The ship's friendship parade in the centrum. They put out the country flags of the passengers, even if there's only a few.
Getting off a cruise ship is my other least favorite part of the vacation. You need to be out of your cabin and wait for your turn to leave the ship. We had a good breakfast in the Windjammer buffet and said our last goodbyes to the Legend.
We were off the ship at 9:00 a.m. and our flight wasn’t until after 4:00 p.m. We had 3 choices at this time.
1. Go straight to the airport and wait for 7 hours (BLECH – okay, so that’s not really an option).
On ship "Butterfly Court". It took most the week to find it was an effect not a place. Standing just right, sculptures & lights look like butterflies landed all over. 6 decks down we could see butterflies. Here's one "landed" near glass elevators.
2. Try really hard to find Segundo or another taxi driver to drive us around but have to worry about luggage, getting around, and 5 of us working on my limited Spanish speaking abilities and me translating to 4 others what I could understand about a place I’ve never been.
3. Take the ship trip and learn about the city from a local guide who spoke excellent English, not worry about our luggage, and still arrive at the airport in plenty of time.
Option #3 was obviously the best choice for all of us.
Getting off the ship and onto the dreaded air-conditioned motor coach was an experience. (more about that in my reflections) At first, I had a sinking feeling that we were in for nothing more than a ride, quick photo stop, and airport transfer. Again, I was pleasantly wrong!
This map is outside every staircase landing and elevator to let you know where you are and how to get around on the ship.
The tour took us to the cathedral, the National Panthon where many of the Dominican Republic’s most influential residents are laid to rest, and to the palace of Diego Columbus (Christopher Columbus’ son). We learned a lot about the culture and history of the island. I heard many mumblings and grumblings from people around us about the heat, the walking, and wondering when we’d get to the duty-free shopping, but we stayed toward the front and had a wonderfully educational time. We did meet another couple around our age that was annoyed with people talking while they were trying to learn, so we stood near each other and enjoyed learning! J We ended the trip with complimentary water and cheap beer at the amber museum where you can purchase exquisite fine jewelry or smaller pieces of amber and larimar (the Caribbean stone).
For about $20 USA, I bought a beautiful little pendant that has Amber on one side, and Larimar on the other. We, again, found our usual nativities, ornaments, and other things. The guide explained to us (well, those that were listening and not making a bee-line for the potty, which was exceptionally clean and so beautifully decorated I was inspired to take a picture) about Mamajuana (NOT marijuana – completely different… read on.) It’s a local cure for… well… everything. It’s made from local plants, honey, and rum. (red wine as well if you’d like). We had a taste and it resembled… cough syrup. However, it immediately took care of the nagging tickle in my throat that developed the night before.
It was a bit hazy and this is extreme digital zoom, but it's Columbus' lighthouse.
After about a half an hour at the amber museum and shop, we loaded back on the bus and to the airport. We arrived around 1:00, so we still had a wait. I found a bottle of Mamajuana (without the liquid) and thanks to a WONDERFUL girl in the airport who help translate, we got instructions to make it at home.
I started to develop clogged sinuses and a headache. I had no decongestant so was thinking that the plane ride was going to probably be painful as congestion gathers in my ears. I couldn’t risk missing Monday at work, so I went to a souvenir stand and asked if they sold anything for (in my Spanish/Spanglish, it came out as) “a full head and hurt nose holes.” *sigh* I’m learning. After the girl and I had a good giggle over my description, she handed me one of those single-dose packets of a decongestant and pointed me toward a small little children’s dictionary of English words for Spanish children (which worked for me as well as it had both English and Spanish with bright, colorful pictures!). I’ll risk saying this knowing my brother (a pharmacist) will read it, but we don’t have anything ANYTHING at all even close to as good as this decongestant in the states. OH MY GOSH! My head cleared, sinuses drained, and I felt like my old self within 45 minutes with no side effects. I would have went back to the stand and asked to buy about 100 boxes of it, but was sure US customs might frown on that. *sigh* Looks like I’ll have to run back to the Dominican Republic every time I develop a head cold! J WOOHOO! Between that decongestant, mamajuana, and plenty of sunshine, I’m sure I’d never need to use health insurance again.
All my flags are flying (with the moon in the middle)
Looking over the ocean with a full moon. Although the picture turned out really cool, it doesn't come close to what it really looks like.
Our flight to Atlanta was very nice. The airplane was equipped with touch screens in the back of all the seats and all music, moves, and games were free. I spent the 3.5 hour trip playing this fishbowl game. Goodbye Caribbean. I hope it won’t be long before I see you again.