Tag Archives: caribbean

Storytime – A Journey to Jamaica

Caribbean Island 2

The months have rolled by, day after day, and I am still alone. I have only my treasured memories of what used to be, as I gaze out to sea. I am in the most beautiful of locations, I am sure, but I am a prisoner, with no way of escape. I watch the waves lapping at the sandy shore, and my eyes fill with tears once again.

It all seemed so simple, as it was explained to me. For the sum of £1000, the sugar plantation was mine, and the sea voyage to Jamaica was only a trifling thing, hardly to be considered at all. I signed my name, my belongings were loaded aboard the Queen of the Isles, and I set sail from Plymouth on a bright, sunny day. After I had made my fortune in that faraway land, I would return triumphant, taking the beautiful Julianna as my bride. Two short years, they said, and I’d be back.

The sea crossing was hardly a trifle, as I felt that I had been lashed to a cork inside a bucket, and the water in the bucket was being vigorously sloshed by a mad giant. I spent many days holding onto the railing, expelling the contents of my outraged stomach. The sails were going slack one moment, then as they caught the wind, they sounded like cannon fire, booming all round me. My misery was complete, as we dropped precipitously down the face of one huge wave, then struggled up the face of the next, endlessly.

The captain and first mate were fighting the wind and the waves, hurling commands at the exhausted crew as the storm worsened. Great volumes of water were coming aboard, and the masts were groaning and complaining at the strain. Men who had to go aloft were taunting death, and two of them met that reaper as they fell from the shrouds, falling with the top foresail, crumpling onto the oaken deck. Their screams as they fell are with me still.

There were few passengers on this small ship, and for the most part they stayed below, in the faint hope that they’d be safe there – warm, dry, protected. At one point a woman came running out onto the deck from below, and we could clearly see that she was mad with fear. She was instantly drenched when she came up, her wild hair was streaming in the wind, and her face was a crazed mask, with large, rolling eyes. She looked across at me, where I was feebly holding to the foot of the mast, then she tottered, danced a bit on the wet, sloping deck, then she was over the side, gone as if by magic. I could hardly believe it – was it a dream?

Just then, a man, perhaps her husband, came running up from below, shouting and wailing, but we could not understand him over the shrieking winds. He was clawing at his face, twisting about, fighting the wind and the water, and hardly a moment later he, too, was over the side.  The door to the lower cabins was banging in the wind, back and forth, perhaps calling the people below, beckoning to them, and urging them on deck. Madness, everywhere.

Then, amazingly, the storm began to intensify. The ship rolled frighteningly from side to side, the tips of the masts barely clearing the wave tops, as we held on tightly. The captain himself was manning the wheel, and the first mate was aloft, trying to reef the mainsail, hoping to gain some control. I looked up, trying to gauge his progress, wondering if I could be of aid, but just then the mainmast snapped in two, with no warning at all, and the remaining men fighting the sails were tossed into the sea. The top of the mast was hanging over the side, held by the remaining lines that had not parted, but soon it was swept away, trailing behind us in the raging water. Some few men holding on to it disappeared in the darkness, lost in the maelstrom.

The captain and a couple of other men ran to the side rail, trying to chop loose the remaining wreckage trailing by the rope ends, trying to prevent them from dragging us into the depths. Just as they were starting to make some headway on that problem, the second mast came down, barely missing them, but causing a new tangle of ropes to be chopped away.  They were still hacking with their axes and hatches, some trying to use their knives, but it was a mighty task, and they seemed to be losing. The ship was tilted toward the stern, and was taking on more and more water, getting more and more sluggish among the giant waves. Many of those huge waves were now crashing entirely across the width of the ship, striking the men, taking them one by one over the side to join their lost shipmates. I gazed in horrified fascination.

There was a new sound now, adding to the cacophony, a booming, crashing sound, somewhat reminiscent of the noise of the sails in the wind, but this had a deeper, stronger bass note. It was rhythmic, pulsing, reverberating in my chest with its power. I struggled, trying to get up, desperate to discover the source of this new assault on my senses. I pulled myself upright against the base of the shattered mast, casting my eyes all about, trying to see through the wind-blown rain, fighting to stay on my feet on the slippery, tilted deck.

There was a momentary lull in the wind and rain, and I could now see what was generating the new symphony of horrible sounds. Our ship was being driven onto the rocks of some unknown shore, inexorably pulled, drawn into the maw of death itself. I stood, transfixed, by this time alone on the deck. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, didn’t know what to do. I looked into the eyes of the Reaper, as he reeled me in. I closed my eyes and sagged to the deck, accepting my fate.

So, I am gazing out to sea again, hoping for I know not what, but still hoping. I have found abundant food here, and I’ll likely last for years, but… do I want to? I have no companionship, no love, no Julianna. Of what shall I dream?


Return from Paradise – Part 1

We’ve been back a little over a week from our cruise to the Caribbean, but sometime during our drive back from New Orleans I was hit by either a bus or a cold, not sure which.  I’ve really felt bad, didn’t feel like posting, so I wasn’t able to do this while everything was fresh in my mind.  Actually, very little is fresh in my mind, at any time, but here we go  🙂

We got away on Saturday morning (Jan 21st) around noon (had to wait for Kate to get home from her shift at the hospital), and headed south.  The weather was favorable, so we were able to make pretty good time.  We drove as far as Jackson, MS, and found a room for the night.  They gave us a suite for only twice what we’re accustomed to paying – sweet!  🙂  (suite?)

We got to New Orleans with several hour’s cushion but went ahead and got our car parked at the storage place and then were shuttled over to the cruise dock area.  No problems checking in, everything went well.  No delays, no problems.  The ship departed a little ahead of schedule and we were off, down the Mississippi toward the Gulf.  Now, unless you were a geography major (do they actually offer that as a major?), you might think that we’d be pretty close, and it would only take us an hour or two to make it down to the deep water.  Wrong, buffet-breath!  We were on the river a full 6 hours to get to where the pilot boat met us.  One of the other passengers said they were awakened by the comings and goings of the little boat so he knew just when all that took place.  He said they dropped off the pilot and then the small boat headed over toward a cruise ship that was waiting to make the up-river transit.

We sailed all night on Sunday (22nd) and then all day Monday, crossing the Gulf, heading toward the Yucatan peninsula.  We rounded the tip of the peninsula sometime Monday night and docked at Costa Maya on Tuesday morning (24th).

I did get to see one neat thing while we were crossing over to Yucatan – I heard a couple of passengers talking about ‘flying fish’, so I went out to the railing and stood there for awhile, watching the water.  I didn’t know quite how to ‘pre-focus’ for these fish, because I didn’t know if they were the size of water buffaloes or maybe the size of minnows.  Anyway, I was gazing down and saw something that looked like a dragonfly, skimming just above the water.  Then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute!  There are no dragonflies way out here!”  So, I watched for a few seconds and it skimmed along and disappeared into a wave.  I kept watching and soon was amazed to see about a dozen of them take flight at once – a school of fish had become a squadron of fish, flashing silver in the sunlight.  They sailed along, maybe a foot above the water, then all of them disappeared into a wave and disappeared, just as the other had done.  Wow!

On a bar drink list. Norwegian poetry, maybe? 🙂

As we were transiting the Gulf, we mainly just enjoyed the shipboard experience – the warm breezes, getting to meet lots of nice folks, going to the various restaurants for our meals.  There are a few ‘premium’ restaurants where you have to pay a cover charge above what you paid for the ‘all-inclusive’ cruise.  We went to one of those, Teppanyaki, and enjoyed the Benihana-like fun of group dining while an oriental comedian

Chop Looey 🙂

chopped and cooked our meals.  Lotsa fun, but maybe a little pricey.  I took the opportunity to start telling some of my old jokes, and they seemed to be well-received.  I guess these folks didn’t get to hear many jokes back home 🙂

Kate, being beautiful and elegant.

We made it out to the topside hot-tub one time, probably would have done it more, but unfortunately Kate was saddled with a fuddy-duddy on the trip and it was hard to get him to participate.  Dang!

This photo of Kate turned out particularly well, even though I took it with my Android phone in low light.  Yes, she IS pretty!  🙂

So, we docked at Costa Maya next morning and strolled off the ship to see what treasures we might find at the dockside establishments.

We couldn't find our formal wear 🙂

We managed to find  Senor Frog’s Palace of Nourishment and Hydration.  We indulged in some local food – I believe they called the dish NACHOS.  Tasty!  Of course, we had to try the local health drink, Tecate.  Also tasty!  🙂 A traveling artist, I think his name was Renoir, asked if we would care to have a caricature done.  I thought caricature was some kind of acupuncture, but I said, “Sure, why not?”  It might have been the Tecate talking  🙂  We had a BIG time at Senor Frog’s establishment!  Later we strolled around, I bought a hat, Kate shopped, but didn’t buy much.

Well, that’s a WRAP, for now.  I’ll continue my story in the next installment.

Chapeau Nouveau

Renoir (Fernando) creating his masterpiece.

The Norwegian Spirit awaits!

We had such a great time on our cruise this past February (I’m sure you remember all my posts about that), we’re going to do it again – same ship, same cruise, same ports of call!  We’ll drive to New Orleans to arrive in time to board the ship January 22nd.  The ship will sail at 5:00 PM, heading for warmer climes (I’ve included a graphic that shows our itinerary).

We didn’t sign up for a lot of ‘shore excursions’ this time – we’re mostly planning to enjoy the journey itself with possibly some time spent wandering around the tourist areas nearest the docking point.

As you may note on the itinerary, one of our ports-of-call will be Roatan, Honduras.  Kate has done some  research and gathered some information about an orphanage we had heard about on Roatan and we’ll be visiting that facility while we’re there.  We’ll be making some modest donations of clothing and food to try to help out in a small way.  We’ll get a tour and get to meet the children during our visit – should be quite rewarding.  There are State Department traveler advisories about Roatan that tell us not to go off on our own there – robberies not uncommon.  We’ll be escorted during our time there so we shouldn’t have any difficulties.  If I post my obituary here in February you’ll know things didn’t go well  🙂

And, as usual, we’ve notified our nearby neighbors to watch the place, just lettin’ you burglars know to stay away!

So, if you’re desperate to have some more ‘Jim n Kate’ time and want to escape winter’s grip, come join us in New Orleans – we’ll be lookin’ for ya!!

Caribbean Cruise Wrapup

That’s about it for photos, are ya glad to hear it?  🙂  We took lots and lots more, but there’s no way to include them all.  Mainly I wanted to share with everyone the places we went, the people we met, the marvelous ship we were on.  We’re still in a happy daze about the whole thing.  We went, we saw, we were conquered by the beauty of it all.  Truly, we could have walked down the gangplank then straight back onto the ship and done it again without any qualms.

We don’t know what we might do next – the main limiting factor is the number of vacation days that Kate has.  So, we’ll likely be doing some 3-day getaways for the foreseeable future, explore some more of Indiana and Kentucky.  We certainly do want to cruise again, but for now, we’ll just stay kinda local.  We hope you were happy vicariously enjoying our cruise – we loved all of it!

Cruise Photos Day 1 and 2

As promised (threatened?) I’m passing along some photos we took while we were away on our Caribbean Cruise.  Day 1 was New Orleans, we boarded the ship and did some exploring while we waited to depart.  Departure time was 5:00 PM.  Most of these pictures will be to acquaint you with the ship itself – the Norwegian Spirit.  It holds about 2100 passengers, and had enough places to eat, enough things to do, that we never had to stand in any lines and it was just a pleasure to be aboard this beautiful conveyance which was to take us on a magic carpet ride to a Caribbean Paradise.  Between Kate and myself we took around 600 photos, but I won’t bombard you with the whole set (feel better now?)  🙂

Ok, here we go – welcome aboard the Norwegian Spirit!

These pics will give you some idea of what the ship looks like externally and internally, showing some of the dining and common areas.  All the pics are ‘click-able’, of course.

Tell me whatcha think – are you ready to CRUISE???  🙂

Mosquito Coast

We are preparing to head south this weekend, driving on Saturday down to Jacksonville, Alabama to spend a night with Kate’s brother Don and his wife Bonnie.  Sunday we’ll jump out of bed early (hear that, Kate? EARLY!  🙂  ) and go on to New Orleans.  We have to get there before the ship pulls out at 5PM and it’s a 7-hour drive, so we’ll hope we don’t hit any major highway construction projects en route.  Oh, did I mention?  We’re going on a CARIBBEAN CRUISE!!!  We’ll be on the good ship Norwegian Spirit, heading to Costa Maya, Belize, Roatan, and Cozumel.  We are some kinda EXCITED, I can tell ya!

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to announce online that the house will be vacant, but our nice neighbors are STANDING GUARD for us!  Besides, we don’t have any gold jewelry or anything, so I don’t have too many worries about burglars.  If the worst should happen, I think the insurance agent could write us a check for $100, which should cover all our stolen valuables.

Of course, both of us have colds.  Kate has been coughing out her lungs, maybe feeling a little better today, and I have a head cold – I’ve been carrying Kleenex boxes around with me.  Kate is at work tonight – I tried to convince her to call in, but she decided to tough it out and report in. Fortunately, relief is at hand – I heard about a cold remedy they use quite a bit in the Caribbean and they’ve  found it to be especially efficacious – I’ve included a photo of the magic elixir.  The dosage was not clear in the instructions, but I think it’s basically DRINK-REPEAT, etc.    We’ll report back on the healing properties of this preparation.  Apparently it comes in flavors, rather like cough syrup does, to mask the awful taste  🙂

We’ll be gone a week and plan to return, broke and sunburned, in time to pick up little KD doggie from the pet boarding place and see if she still remembers us.

That’s about it – we’ll be back soon with sand in our flip flops.  Are ya envious yet???   🙂