Friday, November 2, 2012

Surprise Vacation, Days 2-5

And now for the rest of the story of the 5 days we ate and ate and played and played. We knew that chances were high of us packing some pounds on this trip, so we took precautions and took the stairs EVERY time we went anywhere. Which made being on the first floor a blessing in that regard - meaning it was more torture.

Tuesday morning we woke up and went to the awesome fitness center. Ben and I had a lot of fun working out together, which we never get to do. We ran and lifted weights. (BTW, the fitness center crowd is quite different than the center pool/party crowd). Loved the fitness center :).

After showers we met Chris and Amy for breakfast, then lounged on the deck and eventually ended up playing games at what would eventually be named "The Perch" until lunch. For lunch we only had salad and dessert. Quite a combo!
"The Perch"
The view from The Perch
 That afternoon we tried out the waterslide, which was really fun, despite getting nasty saltwater in our eyes. Ben and I were all stoked to go back to the gym before dinner, but instead might have fallen asleep. We were taking a nap at 5:15 and I remember thinking of my poor mom and how that was the hardest part of the day for me!
There were several pools, this is the main pool, where there is a huge movie screen and loud music all the time.

At 7:30 we went to a family friendly comedy show. The comedian was pretty annoying. Ben couldn't stand him. One other night we went to the late night show and he was disgusting and raunchy. Apparently he has to count on shock value. Anyhow, I digress...
Tuesday's dinner was the formal night. The food was, of course, delicious. I had strawberry soup (basically tastes like melted strawberry ice cream), eggplant/zucchini parmesan. Ben had stuffed mushrooms and lobster. The four of us tried alligator, too. Like little alligator fritter things, more bread than gator.
For dessert I got chocolate melting cake. And I fell in love with the warm chocolate, gooey center, and vanilla ice cream. So. Dang. Good. Recipe HERE.
Amy asked for crème brûlée as a joke, and they said they'd try to have some made just for her on another night!
After dinner we put on comfy clothes and played cards at an area outside the nightclub. It was pretty funny. We got some looks, but we had an excellent soundtrack. Went to bed at 12:30 or so.

Wednesday morning we arrived in Progresso, Mexico. The four of us hopped on a bus for two hours and headed to Chichen Itza. We went through a little town where we could shop and we picked up our sack lunches there. We had read bad reviews about the lunch, and those reviews were correct! I ordered a vegetarian lunch to spare me from the mystery meat and it was still gross.
The ruins were amazing. Chichen Itza is one of the Wonders of the World now and you can't climb up the ruins anymore. Also, the world isn't ending this December. The Mayan calendar just starts over. And they told us that the movie Apocalypto was very dramatized. They didn't sacrifice tons of people on top of the pyramid (just a few). Most were done at a well. Men, women and children. When I thought about poor little kids being sacrificed I thought about my little kids at home and started to cry a little.

The only annoying thing about Chichen Itza (aside from the humidity and heat) were the people selling stuff EVERYWHERE. It's a miracle they aren't in this picture with us! They would follow around the tour group and say, "Cheaper than Wal-mart! Almost free! I'm going out of business today!" Then have booths set up along the whole place. Oh, and it was funny because Ben didn't want to look all touristy, yet he was twice as tall as some of the locals. Silly Ben. Some of those Mayan ladies were so tiny.

Now that we got our cultural experience out of the way, Thursday was all about FUN! Cozumel fun. When we went on a cruise in 2005 it was right after Hurricane Wilma and the water was murky. This time it was an amazing color of turquoise blue. We went to Chankanaab National Park, which was heavenly and beautiful.

We went kayaking in clear kayaks and then snorkeling. Kayaking in a big group was kind of a pain because we weren't allowed to leave the group, so we had to go kind of slow and bump into people (which drives me insane, because someone else thinks its funny). But it was still fun. Snorkeling was awesome! We saw a lot of pretty fish, some rays, a couple huge grouper. One fish swam right in front of me and pooped. I managed to narrowly escape the soaring poop - now that's excitement!  

After snorkeling we had about 45 minutes to hang out. We sat under this little cabana and ordered some fajitas and chips and guac. Ben was even manly enough to order a virgin piña colada.
We hustled back to town in our taxi to get in 30 minutes of shopping. None of us had bought anything for our kids or awesome Mom's, so we were freaking out. We managed to grab our kids some maracas and got a couple cool silver/shell pendants for my mom and me, and made it back to the ship in time!
Friday was another day at sea. Which meant we got to play a lot of games. We played at what would be known as "The (Watering) Hole" that day. Which was at the back of the boat, with a great view of the water. We sat next to a table of really old people who also enjoyed playing games. They probably thought we were weirdos :).
"The Hole"
We spent time lounging on the deck, played some shuffleboard, and took pictures of the ship for the kids. We also got to see a lovely sunset.

Dinner that night was delicious as always. Our awesome servers, Lin and Erdie, totally pulled through and had crème brûlée for our dessert... as well as some other things, like maybe a chocolate melting cake and a baked Alaska.

Erdie, Lin

Saturday morning we had our last breakfast at The Perch. Then we waited to get off the boat. BUT, we kept hearing them page Seth Turner. And then we saw cops looking all over the boat for him! We think he probably picked up some illegal merchandise in Mexico and put it in his suitcase, that he set out the night before. THEN the drug dog discovered his purchase. But that's just our guess. So, good old Seth slowed our disembarkation, but we eventually got off the boat and waited in line to go through customs. 
We kept our bags with us getting on and off the ship, which we highly recommend (they'll take them and deliver them to your room if you want). Everyone on our floor got a note on their doors Friday night asking if they found a bag that wasn't theirs. Some poor person didn't have their luggage ALL WEEK! How dreadful. 
Once we got to the car we headed straight to the Austin airport to drop Chris and Amy off. (We never found a Buc-ees).
So, notes for your cruise: Carry luggage, bring a plug in Scentsy or something, bring a jacket - the ship is freezing at times, eat chocolate melting cake every day, take the stairs everywhere. Be prepared to wait in line a lot the first and last day, if you're claustrophobic don't go to the muster station on time for the safety briefing. You wait forEVER.
When we weighed ourselves back in Austin, Ben had only gained one pound and I gained no pounds. Pretty impressive, I think.
I'm so glad Ben planned such a fun trip, and I'm glad he gave me a few days notice! I would have freaked out otherwise. He's so awesome and we had such a wonderful time with our friends. It was nice to get away for a while and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Ben was disappointed that I couldn't sleep in later. I think we were up by 7 every day, so we were exhausted at night and still stayed up late. When we saw people with strollers and whiny kids we all just smiled to ourselves. We did miss our kids, though, and I'm happy to report that my boys were very good for my mom. Evan didn't even ask about us (yes, I'm a little offended) and I'm so glad they both behaved. Thanks, Mom, for being such a trooper. We owe you big time!

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