When I woke up on day three, it was immediately obvious that I had gotten a really bad sunburn the day before on the idyllic beach of Barbados. I had put on sunscreen before leaving the boat, but never put any more on while we were at the beach. And I even spent almost all my time under the umbrella. My torso and face were on fire. Marga's mothering abilities shone through as she delicately applied "after sun" lotion to my back and scolded me for being so careless at the same time.
Don't you hate it when someone leaves the knob on the toaster set to "dark" and you don't notice?
Who needs Photo Booth to make funny faces when you can just hold your camera underwater in the sink?
I was testing my new DiCaPac waterproof camera bag. It's basically just a zip-lock bag for your camera.
Mayreau is a small, barely inhabited (300 people) island in the Grenadines that just got electricity, via a central generator, in 2002. Our cruise ship could not dock, so we had to anchor several hundred meters off the coast and take some of our small rescue boats in to the island. Upon arriving, we were taken to a catamaran, which then took us around to several small islands in the area. Many of them were private and we did not have permission to dock. The catamaran was super cool. I asked the driver how much one of these babies might cost, and he said it would only be 125,000 USD, and even cheaper if you buy in Europe and pay someone to sail it over. The highlight of our little catamaran escapade was when we stopped at a little, and I mean little, island to snorkel. We tied ourselves onto a pre-set anchor with a buoy and went in a little motor boat which we had been towing to the island in groups of eight (all that would fit in the boat). The island was all sand and approximately 20 meters by 10 meters, with a top altitude of maybe 1.5 meters. There was a little umbrella with a palm roof to provide a little shade (I was the only one weak enough to need it for any length of time). When they dumped us out on the island, we went snorkeling. There were nice, but fairly monochrome, coral formations around, and little fishies that would swim around your ankles. My waterproof camera bag got its first real test and performed admirably. The main problem was that you canâ€™t really see the screen or through the view finder underwater, so it was all guesswork on the framing...and it shows.
After a while, the three-member boat crew finally came to pick us up, and we headed back to the main island. Riding on the catamaran was pretty amazing, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I surprised myself in my lack of sea sickness, both in the transport ships from the mother ship and in the catamaran.
On shore, looking back at the cruise ship.
Boarding the catamaran. Marga told me, "Stop right there and give me the camera! You look like such a goofy tourist with that hat, that shirt and carrying that bag."
The netting between the pontoons was pretty cool.
I couldn't stand up on it like Marga is here. I tried to walk on the netting once and fell down. But then later, I was trying to walk from one side of the boat to the other and was stumbling around because of the movement of the sea, and people thought I was dancing to the music.
Leaving the ship on the horizon.
More people venture onto the netting.
This ain't a bad life.
Me looking down at the water through the net. I couldn't stay there long because the netting really hurt on my sunburned chest.
A house we might buy.
We passed a few meters by a private island that we weren't allowed to land on.
Like a Caribbean post card.
There's something incredibly alluring about the idea of having a sail boat in the Caribbean. Such intoxicating freedom!
Another house to be considered.
Leaning dangerously outside the boat.
A brief tour of the catamaran, finished with a smile.
These were our two "guides". The guy is from Brazil and was part of the nightly dancing show on the boat. The girl was from Romania, and probably did some other stuff on board. Their "guiding" consisted of guessing which island was which, getting it wrong, asking the captain of the boat in English, and translating the actual facts into Spanish. Despite their uselessness as guides, you gotta admire their jobs and bodies.
Enjoying a free "rum punch".
At this point, we were thinking, "Hey, what a cool little island." Everyone rushed port-side to take photos of the tiny little island.
Cool! We're closer! Little did we know we'd be standing on it soon.
Under the palm shade.
In the water.
The rare Caribbean mermaid.
The word for mermaid in Spanish is sirena. I love that.
Kicking up sand.
The catamaran from water level.
This photo was marked as someone's favorite on Flickr less than a minute after being uploaded.
As you can see, much of the coral was only covered by a foot or two of water. It was really hard swimming over these sections, trying not to touch the coral.
[Darth Vader breathing sound]
The crew of the boat probably love this dead time with the tourists abandoned on the island.
This was Marga's first time snorkeling. When it was time to go, she really didn't want to leave the water.
It turns out to be really difficult to swim, while holding a camera in one hand that you can't see the viewfinder on, and breathe through a tube underwater.
A look under and above water. It should give you a sense of how isolated we were there.
From up on the island.
The driver was a nice guy. I asked him if he's tired of Bob Marley music, which was pumping through the stereo the whole trip. He said, "Absolutely sick of it!"
There was no food served on board the cruise ship, only a barbecue on the beach. The food was pretty mediocre, even a little worse than the mediocre food on board. But it went down well. We ate in a group of eight, or so, friends we made the day before. After lunch, our friends wanted to head for another beach theyâ€™d heard about. Some of them had met on an Internet forum about the cruise several weeks before, so they had some inside information about sites to visit from past cruisers that we didnâ€™t know about. We decided to stay behind and read books quietly in the shade. I read a few words and put the book on my chest and dozed off to the sound of the lapping waves and rustling palms.
A flower near my beach chair.
This is more or less the only brand of beer in the Caribbean islands we went to (except for the Dutch ones, of course). It reminded me of American beer in general: so watered down and lacking in taste that they decided to make a "light" version to reduce the taste even further.
I loved the design of this ketchup packet. How dare they tell me which corner to tear!
Marga takes a photo for some other tourists.
I tossed out some old hot beer and it made this nice line in the sand.
Chillin' under the palms.
We returned to the ship and took a short nap before going out for drinks and dinner. After dinner, another nap, and then up to see a silly â€œdrag queenâ€ competition, where 12 male passengers dressed up as women and strutted around on stage. It was pretty silly, but kinda fun. After a winning queen had been chosen, it was time to go to the 1:00 AM buffet. It said in the information that the buffet would be open from 0:45 to 1:00 â€œfor photosâ€. I thought, â€œThatâ€™s pretty stupid. Why would we want to take photos of a late night buffet offering?â€ When we got to the buffet, I had to go run back to the room to get my camera. It was amazing. All the food was professionally sculpted. There were ice sculptures, bust statues of butter, watermelons carved to look like bulls or flowers or pigs. I was very impressed. Letâ€™s just say the chefs could win a Halloween pumpkin carving contest any day of the year.
A bull guarding an array of deli meats.
Not bad, eh?
Did that watermelon just oink at me?
Hey there, butter lips!
Creepy bearded fellow.
Pretty accurate to the human form...within some margarine of error. Ba-dum-tsss!
Fruit platter with a toucan on top.
Duck? Penguin? Dodo?
It must be pure torture to stand by and watch a herd of tourists come and pick apart your creations and consume them. Temporary artists amaze me.
Next up: At Sea