Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | May 2, 2013

Luck Be A Lady: The Birthday Cruise Day Eight

In the Panama Canal!

In the Panama Canal!

Well, today was the Panama Canal, and DW and my day began a lot earlier than planned.  Though we did need to get up in time enough to have breakfast, we did not plan to be woken up by the informational session that began outside (but broadcast in earshot of our floor) as soon as we came into the Canal. At five thirty in the morning. At first, DW and I thought it was an emergency drill. I actually ran out of bed to put my ear to the door to make sure it wasn’t coming from the hallway.  It wasn’t. And putting a pillow over one’s head does not block out the noise either. I know. I tried.

So instead I got up with DW (whose tour began earlier than mine) and went (blearily) to coffee.  We also watched some of the goings on at the Canal, as we went through the locks, but I’ll be honest and say I was not interested enough in sticking around to see how it worked, so before I even saw water flowing, I hightailed it downstairs to shower.  I thought I could catch things on the way back, but as it turns out, the boat did the Canal and back while I was on my shore excursion, so I missed most of it.  DW did the Canal experience as her shore excursion, and from what she said, I don’t think I missed much.  I’m sure my dad, the engineer, would enjoy it, but I’m glad I did the monkey watch instead.

Floating in a boat in Panama, looking for monkeys!

Floating in a boat in Panama, looking for monkeys!

As part of my excursion, we took a bus for about an hour and a half to a National Park. There were no bathrooms on the small buses (though there was A/C), which was not helpful because by the time I got off my tender and our bus actually left, I really wished there was one, and there wouldn’t be for quite some time. The bus also made me sleepy on the way to the park, so even though our guides were very informative, I kind of missed part of the fun details about Panama and the rainforest as I drifted and tried not to fall asleep.

Once at the park, there were bathrooms (hurrah!) though next time I will pack my own toilet paper, as only one stall had any.  After that, we climbed into boats, and went on a wildlife tour.  We were very lucky, and got to see lots. There were capuchin monkeys, some who even climbed on the boats to take fruit from the guides. There were toucans (though I unfortunately didn’t get a picture), and a baby crocodile that was so small it kind of looked like a twig sliding into the water as it swam away. There were howler monkeys who responded to the revving of the boat’s engine by “howling”, which sounded kind of like those annoying horns people blow at hockey games. They are little monkeys, but the sound they make is huge and deep. I could hardly believe that noise was coming from such a small chest!

Monkey watch successful!

Monkey watch successful!

After a few hours on the water, we went back to the buses.  We drove through some of Panama, where the government is investing in the duty free area but not the houses in which its citizens live, so buildings were run down right across from enormous shopping centres.  Once at the port in Colon (where we did not have to tender), our ship was already there to meet us, so after looking at the souvenirs for a little while, I made my way back to the ship. It had been a long day, so I rested a bit, then DW came back and she and I got ready for dinner quite early.

Dinner was fantastic. We were seated at a long oval table with two other couples. The shape of the table meant I mostly talked with DW and one of the couples, who were about my parents’ age and were just fantastic to talk to, and the other couple seemed equally nice (if far across the table from me). The food might also have been my favourite so far. DW and I started with a fruit dish while I had the the drink of the day for fun. DW had the day’s salad, while I had a chilled coconut and nutmeg soup that was so delicious. It tasted like ice cream. I wanted to lick the bowl.  DW ate the eggplant moussaka, while I had a spinach and guava stuffed chicken on fluffy potatoes.  It was incredible.  DW and I both finished with a Chocolate Avalanche Cake, so her brownie streak has finally ended.

After dinner, I went to get theatre seats, while DW went back to the room to get a book.  She ran into our stewards, and had a lovely conversation, but this somehow lead to her talking about how she liked the elephant made from towels and it was her favourite, which lead to asking if they had elephants in Indonesia. All well and good, until she told them Canada has bears and asked who they thought would win in a fight, an elephant or a bear?  She says their eyes kind of widened, like they did not know what to say.  We are hoping they thought she was drunk so she can look them in the eye tomorrow.  Anyway, our towel animal was an elephant and it was decidedly not fighting a towel bear, so we’re probably all good.

We caught the show, a pianist called Paul Pappas.  As someone who has had piano training (though I’m really a terrible player), I could tell he was very skilled, but he was definitely catering to the older audience.  Sometimes the cheese factor on cruises leaves a lot to be desired.  I mean, the ragtime and Beethoven pieces were fabulous, but the more upbeat songs with the strobe lights were killing me.  DW and I both looked at each other when they were asking if he should do one more, and as everyone around us cheered, I knew the two of us were thinking “please, just let us go”.

This monkey is coming to eat some fruit from the guide.

This monkey is coming to eat some fruit from the guide.

So now we’re back in the room, getting ready to hit the sack (in our clean, pressed laundry!) so we can get up early for our excursion in Costa Rica.  Fortunately, Costa Rica is back a time zone, and hopefully there will be nothing to wake us that isn’t our alarms. It will be an eight hour excursion, but I’m looking forward to it. Coffee and macadamia nuts, here I come!

Towel animal of the day: Another adorable elephant, because DW told our stewards it was her favourite. No bear, though.

Rockstar of the Day: The howler monkey, who makes a big sound for such a small animal! Close second, Cruise Director Dave for informing us that we are setting the clocks back an hour tonight, meaning our 6:50 tour departure just got more bearable.

Drink of the Day: Spiced Dacquiri. It was very good!

Gratitude of the Day: I am grateful the monkeys came out to play, and also that today’s heat was more manageable.


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