Wow – what a great day~!! Started off with a wonderfully delicious small breakfast my Queen made for me, then headed out to the local dive shop for my first official dive as a PADI certified Open Water SCUBA diver~! First dive was [supposed] to be to 60’….. but I got a bit distracted and managed to get down to damn near 70’… my Dive Master automatically summoned me back up to where I belonged. Even with some large intermittent clouds, water clarity was amazing. Reef is not as alive (colorful) as some I have seen, but a site to behold none-the-less. Tons of pictures for you. Will not share them all at once, (way too many) but will sprinkle them in on ‘slow’ picture days.
Second dive was to 14meters (48.93′) which is well within my safe limits. Experienced my first (and hopefully last) mask squeeze. Wow – was that freaky~! I could not get my mask away from my face and it felt like it was sucking my eyeballs out – very, very painful and even more scary. I don’t want to say I panicked (that wouldn’t be cool) – but I damn sure got right up against it. I don’t know if I was taught how to fix it or not, but if I did – I forgot it bigger than hell….. I slapped the Dive Master on the leg, gave the trouble sign, pointed to my goggles and headed for the surface. Thankfully, he grabbed me and controlled my ascent. Got to the surface and rectified the situation. Wooo-Weee… got one semi-ugly eyeball to show for it now….. (Dive master coached me [again?] on how to fix it once we got back to the dive shop). Lesson learned~~!
Second dive of the day…..More pictures on this trip, got to see a beautiful spotted Eagle Ray, with probably a 5′ wing span…gorgeous~! Saw 1 big green Moray Eel, but was tucked too far inside of a hole for any kind of picture. Maybe the next time…. Finished the dives up with a couple of cold Heinekens back at the dive shop with my Queen. What a great way to end a couple of dives~~~ Decided we were both hungry and neither of us wanted to cook, so we set out in search of a “Chicken place” we heard about. (had our fill of goat burgers) Ventured into new territory looking for it. Finally found it just after dark….. Business is ran by a couple interesting women from Holland….. I believe they were of the Lesbian persuasion, but we found them to be a very fun and entertaining couple. Plus, they made some damn tasty chicken. My Queen had a couple of leg/thigh combo’s while I tried one of the shaved [chicken] meat wraps. My only regret is that I didn’t order 2 of them. They laid a nice bed of chopped lettuce, diced tomato’s and a little bit of onion on the wrap and slathered in a healthy dose of shaved chicken meat. Served [as a wrap] with a bottle of their own mix of mayonnaise, garlic and a couple of other things I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, but it nicely complimented the wrap. I tried a couple of my bride’s French fries and a small piece of her chicken she didn’t want – both were done very well, even though the chicken was a little bit drier than I like it. I’m not going to say what they call their restroom facilities (and that’s using the term politely) – but there is a picture of them below~~ 😉
I opted to try a ‘new way’ back to the house….. I really should know better than to do that, especially at night. What should have been a 20 minute drive to the house turned into about a 55 minute drive – but we made it home safe and sound (and inadvertently ‘saw’ most of the North end of the island). Another lesson learned…. in the dark and tired… take the way you know, back to the house… Still a very, very fun day — looking forward to a good nights sleep and seeing what tomorrow brings……. Auf Wiedersehen~!
Plans to hit another beach today quickly fell to the wayside as we endured small sprinkles and higher than usual winds for most of the morning. My bride decided she wanted to go do the touristy thing instead. So we pulled up the map, found where we wanted to go and loaded up into the bus. Amazingly drove straight to it – in amongst the downtown area of Willemstad and Punta.
Found the ‘famous’ floating bridge (also known as the Queen Emma bridge), nice piece of engineering right there. Big pedestrian bridge that actually floats. It connects the 2 sections of the city. It also acts as a makeshift drawbridge. It actually disengages from one side of the bank and swings all the way open to allow boat traffic through. I was duly impressed with the way the whole thing worked. We stopped and had a cold beer and watched the throngs of people drifting by, pondering purchases of all the available local wares. Beautiful stuff, if you’re into that kind of thing. We walked some more, crossing the Queen Emma and then sat down in the shade with a Margarita and watched the bridge do it’s thing for a while and then headed out for more strolling around the downtown shopping area. Several big cruise ships in port. I gotta tell ya, I have seen hundreds of those ships, but it still fascinates me that can manage something that big.
We’re not really the touristy type folks and that kind of stuff is really not our gig, so after about an hour, we decided we had done our part to support the economy (also found a liquor store that had ‘our’ brand) 😉 and headed back to the bus. The downtown area is much better taken care of than the rest of the island and I think mot folks who journey there will enjoy it. Lots of folks of every size, shape and description… diversity at it’s best.
I did make an effort to replicate a picture # 2 Daughter took while she was there on her honeymoon — she sent it to us, trying to explain the floating bridge (which is why it is circled in yellow on her picture) Had a good time with that and was kinda neat we could connect the two together……
I’ve got a 2 tank dive planned for tomorrow — going to try out my newly acquired SCUBA skills…. looking forward to sharing that with you tomorrow~
Even these idiots put up Christmas stuff too early~~
Slept in today – I mean, REALLY slept in…. we didn’t get up until almost 09:00 (that’s 9 O’clock in the morning for all you civilians out there). I guess it was it a fine mixed combination of lots of wonderfully hot sun, lots of wonderfully warm Caribbean Sea tossing us around for an hour or so and lots of wonderfully cold alcohol – wooo-whee did we crash, although I think maybe my goat burger (see previous post) may have been laced with PCP — or acid, or something. Good Lord, I started off with the most whacked out dreams…. I am talking a mega-Chantix kinda dreams. Pretty sure they would have made Steven King say W T F~? Anyhow – got up about 02:30 and got that crap shook off, sat out in a cool night breeze and had a cigarette and then came back into the bedroom (which has wonderfully conditioned air) and slept the sleep of Kings~!! (til almost 09:00~!) By the time we had a hearty breakfast, neither one of us was in the mood to do much of anything. We both agreed we’d skip the beach today (we both got a little bit more sun than we originally planned yesterday) and go in search of a store my Queen wanted to check out. Don’t remember then name of it, but supposed to be like a mini-Walmart. Actually wound up checking out 2 new stores…. the one my Queen wanted, and one I was told would have the booze we were looking for………….. No~. “My” store was like a miniature SAM’s — lot’s of stuff, but none of ‘our’ brand of hooch – we opted for a bottle of something that sounded similar to our stuff and went with the reasoning – that after 3 or 4 drinks – we probably wouldn’t notice any way (we were right) 😉 Came back to the house – I grilled my Queen up a steak and I had a couple of the local hotdogs that I got at the store. Queen was happy with the steak – I was equally happy with the ‘dogs’…… (I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to getting fed) So – not much of a day to chat about, so I thought I’d share some Island Insightwith you~~~~
If you’re going on a standard vacation (4-7 days) most of this won’t probably apply, but you might find useful anyway……. Island Time has it’s own unique flavor….. biggest thing – don’t EVER plan on getting in a hurry…..like when you sit down at a table at a local Bistro…… if your server gets to you within 10 minutes – be appreciative….. if you’re lucky, they’ll ask if you’d like something to drink AND actually take that order at the same time…. if it gets to you within another 10 minutes…. be appreciative. At some point, your server will meander back around and ask if you want to something to eat…be appreciative…. if you plan to order something and don’t know what you want – order something anyway – whatever you do – do NOT tell them you want to think about it. I don’t know if their shift is automatically over at that point or what…. but it is possible you’ll never see them again. IF you do….be appreciative (and order something) [[side bar – immediately order another round of drinks at the same time]] You will normally get your food within 20-55 minutes from the time you ordered it…… I’m not sure if they have to bake their bread, catch the fish or grow the cow (or goat) for your burger – but they definitely take their sweet time getting it out to you – and because it took than long – don’t even THINK about that stuff being hot — Oh hell no…… but no worries Brother….. you are on Island Time……. If you even slightly suspect you may want some kind of dessert – order it when they bring you the main course….because you MIGHT get it by the time you have inhaled your meal [cause you’re starving at this point]……but by all means…be appreciative….. If you really want to get a step up on them – tell them you want your check at the same time you order dessert – or plan on another 10-20 minute or so wait. They will get it out to you. They tend to step it up a little bit once they have your credit card in their possession…. sometimes…. but just relax, enjoy the atmosphere and that the fact you’re on Island Time….. oh, and be appreciative……..
Fun filled ‘action packed’ day today… started off on my ‘getting back in shape’ walk – journeyed almost to the coast coming across mostly lizards and one grand old looking cactus. Came back and loaded up the bus (which is what I’m gonna call that big diesel Mitsubishi SUV) and headed out for another new beach. Found it with little trouble – (Kokomo Beach). Nice little place with a good lookin’ bar — Nice beach with some lounge chairs that they happily charge you $ 7.50 ANG (about $4.26 USD) each to use – and naturally, you aren’t allowed to bring your own. This particular day, the bar had a waiter, who seemed quite aggravated with the fact he had to do his job – but we made him do it anyway. It was kind of fun watching him sash-say around all in a tizzy, but we aimed to have a bite to eat before we lit out into our new snorkeling adventure. (we missed breakfast because the stove was kaput – turns out I inadvertently switched it off–my bad) Anyhow, went out for about an hour or so snorkeling. Not over impressed with the place – although I did manage to come across a Lion Fish~! Another must-see checked off of the list~! Those things are beautiful – hope to see a much larger one~!! A lot of ocean surge kept the water churned up a little bit and a lot of heavy duty clouds also contributed to less than excellent conditions – but still beautiful water.
Came back to the house for a quick dip in the pool and a couple of drinks. My Queen informed me I needed to go fetch more booze, mix and a bag of ice. I googled the closest place to us, jumped in the bus and was off like a herd of turtles~! Pulled into this establishment, that looked MUCH different on the web site…… to start with, web site didn’t say anything about 15 cats and a dirt floor. I have gotten used to the cats in the stores….. but this place was out of control. The proprietors were two elderly people who spoke nothing but what I am presuming was Vietnamese. They were talking with a young lady (whom I believe was Swedish) trying to find (what I eventually figured out) later was sparkling water… She didn’t speak their language, they didn’t speak hers and then I step in…. I did manage however, to find her some sparkling water though…… she made it out and now its my turn….. OMG….. First off – trying to explain what whiskey was, was the first challenge…. after multiple attempts, I was going to cut my losses and try to find somewhere else to fill my alcoholic needs…. but NOOooo – they were not about to let me leave without a purchase. Finally grabbed a bottle of something I recognized, 2 cans of coke and my bag of ice. The lady had no idea what the bottle of booze cost, so she got on the phone to get that piece of intel while the older gentleman continued to try and sell me stuff. I think I almost bought a cat…….. Once she got the price, then she saw I was paying in USD, so out come the calculator for conversions……. oh my lord what a clusterf**k……. I swear, if there would have been a video of that – it would have already went viral. Words just does not do justice to that event…….
Came back to the house and decided I was not up for cooking after the whole liquor store debacle…. so headed out to a place we spotted yesterday that my Bride said she would like to check out. Place was in a small town, dubiously dubbed Williwood– The original name of the town was Willibrordous, but I guess the locals thought Williwood had more flair (They even modeled up a Williwood sign – much like Hollywood). Settled down at the table and in typical Island Time…. waiter sashayed up (yes another one) but at least he was in a good mood and friendly…. handed out menu’s and got us our drinks. You could have pretty much anything on the menu you wanted – as long as it was a goat burger. Now I gotta tell ya, I have tried a lot of things in the past 60 years – but I can say with quite a bit of confidence – goat has never been one of them. We each had — wait for it — a goat burger. My Queen got the classic, while I opted for the one described as “Go for it” (ALL the fixin’s, including goat cheese)….. wow….. unique kind of sammich right there…….. I’m not saying it was terrible, but there is an above average chance, I won’t be having another one any way soon. Don’t know if was the way it was prepared or what…… but, No thank you~~ Finished up with a very dry piece of Red Velvet cake washed down by a local beer……. that’s a meal we’ll remember for a while. Took the check inside of a small attached convenience store as instructed. Picked up a couple of other small items and paid the bill. At least this place had a tile floor……. 😉
Started my day off with a morning walk, didn’t get in a full hour, but this walk included some small mountain climbing through some damn unfriendly environment… but a fun walk none-the-less…… scared up a blue dozen small lizards, handful of birds and a jackrabbit… also found out we are only 5 minutes or so from the coast 🙂
Ventured out again to find the post office, which we did successfully -yay! – and then came back, switched into swimming gear and loaded up and took off for a beach I found on Google Earth. Amazingly, drove straight to it – albeit- down some roads that looked like you’d hear Dueling Banjo’s playing at any minute. Wound up on a beautiful privately owned (meaning you had to pay (($3.00USD)) to get in) beach, but worth EVERY penny….. some of the most beautiful snorkeling I have ever done…… they have a wonderful little bar there, a dive shop, showers, just about all you could ask for – and it’s only 10 minutes from where we live 🙂 I spoke with the folks at the dive shop and after looking me up on line, they said they would honor my brand new “certified” PADI diver status~!! So I am looking to book a couple of dives with them – seems like a real friendly shop~! After seeing what the snorkeling was like there – I can’t wait to actually DIVE it — WOOO-HOOooo~!!
I got to check off a couple of my ‘must sees’ during these snorkels…. including a cute little spotted moray eel, a big gorgeous spotted Eagle Ray AND a turtle — not sure of the type – a Hawk Bill I think, but not 100% sure, but it was beautiful~!!! Still waiting for my first Octopus……… maybe on my next dive (cause now I can bring my camera~!)
Sharing some pictures, will save some for slow days because I saved 50+ pictures on this adventure ((took well over a 100, but sorted out the ‘junk’ shots))
I hope you enjoy looking at them a fraction as much as I did taking them~!
Started our day off with a nice breakfast and slowly eased into discover mode. Jumped in the SUV (Mitsubishi I think) in search of the closest Post Office. Yes, I know it was Sunday and it was closed, but the plan was to find it so we had an idea where it was at and then find the closest beach. AAHhhh – the best laid plans…….. Not sure how we got so far off track, but got a real good look at the North side of the island where the big oil storage area place is. Got an even better look at the non-touristy side of the island as well. Went over a massive ass bridge that had to be at least 300′ in the air. Great view from up there~!
Nerves had all we could stand, so found a place to stop for a couple of really good ice cold beers and a couple of cigarettes (and some directions) and off we went….. amazingly, drove back to the house like we had lived here most of our life — yay~! Came home – started mixing drinks, soon was listening to golden oldies on You Tube. Wound up in the pool to cool off and continued the drinks and music. Long overdue for something solid in us – I wheeled the grill out and whipped up a couple of cheese burgers. Not sure if it was just long over due to eat, being half hammered and tired or what – but for not having my grill – those were some pretty damn tasty burgers. Ended the evening up by trying something I haven’t tried in 40 years – a backflip. Didn’t work worth a squirt – but it was fun trying. In all fairness, last time I did it [successfully] I was 20 years old and about 6′ above the water…… so I don’t feel too bad…..
So, no Post office, no beach, but a well learned lesson in island navigation…. we will try again tomorrow for Post Office and some beach time…… we’ll see how it goes then. ( and yes – I’m naked in the pool picture)~~~ 😉
Wow – been quite a couple of days. Started yesterday – we were in 3 different countries in the same day. Left Grand Cayman, landed back in the good ole U.S. of A for a bit – then took off and landed in Curacao. Got us a nice little 3 bedroom place, private pool (some of you may have seen a picture of it on FB – and yes there was drinking involved) — Doesn’t have A/C throughout the house (just in the bed rooms) but there is always a nice trade wind blowing through keeping it tolerable. Free Wi-Fi and a nice big SUV also comes with the place and a grill so I can once again grill for my Queen – We pay utilities and gas for the car – but still a bargain -AND- we are on a tropical island 🙂
Got in late Friday and just drank and chilled on the patio to a cool night breeze and almost a full moon – got up today and just kinda hung out and checked out our new place. Did make a trip to the store for some groceries~ and chilled some more under a gorgeous full moon tonight.
Going to venture out tomorrow and check out our first beach. Haven’t seen much of the island other than what we saw coming in on the plane – but we definitely have some small mountains (or really big hills) as opposed to Grand Cayman which was flat as a pan cake. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some type of cactus plant around here. Can’t wait to get out and scope some of them out. There is the occasional mule running loose and much like Grand Cayman – chickens and roosters running amuck everywhere.
So tomorrow, the real adventure for the island starts as we start checking it out~! I promise there will be ample pictures…………
Today was a laid back, not do much kind of easy day as we start to prepare to move to a new island. We fly out bright and early Friday morning, returning to the good ole U.S.A. for a couple of hours before taking off for Curacao. Don’t guess I rightly understand why we have to do it that way – but that was the only flight path I could find to get us there. We will land in Curacao a little bit before 4:00 in the afternoon. We have a 3 bedroom house with a private pool waiting for us. It sadly, is not on the beach, but the beach is supposed to only be a 5-10 minute drive away. House also comes with a nice big SUV and a grill as well – so we won’t have to rent a vehicle for a month or so -and- I’ll finally be able to start cooking my bride her steaks~! Local web sites indicate there are supposed to be 23 top grade snorkeling sites on the island and we are looking forward to hitting everyone of them. SCUBA diving is supposed to be equally huge on the island as well and I’m looking forward to trying out my new skills there~!
As soon as we get landed, in our new place and connected, I’ll try and get a post up – but til then – not sure when will be the next time I’ll get anything posted. We’ve had a great time here on Grand Cayman, but entirely too expensive and we are both ready to move on.
So Adios from Grand Cayman and Bon bini to Curacao~!
I haven’t been entirely truthful with you all the past 5 days or so…. I wasn’t lying… just wasn’t telling the entire truth – that being said, I have spent the last week getting my PADI certification. Something I have been thinking about for awhile now, but never pulled the trigger. Kinda weird…. I’ve always been so used to just charging into damn near anything full steam ahead and worrying about the consequences and outcome after I’m in it. Is it getting ‘older’…. who the hell knows, but I was actually hesitant about charging into this one… especially after I read some of the requirements. 15 – 20 hours of on line training. Had to be able to swim 14 laps in the local pool (about 50′ long), without touching sides or bottom – followed up by 10 minutes of treading water (in 5’ of water no less, which made it even tougher, because you weren’t allowed to touch the bottom) so you had to keep your legs pulled up the entire time. Factor in sitting at the bottom of that pool and taking your mask completely off then putting it back on and clearing it, intentionally ‘losing’ your regulator (breathing device) and recovering it and a just a whole myriad of other crap that just didn’t seem ‘normal’…….. which in of its self seem really FUBAR’ed – but then have to do all of it again, [repeatedly] in 60′ of salt water seemed almost unreal.
Luckily I had a very supportive wife who encouraged me the whole time – plus a dogged determination to do “whatever the hell I want” – kept pushing me….. nerves took a little bit of a beating and as I write this, and I can’t hardly keep my eyes open right now, from being just dog assed tired…… (yes there is some celebratory drinking involved)but I can now honestly and proudly proclaim – I am now a PADI certified Open Water Diver~!!!!!!!!!!!
I would have loved to taken some pictures during my 4 open water dives, as there were Sting rays, Barracuda, Lion Fish and so, so many more fish to photograph- but safety first – and my instructor absolutely held me to the no camera rule…. The young man that went through the course with me, had some (SCUBA) friends on our last dive, that snapped some pictures – so I will share them as soon as I get them. Kudo’s to the young guy as he battled an UGLY case of sea sickness on the 3rd dive – but he powered through it and made the last dive like a champion — way to go Gary — you done good and I enjoyed having you as a dive buddy in the course~!!!
So not a lot of pictures for today – but will share what I can, when I can….. and my pictures should be a lot more interesting going forward as I can now freely dive to 60′ when ever, where ever, I want~~ 🙂
Spent the morning chillin’…… spent the bulk of the afternoon on a gorgeous reef with some of the most awesome fish and Stingrays~!! Would have taken some pictures but the instructor would not allow me to bring my camera……. ooops…. 😉
Working with some filters on my laptop to enhance pictures….. whadda ya think ?