After being a working stiff for three years now, I somehow stumbled upon my first opportunity to take a vacation. Don't even ask me why I took so long. I couldn't tell you.
May 23, 2002
First day in Ft. Lauderdale. We flew out of Bradley on time (even though our taxi was 10 minutes late). Getting through a security was surprisingly easy. The worst of it all was just getting through lines and what not.
Once we took off, the flight was pretty smooth until we had to land. Flying through clouds always seems to be a little turbulent. When we landed, we got to Ft. Lauderdale pretty early. At least a good 20-30 minutes, which is not too bad.
I got a silly hat that Shonda just loves, bought an overpriced camera bag from a local camera shop (I knew I should have packed my Tamrac 606 bag). Oh well. We also got lunch at Hops, not a bad little restaraunt.
After walking around in the heat for half the day, we came back to the hotel.On the way back, we saw a small frog relaxing on a leaf, in plain daylight. Mind you, we're across the street from our hotel, not by some kind of zoo or reserve. For us northerners, to see any kind of animal that's not a bird, squirrel or stray cat is rather strange to witness. It was so cool, we simply had to take a few pictures.
Shonda heard a rattling in the bushes, and insisted there was something there. I told her it was the wind. Then we saw a small lizard. It managed to run away before I got to snap that one. She thought I was trying to insinuate that she was cuckoo. Not the case. Apparently, there are lizards just running wild all over the place.
We sat in the hotel, then decided to do something else. Hotel rooms are, by their nature pretty devoid of talent. We decided to go to the mall. Little did we know that the round trip would cost us $23.00 (ouch!). At least the drivers are courteous and freindly - again, an oddity for us northerners. It seems that most people here are pretty friendly. Despite our faux pas taking the chariot to the mall, we were able to eat cheaply at the local KFC.
May 24, 2002
We left the hotel early in the morning (once again) - why vacation if you can't sleep? I have had more 5 o'clock wake-up calls that I would have liked this week.
Once we boarded the boat, we realized why it takes six hours to get to Grand Bahama island. You can eat and gamble. It's that simple. (If we were to go straight instead of making a roundabout motion, we'd take 3 hours.)
I've never seen so many people so sick - not even drunk, just really sick. I could have sold dramamine for $20 a pill and made a killing.
At least now, we realize that we will never take another cruise - not even a week long cruise, unless there's a ton of stuff to do on the trip.
We gambled $5 in blackjack. I'd say we broke even, but we spent all that we earned anyway.
Can I say how blue the water is here? It's the most amazing thing you've ever seen. Next time we come to the Bahamas, we're going to have to fly in directly to the island instead of wasting time on a ship, making a six hour trip out of a three hour trip.
We went to play 18 holes of [miniature] golf out of sheer boredom at Water World while bratty little children ran around the course. After we were done, we went to thank the two ladies that were running the place. First of all, she gave me a second discount card for us to play (which she didn't have to do) and got some ice cream for Shonda. Let it be known that she creamed me at the actual game. I think the bratty children breaking up my concentration had a little to do with it. We came to the conclusion at the miniature golf course that this was the first place that wasn't trying to rip us off or sell us a timeshare. That pretty much revived my attitude towards the vacation. I just couldn't let that spoil it for me. We had a great time, and we even had someone drop us off back at our hotel instead of making us get a taxi. We gave him a small tip, he was real cool.
May 25, 2002
After sleeping in late, avoiding a call from the front desk lady (no doubt a call offering us a time-share) we decided to go to the International Bazaar. It's a huge arrangement of shops set up for us tourists to shop at. I managed to take some cool pictures of colorful doorways, signs, etc.
We walked around, got breakfast, got some gifts, ice cream, then headed to the casino (Shonda loves the clean bathrooms), and got the rest of our gifts for friends and family, then left.
Doing more of this getting around reinforced the notion of how friendly the people are. The shopkeepers, taxi drivers and even complete strangers are really just nice. It's very cool.
After almost losing the keys to our luggage, we decided to spend some time on the beach behind Island Seas resort.
At the beach, we collected small shells that I've placed in a mug. We waded out at least knee-deep, and were amazed that the water was so blue, you could see down to your toes. We took a few more pictures, and went back to our rat hole hotel.
May 26, 2002
We finally took our island getaway trip that we paid for on the boat. It was actually worth our while. Our tour guide, David was knowledgeable and very funny. We ate at Pirate's Cove by Taino beach, and a cool couple from Louisiana found a Sea Eye. We went to the Garden of the Groves, saw peacocks and parrots.
Unfortunately, we had a lot of rain after we got back from the bus tour. Originally, my thought was to go back to the beach and see a sunset.
We stayed in, packed and let Shonda blow her nose. All night. Silly cold. In her defense, she would argue that I didn't turn the Air Condotioning off the night before, so I got her sick.
May 27, 2002
Well, today we return to the states. We're both a little sorry we have to leave, despite the fact that it's so bloomin' hot here today.
I had the idea to go to Port Lucaya to pass our time before our ship left. I really wanted to see it since our tour bus had only passed through Port Lucaya instead of letting us see it on foot. We (of course) took more pictures, experienced a sunshower and then had lunch.
Shonda opted for the cheeseburger, I opted for the curry chicken and rice. Of course, I had to pilfer some of Shonda's fried plantains. I had to explain to the hostess that the meal was good, but it was too hot to really eat much. She thought for a second that I really didn't like the meal. All I needed was to have the soda and some chicken, and I was good to go.
We packed back onto a nice, non-air-conditioned city bus back to the hotel. We were a little weary, and we sat and complained with folks in our hotel while we were waiting for a taxi to take us back to the dock - people stopping us in the city to ask us to get a timeshare, mandatory 15% gratuity at every meal, $2.50 orange juice, and the inconsistent prices of taxis in town.
After skipping one taxi that had a one-legged driver, we all piled up (about 8 of us) in a taxi to the dock. We headed in early, and boarded the ship.
The trip back was smooth. No one was majorly sick, thank goodness. I managed to get some cool sunset pictures on the boat.
May 28, 2002
Can I just say that the people doing security at Ft. Lauderdale airport are a bunch of idiots? The security at that airport is a total 180° from the security at Bradley. You get the attitude, the lack of caring, and all the hassle that you could ever want at an airport. They searched every nook and cranny of my camera bag, and had Shonda take her shoes off for tests of trace explosives. It was really silly.
Even the lady working at the gift shop said she'd been searched twice already(mind you, it's only about 11:30AM) - sometimes her belt buckle goes off, sometimes it doesn't.
Thankfully, our flight was smooth - and short.
I'd love to go back to Ft. Lauderdale and/or the Bahamas, but I'd have to do it a little differently. Oh well, back to the grind.