Ft Lauderdale was a busy port on April 9th with eight cruise ships and a flotilla of every size of recreational water crafts. This is how we would have appeared leaving the harbour as I captured Holland America's sister ship ahead of us and tag teaming throughout our whole cruise.
April 10th we celebrated our 46th anniversary on Holland America's private island, Half Moon Cay.
The most beautiful beach I have ever been on with its fine, white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. The ships are anchored way out and we had small boats to tender us back and forth.
CARTAGENA COLUMBIACartagena, a port city on the Caribbean sea is a city of antiquity and modernity situated just 10 degrees north of the equator so it was HOT.
The Church of San Pedro Claver built in the 1600's. Saint Peter Claver was a Jesuit priest who worked in Cartagena defending, protecting and nursing newly arrived African slaves.
The peaceful cloister court yard and the simple beauty of the interior of the church. The stain glass window depict Christ with the black slaves.
Cartagena, a maze of narrow, cobbled streets and colonial Spanish architecture. My gaze always focusing on windows and doors.
Colour and beauty abounding.
One of several metal sculptures in the town square. Dominoes is a favourite game.
THE PANAMA CANAL
And now for the main event which Wally had on his bucket list and I finally agreed to go along :)
The truth be told - it was a fascinating 12 hour trip which started at 5:30 AM with breakfast on our veranda where we could pop up to see the snails pace progress.
The bows were opened on several decks so we could gather with the other 2100 passengers on and off throughout the day with narration broadcasted inside and out. On the deck we were served orange juice, coffee and Panama buns which were as good as Paska for me and appropriate as it was good Friday.
The Panama Canal has been in service over 100 years and in 1994 it was chosen as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
The ship was tethered to 8 locomotives, also called mules which kept the ship centered in its tight squeeze through each lock chamber. The hill shows the perspective of water levels to be raised.
Looking back at our sister ship as it follows us through the locks.
Gatun Lake in the middle of the canal is fed by the Chagres River and is used to fill the locks by gravity feed.
A canopy of Guayacan trees, also known as Golden Goddess were covered with yellow blossoms.
We could hear birds singing in the jungle but only spied a long necked egret like bird and these peculiar semi-aquatic rodents called Capybara, standing about 2 feet tall, just strolling along the wetlands near the canal.
The Culebra Cut is the narrowest section of the canal, excavated through rock and limestone of the Continental Divide. The amount of material extracted would equal 63 pyramids in Egypt. The Continental bridge in the distance is the second crossing built in 2004
In 2016 a new channel was completed to the right of the existing 2 to allow for larger shipping container vessels and mega cruise ships.
The Bridge of the Americas was the first bridge to span the two continents in 1962, the gateway to the Pacific Ocean
Panama City in the distance was not on our itinerary.
Selfie on the bow of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam
Windswept and happy.
ON THE PACIFIC COAST
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Puerto Chiapas Mexico, Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta,
San Diego Cal, Victoria BC, Vancouver BC
|Sunrise in Costa Rica|
|Nicaraguan fishermen just waiting for the right time of day.|
|The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta|
|Sunset in Puerto Vallarta|
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
dates back to 1543
( What a contrast to Canada celebrating 150 years)
Antigua has spanish baroque influenced architecture and the ruins of colonial churches.
Dropped off by our tour bus we found ourselves lost and found a few times as we trundled along cobble streets.
Windows ancient and more modern.
Street vendors on every corner selling their colourful wares.
In Nicaragua we were toured through the port city by pedicab on a blistering hot day. Our cyclist took us into the poorest neighbourhood where he proudly knocked on his mother's door to come out and meet us. She was very shy, but I encouraged her to come close for a photo and then slipped her a tip.
In Antigua, we were starting to head back to our bus location when we met this lovely little lady named Ruth in the town square. She was not pushy with her wares but chattered about herself in very fluent English about her faith and family from a neighbouring town. How could I not buy a little souvenir to remember her.
In Puerto Chiapas Mexico ( the poorest state of Mexico) we were privileged to visit an elementary school in a very tidy town called Miguel Alemande. The children were on Easter vacation but came out on this occasion as tourists had arrived. They shared a question/answer time with us in a classroom and then performed lovely dances. Our Holland America ship had provided us with school kits to distribute and that was a joy to participate in.
In Miguel Alemande we also toured a banana plantation and processing plant. I will never eat a banana again without remembering how labour intensive the process is. Every single banana was given a sticker by hand before it went into a Chiquita box.
A lovely surprise in this little town was the generosity of a small Catholic parish who treated us to delicious Tamales steamed in banana leaves. Children always win my heart as did these two sweeties who were watching us enjoy our lunch.
|A lovely excursion to Celetes beach in Puerto Vallarta to take in the Rhythms of the Night show and a delicious buffet dinner served on the beach. NO photos of the event so you can go and see for yourself|
Bottlebrush Tree, Palm and Naked Coral Tree. We enjoyed a 2 hour narrated trolley ride.
|A massive art piece on our cruise ship honors it's name for the city which now is New York|
A gorgeous day in Victoria BC
in it's Spring glory
Sunrise in Vancouver BC as we approach the Lions Gate Bridge.
After 10,866 Km at sea we were happy to be an hour's flight from Home Sweet Home