So, where do you begin to tell of a 10-day adventure? Do you start at the beginning? Do you tell highlights as they come to mind? Do you go day-by-day? All sound good, but all sound...well, impossible. I think that I WILL go day-by-day, just so that I can re-live it in my mind so that I can re-tell it with my fingers. Some days will be short and sweet and some will be more detailed. Here we go: *DEEP BREATH*
SATURDAY (3/15): So, we woke up early-ish and drove to Wichita. Pretty uneventful. We all loaded up into 2 large vehicles with my dad, mom, sister, David (Dani's boyfriend), Mark, Cassie, me, our 2 lovely drivers (my parents' best friends and my "other" parents), and 12 pieces of luggage and who knows how many carry-ons. Our first flight was a short one to Dallas. Our next flight was to be a 3-hour flight to LAX...too bad it was delayed 2-1/2 hours! We had to wait in the waiting area for a long, long time (we already had a 1-1/2 hour layover, so we waited 4 hours total) until getting to LAX. LA time: 9:00-something p.m. KS time: 11:00-something p.m. Bedtime after checking into hotel, showering, etc: 11:30 LA time/1:30 a.m. KS time. We were exhausted.
SUNDAY: Luckily, we didn't have to be back at the airport until 11:00 to catch our shuttle to the pier and our hotel was close. We met up with my 2 brothers and their families along with their additional 10-12 pieces of luggage and carry-ons, got in two 16-passenger vans, and travelled about 25-30 minutes to the dock. After going through cattle lines, we got all of our documentation done and then waited to board the ship. When we did...boy were WE surprised! First of all, it was definitely the most fancy of any cruise ships I'd been on. It was very ornate and gaudy (sp?) in a Romanesque sort of way. If that brings to mind statues, murals, etc., then you're picturing it well. If that brings to mind NAKED statues, murals, etc., then you're picturing it perfectly. My 6-yr-old nephew, Lucas, stopped mid-sentence as we enter the main atrium and just started cracking up. It is the typical thing for any cruise ship to have glass elevators in their grand atrium. As you went UP on these, you approached...well...DAVID in all of his glory and stopped at eye level with...well...his glory? Yeah...that was interesting... That day, we rested, explored, and then went to a fabulous dinner after getting our rooms sorted out, but that's a whole other story that does not need to be blogged here.
MONDAY: This was our first full day at sea. We did the typical walk around inside and out things. I got a massage in the spa, which was great, but my lady talked the WHOLE time! UGH! We didn't get in the pool, as it was freezing cold. That night was the captain's cocktail party where they serve hor'dourves (I think that I almost spelled that right) and free cocktails. This was formal night #1 and we all looked our best. :) Dinner included lobster and prime rib since it was formal night. It was a nice evening and Mark and I even danced up on the stage with about a billion other lovebirds during the cocktail party. After dinner we went to the first show that we were able to make (the first night Cassie was too pooped). All I can say is "voice lessons." The 2 headliner singers were NOT good. They were off most of the time and were just awful at the ending notes. You know, the ones that you hold FOREVER. When they were together, one was always sharp and one was always flat at the end. When they were separate, the guy did okay, but the girl was always a FULL HALF STEP off. It was just really awful.
TUESDAY: This was day 2 at sea. I forgot to mention on Mon that both of these days were WAY cold for what you think of with a cruise. It was windy and only about 68-70 degrees. After just doing random onboard things all day, we went to take Cassie swimming. She had been begging to swim. BRRRRRRR! Mark got in and said that there was NO WAY she was going to want to get in. Boy was he wrong! She chattered and shivered and laughed and kicked and splashed. She LOVED it and hated to get out, but after about 10 minutes, Daddy was DONE! We had another nice dinner this night and then Cassie and I went to bed early, because we had a port day the next day... Oh, wait...before bedtime, we went to the karaoke bar to cheer my sister on. She was auditioning for the "Carnival Legends" show in which she got to be Britney Spears in the show the final night of the cruise...more details on that on Saturday.
WEDNESDAY: We got off of the boat into beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We rented a 16-passenger van that took us throughout the city; both to the "touristy" spots and the local spots. It was really neat. It then took us up into the jungle where we ate at an authentic restaurant, watched people diving into natural waterfalls (one even blindfolded, which scared us all to death...it was a very narrow landing area), and then several of our group did ziplines through the jungle while the rest of us stayed with the kids. After that, we went to a native Tequila "factory" where they made Tequila the good-ol-fashioned way. It was firepits, a mill where they grind everything by hand via a huge rolling stone, and then a distillery of bamboo pipes, plastic jugs, and used Coca Cola bottles. :) They did samples and everyone agreed that this was nothing like Jose Cuervo Gold or whatever tequila you would buy here. In fact, this place only sells it's product AT the factory...they don't ship...they don't sell commercially. That's how proud they are of their product. We now have mandarin orange tequila waiting to be put into our freezer. All in all, this was a really neat day filled with culture, adventure (for some), and family bonding. :)
THURSDAY: This morning found us in Mazatlan, Mexico. Our driver from PV, Raul, had given us the name of his friend, Ivan, in Mazatlan. We hired him to do the same sort of tour as Raul had done the day before. We saw wild iguanas, lots of monuments, real cliff divers, ate at an authentic place, and then went to the beach. We all had a BLAST at the beach. Cassie LOVED it. Mom kept her in the shallow waters while Mark and I went further out. There were a few waves that were over my head. It was crazy, but lots of fun. They buried my nephew, Ethan, all the way up to his neck and made him have a mermaid body...that was pretty funny. Cassie enjoyed digging in the sand and finding shells and rocks. It was a long, tiring day for me, but definitely fun.
FRIDAY: Our last day in port was somewhat disappointing for us all. First of all, I was so sore and achy that day. I think that it was from fighting the waves and all of the walking from the 2 days previous. It was a struggle for me, for sure. My legs burned and were swelling by the time we got to our destination...the most disappointing whale-watching tour EVER. So, the guy that sold us the tour said whale watching, snorkeling, a stop at the beach, free snacks, free open bar (not that any of us are big drinkers, but it was one of the selling points in his mind), sight seeing, etc. We were excited. Once the boat left, however, our excitement turned to irritation. First of all, the boat owners, workers, and captain said that there was no whale-watching, as that season was pretty much over. That was the main reason we were taking this stupid boat! Secondly, the snorkeling was in an area that was murky and freezing. They didn't see any much besides a few tunas. In order to get to the beach, you had to get in the water and swim about 200 yards or more to get to the beach. RIGHT...like I can do that with Cassie while being pregnant. Mark didn't feel comfortable taking Cassie into the ocean when it was so freezing cold and we were still out in pretty deep water. SO, I missed out on snorkeling, beaching, etc. that day. The snacks were tuna salad with crackers OR chips with the kind of cheese sauce you get at the ball park...only not good. It was all kind of disappointing. There were lots of drunk people on the boat and we barely saw anything of note except for LOS ARCHOS...the famous natural archway made of rocks that is in the ocean. When we got back onboard, all I could do was laydown. I was in bad shape with my feet and legs. That evening was good with dinner and such, but I hit the hay earlier than intended so that Cassie and I could get good rest.
SATURDAY: Our last day at sea. Third verse, same as the first...2. It was chilly and windy. In fact, the top 3 decks were closed off due to wind advisory. It was just COLD! We did the usual onboard stuff including a game of Bingo. No, none of us won. BUMMER! The highlight of this day was the kid's talent show. My 3-1/2 year-old nephew, Jason, said that he wanted to "jump and shake his booty" for the show. OK... We all know that he likes to dance. It was just a funny way to put it. So, they call him up and ask his name. He tells them. They ask how old he is. He holds up 3 fingers. The lady asks, well, how old are you? He says, "Well, I don't know how old I is." They ask where he's from and he says, "Well, I don't know where I'm from!" She says, "So, you're going to dance?" He says, "NO! I'm going to JUMP and SHAKE MY BOOTY!" Everyone laughs and she tells him to go ahead. Now, without the visual, I can't do this justice. All I can say is that he jumped once, spun around, shook his booty side to side for a few seconds, and then ran back to his seat. With everyone laughing, we all prodded him to go back up. He said, "I DID IT ALREADY!" We got him to go back up and he did the same thing: jumped, spun around, and shook his booty to the audience. It was hilarious! I think that we all learned to take him seriously.
I'm going to start a new paragraph to talk about the Carnival Legend's show. My sister, as I mentioned before, was picked to be in the show as Britney. She wore a schoolgirl outfit and hideous pigtails/bangs wig. She had back-up dancers and sang "Oh, baby, baby" or whatever the title is of that song. She was really good. There were 9 other performers impersonating legends...all were fellow cruisers. There was Elvis, Ricky Martin, Madonna, Gloria Estefan (sp?), Aretha, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Garth Brooks, and 1 more that I can't put my finger on. It was a good show and the best part was that the headliner singers only sang the first and last songs. :)
Before going to bed on Saturday night...by midnight, to be exact, you have to have all of your checked luggage outside of your door to be picked up by the baggage porters. This means that you have to keep out clothes for the next day and any ESSENTIAL (and non-liquid per the airlines) extra items, as they have to go in your carry-on. It's a pain, but our room sure was clutter-free that night! We got everything packed up and went to bed so that we wouldn't be total zombies on the way home.
SUNDAY: Debarkation is a miserable process...unless you get early debark privileges. How do you do that? Have an early flight home. We did. You are still herded like cattle and then taken to a large room filled with luggage where you must rummage around for your 25 bags (group total, remember?). We found them all...eventually...after my brother went back in to find their missing piece...got back into two 16-passenger vans...eventually after another small fiasco...and headed back to the airport. We hung out, ate, and then boarded planes home. We got to Wichita by 11:00 something that night, brought all the bags in and crashed. We got up the next morning, got around, and came back to KC.
One thing not mentioned was the progression of sickness on the trip. Saturday/Sunday (days 1-2), my sis-in-law, Amanda, and niece, Calllie were sick. By Monday, I had a sore throat, but that was all. Sometime in the week, my other sis-in-law, Laura, got sick (Callie's her daughter), and then little by little from Saturday on, we all got sick and now are all sick with the exception of 3 out of 16. It is crummy and no fun. We're all just glad that so few were actually sick ON the trip. Poor little Callie, though, was sick the longest. Amanda mainly only felt bad at night, but Callie was just crummy the whole time. She was soooo good, though, for not feeling good.
Well, if you've stayed with me thus far, you just went on a Mexican Riviera cruise AND you win an award for actually reading all of my drivel. Hope you enjoyed the recap. I'm DONE! :)