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Archive for the ‘Summer 2009’ Category

Recently got photos developed from my disposable waterproof camera, so here are a couple to share.  One is from a snorkeling tour where I saw a lot of green sea turtles.  The others are from a helmet diving tour.  Both great fun!

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I had always wanted to ride a Segway, and a couple days ago I got to do just that around the West End of Bermuda.  It was great fun.  Hoping to do a couple more tours this week as it’s my last cruise sailing in the Caribbean.

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Having visited Grand Turk several times now, I can confidently say that there’s not a whole heck of a lot happening on this island. The area immediately surrounding the cruise ship is beautiful, and if you want to lounge the afternoon away at a picturesque white-sand beach, this is the place to do it. But once you walk about 5 minutes away from the cruise ship, there’s nothing.  Here’s a view from the far side of the island looking back toward my ship (visible in the top left corner).

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One afternoon a friend and I explored the island beyond the cruise terminal. During our 2-hour walk we found such exciting sites as the Engineering and Maintenance Services Building, the Governor’s administrative office and house, the Grand Turk Airport, several abandoned structures missing notable components like roofs and walls (thanks to the hurricane they had last year), and a random cow crossing the street.

Me at the entrance to the oh-so-exciting governor's house.

Me at the entrance to the oh-so-exciting governor's house.

On a more recent stop in Grand Turk I went on a new tour that the cruise ship just started offering – a visit to Conch World. During the 20-minute drive across the island, the bus driver pointed out the following Grand Turk highlights:

  • a gas station
  • a grocery store
  • the Red Cross (where they sometimes play bingo in the evenings!)
  • a church
  • an open field, where the above-mentioned cows go to spend the night.

Of all the tours I’ve gone on, Conch World was by far the tamest. It was interesting to learn about the life cycle of conchs though. The coolest thing was seeing some live conchs (and not just the shell, which we’ve all seen, but the actual animal that lives inside it). It’s like a gigantic snail. It was fascinating but also a bit disgusting, as you can see for yourself:

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Spent Independence Day going snorkeling at Turtle Cove in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Saw several cool fish and 6 or 7 green sea turtles – hoping my underwater disposable camera won’t let me down.

Back on the ship, the lobby is decorated for the holiday, including this piece.  I saw it and my immediate thought was “that’s the most disturbing 4th of July decoration I’ve ever seen – there’s no way an American did this.”  Am I the only one who finds it odd?  As one of only 10 U.S. crewmembers on the ship, I’m considering mentioning this to the (international) cruise staff so they’re aware that the American passengers might find this decoration atypical.  But maybe it’s just me…

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After my most recent visit to St. Thomas, my impression of the island has improved.  When I had only seen downtown Charlotte Amalie (the main city), I was pretty turned off by St. Thomas – it’s marketed as a shopper’s paradise and is loaded with international high-end jewelry shops and souvenir junk stores so the hoards of cruisers that flock its shores each week can buy crap at tax-free and duty-free prices.  Not my kind of place.  But after going on a diving tour in a different part of St. Thomas I got to see a little more of the island and found that there is more to it than just the downtown shopping hell.  There are actually gorgeous views to be had from some of the shorelines and look-out points, one of which we visited during my taxi ride to the diving site.  You can see our cruise ship in the upper right corner:

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The helmet diving was at Coral World, which is basically a small aquarium.  I got to dive for about 30 minutes and it was a lot of fun!  I used a disposable waterproof camera to take photos underwater, but as that is not yet developed here are some digital photos I took from the observation station on land:

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I then had time to walk around the rest of Coral World.  It was cute, but I had a more interesting time chatting with one of the local tour guides there.  He answered a lot of my questions about life on the island and hurricanes.  He was also much easier to understand than my Jamaican-born acquaintance from a couple weeks ago.  When I asked this local why he didn’t SOUND like he was a St. Thomas native, he said it depended who he was talking to – I guess he used his “American” accent with me as I never would have guessed he was from the island had he not told me so.

When I returned to the ship a steel-drum ensemble was playing at the terminal – how very Caribbean-esque!

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I went on a horseback riding tour a few days ago near the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico.  I had only gone horseback riding once before, and that was way back in middle school, so I was excited to try it again.  Here is an awkward picture of me on my pasofino horse:

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Here’s a better picture of the horse, named Bambi:  bambi

I was sore for 4 or 5 days afterward but glad I tried it.

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We happened to be in port in Bermuda during their annual Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge this week, so I got to see dozens of sailing ships from around the world lined up in Hamilton.  I think the festival culminates in a race but I’m a little hazy on the details.  The ships were open to the public so it was interesting to walk around on them and have an up-close look.  I toured the U.S.S. Bounty (yes, the ship used in the old movie) and also a Russian sailing ship.  There were also ships from Greece, Uruguay, the U.S. Coast Guard, Brazil, and many more.  Fun sights!
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While strolling through Hamilton looking for a lunch spot I also happened upon a Gombey performance in a park.  I have no idea what Gombey is but it was really fun to watch: colorful, loud, and energetic.  See for yourself here and here.

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