Friday, April 4, 2008

WooHoo!! We're here! Well, almost anyway

I'm not going to waste time with the flight or anything because more then likely you have flown before and it really has nothing to do with the cruise anyway. Besides, if I start talking about the err... comfortable seats and layovers, you may back out and miss an experience that was worth twice the time getting there.

The pictures and events on this page are mostly because I thought Cruise West did a great job taking care of us even before we ever came close to stepping foot on the boat.

When we stepped off the plane the first thing I noticed was the heat. There was lots of it. In fact, everywhere I turned I kept finding more of it. I mean seriously, when we left Portland it was around 45-50 degrees and when we stepped off the plane it was closer to 160. Hot. The next thing I noticed was that we were, for the first time ever in our travels, met by someone holding a sign with our names on it. Now that may be a normal event for the rest of you but for us, well... it was nice to see someone finally treat us with the respect and attention we deserve....ahem...yeah...


We were given stickers to put on our shirt that allowed the proper people outside the airport to get us on our way out the door after we picked up our luggage. In other words, we didn't have to worry about finding them because we were properly labeled and ready to go. They could find us no matter how hard we made it for them.

Once outside, a very nice young man met us and sent us on our way to the Marriott Hotel where we were able to hang out, freshen up and relax while we waited for the tour bus to pick us up and deliver us to the cruise ship an hour and a half to two hours away.

When we arrived we met a few of our fellow travelers (you know who you are)that were also hanging out and waiting. This is where we also learned a tip I think I should pass on. When traveling to South America, it is a good idea to get there a day or two early. The stories we heard about plane delays, planes turning back for medical emergencies and trips missed would have given me nightmares if I had heard them before we traveled. Add to that the fact our tour bus was late due to traffic, I think it is wise not to plan things too tight.

Before long our bus arrived and we all piled in. All I have to say is air conditioning. If nothing else about the drive to the ship was worth mentioning, the simple fact the bus was air conditioned made the trip worth it. Ahh....

Fortunately though, they provided us with a guide on the bus that was able to fill the time with a whole lot of interesting information about the places we passed through and the lifestyles of the people living in the areas. Lucky for you I didn't take notes. I will say however that the sights along the way were amazing.

About halfway to the ship we stopped to stretch and get refreshments at a small gift shop, one of the very few opportunities for you to shop in a commercial type atmosphere. And the best part, in my mind anyway, was the pineapple that was available for snacking on. I have never before had such sweet and juicy (I mean dripping) pineapple before in my life. They also had coffee, juice, cookies etc. but the pineapple was delicious.

Back on the bus and on our way we saw some crocodiles in the river below us as we went over a bridge. Then the next thing you know we had arrived.

As we stepped off the bus we were met with hot towels as we handed our passports to the captain for safe keeping. Each of us was also met by a crew member who escorted us aboard the Pacific Explorer to our rooms so we could freshen up before meeting on the sun deck for a welcome aboard drink and snacks before dinner.

I wanted to say a few more things before ending this post. First, from here forward I will only refer to crew members by their title, not their names. This isn't because I didn't see them as people or individuals, but rather because they were all great in their own way and I do not want to single anyone out or leave anyone out. So if any of you read this and recognize yourself by the mention, thanks for making this experience the amazing time it was. If you don't recognize yourself, it is only because I can only remember and write so much (hard to believe when I look above). Thank you, you are not forgotten.

Second, the same goes for all our fellow travelers. We kept to ourselves a lot due to my own introverted nature as well as the need to keep my wifes job quiet on the cruise, but I wanted to take the time now to say thanks for the conversation, companionship and most of all the memories. But on this blog, no one will be referred to by name.

And last, the meals. All meals on board were well done. The variety, taste and presentation were great and the staff did an amazing job. But since everyone has different tastes, talking about the meals each day would be pointless. I'll just say that I didn't go hungry. There.

Now it's off to bed. Tomorrow we are spending the day at the Manuel Antonio National Park. See you then.

Photos taken with Canon Powershot A570is

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