We are in Ensenada, Mexico twice a week. Every Tuesday and Friday. Ensenada is not the prettiest Mexican town I've ever been to, but it's not the worst. It's about 100km from the US border. A lot of Californians come here to buy cheap booze and prescription medicines.
In three months I have done very little in Ensenada. It's a port that hasn't interested me much, which is probably not very fair. I haven't really given it much of a chance. Usually I use Ensenada days to sleep in or do my laundry. When I do get off the ship I usually do the same thing every time...
1 - Find a coffee shop, not even a local coffee shop, I usually head straight for Starbucks and their free internet.
2 - Go for a pedicure. So far I've been for two. At $20.00 for an hour long pedicure it's cheap and I love the calf massage - almost sends me to sleep everytime. I do miss having a bloom pedicure. I must remember to book one when I get home.
3 - Get a massage. I'm not sure why but I'm finding this contract way more stressful than the 6 months I spent on Liberty. The tension I'm holding in my neck and shoulders is unbelievable. I want to go for a massage everyweek.
4 - Eat fish tacos. Ensenada is apparently famous for it's fish tacos. I've been told they are even better if they are eaten at a street stall. The street stall aspect doesn't worry me, I've eaten more than enough meals from street stands in Mexico. But I do like to sit and relax to eat my meal so I usually eat my tacos at this hole in the wall... $6.00 for a beer and 3 tacos. I'm happy with that.
5 - Eat Chinese. Yep I know, why eat Chinese in Mexico when there's lots of good Mexican food?Because it's close to the ship, cheap and has fast internet.
6 - Shop. I haven't really done all that much shopping here either. I have a lot of souvenirs from previous trips to Mexico. Silver jewelry, pottery, art work, a tea set, wooden boxes, little animals with bobbly heads, Kahlua, Tequila and quite a few other things. And really there's not much different here. One local shop lady tried getting me to go into her store by telling me..."come on in, we have cheap crap, like made in China only it's made in Mexico". Really? That's your selling tatic? Not very inviting. There are two stores I like to look in.
Bazar Casa Ramirez: I bought my little star shaped light here, and some gifts for friends at home.
Cafe, Cafe: Good coffee and iron animals. I bought a blue and green fish. As a gift. But I think I'm gonna keep him for myself. Barb, I think you'd like the geckos.
So that's it. 13 weeks, 26 days in Ensenada and that's all I've done. Maybe it's time to branch out and give Ensenada a chance. I'm half way through my contract, I have 13 weeks left. That's another 26 visits to Ensenada. Well 20, because I'll be port manning for 6 of those days. So what to do? Maybe kayaking, a visit to the winery, a day at the beach, a trip to La Bufadora (the blowhole)... we'll see...
On Sundays we dock in Long Beach, California. We do not have any stores or anything else so we have the day off until back on board time at 430pm. Last Sunday, 5 of us decided to go to Disneyland. It's something the shoppies have all talked about doing but never get round to doing. Friday was payday so we decided to just do it.
Erin took a selfie with my camera
It was NOT a cheap day.
Taxi from cruise ship to Disneyland $75.00 including tip (split 5 ways)
1 day 1 park Disney ticket $96.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mickey Icecream Bar $3.50
Taxi from Disneyland back to cruise ship $80.00
Bob/Surfaraz eating a frozen banana.
We were on the gangway for 8:30am because that's the earliest we thought we could get off. Turns out gangway was open way earlier. Took us about 30 mins to deal with getting a cab or a shuttle. Shuttle driver told us it would take at least 90 minutes to get there and 2 hours to get back. Turns out taxi driver was right...25 minutes to get there and 35 minutes to get back.
The happiest cruise that ever sailed? Mmmm must be better than the one we work on.
We were in the park for about 4.5 hours. Which was not nearly long enough. But in that time we rode Buzz Lightyears' Astro Blasters, the Matterhorn, It's a Small World, ate icecream and lunch, bought Minnie Mouse ears, rode Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, did some shopping and took a few photos.
We got back to the ship around 330pm. Just in time to shower, have a quick nap and report to boat drill. Would we do it again? Oh probably. Even though it was expensive, crowded and hot? Oh probably. Why? Because the 5 of us had a lot of fun. Should have seen us at work afterwards, we were exhausted and all had "It's a small world" stuck in our heads.
Woohoo it's always fun to spend a day with friends. Morag lives in London (UK) and no she did not come all this way just to spend the day with me! She was visiting another friend in San Diego for two weeks, and was able to come up to Long Beach on the same day we were in port.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is not far from where the ship docks and I've been past it many times on the bus. Morag and I both love being tourists so it was an easy decision as to how to spend our day. The Aquarium is not overly big, but there was more than enough to keep a busy for a few hours. We didn't even see all the exhibits.
We paid a little extra to do a behind the scenes tour which lasted an hour or so and was well worth it. It was Sunday of the Memorial Day long weekend, so the Aquarium was crowded. The behind the scenes tour got us away from that hoard for a little bit.
This is a piece of artwork that hangs above the entrance to the museum. It's created from junk that ends up in the ocean. As a piece of artwork it's really cool, but it sucks that all that crap is just floating out there.
During the tour we got to go above the tropical reef. It's the largest exhibit in the Aquarium. One of the first animals we saw was the turtle. Usually he's sleeping on the bottom of the reef, but today hwe was looking right at us. Can you believe he's actually a confiscated animal? Someone tried to smuggle him in from Central America somewhere, and customs caught the smuggler. So now he lives at the Aquarium. (The turtle, not the smuggler).
The tank below houses fish that are in quarantine. Once they have been declared fit and healthy they will be added to the exhibits.
Watching the fish from above the tropical reef. There are two divers in the reef giving a demonstration, it was odd to watch from above the reef rather than from the otherside of the plexiglass.
While we were above the reef we fed the fish some seaweed. They were almost jumping out of the water to get the food, and they were fighting for it.
During the tour we had to disinfect our shoes before going in and out of all the tank rooms. My shoes were quite wet but very clean by the end. Remember Jacques the shrimp from Finding Nemo? He's a cleaner shrimp. We got to put our hand in a tank with a cleaner shrimp and have him clean our hand. My hand was either very clean or he was very full.
We also chatted to two of the divers who had just come out of one of the tanks. The divers at the Aquarium are all volunteers, have over 50 hours of diving and are all rescue dive trained. As a bonus one of them was really cute - nice eye candy for the day.
There was a lot more to the tour...we saw shark eggs incubating, baby sea horses that are smaller than the nail on my little finger, gold fish and guppies being raised as food for the bigger animals, sea monkeys (remember those kits from the 80's and 90's), food being prepared for the otters and sharks and coral that had been confiscated by customs from stupid people at the border.
After the tour we wandered through the aquarium for a bit long. Some of my favourite things to see were the sea dragons. Not to be confused with sea horses, sea dragons are found in the southern waters off the coast of Australia, especially around Tasmania. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a sea dragon of the coast of Tassie, only ever in aquariums in North America, but then I've never snorkelled or scuba dived at home. Sea dragons are considered an endangered species.
I love the jelly fish. At least when they are in a tank with a thick plexiglass wall between them and me. I could sit and watch them for ages.
But I could spend even longer watching the sea otters. How adorable is this little guy sitting in the sun?
And the penguins? When can I have a pet sea otter and a penguin? The fairy penguins at Philip Island are cuter, but these guys are still very handsome. Although that one at the front left could do with a bath.
After the Aquarium, Morag and I had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, grabbed an icecream and walked back to the ship along the foreshore. I've always caught the bus from the dock to downtown Long Beach, but the seawall walk to the Aquarium area only took about 20 minutes and it was picturesque. I might have to walk it again, or even go for a run. Beats running round in circles on deck 12.
Thanks Morag for coming to visit for the day, and for the donuts they were very much appreciated by the shoppies. Who is going to come and visit me next?
I'm a chocolate girl. I normally dislike hard lollies (candy) like toffee etc, and chewy lollies - bleh. But every Monday I walk past Lloyds of Avalon. They are famous for their toffee apples (candy apples), peanut brittle and fudge. They've been around since the 1930's. So they must be good.
I went inside fully intending to buy some ooey, gooey, chocolatey goodness.
Or maybe a peanut butter cup...
But instead I went with something I wouldn't normally choose...
Salt Water Taffy
There are hundreds of flavours to choose from. Okay so not quite a hundred, but lots.
Guess what? I actually kind of liked it. I tried the lemon, amaretto, chocolate, chocolate mint and vanilla chocolate swirl. The lemon was my favourite, no surprise there as it's the one flavour I like almost as much as chocolate.
I don't think I need to eat anymore. I still prefer chocolate. Do you like salt water taffy? Let me know, maybe I'll send you some! Next time I want to try the frozen Mexican spiced cocoa. It sounds good.
I just finished a week of port manning. I've said it many times before, I dislike port manning. I do not like having to stay on the ship all day every day for a week. I get cabin fever. But here are some of things that made me smile this last week...
The purple ballerina that Jo gave me while I was in Hobart on vacation. Jo, Claire, Cristy and Jo all have one too. She hangs from my cabin ceiling and dances when the ship moves. I think she needs a name. Any suggestions?
A small lamp that I bought in Mexico. I have one a LED tea light in it. It makes pretty patterns on my cabin wall. One day when I have a home of my own again I'd like to have it made into a proper light fixture. But for now this will do.
The ring my Nanna (my grandmother) gave me for by birthday. It was custom made by a Tasmanian artist Lynda Salmon and we picked it up the night before I flew back to Canada. I wear it all the time and it reminds be of my Nan. But also of the day I spent at Salamanca with Narelle and a day in Richmond with Narelle, Jo and my Mum. Lots of good memories attached to one piece of jewellery.
Tasmanian Devil socks. No further explanation needed.
Mail from friends. I was so excited to pick up three packages from the staff office. Yeah for my wonder friends.
There were birthday cards from Barb and Stew, Kath and Garin and Hayley, Sharyn and Tony and Meg and Hannah and Josie, and from Michelle and Justin. Thank you!!!
Chocolates (and BBQ shapes) from the Lawrence/Hutchins/Dadson/Cook gang. I even shared the TimTams. But not the Black Forest, I am not sharing that with anyone.
A sock monster from Michelle. He makes me laugh. This is how the cabin steward left him on my bed. I think sock monster will be my new flat Stanley. He'll have to come along on my adventures and have lots of photos taken. What do you think? I do think he needs a name. Sock? Theodore?
Frozen, Arrow and Game of Thrones. Frozen I first watched with Andrea the night before I came to Imagination. I know it's a kids movie but it makes me laugh. I love Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer. I've watched it each time I've port manned.
Arrow is a TV series filmed in Vancouver. My friend Kim is the Director of Photography on it. Erin convinced me I'd like it and she gave me season 1 and 1/2 of season 2. I had a few sleepless nights as I marathon watched a bunch of episodes. Now I have to wait for the rest of season 2. Argh. I want to watch it NOW. That means I liked it.
Game of Thrones everyone knows. I'm the last person in the world to watch it. Not sure why I waited so long. It's awesome. I'm all caught up on Season 1 and 2. I need Season 3 and 4. I think my favourite character is Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage and I am so not fond of the idiot King Joffrey. I want to read the books now as well - Erin had offered to lend them to me when I get home. I'm looking forward to reading them.
Going for a run. When I'm port manning and can't get off the ship I go for a run up on deck 12 in the City Sports Park. I'm not really all that keen on running round and round in circles. The track isn't very long. It takes 9 laps to run a kilometre and I keep losing track of how many laps I have run. And I have to dodge wayward golf balls from the mini golf, but at least it gets me outside.
Remember when Victoria, Jorge and I had Bushwackers in St Thomas?
Well I've found an almost rival for it. It even comes with a view, even though I didn't need to ride a cable car to get here.
Buffalo Milk on Catalina Island.
No, they did not go out and milk a herd of buffalo. Although there are a lot of buffalo on Catalina. They were brought over here in the 1920's for a movie and then left on the island afterwards.
What's in it?
Creme de cocoa
Creme de banana
A bit of milk
Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.
I prefer the Bushwacker but the Buffalo Milk is pretty good too.
This birthday, my 44th involved a lot of edible treats. I really need to go for a run or even two now.
After work Friday night friends treated me to a couple of beers. Saturday, my actual birthday started with a free coffee and a slice of chocolate raspberry cheesecake at Starbucks in Ensenada.
Saturday night my coworkers and I celebrated with a delicious chocolate cake and multiple beers.
Today I had another free frappucino and a slice of raspberry swirl cake. I think I've used up all my free rewards now.
And to make me feel extra loved when I logged on yesterday I had 102 emails, Facebook posts, messages, what's apps etc wishing me a happy birthday. Thank you everyone for your best wishes and remembering my birthday. I have some really great friends!
Last week when I visited the Casino in Avalon one of the things that fascinated me most was the artwork.
At the entrance to the Casino are nine huge panels depicting an undersea world ruled by Regina del Mer (Queen of the Sea).
They are designed by John Gabriel Beckmon who also worked on Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood
Originally planned to be executed in all tile, Beckman and his team of artists worked around the clock painting directly onto the concrete surface completing all 9 panels in an astonishingly short 3 month period in time for the Casino's grand opening.
In 1986 Beckman (then 88) and Richard Thomas Keit of RTK tiles worked together to restore the centrepiece panel and finally complete it in tile as originally designed.
Both Beckman and Keit signed the tile work and donated their labour for the restoration.
Typepad was hacked a week or two ago. They suffered a disruption of service. It's supposedly all fixed now. Which does not explain why I cannot load photos into a post. Which mean's no posts until I can get it all sorted out.