The Rest of the Trip

Initially the Ryndam was scheduled to make Key West its first port of call. This excited Deb since she always wanted to visit but even before we boarded the ship, we were notified that it had been changed to Cozumel. Apparently, there’s an issue regarding getting water in Florida hence the move.

We first visited the tiny island in 1985, vacationing with our friends Matt and Judy. Back then, there were only two hotels and the small town. We could rent a dune buggy and drive to the other side where there was no one and nothing but sea and sand. Now, it’s overdeveloped and commercialized, virtually a mirror to nearby Cancun.

On Tuesday, we arrived there and we decided to just walk around the tourist shops that were built up near the dock. We did find some souvenirs and presents so it wasn’t a waste but we chose to remember the island before it became popular.

Wednesday was the big day as we stopped in Belize and took an adventure, which for Deb was the highlight of the trip.  We were broken into three groups and were then outfitted with hardhat with flashlight, harness, and work gloves. Tricia and another woman were our guides and once we were all outfitted were given some basics on the Maya people and general safety. We started off very slowly, stopping every few feet, playing telephone to ensure we could pass on warnings as we entered the caves. Our group of 11 bonded and we were having a rip-roaring time, exasperating the guides, who took it all in stride.

We climbed into the caves which were gorgeous in their natural formations, crevices, stalactites and stalagmites. It was far more humid than previous cave tours, a result of the island being low. We were told how these formations developed and were shown where the Maya performed many of their rituals.

The trip was billed as an adventure so in time, after crawling and periodically hanging on to guide lines, we began the thrills. First there was a simple climb down a five-six foot wall, stepping on metal pitons. Soon after, we were in the fertility cave and then we reached a point where slid down a line. Then came the 300 foot zip line, the highlight of the cruise for Deb. We were launched and moved pretty quickly, too fast to enjoy the rain forest. From there we had to climb across two rope bridges which proved slippery, at least to Bob, given the wet sneakers. After that the final thrill was a quick rappel down to a landing which fed onto the trail leading back to the entrance.

Thursday was a more sedate visit to an archeological dig in Guatemala. This was a tranquil setting and it was fascinating to see the recovered statues and learn more about the Mayan people.

On Friday, we visited the fort of San Felipe at Bacalar. We spent the 90 minute bus ride educating us about the region which was a part of the Yucatan Peninsula. We handled unroasted cacao beans, items carved from native woods, and pictures of the native birds.

Upon our arrival, we were taken to the fort which was only partly exhumed and restored. There was little signage with the exterior walls and rusting canon dating back to the 17th century. Within the museum was a mix of artifacts from the fort’s history along with maps, charts, and history of the lake. The fort was required because Caribbean pirates learned they could access the lake form the Bay of Honduras to a river to a canal leading into the lake. The fort was there to repel them and protect shipping.

After lunch, we took a boat ride along the lake and to the canal entrance to see the many hues of blue the lake offered.

In all cases there were many shops which ranged from expensive jewelry, abundant liquor or local crafts. The sales people tended to be aggressive bordering on rude and we were taught to bargain on prices. Still, some were so pushy we walked away. As usual, Deb found stuff she liked, I found nothing of interest.

All in all, this was a relaxing chance to escape from the world, forgetting about work and life. Deb refused me access to the Internet the entire trip and the first time I mentioned I wanted to do some spec writing, she insisted I not, preferring to let me recharge mind, body, and soul.

On Sunday we had a long wait for the flights home, uncertain if the snows would screw things up but things ran smoothly. As a result, I discovered that by not checking e-mail for seven days, 471 messages could accumulate. I sifted through them and more, settling back into a semblance of work mode, without stress.

The snows gripping the east somehow managed to leave us alone. Our flights were uneventful although the Long Island road conditions left something to be desired. As a result, Bob & Laurie Rozakis, who were watching Ginger, insisted we spend the night then brave the roads in sunshine. We crashed and it proved to be a wise move.

Our neighbors dug us out enough so we could pull the car into the driveway. We quickly set to work unpacking, sorting mail, returning calls, buying groceries and the like.

The trip is over, a wonderful memory. Now we’re back home, Kate is here for the holiday week, and we have returned to some semblance of work despite this being the holiday week.

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