Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | May 1, 2013

Luck Be A Lady: The Birthday Cruise Day Seven

These ladies very much wanted me to pay to take their picture, but were nice enough to take my nephew's monkey for one. So he'll have a nice souvenir!

These ladies very much wanted me to pay to take their picture, but were nice enough to take my nephew’s monkey for one. So he’ll have a nice souvenir!

Today was our (brief) time in Columbia. We pulled in to the port at Cartagena early this morning, as our ship was only making a half day stop today so we can be at the Canal on time.

Cartagena is quite beautiful. My shore excursion was a land and sea tour, so we started by climbing into an air conditioned bus with our very good guide Elkin, who took us to the fortress that was built (by slaves on the authorization of King Felipe) to defend the city from pirates.  It was a bit of a climb to the old fortress, especially since it was incredibly hot today, but it was neat to see how it overlooked Cartagena.  There were lookout towers and old batteries/canons, so I think I got some nice pictures.

After the fortress, we drove around the city, before stopping at a little shopping centre where you could buy souvenirs. I overpaid for some pictures of ladies in their colourful regalia (but I don’t feel too badly about that since they were pushy but not aggressive), and I also bought some Columbian coffee and candy for family and friends back home.

After that, we climbed back in the bus, then made our way to a little boat which took us around the port to show some other historical sites, statues, and fortifications.  I’ll admit that I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, because it was so hot.  I think I sweated out a whole other person today.  DW, who was on a different historical tour, heard from her driver that it was 38C in the morning.  By the time I was in the boat, I would not have been surprised if it went above 40C.  In the boat we occasionally got a bit of a breeze, so that was nice, but I don’t think I’ve been that warm in my life.

Here I am, on the look out for pirates!

Here I am, on the look out for pirates!

Once the tour finished, I went back to the ship, since it was a half hour before we were leaving (my tour was over four hours).  I ate lunch outside because I could not find a seat at a table inside for the life of me (most of the tours came back at the same time), then made my way to help out my trivia team.  We did better than previously, but were not the winners. And there were no questions more appropriate to my generation for me to be an asset on.  After trivia, I made my way to the outdoor pool to lay and read, because there was supposed to be a little carnival there, or so I thought. When nothing happened, I finished off a lovely conversation with a lady from Quebec (I was practicing my French!) and made my way inside to cool off. It turns out the little carnival, celebrating the 140 years Holland America has been sailing, was near the other pool, which has shaded areas. There were carnival games and a big cake shaped like the ship. There was also an enormous crowd. So I made my way to the hydropool instead, but not before having an ice cream to cool off.

And here's a pirate ship in the Cartagena harbour - the tourist fun kind, not the pillaging scurvy-inducing kind.

And here’s a pirate ship in the Cartagena harbour – the tourist fun kind, not the pillaging scurvy-inducing kind.

I took a cool shower before going in the pool, to rinse off my sunscreen and also get my body to a more regular temperature.  After a brief swim, I lay on one of the deck chairs to dry off. The sun had taken its toll on me, so I ended up falling asleep.  Someone had even dropped their robe off on the chair next to mine and I did not even notice until someone asked me if that chair was taken and I had to blink and say I really didn’t know because I had been asleep. (The lady was very nice about it, as she laughed and told me that was good and that I should enjoy my vacation and nap all I wanted.)

After some time in the thermal suite, I went back to the room, where it turns out DW had been staying out of the sun and napping too. What a fun pair we are! We got ready for dinner and went early, as we were trying to make the eight o’clock show again.

Dinner was once again one of good company, though DW was not overly impressed with her dinner tonight.  Hopefully a restocking tonight will translate to more vegetarian options like the first few days. We opened our meal with a fruit compote sweetened with honey, then DW had a Caesar salad (which she did enjoy) while I had the day’s salad with some sort of candied pear with the lettuce and things. Then I had a duck pasta which was good but very rich, while DW had a stuffed eggplant. She went for a fifth day of the brownie stack, while I had the Opera Cake.

We managed to make the eight o’clock show and get our seats from yesterday by happy accident.  The show was AMAZING. It was a steel drum band from Trinidad and Tobego called Island Magic. They knew their audience and played songs that had people oohing and ahhing, like Broadway favourites “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Memory”, as well as some classical pieces like “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” and “The William Tell Overture”, and finishing with a rousing version of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”. The music was fantastic, and was their energy was incredible, and this was the first time on the cruise that I stood for the standing ovation right away. It was well, well earned.

After the show, DW and I caught a “Game Show” called the Liar’s Club, where some of the crew was on stage, and they had to provide definitions for words like “Tittup” and “Calypigian”, and the audience guessed who was telling the truth by applause. It was funny and fun, though the highlight of the night was definitely the steel drum band.

DW and I made our way upstairs to watch the stars for a bit, since we were less tired thanks to our napping, I suppose, but it kind of smelled funny upstairs today, so we just came back to the room.  We’ll need to be rested up for long excursions tomorrow anyway. And for checking out the Panama Canal. Exciting!

Towel animal of the day: An adorable elephant.

Rockstar of the Day: Island Magic, the Steel Drum band.

Drink of the Day: Classic Mojito. Hmm. Should have had one of those. I like mojitos!

Gratitude of the Day: I am grateful for midafternoon naps.


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