POSTCARDS....a small card with a picture on one side...

April 19, 2014

April 6, 2014: Canal Day: Part One

The Panamanian authorities come to vet us.

We both woke with great enthusiasm and made the dining room before most of the early birds.  Pastries instead of croissants for breakfast.
On deck ten; G is on deck 11..

 We reconnoitered the bow decks, and found ourselves a place out on the front to see and photograph the Panama Canal as we passed through.  Of like mind, our dinner table friends joined us.  Our constant lens clicking accompanied the ship into the locks.
Two MSC container ships going up the locks just in front of us.

New much larger, lock construction.
New gates for the new locks.  These will slide horozontally in and out of the walls unlike the old gates that open like doors.
A piece of the remaining French Canal.

Tugs nudging the MSC Kim into the lock.

Those are refrigeration units at the stern of both ships.  Notice the vertically hanging lifeboats on both ships.

Panamax indeed.

As the locks close on the MSC Kim, a rowboat comes to collect our line for the mule waiting dockside.

A mule waits for us.

The locks are closing and a small bridge is also closed just in front of the lock gates.

As the MSC KIM leaves the bottom lock, a truck and boat cross the narrow bridge.

As we enter the first lock, a fire engine crosses the bridge and a tanker begins its downward transit.

Up we go.

April 18, 2014


April 5: Cartegena


We glided into Cartegena to dock, and after breakfast joined a tour that included their massive central fort Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, the historic center of the walled city, a home filled with torture tools, the beaches, and back to the ship. 

I confess that I was so knocked out by the heat that I wrote nothing this day.  In the seventies, the kids and I had a virus.  For six months, we slept.  As a result of this bug, all three of us now have a severe heat sensitivity….which I had totally forgotten about until we got to Aruba. 

I had enough sense at the fort, to stay in the air-conditioned bus and will let Georges pictures speak for the stop. 

Old city center.

Monarch’s stern.

Back at the dock, we found the Pullman Tours “Monarch” tied up across the dock from us.  We had taken our first cruise aboard this ship when it was the “Monarch of the Seas.”  It was good to see the ship still in use in its new livery.

April 17, 2014

A Full Circle

April 1, 2014: Fort Lauderdale

Atlanta heading to Florida.

We are home.  We had a grand time, we slept well, we ate well, and most of us are intact if not larger.  It’s time now to process some of the 600 plus photos we took a day and tell you all about our trip through the Panama Canal by sharing some of the images.

Yes, flying first class was a great gift of comfort.  I could relax and there was room for both our legs in the space allotted. We fit into the seats.  An additional gift was food.  They fed us meals and snacks all the way to Florida. 

Bil, Mage, and Rik. Spring 2014.

Seeing old friends was another gift.  It’s been years since Rik and I shared time together.  He was my roommate at almost the lowest point in my life.  Now he and his partner Bil are growing wider together, and I just wished we lived closer.  Dinner then breakfast with more conversation and hugs, then Rik was off northward and we to the port.

Often this trip I found that food was my real focus.  Usually I got distracted by my pants falling off or my shirt falling open at the most inopportune moments.  There’s also the “food down the front” gig too.  Who knew that when I tried all my clothes on weeks before leaving on this trip, that what I really needed was to put them on just before we left.

I devolved into two croissants with butter sometimes with three slices of bacon….just a heavenly breakfast.  Lunch was often half a sandwich and a salad with cookies.  I’m keeping a close watch on how much goes in.  At this rate, all my clothes will fit again by the time I get home.

Lunch on board.  That’s a whole sandwich.  I discovered half sandwiches across the lido.

The onboard entertainment and the lectures have been great.  Unfortunately, I find myself constantly pulling my pants up or rolling the tops to make sure they don’t fall all the way off right in the middle of something.  At least my bathing suit still fits, and until we hit our first port stop, I will work out in the warm pool first thing after a light breakfast.  These sea days give me time to read a bit before lunch too.  G does the laundry.  Later we found the hamburger place way up on the top of the sports deck.  Not bad at all.

G’s dinner.

Before dinner, we attended an interesting Cartagena lecture in the big theater.  Still later we found ourselves part of a team at one of those trivia games before we joined a small meeting in the Wedding Chapel.  The meetings have been a great gift.  Our days begin to pick up a certain rhythm.

My desert:  A tiny chocolate mousse heart.

I’m over dinnered tonight, but that’s ok.  He’s off to the tables and I’m nursing my too full tummy in a swaying boat.  Good stuff indeed.

April 4, 2014: Aruba

Scientology’s cruise ship the Freewinds tied up across the dock from us in Aruba.

Up very early.  Very.  And with humor we staggered through the Lido Dining room and down to deck five for a tour of Aruba.  Our guide took us through the neighborhoods .  I got pictures of brightly colored walls everywhere.  More pictures of the wonderfully over saturated, colored houses.  Screaming reds, blues, yellows surrounded us as we headed to the ocean side of the island.    Out by the beach, we saw a giant collapsed Land bridge, 1880’s lighthouse, Ostrich farm…a learning circus all on its own.

Pink house.

Yellow and gold house.

Blue and green.

Later we went through the poorer neighborhoods and saw trash piles everywhere, collapsing walls, the places in the countryside has been burned back.  We drove by miles of perfect beaches, and an equal amount of stunning dunes.

We has taken a banana each and I made up PB&J sandwiches to take with us.  Only later did we learn that taking food off the ship was illegal.

The first formal night.  My shirt fit, but it wouldn’t stay closed.

We had a good visit to Aruba, and we were back on board in plenty of time.  The ship pulled out at 1230 just as we finished augmenting our lunches.  Check back in and out on shipboard is just like airport security now.  Afternoon tea today, oh guilt.  For dinner I had only soup and salad.  I track the food every day but find not one day with the right number of points.