Tuesday 4th April – Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
I had a bad night with my virus, bacterial infection, or whatever it was. Our neighbours didn’t do me any favours by having their television on until well after midnight. I heard the Coronation Street theme tune three times, so I have no idea what channels they were looking at. To be honest the background babble of sound probably didn’t affect me at all, but I became angry that people do not realise how easily sound travels between cruise ship cabins.
Eventually I got to sleep, but it was only just after 6:00 when I woke. Lying there dozing got me through to 7:30 when I finally got up and put the kettle on.
It was 27° on the balcony, and a layer of mist was disguising the horrendous humidity that we are having. This is the tropics again and northern Europeans are not used to this form of heat for long periods.
Aurora was nearing our port for the day which was Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala. This is another first for us.
After breakfast I had to log on to the internet to check the bank. Because we have paid the deposit on another cruise at the same moment as the last sector bill is sitting there, we are very close to the credit card limit. Realising the possible issues, I changed the on board o my debit card yesterday, but there was still a possible problem. Fortunately the previous bill (sector 3) has now been cleared giving us some leeway again….panic over.
Soon Aurora was moving into her berth for the day, and we had our first proper look at what the port offered. It is very much a commercial port to our left were huge piles of what I think was Anthracite for the power station. A coal ship was offloading throughout the day to make the piles even bigger. To the right was the usual container area with two huge cranes and at least four container moving equipment.
The berth was a floating metal pontoon with walkways to rope tying points on either side. It took several minutes to manoeuvre our ship along the pontoon to allow our walkways to clear smaller tying points. This made us slightly late getting the all clear to leave the ship, so tours were delayed.
On a slightly more passenger note, at the end of the walkway from the pontoon to the shore was a large circular thatched terminal building in a small palm tree area. Between this building and the tour coach park was a quite large tourist trap market with a café plus stalls selling leather, wood and local craft goods plus all the usual souvenirs. It is amazing that so many stalls can somehow make money when they all seem to sell the same range of products.
The shiny trinkets were ignored for now as we had a tour to go on.
Today we went to a Macadamia Nut Farm. Our road journey took us across the flat coastal strip towards the hills and mountains several miles away. Our journey to the farm took over an hour and we passed a countryside that is mainly agricultural, although there are a few holiday resorts as well. This country looked to be poor, and with little organised services. It was dusty and covered in litter wherever you looked. The vast majority of the people work on the land planting, tending, and harvesting crops.
The guide told us about the regional split of the country and that each region specialises in particular crops. Near the sea it seems the soil is perfect for sugar cane and we saw fields with the remains of last year’s crop being cleared, and another being planted. A little further on the vegetation changed to bananas and plantain on either side of the road. On the roadside were regular markets selling fruit and vegetables for communities that lived in simple block buildings hardly bigger than a large garden shed. Even worse some were in smaller buildings supporting families in a space we would assign to one small bedroom.
As we saw the mountains in the distance the crop changed again to coffee. As the soil or availability of water changes, so do the crops.
We passed by a complex of hills that were revered by the Mayen population of the country. It had rocks at the top that had been weathered and looked a little like heads. This is where the Mayen people used to make sacrifices, but now limit themselves to praying, although apparently some of them still live in caves in the hills.
Next were two volcanoes that are still active on a regular basis and they dominate the landscape both visually and presumably have quite an effect on life in general.
The roads we came along were general Ok but turning off these main roads the surface was more dusty and the carriageway narrower. Even on the busy main road we were on, there were places where it went to a single carriage to cross bridges over dry river bed. I assume these revert to torrential rivers during the winter as the water drains from the mountains but now as the short rainy season has ended, these beds are dry and leave a view of boulders that have beenwashed down the valleys.
At last we turned off the main road, and then stopped by an even dustier lane that was our Macadamia Farm. We strolled up the lane and were greeted by the owner and his wife. He was a fireman is the USA but retired in his thirties and eventually moved to Guatemala to buy a series of farms to grow the Macadamia. Our group was split into two, and while one half went on a tour of the farm, we went with the owner for a breakfast of pancakes made with 20% macadamia, spread with macadamia butter, and topped with his own grown blueberry marmalade. It was delicious, and washed down by superb coffee that he grew and processed as well.
While we ate and drank his products, he talked to us about his organic farming techniques, and his ‘back to nature’ style of farming. He was very philosophical and expressed anger at politicians and experts who are killing the world by not addressing the causes of global warming, but just try and control it. He believes that the vegetation Gene Pool is being eroded to maximise efficiency, with the result that ‘Survival of the fittest’ and natural adaptation of plants being stifled. Lots of his ramblings were a little wild, but his primary thoughts were very straight forward and correct.
I enjoyed the half an hour listening to his assessment of a world in a nose dive to destruction.
Soon we swapped to the show around tour. The trees are planted and left to look after themselves. Nuts drop naturally and the local people are employed to pick them up off the floor. The nuts are then allowed to dry before grading and processing. There are no chemicals used and everything, not the actual nut, is returned to the soil to complete the natural circle. They produce nuts but also the oil is used for skin creams, butter and wax. They also give massages to visitors using their own products to relieve and relax aching muscles.
The farm is a small business but rather using machines, they employs several locals who then earn enough to send their children to school which allows them to have an education, and to become the next generation of workers. Without these jobs, the families remain poor, and remain uneducated with no way of breaking the cycle of poverty. Eventually the farm owners hope the locals can carry on the macadamia forests and become self-sufficient.
One statement the owners left us with was simple and to the point:
”What can I do to help the world?”
The response from an eminent scientist was….”Plant a tree”.
“Yes, but what else can I do?”
“Plant another tree”.
We left the farm with the sweet taste of macadamia in our mouths, and the confusion of ideas about the world’s problems.
Back at the port we had time to wander through he little market, and to buy just a couple of memories of this country. With nothing else to amuse or interest us on shore we retired to the air conditioned cabin to relax. Deb went and did some washing while the ship’s laundries were quiet. That should be the penultimate time on this cruise.
I was not feeling much better but refused to give in to the cough and sore throat. In the evening we went to the Beach House for a delicious meal as Aurora sailed away for Guatemala on the next stage of this adventure. We would be at sea for two days now passing several countries before arriving at the Panama Canal on Friday morning.
This will herald the end of our Pacific Ocean travels, and the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean towards home. We have four more ports to visit yet, but there are only just over two weeks to go of our spin around our world.
Wednesday 5th April – Sea Day
This morning I woke with a horrid sore throat…clearly I am no better yet!
The ship is wobbling around but not too violently. The temperature at 7:30 on the balcony was showing 30°. Although it is really hot, it appears cooler with the mist, but as I poke my head outside the balcony door, the humidity is stifling.
Aurora is sailing south east towards the Panama Canal, and this is the first of two days at sea. We will be passing by the coasts of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before we get to the coast of Panama itself.
After the daily office chores, we met up with Richard, Angie, and Robin to sort out our bookings for the Amazon cruise in 2019. After five minutes talking with the future cruises people, the six of us are now linked and assigned the same dinner table. I doubt we will get table 228 with its superb views from the window of the wake, but we will be together.
In just over two weeks we will be saying goodbye to each other, and hopefully we will keep in contact until a reunion in January 2019 on this beautiful ship again.
It was now Port talk time and it covered our visit to Barbados. Another new island for us, we needed to know something about it before booking a tour. Well still not feeling too well I quickly lost interest and dozed off, but I did register the main points about this Caribbean Paradise. Eventually we decided on a ‘Best of’ style tour to look around the island and visit one or two special places. That means we now have the final tours booked.
Time for a coffee now, plus a muffin to keep us going, before lunchtime when the clocks are going forward again to GMT – 5. From Raffles we went to Carmen’s to see what the dance instructors are doing. I am in no fit state to take part, but we want to see what they plan to cover in the waltz that is the subject for two days. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be well enough to join in and perhaps realise our bad habits in this quite familiar dance.
At 12:00, it became 13:00 and Deb went to Battle of the Sexes. I sat at the back for some of the quiz and then Deb and I went for something to eat. It was quickly 2:00 and time for Deb’s Salsa while I had a rest.
At 3:00 we met up again for a cup of tea, before dropping in on the dance lesson to see what they had achieved so far. We will have no trouble joining in tomorrow is my throat and knees are happy. The routine is a basic, followed by a natural turn, then into a reverse turn which finishes with a whisk and chassis.
On the way back to the cabin I bought some new throat sweets before we run out. I really must get rid of this bug!
…time for some more painkillers
It is a formal dress code evening, and after dinner we have a little treat of a cocktail party. This one is to give all those who have booked major worldwide 2019 cruises while on board Aurora. It gives us a chance to see who we might meet up with again….plus some free drinks of course.
The entertainment tonight features a singing duo called ‘The Sounds of Simon’ featuring the music of Simon and Garfunkel. This sounds quite interesting, but as these are some of our favourite songs, if their versions might prove to be painfully different.
Apart from that in the theatre there is just a Las Vegas themed evening in the Casino and Champions – No Chance!
During the day there have been talks from a ‘Tony White’ talking about drug culture and consequences, and also from ‘Adam Hart Davis’ that I recognise as a historian from the television. He always appears surprised by what he is saying although I am not so keen on today’s subject which was about more seafaring explorers.
For the cultural music listeners there was also a classical concert from a pianist and a clarinettist.
At least we have some quizzes to amuse us.
It is late in the afternoon now and we have a squadron of Masked Booby Birds flying alongside the ship as Aurora disturbs the fish. These birds us the air pressure and turbulence created by Aurora to give them an easy flight while they search for unsuspecting meals in the sea. They are so graceful as they glide and occasionally come up to our balcony level to show off and check us out.
…Still no whales or dolphins!
I think it is time to enlighten you with my shaving adventures since my electric razor was damaged. I have persevered with the disposable razors, and have managed to speed up the process of getting a reasonably smooth chin. But there is an unusual problem. When I was a teenager, I was threatened by a slightly miffed young man with a knife. He did me no physical injury but left me with a phobia about knives and blades. Every time I put the edge of the razor onto my face my legs tremble, and I get a feeling of dread in my stomach. This may seem stupid after 45 years, and when I am the one in charge of the sharp edge, but it happens, and I am looking forward to having a regular electric shave when I get home.
To put this issue into context, in perhaps six weeks of using these razors, I have only managed to draw tiny specks of blood on two occasions.
What a wimp!
OK back to the evening, and after another disappointing Marco Pierre White Gala Menu at dinner, we had an hour of chat in Carmen’s with officers and fellow passengers on the 2019 Amazon Cruise. Personally I just had two glasses of champagne (ish) but others may have successfully grabbed a few more glasses than I did. When we left the show lounge we began the first of two quizzes in Masquerade’s. This was all about television programmes and we did well enough to feel satisfied with our efforts.
Now it was Syndicate Quiz time and we started rather badly and were last after half a dozen questions. Then it all clicked together and we managed to be second behind a runaway winning team. We felt very proud of ourselves after our best ever result.
It was bedtime and the sea had calmed during the day promising a smooth night. I had been coughing quite regularly during the evening and felt embarrassed about my illness, and extremely sorry for myself.
With a last dose of painkillers, I lay in bed and finished the final book that I downloaded onto my kindle reader. As I rolled over onto my pillow I hoped for a good night’s sleep and to feel better in the morning.
Thursday 6th April – Sea Day
Well the first half of the night was very peaceful and I slept. Then I woke up and my throat was screaming at me to cough. I fought the tickle and wheezes for as long as I could but the battle was unwinnable.
The intermittent dozing and coughing continued until 7:30 when I could get up and make some tea. It was another very hot and humid morning with the thermometer telling me that it was 29° on the balcony. This sort of weather does not help me feel any better.
Aurora was continuing south easterly at a relaxed 15.5 knots. The official conditions are that the sea is calm, and there are just light airs. In other words we are sailing across a near flat sea that has a shiny surface with just a hint of dimples.
We are now passing by the coast of Panama and on schedule to be at the canal early tomorrow morning. Late in the morning we were at latitude of 7° North, meaning we were almost back at the equator again. We won’t be going much further south before we turn northwards to the canal entrance later in the day.
After breakfast we went up onto the very top deck to have an hour in the hot sunshine. I don’t suppose it did my man flu/bacterial infection/ nasty bug any good but it is very hard to ignore such wonderful weather. I am without my little iPod this morning as it has decided to lose all the music again, for the third time. It looks like it is nearing the end of its life and when we get home I will definitely be replacing it. My music is too important to me to not have with me when I relax in the sunshine either on a cruise, or back home in the garden. Fortunately I managed to make the other music machine play a Moody Blues album to keep me amused as I absorbed the sun’s rays.
NEWS FLASH – I saw a pod of dolphins. They weren’t very active but one did a perfect flip for me to say sorry for ignoring me over the last three months.
…OK, where are the whales?
At about 10:00 we slowly got off the loungers to make our way back to the air conditioning, we saw that the squadron of Masked Booby Birds resting on the prow of the ship waiting for their next meal to appear. A section of them were scrambled, took off and peeled away to Starboard. The remainder kept watch to Port for any signs of prey.
Back at the cabin we relaxed in the cool, but were interrupted several times by the birds screaming as food was sighted. Their squawk is something akin to that of a crow or a goose and as one shouts their delight, the rest accompany it and dive down like an arrow into the sea. They rarely fail and quickly bob up to the surface again to swallow their meal. Then they take off and regain their composure alongside Aurora with the heads twitching from side to side for any hint of a tasty fish. Over the last few days more and more of these birds have joined our ship, and I counted a dozen of them on our side of the ship, and suspect more still were patrolling the starboard side.
Deb and I had a brief stroll up to the buffet for a cup of coffee but the sticky heat is just too much for me, and I was much happier back in the cabin. The cough is not improving and Deb has given me instructions to go to the doctor this afternoon unless I show a significant improvement.
I have to agree with her, as I really feel unhappy.
It is approaching midday and Deb will soon be away to the Battle of the Sexes again. That is the only commitment today so once over, we can go for some lunch. I don’t feel hungry, but I know I should eat something.
By late afternoon we were just less than 7° from the equator, and sailing eastwards towards the Panama Canal waiting room….sorry, pilot station. It reached 31°C during the afternoon, and the Captain promised the same, or even hotter, tomorrow plus 95% humidity. That means it will be almost raining at the same time as being flipping hot!
It seems the action will begin tomorrow morning at about 6:00 with the first of the pilots making decisions for the Captain on how to drive his ship.
The birds remained with us throughout the day, and as I relaxed on the balcony are continued to give us demonstrations of gliding and fishing. I am not sure if they ever really caught any fish, as none of the squadron appeared to be getting any fatter.
There are two different colours of bird:
They all have the white under-body and head with a quite long pointed beak. Most of them have dark wing feathers and dark upper body extending right to the point where the eyes are. If our assumptions are correct, this layer of dark feathers above the dark eyes make them look as if they have a hood on – hence Hooded Booby birds.
The other birds have light coloured feathers on most of their wings and head. They look identical in shape so I am wondering if they are simply juvenile Hooded Boobies, rather than a completely different species. They all seem to work quite happily together when fishing.
It is superb to watch them diving, when the wings fold in close to their bodies as they spear into the water. Sometimes they go down deep and leave a bubbling inferno of water before bobbing up after a few seconds. Other times they go in with a shallow dive to chase the fish going sideways before bobbing up much quicker. Sometimes when they surface they shake their feathers and then quickly take off to re-join the gang. Alternatively, when they come up, they sit on the surface for a while before catching up with their mates again. I can never actually see if they have caught anything.
It is Angie’s birthday today and we are eating the main dining room with balloons and cake to celebrate. Before that we had a pre-dinner bottle of Prosecco between the six of us while chatting in Anderson’s.
The evening went very well with singing waiters at the dinner table. From the dining room we went to the early quiz in Masquerade’s, and then to Carmen’s to watch the second show from the comedian (Phil Melbourne). He was really enjoyable, and had most of the audience eating out of his hand. OK, so some of the jokes were a little familiar but so many of them were new to us.
He ran over time and when he eventually completed the act, Richard scampered off to Vanderbilt’s to get a table for the Syndicate Quiz. Unfortunately there were no tables available, and the questions had already started. We gave further quizzing a miss and had an early night.
Tomorrow Deb and I will be up early to watch our arrival into the Panama Canal, so the alarm clock was set for 6:00.
Friday 8th April – Panama Canal
The alarm clock wasn’t needed and I got up at 5:45 to make a cup of tea. Various unidentifiable lights had woken me much earlier, but I couldn’t lie there any longer. This wasn’t just because of the spectacle of the Panama Canal. I was also suffering badly from the cough and a headache needed some attention.
At 6:00 it was just about light, and around Aurora there were many ships of different sizes and colours all waiting their turn to pass through the canal to the Caribbean Sea or onwards to the Atlantic Ocean. Out on the balcony it was obvious the humidity was high, and my body instantly let out a burst of sweat. Deb was also up and took her camera outside to capture the first images of the day. As I poured the tea I saw a Pelican fly right by Deb at head height and she jumped in surprise.
There were vast numbers of these graceful birds when in flight, but sometimes not so gamely when on land. They seem to form up into groups that were patrolling the waiting bay, swooping down close to each ship to inspect what the day had brought to their home today. Quite often they lined up one behind the other and then flew past us without a sound.
As the light increased, and the mist burnt away, there was a moment when I could see the cityscape of Panama in the far distance. Then more birds appeared. These were black and flying in at low level just grazing the sea like an attack from bombers below radar detection levels. They might have been the Booby birds we have been seeing daily but now there were hundreds of them in flocks arriving as the sun rose. Other flying visitors came and took a look at Aurora. Some flew around above us like condors, others with different tail shapes and longer necks came lower. Smaller black birds and gulls of varying sizes also introduced themselves to us, and welcomed up to Panama.
At 6:15 after finishing our tea and washing Aurora began to move and turned towards the canal entrance. I counted over 30 ships waiting in this holding area, and one, a red bulk carrier, was sailing in front of us. This would be with us for some time as we made progress during the transit.
By now we had been up on the top deck of the ship, and it was packed with excited passengers catching their first views, or perhaps just catching up on previous memories of this maritime spectacle. It was obvious now that we were on our way into the canal, and a visiting speaker was giving the first introductions about our day over the PA system. His voice was so familiar and he was almost certainly the same speaker as we had five years ago when we came the other way. The first landmark of the transit was the Bridge of Americas that we would pass below about an hour before the first locks.
Deb and I had returned to the cabin as we had a breakfast tray arriving at 8:00. We now parked ourselves on the balcony to watch the action to our side of the ship. The guide was continuing his commentary and gave the history of the canal plus warnings of what was about to be visible on either side of the ship. Sadly our neighbours preferred Sky News or whatever channel they felt important today.
07:45 – We passed under the bridge, and a few minutes later our breakfast arrived. The first lock was in the distance as we nibbled our croissants. It was a lovely day, but I felt awful. I realised I was going to have to visit the doctor today and get myself checked out. This is a horrible bug and I realise than many others on this ship are suffering the same way.
At this point of the canal we caught our first sight of the waterway that connects with the new lock. This allows even bigger ships to pass through the short cut between oceans. Of course they have to pay for the privilege, and are charge around $1million a time. We would be charged just under £500,000 to use the older, narrower, and less efficient lock system.
08:30 – It was our turn for the Miraflores Lock system where we would rise 26 feet up through two locks to the lake of the same name beyond. This would mean 26 million gallons of water would be taken from the fresh water lake to lift us.
…and no, I don’t know how many Olympic size swimming pools that is.
For those who have never been through the Panama Canal, the experience and engineering spectacle is amazing. It cannot be given justice in this blog and a full book would be needed to give the history of its planning, construction, and failures, and more importantly the number of deaths involved to create the canal.
To cut it short, the ship is attacked by steel ropes to a number of engines on rails on either side of each lock. They are called ‘mules’ can purr along beside us and keep the ship central in the lock to protect the paint job.
I am sure you know how lock systems work, so can understand the complexities of moving a huge ship up over 8 metres.
It took just over an hour to complete this first stage, and there would be two more sets of locks before we returned to the sea at the other end of the canal.
Sadly I had lost interest by now and went down to see the doctor.
Almost an hour later I returned to the cabin about £80 worse off, with a box of antibiotics, a bottle of cough medicine, and a little bit of sympathy. I have what he described as “several rattily areas down there”.
I was shattered, and after taking my first pill plus a swig of linctus, I virtually switched off for several hours in an attempt to get some rest and allow the medicine to work.
I stirred occasionally to have a drink, and nibble some food, but the amazing thing going on around me really wasn’t thrilling me as much as it should have done.
Deb had a break from the canal for the Battle of the Sexes, but that was the only thing that took her way from the canal action during the day.
At 5:00 in the afternoon, the job was complete. I was feeling slightly more human and took a bit more interest as we dropped back down to sea level in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. During the day we had passed through six locks and used millions of gallons of fresh water to enable our pleasure, and save us the alternative sea journey of many thousands of miles around South America.
Tonight Angie was hosting a birthday meal in the Glass House. This was the first time we had ever eaten there, and it was a lovely evening. The food was delicious and the company was superb. We have become such good friends. I felt much better and certainly considered I was finally on the mend, but I should not have had the alcohol. After just one glass of prosecco I felt light headed, and a glass of red wine later I realised my mistake. For the rest of the evening I watched as the three bottle of quiz wine was consumed but was happy to simply sip what was in my glass.
After a lovely meal we went to the Syndicate Quiz and through a considerable alcoholic haze managed to come a credible second. I even managed to give some positive input, but I was ready for bed well before we slowly made our way back to our cabins.
Aurora was now in the Caribbean Sea. She was creaking, jiggling, and bouncing along even though the official sea condition was ‘slight’. The wind was forecast to get up to Force 6 or 7 but the movement was not going to stop me sleeping tonight.
It had been a lovely day and evening, but I probably didn’t appreciate it very much. Tomorrow we will be landing in Colombia at the port of Cartagena, and hopefully I will be feeling better at last.
Saturday 8th April – Cartagena, Colombia
Our first visit to Colombia, and we woke to another hot and humid day. The arrival was through a pretty area with palm trees and what might have been mangrove swamp, but we soon saw where we would be berthing, and it was another container port.
I was feeling considerably better, but still woke up with a sore throat. The coughing has reduced so maybe I am getting over the latest cold/cough/bug that is the ship is suffering from.
Alongside of us was the ‘Thomson Dream’ which fortunately blocked our view of the container area. On Starboard there was the ‘Norwegian Pearl’, and beyond that the ‘Celebrity Eclipse’. Today was going to be a very busy day with so many cruise passengers descending on the city of Cartagena.
We had a tour that would be looking around the ‘old city’ plus a fortress known as the ‘Inquisition’. Down below us the tour buses were filling with the Thomson passengers including three very noisy ‘fun buses’ with drums, whistles and trumpets blaring out music. As I stood amazed at that scene, our own tour buses arrived and son the quayside was packed with coaches belching out air conditioning waste below me.
Just before 10:00 we were away. Our guide was called Rafael and the driver was Rodney. Fortunately we had our Port Lecturer (Crystal) as this was not the best of trips we have been on. The city is one of those that I would describe as ‘dirty’ with waste paper and plastic bottles behind fences and waste land. There were probably 5000 cruise passengers who all visited the same tourist spots during the morning, so it was busy, and very hot.
At the first stop we piled out of the coach and followed the guide to a statue of one of the city’s historical heroes. This is where we discovered that Rafael only speaks to anyone in front of him and ignores the possibility that others behind him would like to hear his story as well. The amount of traffic noise, and the constant babble from other tour groups (and there were lots of them) made it impossible to hear anything, unless it was directed straight at your ears. Add to this the un-relented attention of street sellers trying to persuade us to buy hats, fans, watches, sunglasses, jewellery, and maracas, and any hope of hearing Rafael was gone.
We took some photos and went back to the coach where at least it was comfortably cool.
Our next stop was the old dungeons that sounded a little more interesting…wrong!
It may have been dungeons many years ago, but now it is a shopping complex using the old cells. We were steered towards one particular shop and told we had 30 minutes. This was a typical souvenir shop with a lot of imported ‘tat’ so Deb and I wandered off to return to the coach. Unfortunately it was driving away to find a better parking space.
We looked in one or two shops and found nothing to interest us. Outside again and Rafael pointed us towards the coach that was now back, and we went there with several others until it was time to move on.
While we waited, an American couple returned and sat in a pair of seats near to us. I didn’t recognise them but didn’t think any more about it. Then another couple came along and suggested the American couple were in their seats. It appears they decided to move closer to the front assuming that was the normal thing to do. Well, after a short stand-off, the Americans moved to their original pair of seats.
Now, I know there is no rules to say that the seats you start in, and where you should return to, but it is the way that the British do things. Anyway peace returned and there was no repeat of the incident.
Sadly when the Americans came back to the coach after the next stop, I heard him say as he passed by, “We will sit at the back because of that Ass Hole”. I go back to one of my recent posts and reiterate, it is a British Ship, and the majority of the passengers stick to our ways of acting. I think he might be “back-side” in this incident.
Even more annoying is that I believe these are the couple who are our neighbours that enjoy having the television sound turned up high.
Back to our tour and through the periods of driving we were getting a lot of information about the Spanish saviour of the Cartagena, as well as the glorious defeat of a British invasion, and very negative comments about Francis Drake. I think we had a pretty good idea where the British stood in the rankings of favourite nations by now.
Anyway, the next stop was the Inquisition area where the Spanish heroes employed the religious leaders to torture anyone they felt to be witches, or people with negative thoughts about the Spanish….and probably anyone who could speak English. This was the highlight of the tour and is quite interesting. There are some examples of the torture weakens, the living accommodation of where the city’s religious hero lived plus a large church.
Rafael was given a serious ticking off by Crystal for not giving clear instructions, and not waiting for everybody to gather before beginning the next chapter of Cartagena verses Francis Drake. We more or less did our own thing for 30 minutes here.
Finally it was time to get on the coach for the cool drive back to the port.
To be honest we weren’t impressed by this tour. I think the heat and humidity made us feel negative to start with, but the guide and itinerary were also sadly lacking.
We had lunch and then quickly returned ashore to look around the cruise terminal shops. Here we discovered that there was an aviary to explore. There were flamingos, parrots, peacocks and even monkeys. What a lovely place. Sadly neither of us had brought our cameras so we never had a record of it.
We did manage to get a couple of souvenirs before going back to collapse in the cabin. I was so drained from my days of illness, plus the effects of the medicine were making me very tired. I dozed for a while before getting enough energy back to go for a cup of tea and a cake.
It was still very hot and the sun was shining on the balcony, but I managed to sit there for quite a while. The Thomson ship was preparing to leave by late afternoon, but there was some sort of delay. Eventually an ambulance pulled up and took away someone whose holiday had been cut short. Almost instantly the lines were dropped and the ship sped away from the port. That just left us and the Celebrity ship as Norwegian Pearl had left while we were at the terminal complex.
Aurora left just as we finished the individual quiz where I lost in a tie break. I was so amazed to be so close to a sticker.
After dinner there was another shock as the table team won a bottle of wine in a quiz where all the answers were numbers. We actually beat ‘Densa’ by one point this time.
Tonight it was a variety show comedian, juggler and magician by the name of Richard Gauntlet. Most of his act was comedy and he was very good, except that we had heard several of his jokes before. It didn’t spoil a very good show and I think we will return for his second one.
By the end of the show we all agreed it was too late for anything else, and an early night was the agreed consensus.
I was actually quite pleased to relax into my pillow at the end of a tiring day, that didn’t inspire us to want to return to Cartagena.
Aurora was now sailing east across the Caribbean Sea for two days until we reach the island of St Lucia.
Sunday 9th April – Sea Day
Aurora continued to sail eastwards at a quite slow speed towards the island of St Lucia. The weather wasn’t quite as hot as it had been, and perhaps the humidity was a little less intense, but it was still a sticky morning.
I felt a lot better and was not coughing very much anymore. I was still feeling very tired however and didn’t like the idea of going outside in the sunshine. Deb went out by herself for an hour while I caught up with two days of my journal.
We got together for a cup of coffee mid-morning and decided to pop down to the Future Cruises Desk to see what the price would be to book the cruises before or after out Amazon trip in 2019. Well, it was quite a shock. The New Year cruise before it was expensive but by booking the following one going north for 12 nights, the extra incentive discounts meant we only had to pay a seriously low amount. We could even stay in the same cabin. Deb and I went away to think about it, but it was an offer that was hard to refuse.
Back at the cabin, Deb tried to log onto the internet but kept getting a message that it was not possible and we needed to speak to reception. I said I would go and have a word with them while Deb was at the Battle of the Sexes.
At lunchtime the clocks leapt forward again to GMT-4. Deb went to the Battle of the Sexes and I went down to find out what the problem was with purchasing an internet package. Now things began to turn very sour. It appears that by changing the payment card, the system will no longer allow either of us to purchase internet packages so I need to speak to the internet manager.
Slightly miffed I went and sat at the back of Deb’s quiz until it finished and went to lunch. I explained the situation and we decided to wait a while before going up to the library and sort out the internet.
Because our fridge stocks were gone, Deb went to buy a bar of chocolate from the shop. Her card was refused and she came back feeling embarrassed and furious.
We went to reception again. It also appears that by changing the payment card, that Deb can no longer use her on-board spend card for anything. Now we were both angry and asked if something could be sorted out. In the meantime we had cabin account statements to see what has been going on since changing our card.
The idea of changing the payment card was to avoid further charges being made to the first card. It seems that this has not worked, and almost everything has continued to go to the old card. Back to the reception desk and now I was livid that what was my attempt to avoid an embarrassing situation by changing cards has turned out to be a disaster.
We then went to sort out the internet in the library and once again it is all because of changing the payment card as internet packages are blocked when this type of account change takes place.
After yet another heated discussion at reception three people looked dumfounded with what is happening, but no one has a solution. They promised to look into what is happening and I assumed they would get back to me.
It was late afternoon and time to begin getting ready for a formal evening. We did at least squeeze in the Individual Quiz to take our minds off the money issues but my anger levels are just about at maximum.
Dinner was very nice, and at the early quiz we scored 20/20 on a ‘cryptic themed quiz’. Of course another team (Densa) also got them all correct, and we lost to them in the tie break.
We didn’t go to the show but after a rest we met up with the others for trivial pursuits and the late night Syndicate Quiz. The girls and boys drew one game each in the trivial pursuits, and we were pretty useless with the quiz.
Time for bed, and time to forget our payment issues and internet access until the morning.
Surely this can all be resolved.