Never-the-less, we packed up our bags last Monday with high expectations. Six days and five nights away from it all (sounds like the title to one of my favorite movies). Even though we were wearing sweatshirts, the sun WAS shining and nothing was going to dampen my spirits. We work hard, we play hard. Carnival Ecstasy here we come!
As we checked in our luggage and credentials we were ushered into a photo trap, one of many we would experience this week, those wonderful professional photos that are oh so tempting to purchase to 'remember your cruise' I'm proud of myself for only purchasing one! But wanted to document the date and the fact that we were wearing sweatshirts to head to the Caribbean ...
As we walked the gangway to board our ship we noticed the luggage being loaded - see the purple bag? guess who that belongs to?
Naturally it takes a while to board all the passengers, our luggage, and the supplies needed to sustain us for the duration of our trip so it lends plenty of deck time to overlook our favorite home port of Galveston. As you can tell, it was windy and cold!
I just wanted to document that I am truly a dedicated quilter! See, I even brought my own pillows with home made pillow cases and my newest quilt with high hopes of finding time to finish hand sewing the binding (got about half of it done). I love the 'touch of home' and I was very thankful for the added warmth!
After unpacking it was time again to visit the upper deck to watch the longshoremen undo the ropes and release our vessel for our magical week at sea.
One of the wonderful things about crusin' is the pampering. Each night the bed it turned down with chocolates on the pillow and a cute little towel critter for your enjoyment. There is also a FunShip Guide that tells of the following day's activities - everything from what time you eat, to entertainment on board, to information about the ports of call.
This is our 4th cruise in 15 years, the most recent being this same ship 8 months ago. One of my favorite things to do is take photos of the sunsets and sunrises. This is the first evening with the sun setting over the Houston ship channel.
Tuesday was our day at sea. And it promised to be a beautiful day. There was plenty to do aboard the ship, or the choice to do nothing at all. Since we were traveling with a large group from our church there was the opportunity to get to know the other couples better as we ate, went to shows, or just visited in the many gathering areas on board.
Tuesday night was "formal night" and we decided to be Island Casual instead of formal - this is the Lobster night and to be served in the fine dining room the basic requirements were "no jeans" so that's what we opted for. Again, one of the wonderful things about cruising is the food - you can literally eat 24/7 on board. Everything from fine dining to buffets to pizza, and it's all good!
The weather remained cool for our trip limiting some of our outdoor activities. Never did break out the new bathing suit to sit by the pool, and it did hamper my desire to get up early to be on deck for the 'crack of dawn' - however, I did manage to snap this photo out the porthole window in our stateroom. Small disappointments but I was determined that nothing was going to wreck havoc with my need to get away from it all!
Wednesday our destination was Progreso, Yucatan Mexico. Again, we were wearing sweatshirts and sweaters, but it wasn't as cold as when we left Galveston!
Just inland from Progreso is Merida. Our church Calvary Chapel Houston supports a mission there and as a group we had made previous arrangements to be able to go visit the church and school. So we loaded up 4 large vans and had a road trip!
The mission church was beautiful, just like the children in the school. It was a blessing to see the facilities and the smiling faces.
....and outdoor dining. We really appreciated the leaders of our group who had been to the area multiple times on mission trips as they were able to suggest places to eat.
Those of you that have followed my blog for any length of time know that I'm a "bag lady" - I just love bags, love making bags, and in Mexico, loved the treasure hunt of shopping for bags!
I wasn't disappointed! The one on the upper left is a glasses case so that gives you a little size perspective of my acquisitions from Merida.
All too soon it was time to return to our ship and once again watch the process of disembarking from the pier at Progreso.
The next morning, Thursday, we arrived in Cozumel Mexico. Finally a day that was considerably warmer and very promising of adventure!
Cozumel has the bluest water and is known for it's beautiful coral reefs full of tropical fish. In years past we have enjoyed the beach as well as snorkeling. This year we opted for something different.
We joined two other couples and spent a wonderful day shopping and exploring the downtown section of Cozumel.
The three amigos would line up together outside the shops on the sidewalk and patiently wait while us gals did our thing. Naturally, they did their own shopping, and we would call them in when it was time to barter for our treasures. It was a wonderful day of laughter and enjoyment.
And a little embarrassment as "one of us" was a little uncomfortable with the serenading of the band at lunch...
Again, I was known as the Bag Lady and it became quite a joke among the fellows "don't look now Karen, that store has bags!" I added a few to my collection and feel like I've come home with some wonderful memories.
I love the bright colors of Mexico. There were so many things to see and enjoy. And for once I think I was really practicing "be where you are" as evidenced in my neglect to take a lot of photos opting instead to just soak up the memories and enjoy the moment.
It was so refreshing to get away and take time to relax and leave the cares and pressures at home. Everyone needs an escape from reality once in a while, but not everyone can escape to a tropical island. I am reminded that we really don't have to runaway to find refreshment. God says to 'be still and know that He is God' and He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Life can be difficult at times, sometimes seeming like everything is crashing at once and that we've been forgotten or abandoned. It's during these tough times that we just need to take a deep breath and realize that we are loved. Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.