This morning David called the concierge to ask what time and what day it was. We had no idea if it was Friday, Saturday, or Sunday – it hardly matters. We seafaring folks mark our time by days we are at sea, and days we are in port.
The last port city was, I forget… kidding. It was Puerto Limon. It is not only the largest port in Costa Rica, it is the manicure/pedicure capital of the world. It occurs to me that this is not something about which most countries would brag – but let’s be honest. It is better than being the shooting or knifing capital. The popularity of this skill is obvious when you step off the ship and are immediately confronted by 15 or 16 little stalls (each a separate business), of women offering the nail and foot services. To be quite honest, and although I did have a pedi before I left New York, I was a bit grossed out by the enthusiasm one mani/pedi-curist had for the idea of playing with David’s toes. Needless to say, we did not participate in this activity.
The hardest thing to do is pass a stand that has native crafts – especially for children. I want to buy something for all the kids at every stop. But alas, the prices are too high and I’ve seen most of it in Chinatown. Moving on. First we decided we were not going to do any tours. We were simply going to hang around at the port towns. But there was so little to see, that we changed our minds. We hadn’t, however signed up for any tours offered by the ship – which we later found out was a pretty good idea, so we started to talk to an American who had been in Puerto Limon for 11 years and offered to take us to a few interesting places. We stopped to look at monkeys and sloths (no, not a Congressional staff person, an actual sloth!) in the rain forest – but not too far in. Then we went to the Del Monte banana factory – I eat a banana everyday so I thought it was a way to say ‘thanks.’ Then we went to the river, but did not get on a launch – for which we would have paid the native price (Daryl’s tour did not include river tours) and then we went to lunch at a terrific little restaurant that catered to locals, and a few hundred tourists that showed up. The food was tasty, but the entertainment was what the locals thought the tourists would enjoy – a rousing rendition of “Day-oh” without the benefit of Harry Belafonte’s voice or personality. Most of the luncher/tourists really got into it. There was a great deal of dancing and drinking – or maybe it would make more sense if it was drinking and dancing.
By the end of lunch we were a bit weary of the heat. We had cut a deal with him for $20 Canadian and $40 American. But when we reached the pier, it was clear that the driver (who we then realized was not actually a part of Daryl’s business), was not happy about taking the Canadian currency. Further, it was clear that they expected more of a tip, or for us to buy something illegal – about which neither was of much interest. It’s been a bit of a jolt going from springy NY weather to full blown tropical sweatiness. But that’s why we’re the tough travelers we are. Other than one night a few days ago (again… lost in time) when the ship was be-bopping through some stormy seas, its been a pleasure. David tried the patch behind the ear treatment, but its been more psychosomatic than really necessary. Like Linus’ blanket, as long as it’s there, there’s no real need for anything further.
The most enjoyable thing about the cruise, other than it’s timelessness, is/are the other passengers. The other speakers are very friendly and knowledgable and the guests are great fun – OK not everyone, but out of 500 guests and 300 crew, I bet 600 are fine. The staff is delightful as well as helpful. The food is good, as well as plentiful. And the idea of everything being included—food, drink, entertainment, and education (that’s us) should be applauded.
There are lecturers who have spent anywhere from 10 to 20 years sailing on different ships to different parts of the world – which we are probably not going to do. But it is easy to see that it could become something you could do a few times a year. And, most importantly, we haven’t killed one another, despite the enclosed living space (which is pretty vast. Our cabin would make a GREAT studio apt. in the city. In fact, we are enjoying the time together. But then what’s not to enjoy—we are totally unstressed about almost everything. Hell, we don’t even know what day it is. Oh, yes, we did show the “Gefilte Fish Chronicles” yesterday, but everyone seemed to like it – so even that worked out.
Yesterday we went through the Panama Canal—but we will regale you with those tales and pictures tomorrow. We’re just sayin’… Iris