Wednesday, April 9, 2008

When it rains, it pours -- Day in Grand Cayman

This morning we woke to a horrid beeping noise. Again and again and again. And then it stopped. About five minutes later, it started again. Oh…wait. It’s our wake-up call. We went out onto the balcony and watch the ship drop anchor in Grand Cayman. We quickly suited up and headed up for breakfast…and then back down to deck A to catch our tender into the port.

Today we are going to the sting ray sandbar and Coral Gardens snorkel trip. Our tickets said to catch the tender 45 minutes before our tour starts. Well…it only took a few minutes to get to the dock…so we waited there for another 45 minutes before our tour was called. When we went to Disney world last year, we prepped the girls for all the lines we would be waiting in. Somehow we forgot to do the same for this trip. Madalyn could hardly believe the tolerance and patience she was expected to withstand.
Our guide arrived…and we followed her a block down the street and got onto a bus and then drove to the other side of the island for our boat. It was about a half hour ride to the Stingray sandbar. If you have never heard of this area…it’s a sandbar where fishermen used to come to clean their fish (if I am recalling correctly!)…and the rays would congregate there…basically for scraps. The rays are used to people being in the water with them…they still do have their stingers…but if you shuffle your feet along the bottom, you won’t step on the barb.

You can see from these pictures that is was grey and overcast this morning...and the water is pretty choppy.

We arrived at the sandbar…and I had Michael get into the water with the girls…and I wanted to get some pictures from the boat (see how dark it is outside?!)…but they headed right over to the rays, so I had to hop in myself. Our guides had us form a circle and talk to us about the rays. As we were talking, the rays were insistent about breaching the circle! Madalyn did not want to swim with them. Here she is hanging onto me -- see how many of them are just next to us?!She was really worried about that stinger. BUT…she didn’t mind touching them, feeding them, or even kissing one! Katie on the other hand, did not mind being in the water with them, she just didn’t want them to touch her! She wasn't too sure what to make of Daddy - who wanted to catch and hold one.
We got back on the boat…and as soon as we did, the skies opened up. What??!! I thought for sure that those donations to the Carnival Gods would ensure sunny skies! The boat traveled about 5 minutes away from the sandbar to the coral gardens. It was still raining when we got into the water…but when you looked down, it just didn’t matter. It was gorgeous. Beautiful coral formations…and LOTS of fish down by the coral (but because it was so overcast, my pictures did not turn out too well). I was swimming along with the girls…and Madalyn says to me: “where’s the boat?” WHAT?!! I look up, look around…and OMG…it’s waaaayyyy over there. How did we get so far away? I was sure that we weren’t more than 10 feet away! The current was really strong…and I think we were just pushed along.

At that moment, Madalyn decided to panic. She said that swimming was too hard and she wanted me to carry her back to the boat. So…there I am…forever and a day away from our boat…no flippers…and two kids to lug back…in the POURING rain. I somehow managed to get on my back…with Madalyn balanced between my knees while I did the backstroke and she kicked with her flippers. I kept looking backwards…and it seemed like we were making no progress whatsoever. When we finally got back to the boat…I was so relieved to see Michael already back on the boat. He had gotten off with the underwater digital camera and done his own thing. He is not a strong swimmer, so I was kinda worried about him. He would have had to have called for help if he was in my situation. He said that the same thing happened to him, too. That he was swimming and looked up and couldn’t believe how far away the boat was!

With everyone safely back on board…in the torrential rain…we headed back to the dock. And then do you know what happened? The sun came out. Stupid sun.
We got back to the dock and then loaded onto a bus to take us back to the area to catch our tender to the ship. In the Caymans, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road. And they are crazy drivers. So…as our bus approached the main road…we crashed into a government vehicle! The bus was so sturdy that we couldn’t feel anything – we could just hear the honking of horns and the inhales from the people on the front of the bus. A police officer on a bike was quickly on the scene…and they came on the bus to make sure that we were all okay…and we had to wait for other police to come and mark the scene and ask questions.
After arriving on the ship…we went up for lunch…and finally had pizza. Carnival makes some of the best pizza! The girls also discovered wontons (one of their favorite foods) on the Asian bar. Pizza and wontons…yuuuummmm. When we finished with lunch…what do you do on a full stomach? Why you go on the waterslide of course! Michael and the girls went in that direction…I, on the other hand, went back to the room!
(See...the sun is now out...makes for some beautiful blue water!)

They were only gone for about 45 minutes and they came back to get showered and have a rest. Madalyn actually took a nap for the next two hours! Katie and I went down to the photo gallery to find all of our pictures…and there were some good ones…and some really bad ones. We dropped a small chunk of change and went back to the room to wake Madalyn. The girls had decided that they wanted to eat dinner with Camp Carnival and spend the evening there…so they were dropped off at 5:45…and Michael and I headed to the casino. After just a few minutes, Michael got lucky and won 300 quarters (or $75 for those of you who don’t want to do the math)…so we went back to the room and he got lucky again. OMG…I did NOT just write that! :-0

When we arrived at Truffles dining room sans children, Phillip and Memel were quite upset. They even had chocolate milk waiting on the table for the girls! Michael decided to give it a try:It was a nice relaxing dinner. No one put chocolate or butter fingers on my clothes. No one told me “she’s being mean.” No one spilled part of their dinner and then “made it worse” by trying to clean it with a cloth napkin.

For appetizers, we had sushi and this yummy pasta dish that had a tomato crème sauce with scallops, shrimp, and squid:
For our entrée’s we had: teriyaki short ribs and pike and perch with polenta:
For dessert: warm chocolate melting cake (again…what is dessert without chocolate?!) and date, fig and cinnamon cake.
After dinner, we collected the girls from Camp Carnival…and I had promised them that they could try to play Bingo again…with their own cards. And can you believe it…Madalyn won $250!!
We decided to give the show another try…and watched the amazing acts of Lubo who could balance just about anything on his forehead – from swords, to glasses, to even a 10 speed bicycle! After Lubo…was comedian Ronnie Bullard. Michael and I actually saw him on our last Carnival cruise 4 years ago. He had the same bad jokes then. We left a few minutes into the show to head back to the room and get ready for our next amazing adventure….

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Skeller said...

Ummm, hello? *Wordless* Wednesday?!? And I'm thinking, "OMG, I did NOT just read that!" hehe. Congrats on your lucky winnings, and I hope the rain, rain goes away ... for good, during the rest of your cruise.

Rhea said...

Awesome update! Your bus crashed into a government vehicle? sheesh! I can't believe Madalyn won $250! She's going to always expect that from Bingo now.

I'm glad you didn't panic when you found the boat so far away in the coral snorkeling. I would have been a little nervous around the sting rays also.

I agree with Susan, hope that rain goes away!! (but, glad it didn't keep you from from today!)

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

Susan and Rhea - thanks so much for keeping up with our little adventure! I am working on todays excursion - I cannot wait to post the pictures of our Dolphin swim. It was truly an experience beyond words!

GBK Gwyneth said...

What wonderful photos of an exciting trip! Thanks for adding them.

Unknown said...

Dang you have some lucky winner types in your family!!!

Kori said...

Two words Crocodile Hunter. Those TSing rays scare the poo out of me. Seriously.

Next time we go to the Casino I'm sneaking Madalyn in with me. lol

I am so not believeing ya'll had a wreck glad no one was hurt.

I am so loving all the different towel animals. That is cool.