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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Home From Our 12 Day Trip in the Tropics

Part of Miami Beach from our plane home. 
I think Lulu would move here if I wanted. 


Friday morning in Miami Beach

Cozumel shirt

We are safely home after 12 days in the Tropics and Exploring the Panama Canal. As you get older - you judge a trip by how many things you're lost - how sick you got - and how much weight your gained.  I am proud to say we lost nothing - neither of us got sick - and Lulu lost 2 pounds and I gained 2 pounds. 

Simply we flew to Miami on Monday the 6th - caught our ship Norwegian Sky. We sailed and stopped at - George Town in the Cayman Islands - Cartagena in Columbia - The Panama Canal - Colon in Panama - Limon in Costa Rica - Cozumel in Mexico - and finally back in Miami Beach. After a lovely day in Miami - we flew home from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. Our cab had us safely in our house at 8 pm - Friday - 12 days later. 

The highlight of the trip for me was passing through the locks of the Wonder of the World - the Panama Canal. It was built in 1913 - and is the world's greatest short cut from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is less than 50 miles long and saves ships thousands of miles - days - and fuel. It is a Wonder of the Modern World - and still works perfectly fine. The USA built the canal but in 1999 - gave it back to the country of Panama. It still makes lots of money - our ship paid $350k to just pass ½ way through and back. 

The weather on the trip was hot and humid - mostly in the 80s. We had some nice breezes but no rain. On our ship we enjoyed eating our meals on the fantail. We had a breeze and a nice shaded area. I had more steaks in 12 days than I usually eat in a year. 

Lulu just loves the shopping. All the towns we stopped at cater to cruise ships. Everything is for sale. All countries were very gracious to us. We took guided tours in Columbia and Costa Rica. 

I love the cars - trucks - scooters - etc. We did not visit any rich countries. Costa Rica was the richest with the average income of $12,000 a year, 

The last port of call was Cozumel - Mexico. This is a large touristy city with plenty of hotels and beaches. It also had the largest shopping areas. There were 2 large stores we visited that reminded me of Walmart and Target. The prices were best there. Lulu loves to shop but she hardly buys anything.

Friday morning we pulled into Miami early. We got a cab and went to the Dolphin Mall. While I found a nice place to sit in the food court and watch our bags - Lulu was free to sample the diverse shops of this new mall. It is about 6 miles to the airport. We also watched the FSU girls play in the NCAA playoff here. Let's just say our season is over - boys and girls. 

We were home at 8 pm - we unpacked - started the laundry and zonked out. 

This trip was sorta like a 52nd honeymoon. Our ship was not very big - but it was full at 2000 people. Most of them were very old. Lots of canes - walkers - and mobility scooters. Everybody was very cordial. You had a choice of eating alone or being at tables that held 6. We did both. We were on deck 10 - on deck 11 was a fantastic buffet. We liked getting our food and sitting on the fantail. A giant tent protected you from the sun but allowed nice breezes. There was a great variety of food and it was endless. There were so many workers busy cleaning surfaces - you felt like you were in the intensive care unit at a hospital. We tested regularly for covid - and never got it - thanks to 5 shots so far. 

Our next adventure is the Everhart 10 together at Watercolor/Seaside FL. In April - they are all flying in for family time. You may recall we rented a large home there 2 years ago. It was so nice - we are going back. It is about 100 miles west of us. 

Fort Lauderdale FL - going home

Lulu and I honeymooned here in 1971

You can see the cruise ships - Miami

Downtown Miami

Sunrise in Miami Beach

VWs are plentiful in Cozumel

Original dune buggy

Motorcycle trike for old people

This is a Meyer Mans VW

VW engine

Shopping Cozumel

Fidel selling cigars

Note the LED headlights

Lulu loved th shops

Simple black tank on roof - hot water

These are modern VQ dune buggies

Cozumel Hospital 

The car is named Dodge Attitude

150cc scooters for $1000

One dollar = 20 pesos

Very clean stores

6 burner gas range = $350

I sat here while Lulu shopped

Chedraui store

Mega Store

Funny shirts

Monday, March 13, 2023

On Our Way Home On the Panama Canal Visit

Our major destination - the Panama Canal

We are enjoying a wonderful trip to the Tropics. It has been hot and humid - but we have avoided any rain or wind at all. We have Internet on the ship and on shore - but we have been very busy. The heat saps the energy out of you on shore - and you appreciate any air-conditioning you can find. We have gone soft. We were as far south as 9 degrees north of the equator - so it is indeed like this all year - except they do have a rainy season where it pours. 

Norwegian Sky. Our ship is very nice - with 1900 passengers - mostly old folks. We feel like teenagers. There are maybe 20 kids that seem relatively bored. Our room is about 9 x 13 - including the bath. It is very nice - and we sleep very well. One night we realized we spent 12 hours in bed! We are on deck 10 - we are close to dining - pools - etc on deck 11. The entertainment is fun. 

We visited George Town in Cayman Islands - Cartagena in Columbia - Colon in Panama - Limon in Costa Rica. Costa Rica seemed the most affluent with average yearly income of $12,000. Even there you can rent a fancy mansion for $800 a month. 

The highlight of the trip is the Panama Canal. The guests on the ship lined the front of the ship upon entering the canal area. It reminded me of movies of people coming to America and seeing the Statue of Liberty. I felt that way too. 

The canal was built in 1913 - 110 years go. The French started the project but malaria got the best of them and they sold out to the USA. 25,000 men died in the construction. It has been in service for 110 years. In 1999 - the USA turned the canal over to Panama. They allow anyone who pays to go thru the canal. 

We only went in thru 3 original locks - each one raising us about 30 feet. Then our boat sailed out into the Gatun Lake - a manmade lake that provides water to flow thru the locks by gravity. The whole canal from Atlantic to Pacific is less than 50 miles. 

The old locks were about 100 wide by 1100 feet long. The newer locks are - wider - deeper - longer. Each lock takes maybe 15 minutes to fill - then you sail to the next one. Small electric locomotives seem to pull you thru the locks - but really they just keep the ship straight - the ship’s engines propel them thru the locks. Each locomotive has 2 - 1000 HP motors. They are on cogs rails and rise from lock to lock. This is the coolest sight of the trip. Some would say it is like watching paint dry. 

On the way in - everyone was on deck to see the pass - on the way back - the deck were sparse - people went back to eating. 

Eating and Drinking

Lulu and I seldom drink. We had margaritas on the beach in Costa Rica. Some people take drinking very seriously - they buy unlimited drinks passes. 

We have a nice breakfast - usually on the fan deck outside. It is an extensive buffet. We usually have lunch and dinner at the several sit-down restaurants available. They have extensive menus - with 3 courses. The variety is endless - it is hard limiting yourself. It is a terrible place to be on a diet. 

On deck 6 and 12 are running and walking tracks. They are little bigger than a track around a football field. They are rubber surfaced. You can find times to be on there alone. There are two nice size pools and several hot tubs. 

The next 3 days we visit Belize - Cozumel Mexico - and finally back to Miami. We have 12 hours in Miami before we fly home. We considered driving the Tesla to Miami - but it is at least 8 hours each way. At the last minute we bought plane tickets. 

Latest news - we decided to build Lulu’s pool. More to come on that. 

We have been in very good health. The ship’s crew is always cleaning up. Really - it seems like a hospital. 

I am sorry if this is so all over the place. We do have Internet - both on shore and on the boat - but I cannot post anything to my normal web page. I have been doing it 18 years - all of a sudden I cannot. 

Lulu just helped me get back on my page - hooray for the media specialist. 

Our ship in Limon - Costa Rica

Shield supposed to keep rats off ship

Nice home on hill overlooking the sea - Costa Rica

Beach Bar at Bonita Beach

Bonita Beach has nice warm surf

Memorial to the Banana Railroad in Costa Rica 

Natives did a nice show in Colon - Panama

Many different countries in dance show - Panama

Shopping in Colon - Panama at sunset

Freighter going south - we are going north

Gates Locks - 110 years old

The locomotives guided ship thru canal

Lokies kept the boats straight

Going into canal

Locks open and our ship enters

That ship is a sister ship of ours

Bridge connects North and South America 

Canal is 50 miles long sea to sea

Pilot boat comes close to deliver pilot

Eating on our favorite spot on the fan tail

Cartagena container docks

Columbia  costumes

Street art in Cartagena

Powered 3 wheel vendor

Cartagena Church

Hot and humid museum - Columbia

Street Art

Lots of huckster - selling water - hats

Churches wide open

Street art

Every shop had a generator just in case

Hero had one arm and one leg

Fort Cartagena

10 degrees North

We had internet on ship and in every country. 

Decks 11 and 12

Where on earth is Lulu?

Mini Moke in George Town - Cayman

Post Office George Town.

You could walk and run on Deck 6

Leaving Miami Monday morning. 
We ar enow in day 8 - 3 more to go

This little island does not look like much - but Columbus landed there in 1502 on his last of 4 trips to America. He discovered gold - that caused the great gold rush by Spain - and they conquered much of America for that reason. Many ships sunk carrying gold and silver back to Spain. Many ships were sunk by hurricanes.