Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Time of Our Lives

So this one time, we went on vacation. To the Caribbean. On a cruise ship. Royal Caribbean. The Freedom of the Seas. And it was the. best. time. EVER. Here's the Reader's Digest Version of our trip. :)

2:07 AM - The time my father woke me up Friday night (actually Saturday morning, January 22nd) to get ready to leave for the airport. For those of you who have ever been in my company at 2 AM...you know it ain't pretty.

3:14 AM - The time we arrived at the airport.

6:00 AM - The time of our flight. Yeah, nearly 3 hours early at the airport. With two small children. Good times...

4 - The number of suitcases we had. Which were fortunately not overweight. If your bag weighs over 50 lbs., they charge you $50.00. Which I did not know until we were checking in. I was sweating it out for a minute there...

2 1/2 hours - The time it took us to fly from Atlantic City to Orlando. I had never been on an airplane before, neither had my children, so I was extremely apprehensive about the flight. The boys did great. Better than great, in fact, they were born to fly. Sean slept almost the entire flight and Daniel played with the tray on the seat in front of him almost the entire flight. Thankfully our Aunt Emily sat in front of him...because I bet that shit was annoying. I had major problems with my ears while on the plane. As we landed I lost my hearing all together. I thought for sure my ear drums had burst and that I'd never hear again. I had a major anxiety attack. And then I took a pill for that.

39 - The total number of people traveling with us. I learned like 10 of their names by the end of the trip. I was impressed with myself.

12 years - The length of time it took all of us to get our luggage and get on the bus waiting for us to go to Cape Canaveral. 

45 minutes - The length of time it took us to drive from the airport in Orlando to the hotel in Cape Canaveral.

An hour and a half - The amount of time the boys spent crawling through Chuck E. Cheese type tubes at the McDonald's across the highway from the hotel. 

10:00 AM - The time we all met up in the hotel lobby to catch a shuttle to Port Canaveral on Sunday morning.

4:30ish PM - The time we embarked on our journey. 

1392 - The number of our Stateroom on the ship. We were on Deck 10. We had a balcony. I miss my balcony...

4:30 PM - The time we met each day to drink Buy 1 Get 1 Free Margaritas. 

20 lbs. - The amount of bacon we consumed as a family (of 4) each morning at breakfast. Breakfast was the best part of each day. Seriously.

Labadee, Haiti - Our first port of call. We spent the day on the beach and at a little water park for kids. Haiti is breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. It was an awesome day. It was not an awesome night...

Sean was bit by an unknown insect. Which caused his leg to turn a lovely shade of pink and swell up twice it's size. Fortunately we had Benadryl and he was fine by that night.

Daniel came down with what we called the "Haitian Heebie Jeebie Flu", a nasty GI virus that caused him to projectile vomit, fill several Pull-Ups with the nastiest diarrhea I've ever seen in my nearly 5 years as a mother and strange perfectly round shaped rashes on his face. Not cool. By the grace of God he was fine in the morning.

Sprinkles - The name of the self-serve soft serve ice cream machine on Deck 12 by the pool. We ate ice cream every day. Seriously. Every. Single. Day. There was also a Ben & Jerry's on the ship. That was open until 2 AM every night. I think Heaven must be something like that too.

Ochos Rios, Jamaica - Our second port. My Dad watched the boys for us so Larry and I could go on land since both the kids had been sick the day before. Ironically, Haiti was the only time the boys left the ship and Haiti was the only port I was leery of prior to our trip. 

I was very thankful we did not bring to the boys off the ship to Ochos Rios. Jamaica is no joke, people. It is a land of broken Red Stripe bottles and barbed wire and everyone and their mother trying to sell you Ganga. I'm sure that there are parts of Jamaica that are pristine and picturesque. Ochos Rios is not one of them. 

To the right - The direction we were told to go when we left the dock. To the right was the fancy diamond stores and such. Larry and I knew we couldn't afford diamonds, even at "up to 60% off United States retail prices". So Larry and I, in our infinite wisdom, grabbed a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and went to the left.

Incidentally, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is the bomb. It's strong, but good. Really good.

Your Welcome - They don't say it in Jamaica. They say, "No problum' Mon'". Regardless of whether you are a "mon" or not. But in Jamaica they called me "Princess" and "Queen" and "My Lady". Which I could get used to. Unlike in Mexico, where they just called me "Aaaa LADY!" 

10,947,000 (rough estimate) - The number of times I said, "No thank you." in Jamaica. Everyone wants to give you a ride. In their cab. To Fern Gully. Or Dunn's River Falls. Or Bob Marley's House. They're big on wanting to take you to Bob Marley's House. Which I don't really get. It's not as if he's going to come greet you at the door, ya know? 

Jamaicans take "No thank you." as "Yes, please follow me and harass me until you spot someone else to harass." "Let's walk and talk, no charge to talk.", that's what they all said. And is the nature of our relationship, I had to do all the talking, Larry just observed while I squeezed the crap out of his hand.

And they all ask where you're from and by some strange miracle, they all just happened to know someone in the state of New Jersey. I never knew we had such a large Jamaican population. One guy even told us his wife was from NJ. 

Once you convince your new best friend that you don't want a ride in their taxi, they try to sell you their Ganga. Then they offer to give you a ride in their taxi to smoke their Ganga. It's a never ending cycle. Until they get tired and see another prospect. 

We even met a nice man named "Cheap Charlie" who said he was a farmer and offered to take us to his farm. Jamaica was a trip.

As we continued on our trek to "the left", I noticed the absence of any Jamaican police (which were abundant when we got off the dock) as well as an abundance of any other tourists. We could have turned back, but we were in Jamaica. WE were in Jamaica. The scrawny white boy from Lodi and the fat white girl from the Villas were in Jamaica. Seeing things we never dreamed we'd see and we weren't about to turn back. 

Our first purchase in Jamaica (aside from our coffee) was a pair of sunglasses for poor Larry who was going blind. We bough them from a man on the side of the road. Jamaicans love to haggle. And they're all high off the Ganga so you can generally get a good price. 

We walked on a bit farther and a nice woman offered to braid my hair. Through a barbed wire fence. Which I actually considered. For like half a second. Before we left the island I did buy some shells and sand dollars from a nice man through a barbed wire fence though. He needed money for his lunch. I was pretty hungry myself and they were nice shells. 

Eventually we met a guy, who ended up being pretty cool, who showed us a photo album of his handcrafted wood work and pointed across the street and asked us if we'd come check out his shop. There was a shop right across the street and I assumed that's where we were going. Those tricky Jamaicans...
Right across the street ended up being a 20 minute walk to the Natives Marketplace. I would have taken one of the taxi drivers up on their offer right about then. My calves were already screaming. But he got us to the Marketplace, which we never would have found on our own. 

On the way he pointed out various plants and flowers and we stopped to sniff a few. I was impressed because I thought he was actually an artist and not just trying to sell us weed. He did eventually try to sell us weed, but not until after I bought some really pretty hand carved butterflies for my Mom. So it was all good. 

Jamaica was crazy. I will go back. Some day. Some way.

Thursday - We were tendered off the coast of Grand Cayman. A little boat came to the ship to take you to land. We didn't get to go because it was Wedding Day and the entire day was consumed with wedding stuff. My Dad and Donna got married. I guess I should eat my hat. It was a lovely wedding. Donna's gown was beautiful. My boys looked so handsome in the tuxedos. Daniel slept through the entire ceremony and through 90% of the reception. Apparently weddings are not his thing. Sean danced his butt off the whole time at the reception. He was the life of the party. 

$75.00 - my winning's on the ship's casino. Which was a full fledged real casino. They also had Bingo games every day on the ship, but I never made it to one. :(

Cozumel, Mexico - Our last stop before the US. Mexico was a lot of fun. My Dad watched the kids for us again and we went with my Aunts and cousins. Again I was thankful we left the kids on the ship. We waited in a 9 mile long single file line for 9 years to get to the spot where we could get a cab. The boys would have been bugging out.

Coronas - They're a buck a bottle and you can drink them wherever you wish. Walking down the street, inside a shop. And I thought it was cool when they had the Block Party last year and we got to walk down the middle of Bayshore Rd. 

We got 2 ft. tall frozen margaritas at the Hard Rock Cafe in Cozumel. Which is the smallest Hard Rock in the world. Now you know. 

We did a little shopping in Mexico. It was a fun day. The Mexicans don't hassle you like the Jamaicans, but they aren't as polite and they get pissy when you don't want to look at what they've got. You know what they don't have in Mexico? Stop lights and stop signs. I feel as though they should invest in them. They work well for us. 

3 - The number of Osmund Brothers we saw on stage. No, Donny and Marie weren't there. Those Osmund Brothers can rock...they put on a great show!

Doom's Day - Sunday, January 30th. Our last day on the ship. I almost cried. For real. I never wanted to leave. I could spent 5 hours just telling you about the ship itself. 

I could spend 5 hours just telling you about the food on the ship.

There's a lot of gaps in this story. I could literally spend all day blogging about our trip and sharing every little detail. Then spend another entire day filling in all the stuff I forgot.

Traveling with two little boys is not always fun. There were certainly moments when I considered jumping overboard, but all in all, our trip was the trip of a lifetime and we had the time of our lives.