I still felt well enough in the morning, and we were scheduled to dock in Roatan, Honduras, around 11am, so I felt excited about being able to get back on land for a bit. We got up and went to get breakfast at the buffet, which was just as impressive as the lunch spread. I got some yogurt and light fare, so as not to upset my stomach and we sat and watched as the tropical hills rolled by as we moved into port. It took some time for the ship to move into position and we ate our breakfast leisurely until it was time to make our way downstairs and onto land.
I’d booked us an excursion that took us on a bus tour of the island, followed by a glass-bottomed semi-submarine tour of the reef. We were met by our guide when we disembarked the ship, and she led our group over to the bus. She was a nice woman, 41 years old, who had lived on the island her whole life and had worked in this job for 18 years. She seemed grateful for the job, but on breaks she also seemed bored or irritated with the tourists to some degree. We drove around, and she pointed out various things to look at: the cashew trees, the village near the port, houses for sale ($500,000 USD), etc. She gave us some history of the island and the people who live there, and some insight into life there. In looking out the window on the tour, most of the people seemed to be living in deep poverty. The guide said that there was a monopoly on the electric service on the island, so it was not uncommon for electric bills to be more than rent each month - $500 for electric per month was typical. Most of the goods and food in the markets are imported from mainland Honduras and Guatamala, and from the United States. She said the goods are very expensive. We stopped at a restaurant on stilts that stood out in the sea. A group of performers danced and sang for us, and the restaurant offered us free drinks and showed us the food menu, though since we had just eaten breakfast, we had our drinks and then walked around down by the water. We took off our shoes and walked in the waves, but after a bit, we saw broken glass and a hypodermic needle, so decided it was not a great place to do that. It was time to get back on the bus, anyway. We all got back on and they drove us to the glass-bottom submarine. We climbed down inside (I could see why they didn’t recommend this tour for people with claustrophobia – it was fairly cramped quarters). Our new guide climbed down with us. She was a certified reef diver and a biologist, a white woman whos main takeaway points for the tour were: Don’t step on the coral and don’t pee on the coral. Oh, and eat the lionfish.
The water was sort of murky. There’d been some storms in the area recently. In fact, a tourist boat had sunk a week ago and several tourists had drowned or had not been found. Not the kind of thing you want to think about while out in the water with your family and a heard of other people… We saw some groups of trigger fish and a needlefish, an angelfish, a parrotfish, and some huge corals and sponges, though the visibility was not great. It was still pretty spectacular to see, despite not seeing as far as we’d hoped.
We got back to the dock and got off the boat, then back on the bus. This time, we went around to the other side of the island and our guide showed us her house and where other family members lived in the area. Her grandmother, who was usually always outside on her porch, was inside because she was feeling sick. Passing a gas station, on of the only ones on the island. With gas at 5 to 6 dollars a gallon, it was guarded by a man in camo fatigues armed with an assault rifle. I tried to get a photo of him, but the bus went around a bend and the whole scene disappeared just as I began to take it in. We stopped at a cameo factory – the only working cameo factory in the Americas. It was interesting to see the artwork, though the pieces that I could afford were crudely made, and the pieces that were intricately carved were far out of my price range. We looked around a bit and then wandered outside across the road. We could see the ship in the distance. Once the other passengers were done at the factory, we got back on the bus and got dropped off at the port.
We still had four hours or so before the ship was set to leave, and Mike had his heart set on getting some lionfish to eat, so we wandered back out the gates to the nearby village. There were guards at the gate, but they didn’t really give us a second look. We walked out and were immediately taken by two local ‘guides’ who just hooked onto us and started walking with us. They were very pushy, so we went into a store to see if we could lose them. “No problem, we wait,” said one of them, so we fumbled around the store, then went back out where they started walking with us again, trying to get us to go to the shops and restaurants that they were affiliated with. We went into another building, this one a series of indoor booths, like a flea market, though mostly everything had all the same touristy stuff. We walked back out, and I was sick of the guys at this point, so I told them that we had just gotten off a tour, so didn’t need a tour. They started saying that we didn’t need to pay them, they would get paid if we went to the restaurant that they recommended, but they just gave me a bad feeling, so I told them again that we didn’t need a tour. They left us alone then. We walked a bit, along the main road in the town, and checked in every restaurant we saw if they had lionfish. None of them did. We were on the wrong side of the island for lionfish. These blue and yellow buildings were the view from a piss-smelling, graffiti-covered, falling apart pier jutting out into the water where we took a break to drink water from a coconut sliced open by a man selling them on the side of the road. There was a couple over in the corner who tried to keep an eye on all of us strange tourists in between making out, and a man passed out on one of the wooden benches. Comfy. Later, we walked down the street in the opposite direction, where we were picked up by our new fourteen-year-old guide. He definitely didn’t have the same creep vibe going as the other guys, so we stuck with him. He said he was excited to visit the US some day. I asked him what areas he wanted to visit. "Texas, Miami, and Florida," he replied. He had chosen to go to school at night so he can work as a guide during the daytime. He took us to "the best restaurant on the island" - where we could get iguana to eat, after the fruitless hunt for lionfish. There was a mini zoo near the restaurant where a spider monkey, some capuchins and a few macaws were kept. The only indigenous animal there was a sickly, sunburned white-tailed deer. Everything else was imported from the mainland, though it seemed to me that the monkeys would be more efficient at traveling to an island from the mainland than a deer, and the birds could probably fly the six miles, but who knows. The kid definitely enjoyed the monkey encounter. As we were leaving the zoo, our guide stopped over to talk to some of his cousins who were sitting on an old couch amidst a trash heap underneath a building. They were wrapping things around their hands – foam from old cushions followed by plastic bags, tied with twine. Boxing gloves. I asked if we could watch the boxing match, and they gleefully accepted and began boastful threats to each other, while the young girls giggled at the antics. “I’ma leave ‘im on da ground cryin’!” said one of them. Our guide borrowed one of my cameras to record a video of the match, encouraging the boys to come at the camera and show their moves. One of them needed a pee break early on, so had to have one of the gloves taken off to do so. His ‘opponent’ was shadow boxing at the camera while he waited. Eventually, victory was declared after one of the boys got dirt in his eye. We started walking back to the ship. We passed by a small store shack, where a boxing poster hung, these with older men, with real gloves. “Hey, your cousins!” I said to our guide, jokingly. He looked over at the poster. “Actually, that is my cousin! He lives up on the hill,” he said. We all laughed. He tried to keep us off the road and away from the cars on the narrow strip of grass alongside the pavement. He pointed out various trees and bushes with edible fruits on them while we walked. We gave him a good tip for his time, then re-boarded the ship.
We had a bit of time before dinner, so we got ready slowly, and I took another Dramamine as I’d started feeling sick again almost immediately upon our departure. The meds worked quickly though, luckily, and we made it up to dinner. I grabbed a green apple on the way, just in case, but I was able to eat a smallish meal and still feel fine afterwards. We were joined by a new, younger couple from Canada this evening. Apparently, they’d been assigned to our table and hadn’t been there the first night, but did arrive the second night, when we skipped dinner for obvious reasons. I sat next to the woman, who had done work in Honduras before and had a plethora of knowledge about Central America.
The first evening was spent exploring our floating hotel/mini city. I’d read about being out on the bow for the sail-away, though that was misinformation. The closest we could get to the front of the ship was in our room, ironically. It was the closest to the front of the ship (and the anchor) down on deck 3. No wonder it was still available at such short notice before sailing date. The two portholes looked like cannons, and I would have loved to be able to open the glass windows covering them, but they were bolted down. We went up to the top deck to watch the departure from Tampa. There was a helicopter and a police boat escort, holding back any of the other water traffic, which began to build up in a line stretching back behind us. I learned later that the maximum speed for the larger ships is about 27 miles per hour, so it makes sense that the initial departure seemed pretty slow. We were traveling at much slower speeds in leaving the bay, so the land just was crawling by. (For contrast, in our flight leaving Tampa upon our return from the cruise, we saw the Sunshine Skyway bridge within 5 minutes of take-off. We didn’t sail under it until two hours after our departure on the ship… So, not the quickest mode of transportation.) I thought it was just that we were on such a huge vessel that it looked like we weren’t moving very quickly.
We wandered around the ship a bit, getting familiar with the different decks. The kid loved the jogging track up top and we frequented that area the most, I think. Four times around the loop was a mile. Kid averaged about 7 times per day. We got ready for our dinner seating at 8pm. I was looking forward to having dinner with a bunch of strangers the least out of all the aspects of the cruise. We arrived to three other couples already seated, along with one older woman, whom I sat next to. She was nice; lived near St. Petersburg, but said she was going to change her dinner time to the earlier seating for the remaining nights. We made small talk amongst ourselves, getting basic info on where we were from, if this was the first cruise, etc. Two of the couples had been on many, many cruises before, many on this same ship. The other couple was on their first cruise. The older woman had been on a few before. She just loved the food, she said. I began to understand why so many people had great things to say about the food on the ships. Dinner was quite nice, with a full menu to choose from, and the ability to order as many appetizers, main dishes, and desserts as you’d like. I didn’t go too crazy, but was happy with the amount of food I got. It all tasted great – some of the best food I’ve had. (I began to question if there were additives to make it seem so good, as each dinner I had in the dining room was pretty fantastic, with the exception of the last night.) The kid liked sitting at the big fancy table, and was well-behaved. He got two plates, both with piles of french fries accompanying his entrees, so he was in heaven. It seemed that every kid’s meal came with fries, apparently. For the dessert, I was brought out a special slice of cake with a candle for my birthday. The wait staff and the table guests sang Happy Birthday to me, then the candle was quickly confiscated upon me blowing it out (contraband on the ship).
Goodnights were said after dinner, and following a minor hiccup where the child became extremely upset that he couldn’t catch the younger couple from North Carolina to tell them one last thing about his Batman figurine, we left without incident. (That and he decided to draw upon the tablecloth with the pen that the waitress so kindly left him – we usually are dining at places with paper on the table when they leave pens behind, so I couldn’t fault the child. The waitress said, “I see nothing” when I confessed to his artistry. I was worried we’d have to pay $150 for a cruise ship tablecloth, or something exorbitant like that…) I had to run down to the room to gather my camera, as the moonlight reflecting on the ocean was too a serene a picture not to try and capture.
We wandered the ship a bit more, taking pictures of eerie parts of the ship, lit up in the moonlight, then headed back to the room to try and get some sleep. The kid watched some cartoons and then fell asleep. Mike wandered out in the middle of the night, sleepless. I also was having trouble falling asleep. I’d thought that the rocking of the waves (much more apparent than I’d imagined) would lull me to sleep, but by the time Mike returned, I still wasn’t asleep, and was beginning to feel like I was coming down with the respiratory illness that he had developed the days before the cruise. He gave me some Dayquil and I decided I was going to go up to get some air on the deck. I went up and found some chamomile tea and sipped it out in the wind on the deck. I finished it, and headed back downstairs. I started getting very dozy on the way down, thinking it was the combination of the medicine and the tea, though when I got back to the cabin, Mike told me he’d not given me the meds that would make me drowsy, so I suppose it was the combination of the motion and the tea. I fell asleep soon afterwards.
We slept in the next morning, only getting up and about around 1 in the afternoon to get lunch at the buffet. Many other people were there – it was quite crowded. The buffet was so huge, I had trouble deciding where to start. After I ate, I took leave of the boys to go off for my massage appointment. I went into the spa area, which smelled strongly of their signature fragrance, the frangipani flower mixed with a variety of others. The spa was at the back of the ship. I waited in the glass observatory room where workers were picking up after the Lady Pampering Party they just had, showing samples of each of the products available through the spa. I looked out at the wake of the ship behind us and filled out my client intake form. I would have been less honest had I realized they were going to use every minute detail on it to try and up-sell me products and services. I had my massage treatment with a young British woman. She said the hot stone massage was her favorite treatment to give and asked why I’d chosen that particular one. It was because I’d never had it before. I’d seen photos of people laying with rows of dark volcanic rocks placed along their spine, so I imagined that the rocks would be stationary and warm. They were quite hot – so much so that they burned my legs when she put some under the sheet to warm me up – and they were held in the therapist’s hands, so she moved them along the muscles. It felt quite nice and I became very relaxed. After the treatment, she wanted to sell me some huge bottles of products to help with my specific issues, though I declined to purchase them. She also booked me an appointment with the botox specialist, who was immediately available to give me a consultation after my massage. She gave me a mirror, and I really couldn’t find any major issues with my face, probably all the fine lines were massaged and relaxed away, so the woman was a little irritated that she’d seen me but I didn’t want her sticking needles in my face. She did have immaculate skin, and her face was completely flawless and wrinkle free. I told her so. “Perks of the job,” she said, and sort of smiled. I walked out to find the boys so I could relieve Mike so he could go to his massage appointment.
I was out later than I thought, so I had to head straight down to the cabin and send Mike up for his appointment so he wouldn’t be late. I briefed him on my experience and told him I really enjoyed the hot stones, but didn’t buy anything from them following the massage. He headed out. I was beginning to feel nauseous, though I thought it was from the overwhelming frangipani scent, so I lay down for a bit while the kid watched cartoons. I thought a shower would help me feel better, and wash away some of the damned lotion, so I got up and made my way to the bathroom. I took a shower, rocking around in the tiny stall, my stomach lurching with each bounce of the ship. It soon became clear to me that the feeling in my stomach was not getting any better. I stepped out of the shower and in the multiple mirrors that reflected every aspect of the tiny bathroom stall, saw myself turn a gross green color. I sat on the toilet and then held the trash bin in front of me and had the undignified, unique experience of being able to watch myself throw up. Lovely. I felt really bad about the trash can, since it was unlined, and our room attendant was so nice, I hardly wanted to impose that kind of clean up on him, but I really couldn’t do much else at the time than stumble from the bathroom to the bed and curl up in a fetal position, focusing on my inner horizon to try and still the motion. Mike got back a bit later. He kindly took care of my bathroom mess, and went out to get me hot water for my ginger tea, some crackers and gave me two Dramamine tablets. We both decided that it should be fine to take on an empty stomach (Right? I mean, what would the alternative be if you’ve just puked up your meal?), and despite my general dislike for medication, found the orangy-mediciney taste rather refreshing. Soon afterwards, I felt well enough to try and venture out of the cabin. We met up with some of our table mates as they were leaving the dining room after dinner, and they took one look at me and knew I was feeling sickly. One of the veteran cruise couples told us some of the remedies that had worked for seasickness for them previously and said they were heading up to the café to get a green apple for the wife, and I should come along with them to get one, too. There was a suggestion made that I could just be thrown overboard. Mike said, “I think we’ll try the green apple first.” We got up to the café and there were no green apples to be found. I saw a gentleman taking tentative bites from one, and walked over to ask him where he’d gotten it. His partner answered for him, saying that they’d gotten it from the café, and she had just let them know that they needed to bring more out. I thanked her, and went back to the café where one of the cooks was just bringing out another tray of the apples. We stood and talked for a while longer. The husband was talking about NM license plates and things. I think he’d had a bit too much too drink, and the wife was trying to pull him away – for herself and for us, I think. They said they’d never seen this much movement in all the years they’d been on this ship. The indoor pool was sloshing around like crazy, waves washing this way and that, and a net had been placed over it just in case anyone decided it would be a good idea to bash themselves around in it for a while. I joked that this must have been how they came up with the idea to do the surf-simulator rides on the larger ships.
We went out onto the deck to get some fresh air, which helped. There was no horizon to stare at, so I just took deep breaths and stared down at the waves below us, which were white-capped and wild. Looking up, I could see no stars, then got a slightly panicked feeling when I realized I couldn’t see the moon, either. I looked more carefully and saw the edges of some very dark storm clouds illuminated by the moon that they were hiding. Sheets of black rain falling down below them, and the wind was picking up, so we headed back inside. In bed, I ate the green apple, which tasted magical, and then the crackers, too. I had another cup of ginger tea, then fell asleep.
We set out early in the morning from Albuquerque. The sunrise was beautiful, magenta clouds above us and sun rays over the foothills. Flying high over the surface of the Earth, I stared down at the fractal patterns crisscrossing the landscape below. The branching of river networks and the topography of the snow-capped mountains were mesmerizing. Dotted here and there were little clusters of circles – huge circular fields where crops would be grown in warmer months. We flew to Tampa via Baltimore… can’t really complain when the tickets are free. Maryland was icy. The lakes had jagged sheets across the surface and the trees were barren. We landed but had no time to explore outside. We had to find our way to our connection to warmer climes. It was not far, though the moving walkways were an amusement for the child, and we walked on many more than were necessary. As we took off into the sky for the second time that day, we passed through a heavy blanket of clouds and could not see the ground for most of the journey. I read a bit and wrote a bit, and took some pictures out the window, though couldn’t quite get the beautiful frost flowers on the outside to work with the composition. Soon, I saw the gulf coast, slinking off in the far distance and knew we must be getting close to our destination. There were gaps in the clouds now, looking like layers of skin, and smoke from fires below reached up in long plumes to mix with the clouds. The sky was reflecting off the many lakes and waterways and we landed in Tampa as the sun was setting.
The next day, we took buses across two counties to visit the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. The 100x took us across the long bridge over northern Tampa Bay, and we got off the third bus about a half a mile away from the museum. It was as close as we could get by bus, I suppose. We walked the neighborhood. There were some incredible murals and smaller scale artwork, and many of the buildings themselves were quite lovely. After walking along the waterfront for a bit, we arrived at The Dali. The ‘Enigma’ rose up before us like a giant glass blob, and we wandered around the outside a bit before entering in through the exit doors. Once situated and ticketed, we went to a brief storytelling, pipe-cleaner Dali-mustache making class, then went up the spiral staircase to look at the artwork. Luckily, there was also a Frida Kahlo exhibit up in one of the wings, so we got to take a look at some of her works in person. The entryway to her work was adorned with floor-to-ceiling flowers. I learned quite a bit about her life from the exhibition, and admired the rawness of many of her paintings and diary entries. After the Frida exhibit, we went over to the Dali wing. There were many amazing works there; many that I’d seen lots of times in print but never in person. I particularly enjoyed some of his earlier works, which looked nothing like the surrealist painting style he developed later, and the room of photographs showing Dali, Gala, and the collectors of his work that later made the museum collection possible, Mr. and Mrs. Morse. The portraits of Gala and Dali in their ‘bedroom’ were particularly entertaining. The couple had their bed moved to some cliffs along the coast of Spain, and lay in the bed waving at the camera. Quite a life. The child finished up with the exhibition before I did, so we moved out to the balcony within the glass dome and watched people pose for selfies. Everywhere. Selfie in front of the Frida flower wall. Selfie in front of the reflecting globe with flower-headdress. Adjust phone for optimal angle. Selfie with balcony and glass in background. Selfie with spiral stairs behind. Always the same practiced expression. What an interesting world we live in. A strange juxtaposition, to see the self-portraits of Kahlo and the selfie-obsessed visitors; self portraits on quite different ends of the creative spectrum.
After our fill in the museum, we went out into the gardens and I tied my admission bracelet onto the wish tree. It was covered in long garlands of multi-colored bracelets. We walked the labyrinth. Rather, I trotted along the white stone pathway trying to keep up with the child. The path circled around a small evergreen at the center, then you backtrack along, out again to the wish tree. A small, terraced garden was set up in honor of Frida, in the design of the Casa Azul gardens. We posed for pictures with the tree, the melting clock bench and the giant mustache sculpture before going back in to look at the gift shop. I decided I wasn’t going to buy anything, though the Dali painting leggings were pretty darn nifty. Still didn’t buy anything. We retraced our steps somewhat, getting back to the bus line, though we were hungry. I spotted an interesting looking brick building, and when we went to check it out, it turned out it was a restaurant, the Red Mesa Cantina, so we stopped for some food. I couldn’t finish my Cuban sandwich, so we packed it to take with us, but ended up forgetting it when I had a slight banana crisis and had to take everything out of my bag and wipe squished banana from the camera, and anything else that was inside the sack. The park where we paused was quite lovely, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees and a white egret prancing around with the child on the grass. It seemed to be home to many homeless folks, so I’m sure the forgotten sandwich was a blessing to someone. We eventually found the bus stop and waited in the sun for a while as we saw the bus just leaving as we arrived at the bench. When the next one came, we boarded and little dude fell asleep almost instantly. The large woman in a wheelchair directly across from us started talking to me, so I was answering her inquiries (“I hope to God that’s a little girl with hair like that.” “He’s a boy.”) until I started answering her and she gave me a look and the bus driver answered her instead, so I half listened to their conversation and the conversation Mike was having with the woman sitting behind him. The latter turned out to be quite comical, though I tried not to laugh, or at least to look away when I did. It involved answering the woman’s phone and telling the person calling that the lady was not there to take the call, that he didn’t know when she would be available, she’d just left her phone with him, etc. “I’m a lightning-rod for schizophrenics,” he tells me as we disembark at the transfer spot for the 100x. In all my planning for the trip, with lists and packing, unpacking, repacking, I’d forgotten extra memory cards for the cameras, and the one in the Nikon was the smallest, slowest card I have, so we walked into the shopping center to find some bandaids and memory cards. There was one of the big box office stores, so we went in and I found a couple larger cards, though they were still fairly slow, but I didn’t want to spend four times as much for the faster ones and figured I wouldn’t need faster ones for the trip anyway. We ended up talking with the cashier for a long time. An odd conversation about surveillance, old flip-phones, and conspiracy theories. By the time we edged out the door, we didn’t have time to get bandaids, so we went back to the bus stop. A man asked us if we were paying the bus fare in exact change – we were – and was frustrated that he couldn’t get change for his $5 bill. The bridge crossing was just before sunset, and the water in the bay was a beautiful blue tinged with pink on the crests of the waves. There were people swimming and fishing along the road, and lots of birds hanging around the water’s edge or diving in to catch fish. We got back to the hotel and ordered pizza and tried to do laundry at the facilities, though the soap dispenser was out, and we were told the best way to get soap would be to walk down to Walgreens and buy some. We ended up washing our clothes without soap. The pizza delivery guy turned out to be deaf and the fact that we thought it was so funny that we’d just seen a commercial for the pizza company as he knocked on the door was lost in un-translation.
The following morning, we were graced by a visit from my cousin, who lives an hour and a half away from Tampa, but this was about as close as we’d been for years, so she made the drive down to see us. We went to the Florida Aquarium, which impressed me greatly with its upstairs mangrove greenhouse with otters, stingrays, fish, and (many one-legged) birds, freely moving around the area. There were tunnels and caves with other sea creatures, a huge shark tank, a cute seahorse and sea dragon area, and an awesome kids zone, where you passed through sheets of mist with images projected onto them and there were all sorts of strange animals to look at, plus three Lego aquariums with shipwrecks, sharks, and kraken. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant (combo Japanese restaurant, which occupied the same open area in the building, but depending on what side you sat on, you’d be served from that particular menu – we accidentally sat on the Japanese side, so moved over to the Thai side, much to the dismay of the child, who decided that the corner at the table we first sat at was definitely the best in the entire place and was not thrilled to leave it) before heading out into the bay on a dolphin sight-seeing adventure. We did see quite a few wild dolphins. One larger group was hunting; another was a nursery group with a young dolphin swimming around with two older caretakers. I got a bunch of dorsal fin and tail shots, but the one time one of them actually fully jumped out of the water, I was on the other side of the boat. We joked that this must be like how we feel when someone gets excited about seeing cows on the side of the road in New Mexico, but it really was beautiful and peaceful to see wild dolphins relatively close up. We visited the mall – when in Tampa… - this mall had several bars and a huge kid play area in the middle, where we stayed for quite some time. Afterwards, we were dropped off at the hotel, upon which we took some goodbye photos and I revisited the conversations from the day for quite a while into the night. We walked down to Burger Monger, which turned out to be quite good, and carried back our food and floats to the room where I ate an enormous amount of fries and went to bed.
I awoke on the day of my birth and began to pack up our things, as today we were moving on – out onto the ocean on a huge ship. We packed up, and decided to try and take the bus down to the cruise terminal, as we’d not booked the hotel shuttle in advance and would have to wait hours for them to take us anyway, and no room to wait in. We hauled our stuff out – not much, really, considering the loads of suitcases we’d seen some of the other travelers bringing along with them – and walked up to the light to cross the street. We were almost run down by a man speeding through, making a right turn while talking on his cell phone. He had a sort-of panicked look on his face when he realized that there was a family in the crosswalk that he’d almost ran over, but continued driving anyway. We stared at his car as he drove away. We got across the streets – it was an odd intersection where we had to cross three times to get to the opposite side of the street – and got down to the bus stop. The bus came very soon, and Mike and the boy got on and sat down while I paid, and then asked if it was going to the cruise port. The driver said no, they were going the opposite way, so he gave us transfers and I herded my guys off the bus. Rather than die in the crosswalk, we decided to jaywalk – jayrun may be more appropriate – in the slight ebb in traffic flow and made it across the street to sit and wait at the bus stop going the other direction, ironically on the same side of the street as the hotel, so we risked our lives for nothing. I sat and thought about how sad it would be if we had ended up killed or in the hospital and not even needed to cross the street, but I suppose it would have been sad either way and am relieved that neither scenario played out. While we waited we saw two more very near accidents. People seemed to be in a very big rush on this Saturday morning. One woman tried to turn right from the left lane and cut off another car. They scraped only slightly, though it could have been much worse. The man driving the other car was irate. I’m pretty sure there would have been a fight had the other driver not been a woman. I started to feel less and less safe sitting on the side of the road and began sizing up the posts at the bus stop, strategically placing us behind the thickest one for maximum impact absorption. Mike had run down to the Publix while we waited the 30 minutes for the bus, he came back with some coconut water and juice and then our bus arrived. It was the same bus as we had tried to get on going the opposite way, just had made its loop around and was now heading the right direction. The driver looked annoyed, I laughed. He didn’t accept the transfer cards, just moved us back into the seats. I guess being a Saturday, the announcements for which stops were approaching were turned off, so we ended up missing our stop and got off at the next one. We had to walk quite a ways, and the kid decided he just couldn’t walk, so it was slow going, toting all our bags and the child. We walked by some decrepit parking lots with signs for ‘cruise parking’ and took a break on some benches along a busier road. We eventually made our way down to a bubble tea café and stopped to have some food and drinks. There was a massive blue baby shower in progress inside the small indoor seating area, so we sat outside and watched some musicians make a music video across the street in the bandstand. Food was slow to come out, and the one bathroom was almost in constant use. We finished up, then had to walk another half mile up to the terminal. There, we parked ourselves on one of the benches outside the aquarium (right next to the ship), and Mike went over to buy some flip flops at the Aussie store. When he came back, I was feeling like it was time to get checked in, so we headed over to the terminal entrance. All of the doors were closed, except for the one closest to the sidewalk. The guards hurried us over to the door, one looking at his watch. “It’s about ready to leave,” he said, though I knew we still had time. We got in and checked in with no line, almost the last ones on the ship. Our room was ready, so we went down and started unpacking before we went up to explore.