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Back from paradise

I got home from my vacation in Grenada last night. I felt like I had either a cold or bad allergy when I woke up today, but taking a Zyrtec and drinking lots of water seems to be reducing it.

I just weighed myself and found I gained about 15 pounds during the cruise. I didn't eat a lot of junk food during the cruise since this was a small working ship instead of a large cruise ship with lots of food options. I was hoping I had lost weight since a red shirt which had been a little tight on me fit comfortably during the trip.

A woman from Pueblo going on the same vacation said hello to me at the Colorado Springs airport. Our assigned seats were across the aisle from each other during all three flights. While waiting for the first flight, we saw another passenger with a small dog named Bashful, though it sure didn't seem bashful! I had a breakfast quesadilla during the first layover in Dallas. When the second plane landed in Miami, it had to wait on the tarmac about 30 minutes since a plane with mechanical problems was stuck at the gate our plane was supposed to use. Another gate was found, and my cruise friend and I took a cart to the connecting gate. We landed in Grenada on time, but my friend and I discovered our suitcases were still in Miami.

The cruise group stayed at the Flamboyant Hotel. The hotel itself is spread out with dozens of buildings, and getting from one place to another requires taking flights of steep steps outside. The group met for dinner and drinks at the hotel's Owl Sports Bar.

The air conditioning in my hotel room feels awesome when I come in from the hot weather. Unfortunately, it starts feeling too cold after a few hours. I couldn't turn it off or change the temperature since the AC unit is about 7-8 feet off the ground and I didn't see a remote control for it. The difference in temperature was really felt when I stepped outside and my glasses fogged up!

For dinner, the singles group went to another bar about a half-mile away called Umbrella's. I had a burger with sweet potato fries and a rum drink called "Purple Rain."

My suitcase arrived at the hotel overnight! The group was taken on a tour of Grenada. We saw waterfalls, the Grenada Chocolate Company, Grenada's original airport site and a rainforest. We had lunch at Belmont Estates before wrapping up the tour and heading to the ship, the S/V Mandalay. The ship, originally called the S/V Hussar, was built in 1923 for E.F. Hutton. Hutton sold the ship in 1935 and it was renamed the Vema. It had been used to train merchant marine cadets during World War II and later as a research vessel before becoming the Mandalay.

Grenada is famous for producing various spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Seeing the chocolate selections with ginger during the chocolate shop tour made me think of the song Craig Ferguson used to sing on The Late Late Show: "But he's ginger down below, me boy, ginger down below."

Sleeping on the ship was tough the first night because it set sail overnight for its first stop on the cruise.

The ship had anchored off of Union Island by sunrise. Much of the group spent the morning on the beach at Chatham Bay. Later, the ship sailed to Mayreau Island, where there was another beach at Saline Bay. The ship's bartender set up a bar on each beach. I had a local beer called Carib during both stops. The ship offered a "culture walk" (a.k.a. bar crawl) that evening. I declined since my shoes and socks were still wet from the day's activities. About half of the group went to the bars on land while the others partied on the ship. The ones who went on land later said we didn't miss much. We saw a group of stingrays swim by the ship.

Woke up near Canouan Island. There was some light rain at the beginning of the trip, but it cleared up after a couple of hours. I spent the morning on the beach at the Tamarind Beach Hotel. I ordered some tortilla chips with dipping sauces. There was a pregnant cat wandering the beach begging for table scraps. The group went on a tour of the island later, visiting the Pink Sands and Carenage resorts, along with a private beach.

Back on the ship, the group did a bit of gambling by betting on crab races. One of the crabs was named "Captain's Pinnace." A pinnace is a light boat, but the word was used in this case to also sound like "captain's penis."

For some reason, I felt sad when I woke up this morning. We toured the island of Bequia (beck-way) and visited a model boat shop/museum, a former sugar plantation and a turtle sanctuary. I wanted to visit another beach, but it was too far for me to walk. I bought a bottle of Riesling wine for the ship's wine and cheese party that evening. A live musician was brought on board to play for us while we danced.

My cell phone screen cracked when I dropped it in the bathroom this morning. The group visited the Tobago Cays, where it rained on and off. One side of the island had a view of the area where Pirates Of The Caribbean was filmed. The ship later anchored off of Union Island. The ship's sails were raised, and several people went on the tenders to photograph the ship.

A scavenger hunt was held in the evening. It ended in a tie. Later, costumes were made available for a masquerade party. I picked two random objects, a set of candy cane antlers and a hawaiian lei, to become "Rudy, the Hawaiian reindeer who gives poi to all the good girls and boys." My costume was one of six that won the first round. I was eliminated in the second round but got a tote bag as a consolation prize.

The group toured the town of Hillsborough on the island of Carriacou. We saw a botanical garden, the island's only gas station, a former plantation house which is now a church, and the Princess Royal Hospital. We visited a local museum later, but we weren't allowed to take any photos inside. The museum had lots of local paintings/drawings, pottery and woodwork.

A white party was held on the ship. I forgot to pack any white shirts or shorts. My bathing suit had white stripes, so I wore that with a tan shirt (it was originally white, but it got a suntan!) The ship began to sail back to Grenada around 3:30 PM.

People who had to catch early flights out today were able to tender to shore around 5 AM. The rest of us remained on the ship until it reached the port around 9 AM. I went back to the Flamboyant Hotel to spend the night there. I had skipped lunch since I really needed a nap. That night, I went to Umbrella's with the other cruisers and had a footlong hot dog.

There was heavy rain and lightning this morning. I checked out of the hotel around 4:50 AM and took a shuttle bus to the airport.

My shoes really stink. The combination of not wearing socks and getting them wet in the Caribbean intensified the odor. I couldn't find any foot powder at the Grenada airport, but I got some baby powder; it didn't solve the problem but the foot odor wasn't as strong.

The flight from Grenada to Miami showed Zootopia! I arrived home in Colorado Springs around 8:45 PM. I wanted to stay up to listen to The Rabbit Hole and Doggy Radio, but I was too tired.


I forgot to pack my name necklace for the singles cruise. The cruise director made me a new one. He had to make one with my last name since he didn't have an O to spell John.

If I do a trip like this again, remember to pack laundry soap and a change of clothes in my carry-on.

The streets on many of the islands remind me of San Francisco. Any unemployed mechanics could move to this area and make a good living repairing brakes and transmissions.

Each of the ship's cabins has an en-suite bathroom about the size of a walk-in closet. I could never get hot water through the sink or shower. Also the floor in the rest of the cabin is tile. "People are going to be stepping out of the shower with wet feet on a boat that's rocking. Let's put down slick tile for them. Not just any tile, but dark blue tile that won't reflect any light in the cabin."

The island tours were okay, but being in the back of a truck with occasional breezes is not the same as being in an air-conditioned vehicle.

PSA: If an out-of-shape person asks how far away something is, either give an estimate or say you don't know. An out-of-shape person's idea of "not very far" is a much shorter distance than someone in shape.

I had a slightly bothersome ear infection before and during the trip. Also, my hemorrhoids began bugging me halfway through the trip.

When asking myself if I wanted to do this cruise again, I thought I would only do it if it were a private charter like this trip was. Also, I'd definitely work harder to lose much more weight before then.

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April 2017


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