Denise and I got back to Dominica a few hours ago, and braved the windy road back to our smelly apartment. It's oddly good to be back. The cruise felt like a good reset button, and hopefully will be a catalyst to salvage the most out of a year that both of us were dreading. Below is my own description of the cruise; I'm sure Denise will post about it soon from her own perspective.
My parents finally got a look at the country I'd been describing for the last few months. There's a taxi driver that I trust (that's a pretty big deal here, and anywhere I guess - imagine taxi drivers without things like laws or meters) named Roy, who took me down to Roseau to pick up my parents. He was late picking me up, and we encountered pretty bad traffic because of construction, so he gunned it the entire way. It was terrifying.
|A good sampling of the roads here. It's windy, hilly, straddles a cliff, is only one and a half lanes wide, and the drivers take turns pretty quickly. Oh, and there are no speed limits.|
Though I almost soiled myself, once I accepted my impending death, as well as the fact that Roy has been doing this for years and knows what he's doing, it was really fun to go so fast again. Reminded me of accelerating on the Perimeter in Winnipeg.
We picked up Mom and Dad. Roy, ever the gentlemen, halved the speed for them, stopping from time to time to show them the views. It took an hour and a half to get them back to the apartment (as opposed to 45 minutes there, including the traffic jam), but my parents were relieved to have the dreaded commute done. After a quick tour of the campus, Denise and I made them a meal of fresh, fried tuna steaks, sliced tomatoes and mashed breadfruit. They were happy to see that we live in a decent apartment, and have the amenities to at least be comfortable, if not content, in a foreign country.
(Joss - Mom brought us Chocolate Easter Eggs. And they be good.)
Roy took us all down to Roseau again in the afternoon, and we boarded the ship. It's friggin' huge! It dwarfs Roseau, and half the town was pre-emptively darkened by its shadow at sunset. We took off, and set out for Grenada
It took me a couple of days to get used to being on a cruise. Going from a third-world country to the land of plenty was a bit of a shock: there's a cafe open 24 hours a day with free food, a free buffet open most of the day, free (delicious) pizza and burgers, soft-serve ice cream, an amazing gym, simulated driving range, and of course much much more. Also, the entire thing sways slightly from side to side, and it makes it hard to determine whether it's the alcohol (Dad snuck in a wee bit too much scotch) or your own center of gravity.
We decided to just wander around the first port we arrived in, and were a little disappointed. Grenada is like an upgraded Dominica: there are cobblestone streets, there seems to be some preserved history, and generally the infrastructure is much more advanced. Despite this, there weren't any interesting shops or products, and the people didn't seem particularly nice. What we took away from it: cheap spices and sunburns.
One thing I learned from my parents is that with ten minutes to go before push-off, many tourists sprint to try to make the boat. Since most of the passengers are overweight, this meant fat people running - a certain pick-me-up at the end of every day.
The most pleasant surprise of the trip. We had kind of dismissed this country as a quick stop on the way to Aruba. It's lovely, and I heartily recommend it. The salespeople are charming and not pushy, and the shops there have original, cheap art and jewellery. If you ever get an opportunity to go, do it.
Aruba is ballin'. Again, we weren't too sure of what to expect here, but we knew it was kind of a big deal, mostly because of the Beach Boys song. It's a gorgeous island - calm seas, beautiful beaches, and pretty fun architecture. What we were surpised about was the amount of jewellery stores there were. They have litterally every brand of watches, necklaces, and earrings, and for much cheaper than in North America. My quest for the perfect watch was reinvigorated, but to no avail. Denise went ballistic when she found a Starbucks. We all went on a "Glass Bottom Boat" cruise, the highlights of which may be seen in the video below. We saw a shipwreck and a coral reef, which was pretty rad. All in all, very impressive, and Denise and I will likely try to come back to vacation again.
Day at Sea
This was nice. Being on a cruise can be very relaxing, but there's a lot of pressure to make the most out of the islands you visit. It was a pleasant break to eat all day, read a book, and do whatever relaxing thing you want to do. I've started reading Never Let me Go.
Here is a compilation video of the trip. A little choppy, but you get the idea.
Overall, this cruise was surprisingly fun. It took a couple of days to get used to the gluttony, the impermanence, and the swaying, but by the last day both Denise and I were sad to leave. It's hard to not relax in a situation like that. It was a welcome change, it was fantastic to spend so much time with my parents.