the post).  So funny.
I went and got on the ship and Randal was still out for a little bit longer.  I thought he was just soaking it all in but little did I know he was purchasing some jewelry for me.  He found a necklace that matches my wedding ring.  Same shape, same design, similar color.  He swears that it was the same color in the shop, but when he gave it to me it was a nice pink color.  I still loved it but it was definitely pink.  The weird thing is that sometimes it is yellow not pink at all.  It changes colors, for real.  In natural light, or maybe indirect light it is yellow, but in artificial or direct light it is pink.  It's weird but I love it.  He did good.
The little port town had a huge pool so Randal took a swim before we left.
Where we hung out for the day.  Not too shabby!

Port 3: Roatan Island, Honduras

This was by far our favorite stop.  Mexico was flat, but Honduras was so beautiful.  So many mountains and hills, and the people were amazing.  We went with a group of about 10 zip-lining.  We found a tour guide and a van and off we went.  Our guide stayed with us all day and kept us on schedule with when we needed to be back to the bus.  For our zip lining we went up a hill and were met by a group of young men who helped us get in our harnesses.  We took a STEEP ride up the mountain in the back of a truck with our 3 zip lining guides.  We went for about an hour going from platform to platform.  I even did a front flip off of one!  Randal did a handstand off one too.  These guys were so crazy and it was so much fun.  When we were done we were taking our harnesses off and one of the guys tells us to go check out the monkeys.  We walked behind the building and there were like 7 monkeys!  They got them out of the cages and we were allowed to hold them and feed them bottles, it was so dang cute.  Our zip lining tour was amazing, but I was surprised at the lack of carefulness they had compared to other places.  We didn't have to wear helmets, we could just play with the monkeys without real supervision, it was just crazy, but so fun.
We then went to the beach and snorkeled some more.  We found a guide to take us out on his boat for some snorkeling away from shore at a good spot.  I assumed the guy making the deal would be the one taking us out, but no.  Two young boys, maybe 10-13 took us out and even snorkeled with us.  It was so different than our group snorkeling in Cozumel.  Roatan was so laid back.

The Wilders

Sketchy bridge we walked on after our tour was over.  The guy behind me fell through it and had his leg trapped haha.

Ready to Zip!

How we got to the top. Our guides are in the back.

So beautiful.

The truck only took us up so far.  Our hike all the way up.

Luke and Randal running off to explore.  View down at our ship.

This vine Randal thought he could swing on.    The picture below proves otherwise.

The vine fell out of the tree after 10 seconds of him being on it and he fell into a prickly bush.  Those things are in their DEEP.  He still, a week later, has nasty wounds from that.

Zip lining being brave.  I later did a front flip! 

Port 4: Cayman Islands

I was not a huge fan of Cayman Islands.  Everything was so...developed.  After being in Mexico and Honduras, I was excited for local culture, but no.  There was a Harley Davidson and a Hard Rock Cafe.  Not really my thing.  We just stayed close to the boat, but the snorkeling was pretty good.  We snorkled while some other guys in our group scuba dived in the same place.  It was pretty good.

Taking the boat over to the Island.

This port didn't have a walkway like the others so we had to take boats over.

The group we scuba dived/snorkeled with. 
A bunch of the boys found these shells.  They were so cool.  

We had a really fun time with everyone.  Saw some fun shows; an insane/intense/bizarre magic and dance show where the guy at the end came from the ceiling down a rope but fell at the last minute haha, a hilarious Newlywed game show, and Randal even got hypnotized.  I liked that we got a sampling of different places and we really hope to go back to Roatan someday.

Sally's Sombrero.  I'll take a picture when she will actually sit still for me to put it on.