What I Did This Past Weekend

Miss Marple 2

Our host is Gattina. Come join us and tell us what YOU did this past weekend! After all, you never know when you will need an alibi!


The last week I simply have not slept well. Thus, all weekend, it was much the same. Me crashing late at night and then up with the dogs at the stroke of 7 AM. Have I mentioned, I am not a morning person?

Coffee and quiet has been the saving grace. Except then Sunday morning I woke to a long, hard, thunderstorm! None of the dogs would venture out, not even Fritz, who will almost always go out.

But, let’s work our way back to Saturday.

I spent most of the day running errands, doing laundry, and cleaning the kitchen area. Why is it that I cannot ever seem to get it done? I feel like I am always cleaning or doing laundry. The cooking part, I love, so no complaints there.

Around three we got a call from our next door neighbors, for a last minute cookout. With Lamb, Spanakopita and salad. You would have to be crazy (or my cousin) to turn down a meal like that! We, naturally accepted!!!

Since I hate to arrive without something in hand, I quickly whipped up a gingerbread cake. It was a new mix I was trying and all I can say is ‘WOW’! It was a mix I’d gotten at the King Arthur Museum and shop and it was fantastic! I need to get a few more boxes of that to have on hand just for this sort of last minute cake! It took me 45 minutes and  at the end of the meal half of the sheet cake was gone!

Then, as we were cleaning up two families arrived with their kids. I think there were 5 kids, but 5 kids under the age of 10 made it feel like much more! It all made me smile.

The adults also were quite interesting. A man who owns a gym in Pensacola, FL and  Erik and Ellie Weihenmayer. Erik holds the record for being the first blind man to climb Mount Everest and Mount Ararat. He has written several books and has not allowed his blindness to limit the possibilities in his life. His amazing wife, is a sweet delightful woman, who treats Erik like anyone else. I found myself feeling awkward at one point when we said good-bye, and I wish I was so cool that I could be as terrific as his wife.

Their two kids were also delightful, and I was so please to become acquainted with their entire family!

You see, it made me realize that we are the only ones capable of ‘letting ourselves down’!

The night ended very late, and since we all know my brain goes to sleep at 9:30 PM, when we got in at 11 o’clock, I was totally wiped out.

I was up early due to the hard rain storm. Once again, Hubby slept in, and I kept the dogs quiet for a while.

After Hubby woke, we did breakfast and I started the laundry part of my day and the cleaning.

Now he is getting the nets ready for the cherry trees and I am continuing to work on meals, laundry and writing. The usual!

My cousins, Janet and Dave stopped by with both Rainbow and lake trout! Yay! It will be for dinner tonight and again in a few more days. I just love fresh fish!

The week ahead will be a busy one. Hubby will be staying home with the pups, while I drive down to see my sister and my mother. I’ll also be going to a baby shower for my nephew’s and niece in law’s twin boys. They were born on May 31 at 32 weeks and are both doing well.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday Scavenger Photo Hunt

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.


This is a cross on a high hill overlooking a volcano in Nicaragua. The steps up were narrow and very steep, but we made it all the way up!

Nov 21 031

This is a beautiful church in Guatemala that we visited on our cruise. The walls were high and painted yellow with the stark white accents. It was beautiful!

Nov 22 072

Saturday Scavenger Photo

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.


For this weeks theme I chose my loving Macaws. Truly, I stood there in Guatemala, watching them for over half an hour. I would still be there, captivated, had I not been forced back onto the tour bus. They were so beautiful and so loving with each other, that I will remember it all of my life.

Nov 22 066

Thursday Thirteen #56

Thursday 13

Why Our Cruise Was Great

1. Once we unpacked, we didn’t have to repack for the length of our trip.
2. Someone came in and made our bed and gave us fresh towels each day.
3. You don’t have to cook any meals. All you need to do is show up and eat.
4. The food was spectacular!
5. Needless to say, you don’t have to clean up after your meal either. (Yay!!)
6. People are polite. I think manners are a lost art, really, but on the ship everyone was pleasant.
7. We had great weather. Just one small rain storm, which lasted about 1/2 an hour.
8. We saw such beauty and many magnificent man made and natural wonders.
9. Such as the Panama Canal, and
10. the Rain Forest in Costa Rica,
11. also the wild Macaws in both Costa Rica and Guatemala.
12. We had some wonderful Central American foods, like plantains, rice and black beans, pulled chicken and flan.
13. The time spent together was sweet, and romantic. My birthday was special and unlike any other I have spent.

Nov 17 108


We got into Boston at about 12:30 AM on November 25th. After collecting our luggage we got onto the shuttle bus to out motel. We checked in quickly, and got to sleep in almost no time at all.

By 8:30 we were up again, showered and packed up our car and headed home. We stopped for groceries, but I was so excited about getting home to see my doggies I could hardly think about buying food!! We got what we needed and then off we went, destination HOME.

We arrived back to our house at 12:45 PM. We had called Emily and had her walk the puppies before our return.

I opened the door with Hubby close behind me, and the joyous, boisterous, greeting that we got, was all we could have asked for and more. They danced, they ran around us, and they cuddled and kissed us. What a welcome!

Hubby and I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with Emily and Dori and talking about our trip, but we both are exhausted and I think I can guarantee an early bedtime tonight.

You know there are three wonderful things about vacations.

1. The planning and anticipation!

2. The actual vacation and enjoying each day spent doing all that you planned!

3. Coming home!

Thanksgiving, Guatemala and Huatulco

On Thanksgiving we docked in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Although our dock area is used primarily for cargo ships, our arrival was handled well by both a local Pilot who guided us through the narrow harbor entrance, and the dock crew who handled the many passengers who left the ship to tour this part of Guatemala.

Nov 22 006

We met our guide, Diego, a 23 year old college student, and his driver and driver’s helper (I will explain this later), and once our bus was full, we departed the pier.

I have not been back to Guatemala in nearly 19 years, but I was so happy to see how far the country has progressed. The streets are well paved, the yards of the local people were clean, and most of all, the children looked clean and healthy.

We started our tour by driving towards Colonial Antigua on a four lane divided highway. On the way we could see four very large volcanoes, one of which is still active, and an enormous rock formation, that resembles the face of a Mayan looking to the heavens. U.S. Geologists have determined that this is, in fact, pieces of an asteroid.

Nov 22 023

We saw several of the more important crops grown there, like sugar cane and coffee, before arriving at the Jade Factory and Museum in Colonial Antigua.

Nov 22 038

At the factory we were given a short talk on Jade and then wandered through the museum, which led us directly to their gift shop (of course). I learned that I have good taste in Jade, as everything I liked was very expensive! LOL

After that we drove to La Merced Church and Convent (completed in 1767), where we toured the grounds before headed to Casa Santa Domingo, which was formerly a convent (built in 1642, destroyed by an earthquake in 1776). The ruins have been partially restored, the grounds carefully maintained, a museum created, and it is now a luxury hotel.

In this convent/hotel we were served a delicious lunch consisting of chicken, beef, tortilla’s, guacamole, and yes, black beans and rice! For dessert we had flan.

After lunch everyone was allowed to roam around and explore the ruins, but I found myself in a lovely garden with the Macaws. I became totally captivated by this one pair. They were mates, and their love for each other was so sweet that I could not leave the spot.

Nov 22 066

Nov 22 068

Nov 22 091

Macaws mate for life. If one of them dies or if one of them is taken (poached) then they will remain alone for the rest of their lives. There were several Macaw couples in the garden, but also several single Macaws, whose mates were gone from them. Poaching (stealing) of Macaws and other exotic birds is a real problem here in Central America. Now that I have seen these beautiful birds in the wild, I will remember that this is where they should be.

We went to the market place where we went through a maze of shops until I found some gifts for my family and friends. Then it was back to the bus for our trip home.

Now I will explain why it is so important for the drivers to have helpers. In Colonial Antigua the streets are all old cobblestone and very narrow. The “helper” would jump out of the bus and clear the bus around corners or past cars or, if necessary, go knocking on doors to locate the owners of cars which were double parked. The man was invaluable!

Our trip back to the ship was pleasant and once we had arrived, and changed our clothes, we all met in the dining room for dinner. It was Thanksgiving. Turkey was served with sweet potatoes, and stuffing and we had pumpkin pie for desert, but it was still an odd dinner. The International chef just couldn’t quite capture the Yankee Thanksgiving that we have always had. The food was delicious, but just not what I expected.

Nov 22 001


Huatulco, Mexico

Nov 23 010

We arrived in Hualtulco at noon. It has a beautiful inner harbor and our first impression was that this would be a fun place to come and spend a few days. Once the ship was secure, we had a quick lunch and then headed out with Carole and George to explore the dock area.

Nov 23 023

Nov 23 021

Nov 23 028

Nov 23 024

We found a market area full of souvenirs and a small grocery where I bought some diet coke. Since there wasn’t a lot to do and it was so hot, we all headed back to the ship where we sat on the balcony and enjoyed cold drinks. By 5:30 we were under way again, headed for Acapulco.

Tomorrow, November 24th we will fly to Boston stay overnight and then drive the rest of the way to our home.

Our trip has come to an end.

Costa Rica & Nicaragua

I wanted to finish telling you about Costa Rica. It’s been many years since Hubby and I were there, and we saw so many improvements in the countryside. We were lucky to have a Naturalist Guide for our day long trip. He was able to guide us through the Rain Forest

Nov 20 016

as we rode in our aerial tram, pointing out many interesting, birds, trees and yes, even snakes (they were in a cage, thank goodness)!

Nov 20 044

Then we stopped to have a traditional Costa Rican lunch consisting of rice and black beans and chicken and salad. Oh yes, and they served two drinks, mango juice and delicious Costa Rican coffee!

Then we were off for a ride on the river where we saw so many of the local tropical birds and, of course, the crocodiles. It was fascinating, and we got so many pictures. What a fun time. I must note here that the entire excursion lasted 8 1/2 hours.
Cows grazing near the crocodile!

Cows grazing near the crocodile!

Nov 20 089

A blue billed bird

Nov 20 092

A crock on the go!

Nov 20 067

Needless to say, I slept well last night!


Wednesday we arrived in the harbor at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, at 6:00 in the morning. We met in the ship’s theater at 6:45, so we could get into our groups and then ride ashore on the ships lifeboats.

The lifeboats preparing for their passengers

Nov 21 016

Our first stop was in the Masaya Market. We were able to go around looking at the different handicrafts made by the local people, and do a little shopping as well.

Nov 21 016a

The school children entertaining the tourists.

Nov 21 024

From there we went to the Masaya Volcano where we were able to view two dormant volcanoes and one active one. There was a high point above the volcano which took 184 steps to reach! I was definitely winded and as I stood half way up, Hubby asked me to come back down a few steps for a picture. Although I thought he was crazy for asking I did as he asked and actually I like the picture.

Nov 21 027

Nov 21 031

Nov 21 034

From there we drove back to Masaya and had a nice Nicaraguan lunch made up of…surprise, rice and beans, chicken, beef and fish, with wonderful Papaya for dessert.

After lunch we went to the old city of Granada, which is the oldest European settled city in Central America (1524). We toured the market area and then went into an old Convent, which is now a local museum.

Nov 21 074

When we looked at Nicaragua from the top of the volcano, it was beautiful and lush. However, as we drove through the countryside we saw such terrible poverty. My heart ached for these people, who live in tiny cement block houses, with no windows or doors, and dirt floors and corrugated metal rooves.

I must also mention one very beautiful thing though. Almost every house there had a dog, sitting with it’s owner, or the child of the house, or just sitting at the end of a drive waiting for its master to return. I asked about this and was told that yes, the Nicaraguans love their dogs.

Nov 21 088

Nov 21 022

We returned, on the Pan American Highway which was a good road, but then to get back to the area where the ship was anchored we had to ride 10 miles over some of the worst roads we’ve ever been on, to San Juan Del Sur, where we boarded the life boats for our trip back to the ship.

Nov 21 083

What an education.

Costa Rica

I will keep this entry a little short today. It was a long day (a nine hour side trip), that saw us going into the Costa Rican Rain Forest and after a wonderful lunch going into the canals on a tour boat to see the Crocodiles, macaws, Egrets and just about every sort of tropical bird you can imagine. It was awesome and incredible and I promise to post pictures later of this day, but tonight I need to get to bed early because we have to be up and ready for our next shore trip by 5:30 AM!

Here are a few pictures to tide you over.

The Rain Forest.

Nov 20 040

A crocodile in the canal.

Nov 20 052

The macaws.

Nov 20 097

The Panama Canal Cruise Day!

On Sunday, the 18th of November we were awakened by the sound of thunder at 5:20 in the morning. Pulling back the curtains of our stateroom we were able to see the coast of Panama, and ahead on the port side of the ship, the lights of the harbor at Colon.

Nov 18 001

Nov 18 011

Nov 18 Entering Gatun Locks

We dressed in our bathing suits, as the temperature and humidity both were very high. Out of the darkness, as the sun rose, we could see many ships waiting for their turn to go through the Canal. It was quite an awesome sight.

Soon there was a knock on our door and breakfast was served to us, a split of Moet & Chandon champagne, hot coffee, fresh fruit and rolls and a crab quiche with Alaska King Crab legs draped over the top. As our friend Benn says, it only costs a little more to go first class.

Nov 18 breakfast before entering the locks

Finally it was time to enter the Gatun Locks. A small rowboat came out with two men, one to row and one to carry the lines to be used by the small locomotives that help maneuver the large ships through the canal.

Nov 18 021

Our Captain

Nov 18 The Captain

Our ship, which was steadied by the locomotives, moved slowly into place in the very tight slot in the canal. I kept looking at that narrow passageway, and I couldn’t help but think that we were not going to make it. However, we did, with just enough room to spare on each side. The ship went in, stopped and the lock doors swung shut behind us. Slowly water was drained from the lock above us into our lock to raise us up. The three locks raised us 85 feet by the same process to the level of Gatun Lake.

Nov 18 Gatun Locks

The locks closing.

Nov 18 Gaton locks closing

Leaving the third lock, we passed the Gatun dam and spillway. Then we had to wait an hour during a rain shower to be sequenced into the lake shipping traffic. A large Chinese freighter passed us going in the opposite direction and I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t both be able to pass by without running aground but there was plenty of room in the lake channel.

Nov 18 Chinese freighter in Gatun Lake

We reached the town of Gamboa, also known as Dredge Central, shortly after we left Gatun Lake. We could see the dredge work being done there and we also saw the two large cranes which are used to remove the lock gates (65 tons each) for maintenance. Also in Gamboa we saw the railroad bridge over the Chagres River. A fast paced train was just going by us and Hubby caught a picture of it.

Nov 18 two large cranes used for lifting the lock gates for repair

Nov 18 th Panama Rainroad

Then we entered the Culebra Cut, a 9 mile section of the canal that has had a number of landslides, including one which closed the canal for 7 months shortly after it first opened. Along the Culebra cut is the high point at the continental divide. It used to be 600 feet high, but 200 feet have recently been removed to help prevent landslides in the future.

Nov 18 High Point minus 200 ft.

A beautiful single support cable bridge, called Memorial Bridge, crosses the canal just beyond the continental divide. It was quite a sight.

Nov 18 m17

Next we lined up for entrance into the Pedro Miguel Lock, which lowers you 27 feet to the level of Miraflores Lake. As we stood on deck watching this process, we were being observed from behind a chain link secutity fence by Panamanians who waved and greeted us!

Nov 18 Entering Pedro Miguel Lock

Nov 18 spectators at Pedro Miguel Locks

We quickly crossed Miraflores Lake and lined up for the last time. The Miraflores Locks bring you down to Pacific Sea level. The lowest lock is the deepest lock, because it must compensate for the 21 foot tide on this end of the canal, so the lock doors are 85 feet high. Here there was a three story building with seats and tables where crowds gathered to watch the ships go by. There was even an announcer who told the Panamanians about the ships and canal in both Spanish and English.

Nov 18 spectators at Miraflores 1

Nov 18 miraflores lock

As the ship passed them by, they cheered and waved and the children jumped up and down. Those of us on the ship also waved and cheered.

We saw a Panama Railroad train one more time just before we reached the International Bridge, a bridge which resembles the bridges over the Cape Cod Canal, where I grew up. In the distance you could see the Panama City skyline, quite beautiful, as the sun was setting.

Nov 18 The International Bridge and MB

Monday we have been at sea all day. We have seen gulls and dolphins and at breakfast I was surprised to see a whale! I have been a terrible slacker today, but when I finally sat down to write this out, suddenly my computer froze up and after nearly a half an hour of terror (all our pictures were on it and not backed up yet) I was finally able to get it going and immediately downloaded our pictures onto disks!

Tomorrow we will be in Costa Rica! We have a full day planned, including a visit to the rain forest there.

Cartagena & My Birthday

November 17th 2007

I’m sitting here on our deck as we sail away from a truly nice day in Cartegena, Columbia. It was very hot (90+ degrees F) and humid, but our tour was fun and our drive and tour guide nice.

The day started about 6 AM when I woke up and watched the sun rise over Cartegena. By then I was too excited to sleep, so I woke up Hubby and we dressed and went to the Lido deck for breakfast.

When we got back to our room, there was as announcement on the door reading “Happy Birthday, Maribeth, with three bright birthday balloons. I opened the door and found a lovely bouquet of yellow roses from George and Carole.

Before we knew it, it was time to go down and catch our tour bus for the “Best Of Cartegena” As I stated it was a great tour taking us to two beautiful churches, and the forts.

I didn’t know too much about Cartagena, except what I had seen in the movie, “Romancing the Stone, and of course the things I have heard on the TV about the drug trade. What I found was a large city that had both the rich and the very poor coexisting.

The Best of Cartagena

I was also amazed to see how large a city Cartagena is (1 million population). It appeared that there were policemen on just about every corner, as well as the local freelance entrepreneurs. One man followed me all around trying to sell me a t-shirt and even came to the bus and knocked on my window! Hubby told me to turn away and not look, but oh boy, was that hard!

Hubby also took me to a nice jewelry store here and we picked out a pair of emerald earrings. Emeralds are not too rare here and the prices are about 1/2 what they are in the states. We were bargaining with the jeweler and I said, “Today is my birthday, so can you give me a better price?”, and he did!

I must mention here that the Cartagenian’s are wild and crazy drivers. There are very few stop signs, motorcycles weave in and out of traffic and non traffic lanes and might makes right! If I should come here again I will definitely get a driver. Someone who understands the lack of rules on the road! LOL

At dinner tonight we celebrated with some really wonderful food. Both Hubby and I had Lobster Ragu and then I ordered a soufflé for dessert, but I was sad that they had no chocolate cake for me. No sooner had I made my order than the chocolate cake of my dreams appeared and everyone sang Happy Birthday! Besides the beautiful earrings, Hubby had a fabulous bouquet of flowers presented to me at our table. The neat thing about this was that i was not only my birthday, but the Head Waiter’s birthday and another woman’s birthday as well. Yes, good babies were born on November 17th!

Nov 17 1cartegena 10

Nov 17 108

Now we are headed toward he Panama Canal. We will make that passage tomorrow. We plan breakfast on the deck and then we will be watching every moment we can as we go from lock to lock, through the Panama Canal.