Monday, February 07, 2005

Part 2 of the Vacation - and No Survey

Time for Part II of Kathleen's First January Vacation Ever. Sunday in New Orleans. I had never been to NO before our eventful trip so I appreciated the chance we had to head downtown and see what it's all about. And it was close to Mardi Gras, so there was stuff happening, but not so close that there was naked drunkenness everywhere we looked. And for that I was quite thankful. It was basically a day of shopping. We wandered around the open air market and Julie and I both bought a "Magic" scarf. We looked at it and after finding out that they were $9 or 2 for $14 (plus tax) we each got one as we couldn't have bought the yarn for that price!!! It was a cold cold day in NO, not as cold as in Detroit, but a good thirty degrees colder than it had been the day before. We were all very very glad that we had decided against leaving our winter coats in the cars in Detroit. I also found new pink sunglasses, so I was happy. I am normally not a pink person at all, but I love pink sunglasses. Of course I managed to crack them this past Friday while at Target, but they still work and the crack is to the side, so I hope they'll last a touch longer. This is why I only ever pay $5 for sunglasses!!!!

There were two shops in NO that I just loved. The first was called Gargoyles and I wanted a pair of black leather Chuck Taylor-like shoes with a red skull on them (go to page 2 of the Men's Shoes and it's the top right shoe), but they just weren't comfortable. I was so bummed. This is a GOTH store, people! And I was the only one who didn't buy anything there!!! All the Women's shoes had these huge-ass heels and I'm afraid that my feet just don't like those anymore. Getting old is a bitch!!! The other store that I loved loved loved is called Trashy Diva and they sold real steel-boned corsets there. No, that's not why I loved it. They make them 6" SMALLER than your natural waist! SIX INCHES!!! That's freaking insane!!! Besides insane female torture devices pawned off as underwear, they sold the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen in my life!!!! And oh dear heavens, I can buy on-line??? And they're having a sale??? I'm now in trouble. ;-)

Anyway, I bought the Monroe dress and the Velvet Starlet dress (website is set up with windows, so links didn't work). I wore the first one on the ship for Formal Night and I think I'll be much happier in it once I lose a little weight. And to that end I joined the gym last week. I have an appointment with a trainer next week to help me work out a regimen to help me achieve my goal of losing weight, toning up and losing my freaking much hated J-Lo ass.

Anyway, for me the day in NO was a total success. Two new beautiful classic black dresses that I will be able to wear forever and a new fun scarf (because you can never have too many scarves). And my two favorite stores have websites. What more do I need in life? ;-)

We had a substandard dinner in NO as we were back to the hotel and didn't want to venture back downtown and I have this desire NOT to eat at chain restaurants when I'm in other states/cities. For the record, not a whole lot open on a Sunday night in Metairie, LA, other than chain restaurants. We ate at this place with two men's names and although my eggplant parm was fine, others were not as pleased with their meals.

Monday found us back at the airport and looking at the Security line that was about a mile long. We all got a little nervous, but it moved quickly. The flight from NO to Houston was uneventful, but I almost broke into hives when they announced that the George Bush International Airport welcomed us. *shudder* We had an hour wait there, but our second flight of the day (to Cozumel) was uneventful. We found a taxi driver that spoke English (not that we needed one since we had Tony) and he was very sweet and dropped us off second (the first stop was on the way to our ship, so it worked). Once we get to the port we find out that the only way to the pier and the ship is to wend our way through this PITA concourse filled shops and stupid tourists who can see that we're dressed for cold weather (I was carrying my winter jacket) and pulling suitcases. Talk about incredibly rude and stupid people. I was ready to whack their ankles with my rolling bag! They would just stop dead in the middle of the concourse and gaze about themselves stupidly while we have 45 minutes before our bloody ship sails w/o us – again! We made it though – no thanks to stupid, inconsiderate ugly Americans whose insteps I'd dearly love to stomp. And no thanks to Royal Caribbean who couldn't be bothered to show us how to get to the Purser's Desk so that we could check in or take us to our cabins. It was one extremely exhausting day! Although somehow I did find the energy after dinner to go dancing with the rest of the La Quinta Sueve [you'll have to scroll down to the February 2, 2005 post] (or Seis, depending on the proficiency of your Spanish) other refugees from Flight 1487 (I think that was the number of the canceled-let's-sit-on-the-tarmac-for-five-hours flight)

The next day we were in Georgetown, Grand Cayman where we had a Cockatoo Catamaran trip scheduled. We tendered in to port and first thing we saw was a Hard Rock so we made a foray there so that Julie could get her Dad a shot glass. We owed him big time for the hotel rooms. We wasted an hour so wandering some shops until it was time to join up with the other intrepid souls who signed up for the swimming with the sting rays catamaran ride. All I can say about this trip is that it ROCKED!!! I can't tell you how cool it was! I was the second one in the water (some guy closer to the ladder beat me to it, although I had started for the ladder before him) and I eagerly grabbed a piece of frozen slimy squid and held it in my fist being very careful to keep my thumb down as I had been warned so that the sting ray would try to eat my thumb along with the frozen slimy squid. She didn't get my thumb, but she did try to take my finger off at the third knuckle. I yanked my hand back and was the proud owner of a sting ray hickey on the forefinger of my right hand. I was a tad leery about feeding them after that, until I figured out that the trick is not to be like an iceberg – i.e., put more of the frozen, slimy squid out of the fist than in the fist. Worked brilliantly once I got the nerve up to try it again. I was, however, not in the least bit leery of holding the sting rays or even kissing them. I can't wait to see the pics, although I know I am not looking like an SI swimsuit model in the pics. I KISSED a STING RAY! You have no clue how freaking cool it was! By the end of the hour or so that we were in the water, I had even caught my own sting ray (the catamaran people usually catching them and passing them along to us) and kissed it. I have had a number of people (more than I would have thought) turn their noses up and look at me as if I had lost my mind when I said that I kissed them, and I really thought it was the coolest freaking thing! If I ever go to Grand Cayman again, you can bet I'll be out there at Sting Ray City kissing as many as I can find!

The day after Grand Cayman we were in Costa Maya, a port built specifically for cruise ships. We took a four hour trek to Chacchoben a Mayan site discovered in 1999. I was bummed because all the pyramids were blocked off and you couldn't climb to the top of any of them. I've climbed the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan and I wanted to add to my pyramid count. I can now say that I've seen pyramids at Teotihuacan, Giza and Chacchoben, but only climbed one, been inside another and gazed at the third. Not quite the same grab, you know? Of course, there were completely jackasses in our group who pretended they didn't know the ropes meant Stay Off and had to be yelled at by our tour guide.

After the tour we had a little time to buy goodies, so I went through the area looking for an obsidian Chac Mool. I was also quite annoyed that one of the T-shirts for Costa Maya had the Aztec Calendar on it. Um no, this is Costa MAYA, not Costa Azteca! I was using my Spanish fairly well, but had to get Tony to help me at one point. The people didn't have an obsidian Chac Mool but they must have thought I didn't actually know what obsidian looked like because they showed me one made of onyx. I let them know that I wasn't stupid and knew the difference between onxy and obsidian, but that didn't stop them from trying again.

I left w/o buying anything there, thinking for some reason that the people at the port would be more reasonable. LOL! I'm so funny. They were vultures!!! And all smoking crack, too! I mean their prices were ridiculous! You would have thought you were in some high-end Manhattan shop. I was looking at this small pendant with onyx and not a lot of silver. They weigh it like they're giving me good value for my money and then tell me it's $40. I about swallowed my tongue. I may be American and I may be a tourist, but I'm not stupid or rich. I moved on. I finally found my obsidian Chac and the guy selling it was smoking the same crack pipe as everybody else. I heard what he said in Spanish, but my mind couldn't grasp what he was telling me so I had him tell me in English. Yup, I translated it correctly. He wanted $125 for this not overly large Chac. Again, not stupid or rich! I told him No, thanks, but he was determined to sell it. He told me to tell him my price. I told him that I did not want to insult him with what I was willing to spend, but after five minutes, I told him that I had been looking to spend $25, not ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY FIVE! After me threatening to walk away a number of times (not trying to haggle, but actually trying to leave) he told me that I could have the bigger one (he had taken me to a smaller one for $25) for $30. I figured that was more my price range, so I agreed. As I'm leaving with my booty, he asks me for a tip. SAY WHAT!!! A tip for what? I tell him that I have nothing smaller than a $20 and there's no way he's getting that! His response? Let's go find your friend, perhaps she has a dollar for me. I'm telling you that they're all smoking crack! As I was walking away (with him leading me toward my friend), one of his friends told me I should give Tip Boy my hat. I looked at him with my mouth agape. Yeah, that's right, I'm going to give my $20 Randy Owens cap to some crazy Mexican! I don't think so!!! My friend had wisely disappeared and then sent Glen back to find me, so I escaped giving him a tip which I wasn't going to give to him anyway! Hell, even at $30 the Chac was overpriced, so he got his tip.

I'm hoping to go to Mexico City in November for the Champ Car race and I know I'll be able to find some silver jewelry there for more reasonable prices. Fewer turistas so there won't be so much crack smoking! At least, I hope so!

The last two days of vacation were spent on the ship and I lazed around in the sun working on my impressive tan (get off my back, people, I'm a redhead!!! We don't tan!) and walking the deck with Tony and playing Scrabble. It was a nice relaxing way to spend two days, although the second half of the second day (Friday, for those trying to keep track of days) the water got rough and even I, who has never been motion sick ever before in my life, felt nauseous. It didn't keep me from eating dinner, mind you, but all of us, except Glen, got a ginger ale with dinner. A Vernor's would have been perfect, but since Vernor's is pretty much a Michigan thing we knew it wasn't going to happen. All in all, it was a good trip, in the end…and until the end when I got the voicemail message from Darrell from TUESDAY saying, "Where are your car keys? Your car has been 'tagged' and I have to move it." I got a little hot under the collar, let me tell you. I called Darrell and found out that all was fine, but I was still very ticked off.

Let me explain my parking situation to you. We have no parking, except for street parking (and not enough of that). I had parked my car on Friday after doing my running around and bathing suit shopping and thought I was good to go. Ha! We got the huge snowstorm on Saturday and even though the city declared a State of Emergency, the cops know we have no parking and they don't usually bother us since it's just ourselves we're screwing by not moving the cars while the snowplows block us in. I guess Chris called the cops about the Mustang that had not moved in over a year (closer to 16 months) and the cop got a little overzealous and tagged any car that hadn't moved since the storm. THIS WAS MONDAY! THREE FREAKING DAYS and my car is declared abandoned. I was pissed. The cop also tagged Chris' car and you know he didn't call on himself! I was thankful that Darrell found my car keys and moved my car, but I was still pissed off. And even better, it was not a ticket, so I don't have to take a day off work to fight it, because I would have.

So, that's my vacation and then some.


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