Thursday, December 31, 2015

Winter Vacation Day 4


December 22, 2015 (Isla Roatan)
Today was our second day that we could leave the ship. Isla Roatan is an island off of the Honduran coast. Mahogany Bay, where the ship ported is an invented city that has been created by Carnival Cruise Line. Carnival constructed an outdoor shopping center and partnered with every shop to split the proceeds. The same is true for every business along the beach.

After eating breakfast at the buffet, we entered the line to get off the ship. Despite hundreds of people leaving at once, it was a fairly smooth process. As soon as we got off the boat, we could see that another Carnival ship was docked and had people getting off at the same time. Everyone was forced to walk through a duty-free shopping center before entering the ‘city’. It appeared that there were only three things to do at the port: Shop, go on a zip line or go to the beach. We opted for the beach.


Each of us wore our swimsuits and I had beach towels and the kids’ cheapie snorkeling gear in my backpack. Along the trail to the beach, there was a hike that I noted that I wanted to go along once we were done with the beach. The beach was partitioned into two parts. A smaller, more private section that cost $65 or the free section. Of course we chose to go the free route. At the free section, people could rent a private hut for the day for $200. For $45, one could rent a covered two-seated area. Then there were two rows of free chairs the spanned the length of the entire beach. We were early enough to have our choice of free chairs. We chose to sit under trees in a naturally shaded area. The beach itself consisted of soft white sand and the clear blue water that has accompanied the trip.

It was with our beach gear that we finally identified the inevitable thing that we forgot. With the kids’ snorkeling gear, each set came with a set of goggles and an attached breathing tube. When unpacking, we couldn’t find a second breathing tube. It was pretty much a non-issue because Emery made a friend to play with on the beach as soon as we got there. She played in the sand and built a castle with a girl. Emery ran to us, excitedly and told us that the girl lived on the same level as us and she lived just around the corner on the odd side of rooms. While the girl played with sand, Tate floated along the surface of the water, snorkeling.
That is Tate Floating in the Water
I was perfectly happy to sit on the beach and read a book. Leigha was perfectly happy to relax in the sun. Tate was perfectly happy to snorkel. Emery was perfectly happy to play with another little girl. Until she got hungry. The kids are accustomed to eating in the eleven o’clock hour due to school. Emery is the only one that hasn’t learned to adapt her eating schedule when she isn’t in school. After giving Tate another half hour to swim, we left the beach. As we walked back, we decided to take the hike, which was really an alternate to walk back to the ship, but through the tropical foliage. Emery complained the entire time, until we realized that it was actually a shortcut.
After lunch, the kids both decided that they wanted to go to the kid area and play video games. We told them that they were more than welcome to go there, but they had to be aware of the possibility that we may go zip lining without them and that we wouldn’t pick them up until dinner time. They were fine with that and off they went to play without us.

After looking down at the make believe city from the ship, we decided to walk around and look at what they had to offer. Leigha wanted to look for a visor. These serve several purposes: to protect people from the sun, to make you a better gambler and to prepare you to work at Starbucks. After five
or six shops, Leigha was ready to concede that visors weren’t popular enough to be able to find one when magically, three different choices appeared from a rack of hats.
After looking at each of the stores in the shopping area, we made our way to the zip line are. Leigha’s parents had been to Isla Roatan several years prior and told us that there were reasonable deals to fly through the jungle. When we got to the zip line station, we were told that they had two deals either $85 or $120 a person. We agreed that we would both probably have a lot of fun doing this, but not enough to justify the cost. After walking the remainder of the shopping area, it we decided to sit down for a drink at Fat Tuesday’s.
At the bar, they advertised that they had free samples to any of the many flavors of daiquiris that they had churning away in machines. It reminded us of New Orleans. We opted to get some Honduran beers. They tasted similar to a Corona and a Budweiser, nothing worth buying a second. As we sat at the bar, we wondered what the locals thought of the fact that a big company came along and developed a jungle area to create a fake city. On one hand, this was providing a shot in the arm for the local economy. On the other, a fake city is the only image that thousands of foreigners have representing the country of Honduras.
After we finished our beer, we went to the ship. We explored the twenty-one and above adult deck at the front of the ship. Being kid-free (and directly outside the kid area), it was quieter and filled with nicer chairs and private hot tubs. We sat in a round wicker seat that had pillows and was partially covered. It was comfortable except the fact that the sun was positioned to shine down on us despite the covering. We chose to get some water and move to the back of the ship. It was nice to sit down and talk about anything and everything for hours. We talked about other vacation destinations and imagined our kids as teenagers.
When we picked up the kids, we went to dinner. By this point, the meals had cycled around and there were few things that were new on the menu. However, Tate made me proud once again with his food choices. He opted to try the slow-roasted Ox tongue and enjoyed it quite a bit.
The only event that I circled on the daily social calendar that is provided to us was the Hasbro Family Game Night. I believe that this may be a game show that I’ve never seen, but it looked like something that the kids would enjoy. Emery was really excited when I told her that it was possible that we could participate. After dinner, we went to the room and waited for the show. As is often the case, Tate had a difficult time removing himself from the cable cartoons that he isn’t able to watch at home. When it came time to go to the show, Tate repeated over and over that he didn’t want to go. We told him that because the rest of us were going, he didn’t have the option to stay in our room and watch cartoons.
As we walked down the stairs, I told Emery that if she smiled big, they may choose cute kids to participate. As she loves this type of attention, she held my hand and worked on her gameshow smile. We walked ahead of Leigha and Tate and found seats in the audience. When Leigha arrived, she was by herself.
“Where’s Tate?” I asked.
“He’s lying down on the stairs,” she said. I couldn’t get him to come. I walked to the stairs and as I approached him, I saw a small group of adults standing around him. I could hear that they were concerned that he may have fallen or had a seizure because he way lying on the ground, unresponsive and holding to the railing, stiffly.
“Tate,” I said, “what are you doing?” He didn’t respond, but it was enough to put the group at ease and disperse them. Unlike Emery’s tantrums, Tate’s are generally silent. When he doesn’t have a bed to crawl under, he buries himself under something and hold on as tight as he can when you try to excavate him. I picked him up and pulled his hands away from the railings. After I moved his hands away from grabbing anything else to tether himself to, he buried his face in my shoulder hiding his tears.
“Those people were really worried about you,” I told him. “They thought that something was wrong with you. Why are you so upset?” Silence. “This gameshow will be fun for everybody. I really think that you’ll like it.” Silence. “You don’t have to say anything, but we are going to the show and you aren’t going back to the room and watch t.v.”
In the audience, Emery clapped and cheered as loud as she could. She loved the show before it even began. Tate was less enthused. When the show started, they were looking for kids to play the first game. The cruise director, Jase asked questions and randomly picked an enthusiastic kid from the audience to answer it. Every time, Emery jumped up, waved her hands and screamed with excitement, but she wasn’t picked. The first game was an adapted Connect Four. Each team had colored basketballs that they threw into a giant game board. By the end of the game, Tate was cheering on the kids and was happy again.
For the second game, they were recruiting adults. They flashed a trivia question on the screen and Jase picked people to answer the question. If you got it correct, you got to play. Emery was equally excited for this, convinced that I would be selected. While I knew the answers to the questions and waved my hand each time, I wasn’t selected. This next game was an adaptation of Simon, the color matching game. Each person had a box strapped to their chest with a color on it. On a screen, they flashed the color sequence and each team of four had to get in the correct order. When the show was over, I leaned over to Tate and asked him if he had fun. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Don’t give me that,” I said and pushed him. “Grumpy McGloomy doesn’t want to admit that it was more fun than he thought it was.”

We went back to our room happy and ready for bed.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7