As much as I have complained about the cruise, it was not all bad.
Friday, we were in port at Freeport. We decided not to go on any excursions that day, in order to save money. Besides, we were only there for about 7 hours, and none of the excursions sounded like they were can't-miss. Freeport is, according to all the travel websites and books I consulted, not anything worth seeing.
CN and I did look at the little tshirt shops that were literally right off the gangplank. I finally got to listen to someone speak in the local Bahamian accent. It sounds very similar to a Jamaican accent, but not as thick. After about an hour, we had seen everything there was to see, so we got back on the boat.
That night, we had our formal dinner. We went to the cocktail party beforehand, where we had yummy appetizers and drinks--all free. CN and I did a little slow dancing, which was nice (aw). For dinner, most of our group opted for the surf n turf combo: filet mignon and lobster tail. Aside from the lobster tail being rubbery and overcooked, it was good food.
Everyone changed into more comfortable clothes immediately after eating dinner, which doesn't really justify getting all dressed up to begin with. (Note to self: VB, you enjoy vacations which do not require formal wear.) Everything was going pretty well, and CN and I even managed to stay up with the rest of the group for about an hour. But by then, we were pooped, so we went to bed.
At some point that night, we were jarred awake by extremely loud banging on our door. At first, I imagined we were in the midst of some kind of Titanic-like sinking, or there was a big fire on board. CN, who was closer to the door, jumped up to see who was banging at the door.
No one was there. No one was even in the hallway.
Waking up in a panicked state is probably my least favorite thing in the whole world. So I was pretty pissed. "Stupid kids..." I mumbled, as I rolled back over to go back to sleep.
That's when the phone rang.
CN answered it.
"Hello?" asked CN.
*BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRP!!!* said Larva.
*click!* went the phone. Larva hung up on CN.
"It's Larva," explained CN. "I know him. He's not going to stop."
That's when the banging started again. As soon as CN would get up to tell Larva to stop, Larva would run down the hall, giggling, and finally ducking into his room in the nic of time. CN would come back to bed, and as soon as we had gotten comfortable and closed our eyes, the phone would ring again. Ignoring the phone did not work. It just kept ringing. Taking it off the hook caused it to make a very loud beeping sound. So we were forced to deal with the incessant ringing.
This went on for at least a half an hour. Banging. Ringing. Burping. Giggling. Repeat.
After round 3 of this, I had had enough. I stood up and informed CN that although Larva is his friend, I officially hate him and never wish to ever hang out with him again. And that this bullshit had to stop. Now.
CN was way ahead of me. He was even more pissed off than I was. "That's it. I'm punching him in the face. I'm going down to his room and when he opens the door, I'm clocking him," he announced.
CN went down to Larva's room. I can't remember how long he was there, since I was groggy at best. But I remember that CN came back frustrated that Larva wouldn't even answer the door. Neither would his wife, Sandra. (We found out later this was because she had PTFO.)
We tried to go back to sleep, but ended up tossing and turning for about an hour, since we were so wound up. We didn't sleep very well that night.
In the morning, we tried to get in better moods, despite Larva's lack of an apology. *grrrr* We had breakfast and then got ready for our port-of-call in Nassau. We all decided to spend $65 (each) on a 4 hour excursion and go together as a group. At 9am, we got onto a ferry for a 30 minute ride off the coast. By this point, the water was breathtaking. It looked like this, but better. I don't really know how to describe it, other than to say that all those photos you see of the Caribbean do not do the real thing any justice. The weather was perfect, and there was a nice breeze. Ahhh. So far, so good.
The ferry took us to a small island, where there was a beach, a bar, a souvenir shop and a snack shack. We had our photos taken, and then put our stuff down on some lawn chairs. Then, we went to a little roped-off area where we grabbed snorkeling equipment.
It was time to go swimming with sting rays.
Oh yes. The same animal that killed the Crocodile Hunter. Only these were de-barbed for our safety. Whew. On a side note, these animals are really creepy, so the barbs are really superfluous, IMHO.
I put on my snorkeling equipment and began swimming around the sting ray area. The creepy sting rays move like underwater birds. They tend to herd together and swim in schools. If you have ever seen a horseshoe crab, the sting ray looks like a flattened version of it! [Note: These two animals are not really related. Sting rays are related to sharks and horseshoe crabs are related to spiders and ticks. Sorry for the geek moment, folks.]
I am giddy with excitement about this whole experience. Not only were there sting rays of various sizes and colors, there were also white, blue and yellow fish. I am pretty sure some of them were Angelfish. I have gone snorkeling before, and I absolutely adore it. It's like being in a giant aquarium. So I was really enjoying this.
Until I realized........that I had no idea where my boyfriend was or if he was ok.
The same boyfriend who cannot swim.
I pulled my head up to look for him. I expected him to be in ankle-deep water, just watching everyone else, or practically drowning somewhere. He wasn't. He was only a few feet behind me, snorkeling!!! I was totally shocked. It turns out that he can sorta-kinda swim and doesn't start freaking out until the water is as deep as his chin. "Plus, the flotation device is helping," he said. (The flotation device was part of our snorkeling equipment.)
I was so proud of him.
Even if he jumped and squealed like a little girl any time one of the sting rays came close to him.
After letting us swim around for a while, the sting ray guides (keepers? handlers?) told us to line up into two lines and face each other. It was time to feed the sting rays. Cool! The sting rays must have known what the two lines meant, because they began to swim very quickly and swarm around us, rather than ignore us as they had moments before.
The guides (keepers? handlers??) then went around and handed each of us a handful of chopped up, raw squid. Um, thanks. Then they told us how to feed the sting rays by holding the squid under the water, just above the sand. The sting rays would swim over your hand and hoover up the squid parts. "They use suction to capture their food," the guide explained. Ew. Kind of like an underwater vacuum cleaner.
Thanks to my overactive imagination, the only image that came to mind was my arm, trapped inside a very angry sting ray, which was doing its best to suck the flesh off my bones as I screamed bloody murder and writhed in agony in the shallow area of this wading pool full of horrified cruise vacationers.
So when a sting ray came near me, I held the squid part under the water for a second, only to let go too soon and watch as the snack, intended for the sting ray, was snatched up by a fish. Oops. Sorry, Mr. Sting Ray. Next time, don't be so creepy, ok?
Next, I was shocked to see that some people were actually touching the sting rays. Didn't they realize they were risking their lives?? That their appendages could be shredded in an instant, much like a garbage disposal would, subjected to the unpredictable will of these shark cousins with extremely powerful suckage mechanisms in their mouths??? Were they insane???!! These are the pool drains of the animal kingdom! Keep your fingers and hair away, people!!!
"Cool! How does it feel??" I asked the guy across from me.
"Slimy!" he replied, excitedly.
"Oh, wow. I wanna touch one!" I said, suddenly forgetting my imagination's vivid and gory warnings.
The guy was right. They are slimy. Firm, but slimy. But as cool as it was, I didn't feel the need to touch them again. Once was plenty.
I looked down the line to see what CN was doing. He looked nervous and tense, and still jumped and yelped any time one of the sting rays came near. I couldn't help but laugh.
I found out later that a great deal of the yelping and jumping had to do with the fact that Larva had put squid parts in CN's pocket, so the sting rays were swarming around CN like bees.
Tee hee. As obnoxious as Larva is, I had to give him credit on that one.
After the sting rays, we had lunch and then hung out in the beach area for a little while. CN and I were enjoying the water, when we noticed a wild, fully barbed sting ray in the water. This was not one of the captive, tame ones we had just fed. It was huge, and it was headed our way.
This time, my overactive imagination threw potential newspaper headlines at me: "Couple, 29, Killed by Wild Sting Ray: 'It was just horrible to watch' witnesses say" and "Wildlife Community Warns of Vacation Danger: Man Never Had a Chance, Experts Say". So I grabbed CN's hand and practically dragged him out of the water lickety split.
"Gee, thanks, Mom," he said sarcastically.
"Shut up! I just saved your life! You can't swim!" I said.
He doesn't know that I was actually more scared of it than he was!!
Then it was time to go, so we all got back on the ferry and were, well, ferried back to our cruise ship. CN and I spent the rest of the day shopping in Nassau.
It was so nice to get off the boat, even if everything was just tshirt/souvenir shops. There was the occasional luxury goods store (Gucci, Bulgari, Fendi, Breitling), but the prices were still outrageous, even duty-free.
Like so many foreign cities around the world, escaping American culture was difficult: Ford cars on the streets, KFC was open for lunch and the U.S. Dollar was the currency. And everything was made in China. ;)
After wandering around for a while, I was very excited to see the big tent where they sell the fake designer handbags. I freaking love these things. They never look like the real thing, but they are still great-looking bags. This time, I got a big, yellow patent-leather Prada. (I will share a pic soon, promise!) I also got a small, black Coach and a large, black Coach tote. I got all three for $100. Yippee!!!!
I tell you what, if you ever go to The Bahamas, make sure you can make up your mind quickly. Everyone there is extremely pushy. They certainly do not take "no" for an answer! CN ended up buying a cigar from a kid, only to get him to shut up and go away. And they expect you to buy anything you look at longer than 5 seconds. I inspected one handbag for a good minute, only to tell the lady that I was not interested. She was really pissed and told me that I wasted her time!! "Well, you need to sell cuter fake handbags," I thought. Hmph!
By about 4pm, CN and I were pooped, so we went back to the boat and took another nice, long nap. It was the perfect end to a great day.