Cruise Capsule – Part 1

I know, I’ve been back a month and promised to post something on my Panama Canal trip. Well, life happens. So here’s a recap of our adventure.

bridgeSan Francisco — One of my wife’s favorite cities, we did our usual after arriving — a fresh seafood dinner and Green Apple Books. Clearly, the highlight of our departure late the next afternoon was to cruise out of the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Cabo San Lucas — After three days on the Pacific (I love “sea days” as you are required not to go anywhere or do anything), we hit “Cabo.” The Land’s End area between the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez (aka the Gulf of California) is gorgeous but overall this is an area for rich Americans and under the influence college students. It also reflects globalization — or American tourists wanting home in a foreign country. I passed a Sam’s, a Costco and an Office Max in Cabo on my way to San Jose del Cabo.

Norbert — Two days after we left Cabo, it was struck by Hurricane Norbert. We met Norbert when he was still a tropical storm but, fortunately, we were on the eastern edge and he was headed northwest compared to our southeast. Even then, we had 15-foot seas and steady 50 mph winds. Fortunately, my wife and I weren’t among the significant number of passengers and crew who suffered seasickness from the roller coaster ride. We were lucky. A cruise ship a couple days behind us had seas and winds twice as high or more. And about 10 days later Cabo took a direct hit from Hurricane Odile.

ruinsPuerto Chiapas — Although Puerto Chiapas is basically little more than a port, it’s less than 10 miles from Guatemala (which we didn’t get to) and a short bus ride to Tapachula. Tapachula is in the area where evidence indicates the first use of chocolate some 3,500 years ago so, of course, a display of chocolate making was on the agenda. The demonstration — all by hand — took us from bean to a chocolate paste with cinnamon. The city also has a fairly large open market with plenty of local fruit and other items — including plenty of plucked chickens. Notably, almost all the private stands had no refrigeration and flies were kept off the meats, particularly the chicken, with flyswatters that appeared to be strips of polyethylene garbage bags attached to a lath.

This part of the trip also showed us capitalism at its finest. We also visited Izapa, an pre-Columbian Mesoamerican site where many believe the Mayan calendar originated. (It was, though, much less developed than the Mayan ruins we saw at Altun Ha in Belize seveal years ago.) Given it was mid-afternoon in the tropics, I and others were parched. Just outside the site was a family selling crafts and with an ice chest of water, pop and beer (7 or 8 ounces). The beverages were $1 each. It was the best beer I’ve had in years.

The next installment will take us to our post-Mexican adventures.

While abroad, the senses refuse to be burdened by the mundane. They’re wearing sombreros and drinking umbrella drinks and carrying on.

Dave Bindini, Tropic of Hockey

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