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Hola from Mexico. Well, not really since technically we are now somewhere in the middle of the ocean, but today we were in Costa Maya or Muhual? Mexico. We got off the ship before the sun arose and spent the day visiting the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, the town of Muhual and the beach. The ship didn’t dock in Costa Maya for very long, only from 7 a.m. (6 a.m. on Mexico’s time) until 2 p.m. (1 p.m. Mexico’s time), but we spent every minute of it sightseeing and touring outside the port, which is always something we try to do since the ports don’t actually give a very good representation of an area. We had an amazing time and a great tour guide. We were actually among the last to arrive back at the ship and spent maybe all of a minute in the port, just walking through on the way back to the ship. Tomorrow is a sea day and then our ship will dock back in Florida Saturday.

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Today was spent in Belize! I heard all of these horror stories about Belize, but it was actually pretty nice. We took an excursion to Rendezvous Cay, a small (man-made I think) island where we could snorkel, kayak, swim, etc. I chose not to snorkel because when we did it last year in Grand Turk, I really couldn’t see a whole lot. My mask fogged up and it was kind of a mess, so I chose to bail on it this time. However, Ron did it and he loved it. Afterwards, he joined me on the beach and we hung out until it was time for the boat to take us back. From there we got back on another smaller boat and headed into Belize City. We shopped around the port for a while, checking out all the handmade goods and crazy fake Coach bags. Ron got some chicken tacos from a bar and grill and I got Belizean Coca-Cola. Amazing! All of the coke products in the Caribbean are made by Caribbean Coca-Cola and they use real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Why we don’t do that in the states I’ll never know. It tastes better and it has to be better for you since basically all sugar substitutes are chemicals (sorry Corn Growers of America). Plus, we’ve noticed all the cigarette cartons here have huge messages on them about the negative effects of smoking. They say things like “Smoking kills” and “Smoking lowers oxygen in the blood and causes impotence.” I kind of love it, since I’m anti-smoking. Having been in a family affected by cancer which just happened with no real causes, I can’t understand why someone would do something knowing what it causes. It seems ignorant. I really hope a similar campaign/regulation comes to the U.S. and if it brought Caribbean Coke with it it wouldn’t hurt.

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Since today was a sea day, Ron and I were up early and spent the day on the deck lounging, watching the weird contests (hairy men, champagne bottle ring toss, etc.), read a little (I my book and Ron his CPA study guide) and got plenty of sun. Tonight was elegant night, so after being on the deck all day we got cleaned up and headed off to dinner. I should mention that elegant night is by far my favorite night on any cruise, especially the first elegant night (there are usually two). The first elegant night of the cruise is always lobster night and I love lobster. It was amazing and I also tried something new—alligator fritters. They were good, but not like a chicken tender. Actually, it reminded me more of a potato pancake inside, but a chicken tenderish ball on the outside. I know that’s not selling it very well, but it was good, just too many peppers for my liking. After dinner, we hit up a comedy show and now it’s off to bed because we’ll be in Cozumel tomorrow.

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Today Ron and I started our cruise! We woke up this morning, ate breakfast at our hotel, hung out for a little while and then caught a shuttle to our ship. We got to the port at about 11 a.m. and quickly got through customs and checked in. We didn’t have much of a wait after that and we’re on the ship before noon. Because rooms aren’t usually ready until about 1:30 p.m., we sat on one of the upper decks and had lunch before touring the ship and then finally, heading to our room. Our luggage didn’t arrive for a few hours so we checked out some of the areas on the ship before dinner, which was amazing as usual. With all the travel, we hit up a show after dinner and then it was off to bed. We’ll be at sea tomorrow and then Cozumel on Monday.

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The vacation is over; we’re home. I’m so glad that we went on this trip. It was absolutely amazing. We had no problems traveling, the cruise was awesome, the places were beautiful and wonderful and it felt like a long break. It didn’t go by too fast, like some vacations do. On the way down, we spent the night in Florence, SC before heading to Miami where we spent a night and caught the ship the following morning. Our cruise took us to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos. Then on the way home we spent two nights in Charleston before coming home today. In total, we were gone 12 days and 11 nights. We arrived home earlier today and visited my parents. Tomorrow is my mother’s 50th birthday so I picked her some handmade gifts in Puerto Rico. Also, I try to get my parents Harley Davidson shirts from some of the islands so we had gotten them shirts from the store in St. Thomas. Then when we got home it was time to unpack and give Ron’s family their presents. We also had stuff for ourselves. Everywhere we go, we get a Christmas ornament so we picked up ornaments in Miami, Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, Grand Turk, San Juan and Charleston. We also got an ornament that’s a replica of the cruise ship. We also purchased some other random souvenirs including t-shirts from our stops, candy and photos taken by Carnival. Everything is unpacked now and it’s back to work tomorrow. I feel really blessed to have been able to take this vacation and I’m grateful that we had safe travels. God is good. Now it’s time to pay off this one and start planning another one 🙂

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Today, Ron and I visited San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were in both the old and new parts of the city and I have to say, I absolutely love it. It’s warm, there are neat little streets and markets, it’s just amazing. Now, I have to admit this is my first time traveling somewhere that doesn’t have English as the primary language. Everything, from street signs to maps, are in Spanish in Puerto Rico. Which is interesting and difficult, at first, but then you find yourself taking on a Spanish accent and saying things like “Navidad” and “Calle.” I won’t really go into why we were trying to say Christmas except that Ron and I collect Christmas ornaments from everywhere we travel to. Poor lady had no idea what we were looking for and we didn’t remember “Navidad” until it was far too late. I’m really glad we got to experience a bit of what Puerto Rico has to offer. We toured the city and the Bacardi Distillery, which gave us a broader glimpse of the area as we traveled by bus to the factory. And our driver was amazing. She was full of good information and little trivia about Puerto Rico. Also, I love that you can be stopped at a red light and someone will come to your car selling donuts and bottled water. That’s something we should definitely start doing in the states. Forgot the drive-thru, all you have to do is obey traffic laws to buy a snack. Tomorrow we head to Grand Turk, but I definitely want to come back to Puerto Rico and spend more time here exploring all it has to offer.

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Today we went to Magen’s Bay in St. Thomas, one of the world’s best beaches according to National Geographic. Sadly, it was raining this morning and rained most of the time we were at the beach, but you can really tell how amazing  a place is when it’s beautiful even in the rain. Luckily, the rain had stopped by the time we got to Charlotte Amaile to do some shopping. In this one place, where the buildings aren’t exactly up to the usual american big city standard and chickens can be seen roaming the streets, are some of the fanciest shops in the world. We found a Tiffany & Co., Prada, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, etc. It’s crazy. Then about a block or two away is the straw market which is full of people selling basically all the same things. Plus, they had tons of fake Coach, Prada, Burberry and more handbags. People were buying those things up. A little tip, if you have long hair wear it up in the straw market. At least 10 different people tried to braid my hair, but at least they asked nicely. So another tip would be, if you need an ego boost wear your long hair down. “Hey beautiful, you want to get your hair braided?” or “Hey pretty lady, can I braid your hair?” can do wonders for your self-esteem. Ron and I already decided we’ll have to come back to St. Thomas so we experience all it has to offer on a sunny day. However, the driving is pretty scary. First, you drive on the left here and second, the roads are tiny. It’s no wonder that when we walked past a Budget rental place, a lot of the cars had some sort of damage to the front or rear bumpers. Plus, gas is $4.49 per gallon so the taxis are really the way to go. Tomorrow we head to San Juan where we’ll check out the Bacardi factory and tour the city. Then Thursday it’s off to Grand Turk. Can’t wait! Hope everyone at home is having a great week.