Monday, March 26, 2012

Bahama Mama

I don't even know where to start with this trip, as there are far too many stories to tell.  Leaving out all the gory details, suffice it to say that it was entirely too much fun.

We flew out of Des Moines bright and early on Sunday morning.  One of us (ahem, not me, ahem) decided it would be a good idea to just not go to sleep after St. Patty's Day shenanigans.  That type of attitude pretty much carried us through the next six days.

Around 2:30 p.m., we boarded the Carnival Sensation, our "home" for the next four days.  I knew that cruise ships were big (duh), but I didn't realize how big they really were.

See those portholes on the very, very bottom?  Yeah: our room was across the hall from those.
We were absolutely famished, so we immediately headed to the Lido Deck for a quick lunch, some drinks with umbrellas in them, and a little sunshine.

After we headed to our muster station for our mandatory safety drill (super boring and sans alcohol), we took a quick nap, showered up, and got ready for a night on the town ship.

I can't remember what exactly we did each particular night, but I can tell you that a comedy show, karaoke, and the club were involved nearly every single night.  (And believe it or not: I even sang belted out Don't Stop Believing one night.  Turns out it sounds a lot better in my car than it does with a live band and in front of a real audience.)

On Monday, we rolled out of bed around 10:00 (maybe? it's so hard to tell when there's no sunlight coming into your room - or clocks) and headed to breakfast on Lido.  And of course we looked out the windows at the beautiful Bahamas as soon as we could.

And saw a construction zone.


There were no sandy beaches, no palm trees, no crystal-clear water.  There were cranes, cement loading boxes, and lots of steel contraptions.

One of the comedians called Freeport the "Flint, Michigan" of the Caribbean.  I don't think this was his first rodeo.

But, we wandered far enough from the boat to find one of these:

This was a mango-flavored Bahama Mama, and I'm pretty sure it included nearly an entire bottle of rum.

And my oh my: it was delicious.  (I'm pretty sure all of the locals thought we were absolutely bonkers: I mean, really: who drinks out of a coconut like, ever?  Tourists.)

After quite the interesting taxi ride (where we learned that Freeport has a 6:1 ratio of men to women and that women have to "work for it"), we wandered through the straw market a bit and were asked nearly 18,000 times if we wanted our hair braided.  Finally, Kiara responded that she had extensions that could not, in fact, be braided, and I, um, went along with it.

Finally, we hit the beach.  But, we didn't lay out for long.  Instead, we paid $25 and hopped aboard one of these:

Now, on the side of this thing, it says that it can't go any more than 15 miles per hour.  So, as we boarded this banana boat with a family of four (including a five-year-old and a tween boy), we thought we were in for a leisurely cruise around the ocean to visit some dolphins, the Pirates of the Caribbean ship, etc.

Oh no, no, no.

I'm pretty sure my biceps and quads got a better workout trying to hang onto that damn floating banana than they do in a Crossfit workout.

And, my attempts at staying afloat failed miserably anyway: upon hitting quite the wave (since I swear the boat driver tried to hit it at just the right angle), Kiara flew off the back of the stupid thing, and the rest of us capsized, with me clawing over this poor 13-year-old as I attempted to reach the surface of the Caribbean.

As Kiara can tell you, it was quite the graceful picture.

And as a result of this dramatic experience, I lost my sunglasses.  And had to buy a pair of hideous ones from the straw market.

Oh well: it was totally worth it.

After the banana boat excursion, we headed back to the boat to clean up for the fancy night.

If the professional photos didn't cost an arm and a leg, Kiara and I would've come back with the most ridiculous portrait ever.  He positioned us in the silliest ways ever - like, worse than old prom photos.  It cracked us - and everyone watching us - up, hard core.

I'm not going to regale you with photos of food - especially since most of you have likely already seen these directly from my camera or via Facebook.  Just know that it was delicious.

On the third day, we again rolled out of bed super late.  Let me tell you how great it is to sleep in a room that is completely, 100% dark and, as I already mentioned, clock-less.  We had no idea what time it is, and it didn't matter.  And it was wonderful.

But I digress.

The third day was spent in Nassau.  We were whisked away on a ferry to Paradise Island.

(Side note: if you ever want to kidnap someone, appear to be a Bahamian local and offer dumb tourists a ride anywhere.  As long as your mode of transportation looks semi-legit, you can take them wherever you want to, and they would be none the wiser.  Seriously.)

Once there, we wandered around the crazy-huge resort of Atlantis - and got yelled at a bazillion times because we were trying to get places only the "hotel guests" could go.  And by "trying to get places," I really mean "trying to find our way out of that maze of a place."  It was ridic.

Finally, we made it to the beach and just camped out for the entire day.  We were accosted another several thousand times by people who wanted to sell us turtles made out of coconuts, jewelry made out of seashells, and drugs made out of plants.

Don't worry: we were not persuaded by any of them, although Kiara did buy - and fail to properly light - a Cuban.  It was quite the spectacle.

I was also told - by a nice, gray-haired Rastafarian - that I now had a Bahama Papa.  Am I a lucky girl, or what?

At the beach, we also hitched some jet ski rides with random dudes.  That was fun and, again, quite the workout in trying to stay aboard.

Back on the boat, we got ready for our night on the town island.  Unfortunately, we were having entirely too much fun, and I forgot to take a picture.  Honestly, it's probably best that that night goes undocumented, as we had a little too much fun at Senor Frogs and back on the boat with some of our new friends.

The last day on the ship was spent lounging all day on the Lido Deck.  It was amazing.  And I got so dark.  I believe I am literally one giant freckle.  And I love it.

When we had had a bit too much sun, we actually hit up the gym.  I ran two miles, and despite my week of binge drinking, felt so, so good.  It was one of the best runs of my life.

After, we got ready for our last night:

After laughing through three comedy shows, we hit the club and danced until it closed.  We had an absolute blast.  We headed back to the room to change, and then a new friend and I explored the ship at night.  It was so cool being on the deck in the dark: let me tell you how many stars we could see from the middle of the ocean.  It was unbelievable.

We actually stayed out for way too long - maybe 4 a.m. or later.  We were out there so late that we saw the lighthouse and the city lights of Port Canaveral.

It was by far the best "last night" a girl could've had.

And I was so sad to have to get off the ship - which is quite interesting since only a few days prior I had been wondering how much a plane ticket from the Bahamas would've cost since I felt so darn seasick that first night.  :)

When we disembarked, we rented a car and drove to Ormond Beach (Daytona) to stay with BFF's family.  It was so, so nice to see them.  I'm starting to think of Daytona as my second home since I've spent a lot of time there the last three years, so it was especially nice to be back.

But, as always, it was nice to get back to Des Moines.

I just can't wait for the next trip.  :)

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