Wow! I didn't realize how long it had been since my last blog entry! I spent the better part of April shopping and planning for my Girls Getaway. My friends and I had been planning this trip since November and were counting down the days like little kids!
I left Saturday (April 26th) for Miami where I spent time with 3 great friends. Lisa (a Miami native) and Carmen (an Alabama native and NC resident) are my college buddies and Deidra is my dear friend from my Texas days. It had been almost a year since we had seen each other and South Beach was the perfect spot to re-connect (and have fun people watching!)
On Sunday we had to say goodbye to Lisa, She's a teacher and couldn't get the time off. We definitely missed her! Deidra, Carmen and I met up with my friend Jennifer (BFF from high school) at the port of Miami where we boarded the Carnival Valor ship and headed to the western Caribbean. Our theme for the week was "It's All About Us" and we meant it!
The ship had everything we needed. There were photographers out every night capturing our many moods -- especially on formal nights!
We started our trip spending Monday at sea which meant enjoying a breakfast I didn't have to prepare and cocktails at lunch time, dinner time, and any time I wanted! Definitely a good start to the week!
Tuesday we stopped in Grand Cayman and joined Moby Dick tours on a trip to Stingray City. You can't imagine how many rays are along this sandbar. They surround you in waist deep water. They are very gentle and rub against you like kittens. They brush against your legs, butt, and even stomach, always looking for your attention and . . . a little food. It was nuts! This photo of my friend Deidra shows just how close these rays want to know you!
Wednesday was our trip to Isla Roatan, Honduras. The country is very poor but parts of it are quite beautiful. We took a trip to Gumbalimba Park where we got to interact with monkeys and parrots. Afterward we boarded the Jolly Roger Catamaran and went snorkeling at the world's 2nd largest barrier reef. Quite breathtaking. Unfortunately the skies were overcast and the photos taken underwater came out too dark.
Belize was our 3rd port of call and definitely a country worth seeing. We booked a 5 hour private tour through Shore Trips and I strongly recommend private tours if they're in your budget. Our guide, Doug, knew everything about his country and was a wonderful guide. Because Belize is an English speaking country (formerly known as British Honduras) we never had a language barrier. He took us to the Belize Zoo which was one of the nicest zoos I have ever visited. We saw and HEARD howler monkeys and jaguars, and more unusual creatures including the Great Currasow (Punk Rock Chicken) and the very rare Jabiru Stork. We even got close with the resident Boa Constrictor!
Afterward we headed to the Mayan Ruins of Altun Ha which were fascinating. We saw the carvings for the rain and sun gods and then climbed to the top of the pyramid to see where the sacrifices took place. It's hard to believe that this site is in the middle of a tropical rain forest which is less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of Belize City.
Finally Mexico called to us but we were too tired to truly embrace her. Our 4th port (in 4 days) was Cozumel. Our original plan was to spend the day at Tulum (more ruins) but we were too exhausted to embark on a 7 hour excursion and opted instead to spend the day doing what girls do best -- shopping! We literally shopped until we dropped and ended up unwinding at Senor Frogs (a hopping bar -- no pun intended!)
Our final day at sea was spent once again enjoying the warm Caribbean sun. We sipped our final afternoon cocktails knowing that the reality of our lives awaited us the next day.
I love to travel. I love going places with my family and I love going away alone with my DH Mark. Still, traveling with the "girls" is a completely different experience and one I treasure. I didn't have to think about what the boys wanted to do or what my husband wished to see. None of us had to think about anyone except ourselves. It really was a trip that was "all about us." We laughed and giggled and shopped and drank and laughed some more. Being with friends makes you feel young and energetic -- something I think we all wish we could feel every day.
I can't wait until my next getaway!
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