I am so happy to share with you guys that I went on a cruise in December! It was not cheap and I missed the last week of semester –which meant that I had to take the finals sooner– but it was TOTALLY worth it. From December 11th to December 18th I traveled from Galveston, TX, all the way to the Caribbean Sea: Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, MX!
It took us like 12 hours to drive from Wichita to Galveston, where we would board the ship, so we spent almost the whole Saturday in the road. We spent the night at a hotel in Galveston, with views to the sea. On Sunday morning we went for a walk to the pier and although we could not get to the very end of the pier, we did get to see the sea and some seagulls. It reminded me of the pictures of Florida I had seen before, just a little bit cloudier lol. After the walk we took our suitcases and drove our way to the ship, the Carnival Breeze. It was cold outside, who would say that the following day we could be wearing short-sleeved shirts?
Aboard, the first thing we did was eating a burger, we were starving and those burgers were really, really good. Then, we went to our room and left our stuff. We did not do much on Sunday, just tried to learn the decks and their respective activities and had supper all together. Something I found really interesting is that most of the workers in the ship were foreigners, and I really liked throughout the course of the cruise that they tried to represent their country and teach the people into it. All of them were really close too and one of my favorites was called Yinyun or like. He was one of our table waiters and always funny and easy–going. There was another waiter whose name I do not remember because it was weird –he was a Filipino– who knew a lot of magic and logic tricks and every night at dinner he would show one to all of us and he would get us to try to figure out how he did the trick.
On Monday, I spent most of the day with my host brother Caleb at the pool(s) and the slides, which were really fun, and so we got a little bit tanned just the first day since we spent wet the whole day and the sun was shining bright already. At the pool, we met a 10–year–old boy called Brody who apparently liked us very much because he spent the week following us everywhere. The first day we had a lot of fun with him and at his expense though: at some point of the day we decided to sneak out of the pool while he was not looking and when he noticed he started following us. When we were about to take the elevator, he slid in with us and thus we got out of the elevator in a deck different than the deck where our room really was so he would not know our deck, but he got out too! We ran and hid but he found us so we ran back to the elevator and just when the doors were sliding close, he stopped in front of them and yelled at us in surprise.
At our room, we got ready to go to have supper, but I went outside for a little while by myself to take some pictures of the sunset since I was ready and I had time. When I was taking them, I met Andrew, and Ecuadorian living in Texas. We were talking about how we liked photography, how the cruise was awesome and how we both were foreigners in the States, when guess who appeared… Brody! He started bugging us and I ended up going back to my room to have supper. At night my host brother and I watched a movie that was playing while we were swimming in the pool, whose water was warm and nice.
The next day, on Tuesday Dec. 13th, we had an awesome breakfast with biscuits, gravy, hot dogs, sausage, pastries, eggs, and juice. I swear breakfast is one of the best things of life. After having breakfast we put our swimsuits on and we walked to the pool. At the pool, Caleb and I saw… Brody lol. We also met a super cute 3-year-old kid called Mike and an 11-year-old Mexican called Eduardo. Eduardo did not talk English so I was the translator, and when Andrew saw and joined us after a while, we three got to talk a little bit in Spanish… I had missed it so much. Andrew, Caleb and I had lunch together and my other host brother Joe joined us too. Then we got back to the pool and when we got bored, we dressed, Andrew and I took our cameras and the three of us made our way to the front of the ship. It was really windy there but also beautiful. There was not a bit of land we could see, everything was sea around us. I really enjoyed the humidity and the salty smell of sea so familiar to me. We took a bunch of pictures and had fun trying to fight the wind. When we got back in the ship, my hair was all tangled and my face felt like though I had been riding a motorbike.
Caleb and I skipped dinner that day and instead we explored around the ship, played golf and a game of giant-chess, and went to the game room. We also met a 13-year-old girl and the four of us –Caleb, Andrew, the girl and me– watched a movie together at the commons.
The next day, we stopped in Jamaica! We got off the ship early in the morning because the excursion we had booked was in the other side of the island. We had a two-hour drive by bus to Ocho Rios, but we all enjoyed it because we got to see a big part of Jamaica and it was beautiful. Plus, the guide told us about Jamaica and its traditions throughout the drive. I did not know their official language is English lol, I really never thought about the language Jamaicans bight speak. One thing I found interesting and funny is that instead of saying “fat”, Jamaicans use the word “fluffy”. Another thing they say a lot is “No problem, no situation”, which basically stands for “don’t worry”. Finally we got to Ocho Rios where we climbed the Dunn’s River Falls. Over there it was SO beautiful I cannot even explain it. Everything was really green, humid and monumental, gorgeous. The falls looked just like though they were about to be filmed for a movie about paradise or a nature documentary. To climb them, the guides told us to hold hands with the people in front of us and behind us, so we all formed chain-like structures of people. We rocks were not difficult to climb but some of them were slippery and better to have someone to hold you not to fall off. Halfway, there was a hollow spot we could partly enter while the water was still falling so it felt like a hard shower –my T-shirt started going down due to the pressure of the water and I almost end up without it lol. The climbing finished sooner than we’d have liked, but it was totally worth it.
After the falls, we got back into the bus to go to our next stop, where we got onto a zip line. It was high and thus we got to admire the natural beauty of Jamaica and its coast, plus the tropical kind of forest under us, with incredibly tall trees and incredibly big leaves as well.
We slid up to a hill where our next activity was waiting for us: a bob slide. This is really similar to a roller coaster, with the difference that in the bob slide you can control the speed you want it to go at. Naturally, I went at the highest speed the whole time exempting the times when I was going through really pronounced curves (the bob slide went through the forest and thus spaces between vegetation), and it was super exciting, fun!!! I felt alive at that moment, I felt infinite –for those who understand it.
After the slide, we had a Jamaican lunch (chicken with a weird tasty rice and salad) while watching a group of people dancing and playing Jamaican type of music, music that suit perfectly and explained the phrase “no problem, no situation”.
We drove back to the ship after lunch and even though I was tired I did not fall asleep because 1) I did not know whether I would have another chance to be in such a beautiful place, and 2) the bus driver drove fast and crazy omg, there was this one time when a car wanted to pass us so he got beside us –in a one-lane road– and the bus would not let him pass so the car almost crashed against the wall of the roadside.
The next day, on Thursday Dec. 15th, we stopped in Grand Cayman. We spent most of the morning in a jewelry shop because jewelry is big in these islands, diamonds especially, and my host mom wanted to buy her a ring. I would have liked to take some pictures of the different diamonds because there were some truly beautiful, but it was a fancy shop and we were not allowed to take pictures of their products. At some point I got out of the shop to explore around a little bit and just across the street there was an idyllic beach, like off of a paradisiacal movie.
While I was taking pictures of it, I caught a piece of conversation of a couple that was just passing by. There were arguing in Spanish from Spain, so I went crazy and started following them like a creep. I caught up with them in a minute and saying “perdone…” I introduced myself and explained why I was talking to them so randomly. They were nice, from Pamplona, and after a minute I walked back to the spot where I was taking pictures. Then, a younger couple started taking pictures just a few feet away from me so I asked them if they wanted me to take a picture of them together. Apparently they did not understand so I repeated the question slowly gesturing as if was taking a picture with an invisible camera. They understood that time and the man said “una foto”. I asked them if they were from Spain excitedly, and they said yes, from Zaragoza. They were more easy-going than the other couple and we talked for quite a bit. They asked me, interested, a lot of questions relating to my exchange year, and I asked them how is that they were there. They were on an Italian cruise, so there were a lot of Spaniards there with them. We all got along really quick, getting to take some pictures together to remember the moment, although I did not ask them for their e-mail nor even their names and I regretted it afterward.
When my host mom was done in the shop, we all walked to the beach I was taking pictures of to try to put our feet in the water. It was not cold at all but warm neither. We found some pretty shells and I decided to keep them to remember Grand Cayman although unfortunately nowadays I do not know where those shells are at.
For we wanted to see around but had not booked any excursion, we talked to one of the ladies that sold guided tours around Grand Cayman and for $20 we got into a bus and saw some different parts of the island. We were like 9 in the bus: my host family and I and two other couples: a Chinese couple who told us they lived in Chicago and an older couple, being the man retired from the Navy, really nice. We all passed by the 7 mile beach, although we did not have to get off the bus nor walk on the sand. We next went to Hell, a weird geological formation that is referred as Hell since it is so… I do not know how to explain it, it is better for you to see it by yourself:
We stopped by a place where people could swim with dolphins, and it was amazing how well they were trained! After the dolphins, we returned to the spot where we had first taken the bus, and walked by ourselves a little bit to a shop, although they did not have what we wanted so we went back to the ship.
At night, we went to have dinner and after it we went swimming again, in the pool, cool, and the Jacuzzi, really hot, although the Jacuzzi was awkward because there were always older people hanging out there.
On Friday Dec. 16th we stopped in Cozumel, Mexico. We saw its beach from the ship and omg it was beautiful, filled with palm trees, and the water was so clear and light blue. We were planning to go to the beach but we did not find anyone who would take us and we had been told that it was dangerous to go by ourselves so we ended up just walking around and shopping. The streets though were super colorful, loud, full, they were alive and the people who walked them were alive too, if you know what I mean. There were some structures Maya-like, and I just wished I went someday to some ruins in Mexico.
The sun was shining bright and it was hot outside. I went to some shops by myself and I had fun asking for the prices in Spanish, feeling in my element. Once, when we were shopping, I was talking English and the employer simply asked me in Spanish whether I knew how to speak Spanish. He told me that he used to watch Spanish TV Shows such as Física o Química lol. To go back to the ship, we had to through a building full of shops, and the biggest section was the alcohol one, it was amazing. There were bottles and more bottles of alcohol of any kind you can imagine, of any shape and size… there were some that were huge! And then when we were exiting the building, I said “bye” to a worker who was by the door and again, he asked me in Spanish “you speak Spanish, right?”, I said yes, asked how he knew and he just answered that I looked Spanish. Really, I was really surprised and delighted by the fact that somehow they all knew I was Spanish, it made me feel like I somehow belonged there!
By the ship there was water available to passengers as it was so hot, and that was nice but it wasn’t what happened next. A worker from Carnival was wheeling a wheelchair with a woman sitting on it. She was out. And when I say out, I mean that she feel off the wheelchair as soon as the worker stopped wheeling it, and while she was laying on the ground, she threw up… on herself. The good news is that she was so drunk she probably did not remember any of that the next day.
That night in the ship I went to the front by myself to take some more pictures and I had a little time to think, which is always good, and necessary. I enjoy time with myself every once in a while to think of what I am doing at that moment, its purpose and goal and everything I want to do and achieve both in months and in years. Being in a ship in the middle of the Caribbean while all I see is water and the sky is the best time that I can think of for myself and my thoughts.
Saturday was the last whole day in the ship so I tried to spend it as good as I could. I spent the morning at the pool and walking around. After lunch, I played golf and chess with my host brothers and went to the game room to spend the money we had left in our cards. We went to dinner as it was the last day and we took some pictures with the waiters, although I do not have the picture yet –I hope I get it someday and I upload it here. After dinner we just stayed at the room watching TV and we ordered room service. Their cheesecake was really good. Honestly everything they had was really good.
On Sunday 18th we woke up super early and had breakfast together at a fancy restaurant in the ship. It had started to get chilly… not in the Caribbean anymore? I ordered something called “Pancake Cake” and omg it was 5 piled pancakes. They were really good but I was so full after eating the 3rd one that I could not finish them. As soon as we finished breakfast we went up to our rooms and got out suitcases out, to get ready to disembark.
When we got off the ship it was so cold. I remember I thought of the hot weather in the amazing places we had just visited and I wished we could go back already. Now every time I wear my T-shirt from Mexico I promise myself I will go back soon and I will visit more extensively. And as for the cruise, it was my first one and it was amazing. I totally loved being just in the middle of the sea although I wished both the proper cruise time and the stops were longer. I have also thought of applying sometime to work at that cruise or other because I realized they try to hire foreigners so the passengers have that sensation of being abroad and experiment so many different cultures. These workers work 6 months straight and go back home for 3 or 6 months, but even though they work at the cruise they have fun and they get to go ashore once. I feel like it would be worth the work, because they get to know other cultures and places as well.
To sum up, the trip was amazing, the places beautiful, and the people varied. It was really fun and enriching and I would do it all over again! Plus, I got to know that I was the only Spaniard on board, which made me enormously proud of my country, my culture and everything that that represents and I felt like I had to spread Spain around.
VIVA ESPAÑA, although I have to say: the Caribbean is gorgeous…