As we leave Brazil and head towards Africa-Matt and I are enjoying many new experiences.
*We have now been on a boat longer than any other time
*We are now enjoying our longest continual time at sea
*This is the furthest we have ever been away from land (on a boat-not in the air)
*This is the smallest apartment we have ever lived in (300sqft)
*Boat fabrication from trash
*Matt is reading a book NOT a tractor manual!
Since we are at sea-today’s blog will be about life on board Oceania Insignia-room 8019.
Believe it or not this story started 2.5 years ago-when the Andrew family decided to sell the ranch and move on to new experiences. Some how I talked Matt into moving to Colorado and making reservations for this cruise. At the same time, I was shocked! Ok I admit I was super excited.
Once Oceania gave us our room assignment-the planning began. How do I pack for 6 months into a room the size of my bathroom? Like anyone in the year 2016-I went straight to Pinterest to gather ideas. I designated one room as the staging area and began gathering supplies. Years of summer harvests have taught me the importance of staging areas. Shoes hangers, space saving closet hangers, lotion, toothpaste, ect...all laid out across the floor while I counted to be sure there was enough.
I talked with my doctor-and made our plan for the needed medications and extra immunizations. I take some daily meds and we both needed: Hep A, and Hep B, (Before I go on I’ll stop here to tell you both Hepatitis immunizations require a series of 3 shots given 3 months apart!) Typhoid fever, Malaria, Japanes encephalitise, and Yellow Fever. It took 9 months to gather the extra medications, and finish the required immunizations and now we are sure to be immortal!
When the day came to ship our luggage (What a great idea! We didn’t have to lug everything across the U.S!) We had 11 suitcases. 2 bags with scuba gear, 2 with bathroom supplies, 2 with clothes, 1 with shoes hats and other crap, 1 with craft stuff, 2 bags of camera gear, and 1 bag with other stuff (Truth: don’t remember what was in there.) Packing hint: use duffel bags-they fold flat and fit under the bed. Everything arrived to the ship on time and now it was time to see if my planning was right. All the planning paid off-the space saving ideas help a lot, and our room is just the right size.
Fast forward 3 weeks to today-Matt and I have made friends with a family on board that brought their 10 year old son as part of a home school program. (Isn’t that a great idea!) Jackson (The child) and Matt have entered a boat building competition. The rules are simple: 1-must be made of discarded items from the ship 2-must float 3-must hold 6 cans of soda. I’m not sure who is more excited for this project Jackson who has never built anything before, or Matt who LOVES to build things. The final competition is Feb 6th and high noon at the pool-so more to come on this.
Matt is reading book number 2-this is a huge change for him. It was not required school reading, or a new tractor manual, just a book from the ship library. From his nonstop reading it seems to be a good choice. I bounce around from pilot manuals (my favorite ‘light’ reading...) camera magazines, and brainless fairy tale books. Not sure how people made this voyage before kindles, but I LOVE mine.
Sunday will be an awesome day besides being my birthday we land in Africa. It is a lifetime dream of mine to see this continent and now we are spending a full month exploring! The ports are: Togo, Benin, Sao Tome, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, with a final stop in Mombasa. I took over plans for this area-sorry Matt-we are doing a few safaris, but I made sure to leave a lot of time to get to the local areas and meet the people.
Overall life on board is great-other than eating so much I doubt my pants will ever fit again.
This week we have been moving between different ports in Brazil. We have made 3 stops at ocean front communities along the North Coast.
Before I decibe the stops, I think I will tell you a little about our past travel experiences, and what we prefer to do in new areas. Before this cruise I have been to 22 different countries-Matt closer to 30. Most of the time we are together, but not always. Sometimes we head off to the tourist stops to see the sights (Effiel Tower, Ann Frank home,Vatican), but our favorite acivity is renting a car and getting out of town. Eating with the locals, learning about life thier way.
We have seen some beautiful contrysides (New Zealand), and stayed in places where the indoor plumbing was only for show (Mexico). Everywhere we have been has been a treat, educational, and memorible.
We had expected the same experiences in Brazil. We took 1 tour offered through the boat, but the rest of our time would be meeting locals, and learning about town. Our stops were in Belem, Fortaleza, and Recife, Brazil. From the minute we got off the boat-we knew this was going to be different.
We were warned by the local tour guide that town was not safe. Do not bring cameras, purses, or jewlery. So I don’t have many pictures (just a few with my phone). I had taken my phone out of my pocket to take a picture-and a local transit bus stopped in the middle of the road, opened the door, and the driver yelled at me to put my phone away! “Not safe” he yelled. Garbage was thrown everywhere, huge voltures were everywhere eating the garbage. People would follow us pushing us to hire them for a tour. In all 3 stops Military Police followed us around-for our safety!
*A little bit more about me. I do not believe in coincidences, instead I believe God has me in each situation for a reason. My job is to figure out WHY. So far what I can come with: I’m to be grateful for what I have.*
I don’t think I would recommend a trip to Brazil, but I do see the value in this experience.
What’s next? 5 sea days then AFRICA!!!!!
Done With the Caribbean & onto South America.
Today is day 13 of our voyage. We’ve spent the last 12 mostly playing in the Caribbean waters. We’ve gone through Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Barbados, & Tobago. So far each stop has had it’s unique charm & beauty.
Here we rented a UTV and were able to tour the island on our own. We went for an off road Segway tour up to California Lighthouse. Than we took the UTV down to explore some old caves that were formally inhabited by native Indians. We really enjoyed being able to drive the UTV on the roads & highways and take our time where ever we wanted.
Here we also explored the island by UTV, but as a guided tour. The guided tour did offer us a bit more of the history of the island and how it’s been influenced by its neighbors. We were taken aback by the amount of trash & plastic that littered the windward side of the island.
Here is where we started to get wet. Bonaire is known for its amazing reef that surrounds the island. The entire island is a marine preserve. We were able to rent tanks and shore dive directly across the street from the dive shop. Water clarity was beautiful. Temps were warm & Jeni even saw a huge sea horse!
Here we made plans for a boat dive with a small dive shop. This was a family shop made up from a young Swiss couple and his mom. They had just bought the shop and moved to St. Vincent 6 months ago. We had a great time with Great Wall dives.
This was a disappointment. We took the day off from the water to rest our ears and wondered into town. As soon as we exited the port terminal we were bombarded with taxi drivers & tour operators. We made our way through the swarm thinking that it would calm down once made it to town. We were wrong. Around every turn were another taxi or tour guide yelling at us to come there or go here. We finally gave up & went back to the boat.
Here we did a “Sail & Snorkel”. We took a catamaran out off the coast. Although a little crowded for our tastes we had a great time snorkeling with turtles and the boat was a lot of fun. We got to snorkel over the top of a barge wreck as well.
Tobago was great. Wild Turtles dive shop picked us up at the boat & drove us across the island to their boat. We dove a site called “The Sisters” & no, Laura & Jennifer were not there. The dives were pretty rough & murky due to weather, but we still had a great time. The dive master speared a bunch of lion fish and talked the little restaurant on the beach to cook them up for us for lunch after the dives.
Now we’re on a sea day as we travel down to South America & we start tomorrow in French Guiana
Boat Stats: 1000 Souls on board, 600 passengers, 400 staff, 200 doing the complete Around The World (ATW), a very wide range of ages on board-from 6 months old to great grandparents age. (I’m to afraid to ask how old the oldest is)
There is one older gentleman who is great. He dances everywhere-and laughs so loud. I always know when he is near by. There are about 5 kids on board ranging in age of 6months to 10 years old. All are very well behaved, and the school agers are doing homeschool activities on the boat.
The boat is small, making getting around very easy. (Plus) The internet speeds are next to zero (Minus). The food is fantastic (Plus). My pants will never fit again (Minus)! Overall we are very happy with the boat and the service.
We are currently cruising around South America. Each day is a new stop to enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed these days: meeting lots of new people, asking them to show me around the town. Learning about the place, not just sitting on the beach. In fact we haven’t sat still yet, which makes sleeping very easy.
favorite stops so far: Matt’s Aruba Jeni: Bonaire