October 2011

October 25, 2011 | 0 comments

When we first boarded the Island Princess, we wondered if we’d be able to connect with other Christians while onboard.  As it turned out, others wondered the same thing.  One couple asked for a place and time to meet, and requested an announcement appear daily in the Patter, the on-board daily activities calendar.  We expected our fifteen day cruise to take us to exciting, new places to see, but we did not expect it to have a spiritual retreat feeling as well. 

Every “sea day”, our interdenominational group met in the Wedding Chapel to read and discuss Scripture.  On the first Sunday, our group organized and announced an evening service with readings, music and a brief message.  The Wedding chapel was packed, standing room only.  This morning, members of the Princess cruise organized a morning Interdenominational Mass in the Universe Lounge. 

What I learned is it only takes one couple to start the ball rolling.  In this...

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October 23, 2011 | 0 comments

Ah, the hot steamy air of Aruba, shopping only a block from the dock, so convenient.  I was on my usual quest for postcards and coins, and found both quickly. Rick and I pant in the heat, our clothes sticking to us.  Jewelry stores line both sides of the street.  If one is in the market for diamonds, tanzanite, pearls, and emeralds, Aruba is the place to find them. 

I duck into every other jewelry store, peering into the glass cases with their displays of expensive rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces.  Sighing contentedly, I smile at the clerks closing in on me like seagulls spotting a beached fish.  “Just looking”, I say, pausing here and there, and then ducking out the door again to be slammed against the wall and swallowed by the sultry humidity.

Rick is having memories of his tour of duty in the sweltering tropical heat of Vietnam.

Crowds are weaving in and out of stores, eyes bright, faces flushed; everyone on the hunt...

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October 21, 2011 | 0 comments

We only had a half-day in Cartagena, but we made the most of it with a walking tour of the Old City.  We saw the fortress built to stop the repeated plundering of Cartagena by English and French pirates, a Catholic church where canonized priest Peter Claver evangelized thousands of black slaves from Africa, and side streets lined with buildings painted red, yellow, blue and lavender with balconies spilling hot pink bougainvillea.  Ladies in tiered skirts and ruffled tops of sherbet pink and yellow carried baskets of tropical fruit on their heads. 

The scented heat had us melting.  After seeing the highlights of old Cartagena, we sank thankfully onto seats in a cool convent-converted-to-college auditorium and were treated to a folkloric dance program.  Our guide, John Riveros (a relative, perhaps?), told us that Columbia is a nation of mixed race people, and the dances represented various inter-racial ethnic groups. 

The costumes were...

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October 19, 2011 | 0 comments

After a night in the Bay of Panama within sight of Panama City, the Island Princess lined up for her turn to go through the Miraflores Locks.  Rick and I spent most of the day hanging out and over our balcony, snapping pictures of the ingenious lock system of the Panama Canal.  A fully loaded freighter was in line for the lock beside our ship.  We could see how the lock doors opened, the “mules” (powerful engines with ropes fore and aft to the ship) pulled the ship forward into the lock, the doors close and the water rises.  The ship moved from one level to the next, like a giant water elevator for ships.  The freighter and Island Princess entered the Pedro Miguel Locks to rise again and then sail through the infamous Culebra Cut where thousands of workers died. 

Men have dreamed of a passage way from the Atlantic to the Pacific for centuries, but it was “Le Grand Francais” (Ferdinand de Lesseps), builder of the Suez Canal who made the first...

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October 17, 2011 | 0 comments

After another relaxing day at sea, we arrived at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, early in the morning.  We gathered downstairs in the Universe Lounge to await our instructions to disembark and meet up with our tour guide.  Andre proved to be a hoot.  He talked non-stop for the five hour tour, regaling us with stories of life in Costa Rica.  Some of those stories left a few of us (including me!) wondering if he was pulling our leg.   I knew he’d be fun when he took my hand to help me into the bus and said he was taking me bungy jumping over a swamp full of crocodiles. 

We all piled out of the bus, lined up for potty break, and then piled into an open boat for a trip through a swamp where we searched, cameras ready, for wildlife.  We spotted monkeys high in the trees, red macaws ma-caw-cawing in annoyance at our invasion of their domain.  We saw egrets and ibises, kingfishers and black hawks.  One large crocodile glided across the...

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October 14, 2011 | 0 comments

After four soothing days on the blue Pacific, the Island Princess pulled into Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, “the land of trees”.  The air was sultry, just the way I like it.  Rick and I embarked on a day trip to Antigua, an UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by mountains.  On the drive up, we passed two volcanoes and saw another in the distance with a plume of smoke.  If you’re interested in seeing volcanoes, forget Hawaii.  Come to Guatemala where there are thirty-seven!  

We crossed over ravines recently widened by rain washing down from the mountains and arrived safely at our first stop, the Jade Factory, run by an American couple who re-discovered the value of jade to Guatemala where ancient Mayans considered it an eternal stone.  After an interesting tour and sojourn in the tourist shop, we set off on a walking tour, winding our way along narrow, cobbled streets lined with buildings and small tucked-away shops.

Each time our...

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October 12, 2011 | 0 comments

When Rick and I were offered the opportunity to take a dream trip through the Panama Canal, we jumped at it.  Now, on board the Island Princess ship sailing south from Los Angeles, we’ve settled into our room, unpacked our bags and stowed them under the bed, and are enjoying the warm, salt sea air. 

With four sea days before we reach Guatemala, I expected to get a lot of writing done.  Alas, the constant rocking and the sound of the waves against the hull, relaxed me so much, I’ve spent much of my time sleeping like a baby in a cradle.  We’ve enjoyed the luxury of breakfast and coffee delivered to our room before heading to the Wedding Chapel for a morning Bible study.  We’re a mixed bunch of Catholic-Protestant-Baptist-Charismatic and thoroughly enjoy sharing a time in scripture together.   

By 10:30 a.m., Rick and I have returned to our state room to read.  Rick gets up earlier (3:15 a.m) and reads faster reader than I do....

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October 7, 2011 | 0 comments

I love movies.  Rick and I have quite a collection.  While it may shock some, we enjoy old horror movies like “The Blob” (Steve McQueen version), “War of the Worlds” (Gene Barry version), “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (Michael Renny).  I added “Eight-Legged Freaks” a few years ago, and shocked my children when I laughed at people being overrun by thousands of spiders, some with eyes like motorcycle goggles.  Trapdoor spiders grabbed ostriches.  And a DJ screeched about aliens.  Of course, my children didn’t grow up in 50s and see “Them” and “The Tarantula”.

I won’t bore you with a list of my nature movies other than to say I’ve soared among migrating flocks, shivered with penguins, dived beneath the Great Barrier Reef, tunneled with gophers and buzzed with bees. I’ve witnessed insect wars and the mating rituals of the blue-footed booby. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Every author dreams...

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