Monday, June 1, 2015

We went on a cruise!

We broke tradition this year and went on vacation at the beginning of the summer season instead of the end! Rebels, we are.

Back in February or so, I had a friend who started a travel agency and a daughter who was stressing about her 2nd semester in college, and a vacation just sounded like something we needed. I immediately thought of a cruise, and the family took about 3.4 seconds to get on board with that wild hair. 

And finally it happened! We left early (EARLY!) Saturday morning--5am to be exact--in order to get to the ship as early as we could and beat some of the lines. Fact: 7-day cruises start on the day of departure, even when departure isn't until 4pm. So get there, get a deck chair and some food and drink, and start vacation!
The deck would never be that empty again!
We stopped by the room to drop off our bags, but the steward, Libert, was still working. We didn't understand until later why he was a little upset that we were there -- he was decorating our room with streamers and such! It was a surprise from our travel agent Marisa, congratulating Bug on finishing her freshman year of college.
At first, we thought the last guests had the decorations and he just left them for us!
We ate lunch on the deck -- Guy's Burgers did not disappoint! The toppings bar had everything from grilled onions to shoestring potatoes (which were ridiculously good on the burger) and the seasoned fries were awesome. Nope, didn't take a single burger picture. 

We finally pulled away around 4:30 after being forced to join the muster station practice -- next time I'm hiding in the bathroom. 


I wanted to tell the dolphins that just a few miles away is much prettier water!
And we were off. Sunday and Monday were "at sea" days and there was a lot of this:
Photobombed by RDub's foot

Lots of reading, sitting...and some beveraging
Honestly, some people would be so bored by us on vacation. My idea of perfection is exactly this: Sitting somewhere near the water (for the sound and the smell), reading a trashy novel (not too much thinking), and sipping something cold (not too picky about what). It's why cruises work for us! We'll talk to people around us, but not always. I can't make myself sleep late, so we aren't the late-night partiers on the ship. We made it to one show, and a few live music sessions in the various clubs, but otherwise, life on the ship was mostly this!

Tuesday was the stop in Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras (one place, three names). We did the Tabyana Beach Break excursion -- highly recommend! It's about a 45-minute bus trip to the other side of the island, and we went through town. We saw all the kids getting to school in their uniforms, wash hanging on the line, just real life. Then, the beach. 

The description said you could snorkel off the beach, and we didn't know how impressive that would be. When we got there, we rented our fins, and Johnathan said he'd be our guide if we wanted to go see the reef. He took just the three of us -- it was amazing! We went out about 30 yards from the beach, and this happened:





We paddled around for about 45 minutes - the water was perfectly calm and clear, and wasn't even very cold. It was just beautiful, and having our own guide meant no crowding -- no one else was even out there!



Back to the beach...we were sitting a little way back under the palm trees. Our ship was the only one in port that day, so the beach wasn't crowded at all. The one thing we had read about this excursion was about the vendors; the seating area as well as the shops, restaurant, and bathrooms was private, but the beach between the chairs and the water was fair game for vendors -- jewelry, carvings, conch shells were being hawked by various people. Every time you'd walk to the water, they'd ask if you wanted whatever, but they weren't rude. I just shook my head and kept walking. It was pretty hilarious that most of them would say, "Maybe later?" Obviously, they hear that a lot from people getting in the water! Who's carrying money at that point? Anyway, there were guards for the private area so our belongings were safe and we had no one coming over to the chairs and bugging us. 
It was raining back home...
We were on the ship for lunch around 1, when walked back to the shops on the pier. When we were there two years ago, I found an ice bucket that I talked myself out of buying. As you may know by the name of the port, mahogany is an export of Honduras, and it is used in many of their creations. ["That is mahogany!" was said many times by yours truly and her daughter. Name the movie.] Anyway, after regretting it for two years, I found it again, and now it's mine!
I was mad when I passed it up the first time because I found it later for $20 more. 
On to our next stop: Belize. We had another snorkeling excursion, this time to a private island.

Three acres of pristine coral sand and palapas. It was about a 45-minute boat ride from the ship, and our guide told us about the reef. It's the second largest coral reef in the world (behind Australia's) and they take great care to protect it. We got in the water with a group of about 40 snorkelers from the right end of the island above. The water was choppier here, but was so clear. At the deepest point, the water was about 40 feet and we could easily see all the way to the bottom.



Unfortunately, the camera battery died about 10 minutes into the swim. We did get one of these, though. 
After about 45 minutes (which can feel like a really long time!), we got back to the beach for a bit of lazing around before heading back to the ship. 



The required "toes in the sand" shot
Then it was off to our last port of call, Cozumel. RDub had unfortunately gotten a cold--apparently he was exposed before we left and it incubated for a while--and decided that he would not be able to snorkel in Cozumel as planned. After talking it over, the three of us decided we'd just spend the day shopping in town and taking it a little easier. 

Shopping in Cozumel is one of my favorite pastimes, if only because I have fond memories of this trip. Bug got gifts for her besties, RDub got a hat (finally), and I got glasses.
This is after it got home with us and filled with a tasty beverage.
And if you visit the link above, you'll see our friend Rafaela, who still works at Three Amigos!
I swear she remembered me.
Back to the ship for lunch, then dinner with this guy:
Our headwaiter, Catalin, aka "Bobby" for his resemblance to DeNiro
We did other stuff, but I'm not sure the pictures exist. There was this...
...which reminds me why I love vacations. And the ocean. And sunsets. 

But being home is pretty good, too. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whole 30, Week 3

[Not even lying that I started this almost two weeks ago and am finally going to finish and post...]


I'll skip to the end first: Whole30 ended at about Whole21. It wasn't a failure though. I was reminded of quite a few things during the three weeks. 

It's called Whole30, not Whole365 for a reason -- it is just next to impossible to maintain that level of strictness every single day. Getting sick was just the first part -- when nothing tastes good or sits well, you eat what you can. Next, an anniversary deserves to be a celebration! I was not going to feel "deprived" by not having a glass of wine or a breadstick.... These things came up during the month I'd had planned, and that's just how life works. 

But I was reminded of how I feel when I choose certain foods over others. I can't eat cheese and feel good. Period. I can't eat much bread/flour and lose weight. Just can't. It's also a trigger food for me -- once I'd broken that after two weeks, it was ridiculously hard not to crave it. I need to stay away from it as much as possible. It also messes with my stomach at times, so staying away from it is just the best choice.

Here's one: I don't actually need coffee to live. I don't need caffeine to function. I LIKE those things, but I don't need them. Same with wine - which is good to remind myself! I've had coffee for the last few days and it's tasted great. I'm using less sweetener and creamer than before, which is good. 

Major reminder: If I don't meal plan, I eat crap. We made a huge dent in the freezer stock, and I got a new cookbook. The frozen weather around here gave me a challenge of cooking without making an attempt to go to the store first. I managed a few things just fine!
One of the prettiest frittatas I've ever made!
Sausage, zucchini, and Cali blend veggies
Anyway, I lost about six pounds. I fully expect some of that to come back with the carbs, but I'm more faithful in my workouts and trying to be thoughtful about the carbs I do eat (not counting the cornbread I made this week because it's freaking cold here right now). 

I'm also researching some modified options that will make me feel my best, have energy, and not pack on weight. More to come on that..

And with that, I'm hitting publish! Whoot!