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Published: February 3rd 2015
Dateline: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
WHOA! After an amazing two fun and restful weeks on Balboa Island near Los Angeles, we were thrown into a whirlwind of activity for the next 38 hours ;-)
Before leaving Balboa we walk along the harbor, greeting dogs and “saying” good morning to pelicans and the Orange Coast Community College crew teams as we head to Starbucks on the main street. We sit and people watch. We hate to leave. After walking back to the house, we finish tidying up and head north about 6 miles to drop off our car at an RV storage park. When we arrive we take our luggage into the office to wait for a cab and are immediately greeted by a flying, bouncing black fur ball of a dog named Lucy. Lucy is a couple of months old and full of energy. She was thrilled to have new people to play with. So much so that immediately capturing Cope’s shoelaces with her sharp little baby teeth was her immediate goal ;-) Cope finally, as we waited for our cab to arrive, had to sit on a sofa and put his feet up to evade
the jumping, yipping amazingly cute Lucy.
Our little Prius cab swiftly took us to the John Wayne Airport in Orange County where, with our TSA Pre-Check tickets in hand quickly made our way through security…almost ;-) I’m on the other side of the metal detectors picking up our stuff from the belt when I notice that Cope is no longer with me. I look around and find that they have pulled him aside and are having conversations with him about his insulin pump. They are quite serious and evidently have never seen one so thought it was some type of incendiary device I guess. So leaving him to deal with security I gathered our things to wait. Patience is truly a virtue when traveling ;-)
Our first flight to Houston was late which meant that we would miss our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Cope went immediately into contingency plan mode, while I was certain that somehow or another, things would work out. As it turned out they held the plane for us in Houston. We were told the connection was so short that we should not even stop at the restroom on the way
to our gates. We did as told ;-) grabbed the flight and arrived around 11 pm in Ft. Lauderdale and unbelievably our baggage made it too!! It is warm here as we wait for the Holiday Inn shuttle with hundreds of other people milling around. Quick overnight and at 10 the next morning for a mere $8 each we were shuttled to the amazing Ruby Princess.
Because we have traveled with Princess quite a bit were given preferred boarding which means ;-) doing everything that everyone else has to do but in a somewhat shorter line. On a long cruise like this, most people are preferred as there are many world travelers aboard. 2400 as a matter of fact, and sold out. Since we were “preferred” we were able to board first, which is really nice as there were very few people on the ship and the dining rooms were empty ;-) We found our cabin on deck 15, the top of the ship. The good part… we are on the pool deck and the buffet deck (no shortage of food) and the bad part… if we are in rough water, we will sway the most while those in the bowels of the ship will have peaceful nights.
We have a peaceful lunch, pick up books at the library, sign up for internet and then it hits me…I have left my one and only pair of amazing black tennis shoes (that I wear for just about everything), at the hotel. Oh No! We debate… get off the ship, go back to the hotel and then get back here before we have all-aboard at 3:30 (it is now 1:00pm.) This is possible. Or we ask the hotel to send the shoes to California and when we hit Antigua (pronounced An-tea-ga) I go in search of a new pair of tennies. We quickly call the hotel to find them totally uncooperative, even though Cope is a platinum elite member. They won’t mail them; they aren’t even really interested in seeing if they are in the room for sure. Finally they agree to check and lo and behold the shoes are there but their only solution is for us to come back or to send them a printed mailing label. Crap. We talk to the manager, same answers. Okay, we’re getting off.
We show our cruise cards at the gangway and head for a cab in the terminal. Thankfully a cab is just unloading some passengers and we ask if he can take us back to the hotel, wait, and then bring us back to the ship. Too easy…LOL! Of course, he has no idea where the town of Davie and the hotel is and his English consists of 10 words. Well, lucky for us I also have 10 words of Spanish in my repertoire ;-) Together, with 20 words we should do fine. He puts the address in his GPS and his GPS doesn’t recognize it and we certainly don’t know where it is. Aha, I have my iPhone and punch in the address as he’s leaving the terminal. He’s saying in Spanish “where do I go?” Oh gosh, a Marx Bros comedy.
I lean over the front seat and start showing him my phone and the directions and together we figure it out and finally make it to the hotel. Cope is livid at the hotel manager and says he will go in and take care of it. Okay by me I will practice my Spanish with the cab driver who tells me his name is Elgaro. He has me repeat his name and begins to laugh at my expense as I cannot seem to roll the R on my tongue correctly. He says it a number of times and then has me repeat each time, enjoying my inability to rrrrr the r ;-)
I ask him in Spanish where he is from. He tells me I will need to guess. Hummmm, he speaks Spanish so I start with Puerto Rico which is close, he says “no”. Dominican Republic, “no”, Cuba, “no”, uh oh I’m going to have to go further afield and start guessing South American countries and am given a laughing “no” each time. Without a map I am truly at a disadvantage but I forge on, “Mexico, “no”, Panama, “no”, I make my way through Central American countries. Elgaro is laughing hysterically as we near the dock. What in the heck country have I missed…wracking my brain I shout out, HONDURAS! Elgaro gives a whoop of joy. YES! Honduras. We have arrived at the dock, shoes in hand and Elgaro from Honduras gets a BIG tip! LOL
So let’s try this ship boarding again. Of course I left so quickly that all I took was my cruise ship boarding card. This shouldn’t be a problem, but it is, at least to one tall security guard who lets me know that he cannot let me pass as I don’t have a passport. A passport? Of course I don’t have a passport; the ship’s officers took it from us when we boarded. As you board the ship, the ship takes your passport as they need it to show customs and immigration in all the countries we will be visiting. Fortunately two other officers are listening to all this and they tell him it is okay as we have our boarding cards and have already had the ship take our passports. Nothing doing, he’s ignoring them intent on teaching me a lesson about identity theft. As our tall, by the book, officer looks away, the other officer’s wave their fingers at us like “go” and we do. He is not happy and we don’t look back.
Ship boarded…time for the lifeboat drill, let’s head to South America.
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