Friday, February 22, 2013

A Week of Sunshine

Fort Lauderdale 'gator guy

I have been spectacularly unproductive this month.  Living in Wisconsin in February is often like living under a milk glass bowl, on a white glass plate, in the refrigerator.  It's colorless, cold, and slippery.  So, I was glad that we had booked a week on a Holland America cruise in the Caribbean for February. 

We flew to Fort Lauderdale a day early, just in case there were travel complications, and to avoid having to rush around.  It turned out to be a good idea.  There is that moment when you get off the plane someplace warm, and it just hits you.  You don't have to wear every piece of clothing you own.  Anyway, we walked on the beach, ate some seafood and downed a couple beers after we arrived.  Then the next morning still had time to take a tourist boat tour of Fort Lauderdale.  Who knew so many people are wealthy enough to have huge yachts?  No photos of those, but I was entertained by this man who told us everything we needed to know about alligators in Florida.  He didn't flip this bad boy over and put him to sleep, but he did show us the critter's pearly whites.

Diver at Grand Turk

In years we have been able get away in the winter, we usually have spent a few days at a resort in Mexico or Jamaica.  We decided to try a cruise just to see more places. Our first stop on this cruise was Grand Turk.  In many ways I would have been happy to sit like a slug on the sand, but we signed up for a boat trip on a semi-submersible.  I loved all the fish this guide was able to lure to the windows.

Our ship was on the left, the Westerdam.  This was our third cruise with Holland America, and  I was much less confused than on the previous trips, since the ships are arranged so similarly.  I like the smaller cruise ships because the lines are not as long, and they are easier to navigate.

Entering the San Juan harbor

I like being up high in the ship when we enter a harbor, so I usually go to a lounge called the Crows Nest.  This photo was taken through the window glass, which might account for the darkness, though the day was overcast.  I enjoyed our tour of Old San Juan, the El Morrow fort national monument, churches and folk art museum, the Museum of the Americas.

The museum featured all sorts of exhibits of costume, musical instruments, decorative and religious items.  I was taken by this carved hand with saints on each finger.

St. Maartin

St. Maartin was another island I had never seen before, and I was charmed by the turquoise water and white sand beaches.  We took a bus ride over to the French side of the island for some beach time.  I was startled when our bus hit a mongoose on the road.  Apparently they are an invasive species, brought over from India years ago to help control rats in the sugar cane plantations.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Our last stop was in the Bahamas, at Half Moon Cay, an island leased by cruised lines.  In many ways it felt like the least authentic of all the places we stopped, but the water was blue and the sands were white, so I would be foolish to complain.  

So now we are home, in the ice and snow and white world of Wisconsin winters.  I'm hoping my breif respite from flannel shirts and woolie socks will hold me until spring arrives.

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