Sunday, June 19, 2011

Worms of Shame

Here is an old poem I found in my window seat of stories and poetry.  I wrote this when I was around seventh grade.  During this time, I was very depressed and had strayed far from God.  You can probably tell.

I lit a candle, wishing that I could see,
Opened my Bible, hoping I could still believe.
'Cause I'm sick and tired of this empty game,
Where love equals loss and life is only pain.
It's a tragedy. Life's filled with misery,
In a world of pain and sorrow.
It's just a tragedy, only a tragedy.
I break my heart in a thousand pieces.
Can You hear me? Show me You love me.
Crumpled pages of a filthy, broken world.
Consequences for those who don't deserve.
The blackest night fills my eyes while I try to pray.
Dirty past, shattered bones, dwelling in worms of shame.

I don't like the rhythm, but I find my bitterness and confusion from this time to be interesting.  I can hardly remember ever feeling this way.  It's amazing to me that I wrote something like this.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Excerpt of an Action Story from my Childhood

Recently I've gotten quite a few requests from people asking to read some of my stories.  Some of you are from inkpop, the website where I posted my novel called "Before You" and even made the top five and got a review by Harper Collins.  Some of you have read on here that I like to write stories and are simply curious.  I am currently working on a few pieces, but I don't want to put them on my blog where anyone can take them.

I've been cleaning out my room lately since I'll be moving out in August.  The biggest problem area I've found is this huge window seat that is full to the brim of old notebooks and papers that contain stories and poetry I wrote as a little girl.  Some of these stories have a lot of potential and have even inspired me with some interesting ideas.  Some of them are cute.  Some are just funny.  I thought I'd share a few of these stories with you as I proceed to clean out this messy, messy window seat.  I'll be sure to add my opinion of the stories in red to both offer tips for new writers and to make fun of myself. ;)

I found this next story in an otherwise nearly empty notebook.  I remember writing this when I was in eighth grade, so about four or five years ago.  This is all that was in the notebook.  It made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.

beach picture jpg“Jacoby, wake up. Jacoby.”

Jacoby groaned as her senses sharpened and the cloudy haze of slumber slipped out of her mind. She was lying on her stomach in the hot sand, her face turned to the side. Ocean foam lapped at her shoes, although the area around her upper body was dry. Her raft had floated away to who knows where and a damp blanket was tangled around her ankles.

“Am I home?” Jacoby asked hoarsely, (I don't know how on earth she could mistake being asleep on the beach for being at home) sitting up and brushing sand off her clothes. Grit had imprinted a light design in her cheek, and she knew her hair was hanging stiff down her back in tangles. What a night.

“Jacoby, good grief. Are you okay? Are you hurt or do you just randomly fall asleep on the beach?” Sterling (I'm not a big fan of the names so far.  I like the name Sterling and I like the name Jacoby, but being the first two characters in a story makes the names seem way too out-there) was standing a few yards away, her arms folded across her chest as she watched Jacoby struggle for orientation. (And I have to add... if I saw my friend unconscious on the beach, half in the water, I wouldn't be standing several feet away, watching.  I would probably panic and then try to help.)

“I'm fine,” Jacoby muttered, and Sterling tossed her a water bottle. Jacoby popped open the seal and chugged it, (She chugged the seal?) closing her eyes with pleasure as the cold water poured down her throat. She stood slowly, kicking off the blanket, and stretched her aching back and shoulders. “Okay, I'm ready.”

Sterling led the way up the beach, her fiery-red hair glinting in the sun. Two dirt bikes were waiting patiently on the dirt path, (How did they get there?  Surely Sterling couldn't have brought both of them together... and while we're questioning things, how on earth would Sterling know to find Jacoby on that beach?) and Sterling mounted her bike with skill. (Oh brother.) The black and silver vehicle was her treasure, which she affectionately called Monster when she was staying at the compound.

Sterling was seventeen and almost too old for the Special League, (The Special League? Really?) but she claimed she would stay and work as a trainer the day she turned eighteen. She was small for her size and almost spritely, and Blain often called her Pixie, which she hated. She was the best shot of the thirteen children, and also the oldest, and she considered her seniority a big deal. Nobody was absolutely positive if Sterling was her real name except for Scout, (another weird name) and he sure wasn't telling, so Sterling she remained.

And that's all I've got.  Ohhh.... man.  It's hard to believe how much my writing has improved in only four or five years.  I like a few of my descriptions in this piece, but everything else deserves to be archived in the "funny childhood stories" files forever and ever and ever.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Broken Camera

Today was a very, very lazy day. It may sound boring from an outsider's perspective, but it truly was not. After a hectic last four days of excursions and appointments and adventures, it was so nice to be able to sleep in and read and nap.

I woke up around ten in the morning and walked into my parents' room. Their room was empty. Confused, I went ahead and got ready for the day before heading up to the Windjammer to see if I could find them there. Just as I was about to give up, I saw Mom walking towards me. “We mother and daughter jpgwent back to the room and saw that you were gone,” she explained. “I thought I'd come back and sit with you while you eat.” That was nice of her, so I got some breakfast and we chatted a bit while watching the ocean waves beat each other from the window.

I literally do not have much to share. I took a long nap. I read “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis for the hundredth time. I sat on the balcony and watched the waves.

When it came time to have a late lunch, I went downstairs to grab some pizza from Sorrento's. Much to my surprise, the chefs were all out in the royal promenade, showing off exquisite fruit carvings and ice sculptures. They were making towel creatures for everyone to see. The best part was the desserts. Pastries, chocolate covered fruits, meats, mousses... and they were all free for anyone to take.

I filled up several plates with the desserts (and a few slices of pizza from Sorrento's) and then headed back up to the rooms. I coaxed Nawnie from her room and we had lunch together on the balcony. It was nice to spend time together.

The waves and wind have been crazy all day. It's not storming, but the waves seem to be so much higher and more powerful than they have been this entire trip. I can hear the wind whistling and howling around our cabin. At night, it sounds like some sort of crazed demon. For one of the first times, we can feel the ship truly rock. It's not terrible, but we can feel movement. It rattles the hangers in the closet and causes water to move back and forth in my glass.

The captain told us over the intercom that the wind is going steady at about fifty-five miles per hour. See, I should be used to such wind. I live in a city in Texas that was once listed in the top ten windy states of the United States. Some days we get gusts of wind up to seventy or eighty miles per hour. It's insane. But the difference between there and here is that our wind comes in GUSTS. We'll have a huge gust of wind and then a quick moment of peace and etc. This wind doesn't change. It's a constant fifty-five-mile-per-hour wind.

Because of this crazy wind, I haven't bothered to go out on top much today. I don't feel bad about it. On the first day at sea, I sunbathed for a few hours, but I'm already a little sunburned, so I don't feel like I need to do that. I'm not much of one for swimming, so I don't want to go to the pools either. There isn't much need for me to go up on the top anyways.

The balcony is sequestered behind a few low walls, so I can sit out on a deck chair and have lunch or read without having my hair blown off my head. The only difficulty is that I can hardly hear anything because of the loud blasts of wind.

We all got ready for dinner and were dismayed to find that for the last night of the cruise, we weren't seated in our normal waiter's section. However, Faycal came to us and said he would still be our waiter. It was our last night, after all! It was sad to hug goodbye and take our final pictures together. We also said goodbye to Odalis, who chuckled and hugged us all, asking us to have a picture with the entire family. All of the waiters were told over the intercom to sing us a farewell song, so they did. 

After that, we all shook hands again. Dad was sure to tell Faycal and setting sun at jpgOdalis, “God bless you,” to leave a final seed for Christ, and then we saw them for the very last time. It was sad.

As we were eating, we caught a glimpse of Miami. It was only a small silhouette in the fading night sky. We rushed to the top of the ship and I managed to catch a photo of the sun sinking behind the buildings in the midst of a beautiful sunset.

Before we went up to our rooms, we decided to take a family photo. We didn't really have many of those from this trip. We were already dressed for dinner, which was a nice bonus. Unfortunately... my camera was in an accident that involved a long fall and a hard tile floor. It did not survive. The image you see below was the last photograph that camera may ever take. The picture was taken right after the accident and you can tell the camera was already broken. As soon as we get home, my camera will be sent to the shop. I am praying desperately that it will recover.

We spent much of the evening packing our suitcases, since we had to have them set out in front of our rooms for a certain time. We laid out the toiletries and clothes we would need for the next day and set everything else outside of our rooms.

Tomorrow we'll be getting off the ship. I don't want this trip to end!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Big Tipper Go to Heaven

When we finally got off the ship onto Cozumel, Mexico, a fat Mayan man dressed in colorful paint and a loincloth grabbed me and said, “One photo. Pose for one photo with me.” I'm not sure if I'll have an opportunity to buy the photo later or what, but it was sure interesting.
A man named Santiago—or Santy, as he preferred to be called—stopped us and offered to drive us to a nearby beach. “I take you to the beach for one or two hours and then to a shopping area. It will be nice. Very nice. Good price.” So we all climbed into his taxi and drove for about fifteen or twenty minutes through the hectic Cozumel streets while he told us about the city and life in Mexico.
big tipper go to jpg
The beach was beautiful.
beautiful ocean jpg
Nawnie, Dad, and Amy crashed on some of the chairs in the shade and took naps. Mom, Luke, and I went to a small, private part of the beach and waded in the cool water as the tide came in, bringing hundreds of shells along with it.
crashing waves jpg
After a little while, Mom and Luke got out some snorkeling equipment and found a few flounders and several other kinds of fish.
I enjoyed sunbathing and wading knee-deep in the water. It was HOT outside, probably the hottest island we've visited, but the ocean cooled me off. When I finally returned back to the chairs to relax, I was sweaty and worn out. There's something about being under the hot sun that is absolutely exhausting.
I relaxed in the sun for maybe twenty minutes and then I was overwhelmed by the heat and shared Nawnie's chair in the shade.
hot sun at jpg
We finally packed back up and Santy took us to a small area of shops. He drove by his casa and honked loudly, making us all laugh. We kept passing iguanas along the side of the road. “Delicious,” Santy said. “They are white meat, like chicken. We call it Kentucky Fried Iguana. You cannot get THAT in your restaurants. Only in your home.”
swinging in the jpgIn the shopping area, we got some Mexican vanilla and Coca-Cola, which is amazing since it's made with sugarcane. I also got a t-shirt, a necklace with a charm of the Mayan calendar's October (the month I was born), and a bracelet.
Santy took us back to the pier after proudly showing us pictures of his grandchildren. He was a very sweet man. I'm glad we got the chance to meet him.
We began to wander down the pier. Dad and the kids went onto the ship while Mom, Nawnie, and I stayed behind to shop for a while. We all bought another t-shirt. I loved the shirts at Cozumel! They're all so colorful and bright.
After getting back onto the ship, Nawnie, Mom, and I went to Sarentto's Pizzeria. We got to meet Julio, one of the chefs. He's from Peru. He told us about how he stays on the ship and works seven days a week for seven months straight and then gets a few months off with his family. He says he gets to get off the ship for about an hour after five o'clock. His girlfriend also works on the Royal Caribbean ship, so they go on dates together on the islands.
Julio was a very sweet guy. He told us a little about his life in Peru. Then he asked me why I was still pale if I'd been out in the sun all day. “I don't tan!” I exclaimed. “I could be out in the sun all day, every day, but I'm still just as white as before.”
“Nice for you!” Julio exclaimed. I'd like to have his perspective!
The little towel friend that we found in our room today was a monkey, hanging from the ceiling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Greetings from the Cayman Islands

We woke up very early this morning to hurry and eat breakfast so we could shop a little before we went on an excursion. We were at the Cayman Islands today. Even from the boat, the island looked absolutely beautiful. We could see the reef and the fish from our seventh story balcony on cayman islands jpgthe boat! It was amazing.
To get onto the island, we had to take a tender (a small boat) from our ship to the shore. Our tender was called the Carib Temptress. Interesting.
We shopped around a little. For the first time all week, it wasn't at all cloudy, which was nice at first because of the difference, but then we realized how wonderful cloudy weather actually is. It was HOT on that island. Beautiful, but very, very hot.
After we bought a couple of t-shirts and a flute for Luke, we got on board another boat which took us a couple of miles away from the shore. The water was perfectly clear. Even from the third story of the boat, I could see straight to the ocean bottom.
I'll go ahead and admit that while we were on an excursion to go snorkeling, I didn't snorkel. I think I could have if I had really gotten up the courage, but I know I wouldn't have enjoyed myself. For those of you who are regular followers of my blog, you know that my worst fear is deep water and the ocean. I hate the look of it... and I'm also very freaked out by fish. So being right in the middle of it all is not my cup of tea. I was content to look at the ocean from the boat and watch my family snorkel.
At first, I was feeling a little bored and dismal because my family were out having a great time and I was on the boat, but the captain was a very sweet islander who was eager to help me have the best time possible. He gave me a couple of small loaves of bread to throw into the water. Literally hundreds of little (and fairly big) fish would swarm around the tiny pieces of bread, fighting each other for it. Not only did I help people get to see a lot of fish because they all came up to the surface, but I got to truly enjoy myself.
feeding the fish jpg
The captain also showed me that on the bottom story of the boat there were several clear panels of glass that showed the coral reef and all of the fish, so I got to see as much as anyone else, whenever I got up the courage to look. Honestly, I don't see what the big deal was. They were... fish. But I was glad that I got to see everything. I even saw a few jellyfish!
One of the best parts about the captain was his accent. He literally had an accent that sounded like Captain Barbossa on Pirates of the Caribbean. It was very difficult to understand at times, but it was quite entertaining. I loved it.
While I was sitting on the bottom deck, feeding the fish, one of the crew went up to me. He looked about my age or maybe a few years older. He was very tan and his hair fell down to his shoulders. “Hey,” he said, “why don't you snorkel with the others?”
blue blue blue water jpg“I don't like the water,” I explained. “I'm having a great time right now. I know I wouldn't have fun if I was in the water with them.”
“No, no, get in with me. Just right here on the ladder. We could have fun together right by the boat.”
“No, thanks. I'm really fine how I am,” I insisted.
Pretty soon, the boy climbed out of the water and leaned on the rail next to me. I kept feeding the fish, but I noticed that he continued to gaze steadily at me. “How old are you?” he finally asked.
“I'm eighteen,” I replied.
He looked surprised and then delighted. “Not so young.” Several people I've met on this trip have thought I was younger than I am. I know I look young for my age, in part because of my short stature. The boy smiled widely at me. “You're old enough to drink here, you know,” he said.
Although I'm not interested in drinking, to make conversation, I said, “Oh, really? It's illegal for me to drink in the United States.”
“In all of the islands, it's legal. You can drink as many beers as you want.” He grinned at me, as if that would be an extremely enticing suggestion. When I didn't say much after that, he tried again. “After this is over, how about you and me go to a bar and have a few beers together? We could talk and hang out.”
Great, I thought. What's an excuse? I glanced over at my family, who were preoccupied with the reef. “I don't think my dad would be very happy if I did that,” I finally said. I wasn't lying. If I went off into the Cayman Islands with a strange native to have a few beers at some bar, I'm sure my dad wouldn't be all that happy.
“What?!” the islander scoffed, looking shocked. “Your dad is here? Where is he?” When I pointed out my family, he chuckled and said, “Well, P1030073.JPGthen, your dad can come to the bar with us... but only for a little while.”
I finally managed to escape from the persistent islander and resumed conversation with the sweet old captain of the ship, who told me all about the different kinds of fish and even dove under the ship to try to stir up some more kinds of fish for me to see.
As we left the boat, I again came across the young islander. At this point, I had already told my family about my conversation, so they were all poking me and giggling. He very gladly took my hand as I started to cross the gangplank (isn't that what it's called?) to get off the boat and said, “There you go, beautiful.”
Oh, man.
I finally turned around and offered him a smile. Even if I was uncomfortable, I was flattered with his advances. He was a sweet kid.
P1030107.jpgAgain, my mom and I stayed behind to shop. We went to a place called Del Sol that had some of the most amazing t-shirts I've ever seen. They start out in black and white or in a few light colors and then when you put them out in the sun, they burst into a rainbow of bright colors. It's amazing. The store also had nail polish, sunglasses, headbands, hair clips, bags, jackets, and more that all did the same thing. I was astonished.
We finally returned to the ship. Mom and I stopped at a pizzeria, where we had a couple of pizzas and some delicious white chocolate and strawberry mousse. After that, I took a long nap and then Mom woke everyone up. She was going to attempt to scale the rock wall and she wanted everyone to be there cheering for her. Sure enough, she succeeded! She made it all the way to the top of the wall and got to ring the bell.
After that, I decided I wanted to attempt the Flow Rider, which is basically a surfing machine that makes waves. Instead of an actual surf board, I opted for the boogie board so I'd only have to sit on my stomach.
The man running the Flow Rider was... let's just say... very good looking. He was tall, bronzed by the sun, muscular, and English. I was awestruck. I was already dreading the moment I knew was to come—the wipeout.
I climbed onto my stomach on the boogie board and surfed down the Flow Rider. Almost immediately, I flow rider jpgwiped out, doing a flip and falling hard onto the bottom of the machine while my board shot out from under me. Even worse, as I got up to walk away, I slipped on the slick rubber surface and fell backwards onto my back.
I was flushing and totally embarrassed... and then I saw the cute guy, motioning for me to try it again. I shook my head frantically, saying, “No, no, no...” but he insisted. So I found myself again getting onto the boogie board while he gave me instructions in his thick British accent (which I loved).
This time, I did better, managing to stay on the board for maybe fifteen seconds or so, which is impressive for that machine. And then the British man came down next to me and said, “Try to get on your knees!” Feeling semi-confident, I did... and wiped out. Bad.
I literally did about three full flips in the water, nearly losing my shorts. For a moment, I thought, “This is it. I'm going to drown in this awful machine,” but I somehow made it back to the bottom.
I was so embarrassed. Words cannot even describe my mortification as everyone laughed and laughed. I know it was all good-natured. After all, when many of the others wiped out, I laughed too. It's funny to watch. But I fell and flipped and floundered far worse than anyone. I got several comments like, “Did you enjoy doing a 360?” and “Wow! That was the best show I've gotten all day!” And again, they weren't mean-spirited at all.
But I was still embarrassed. I still am a little embarrassed. And seeing the look on that cute guy's face was the most embarrassing part of all.
Dinner was formal night. I had salad, roasted peach soup, lobster and shrimp, and ice cream. It was all wonderful.
not showing our necks jpg Dad had taken a Dramamine right before everyone went snorkeling, so he was groggy all throughout dinner.  He could hardly keep his eyes open!
asleep at dinner jpg
When we returned to the room, we found another little towel friend. It was a sting ray!
I'm in bed now, relaxing. I'm the least sunburned out of all of us ladies. Amy's the worst. Her back is as red as the lobsters we had for dinner. I'm thankfully only burned on the tops of my shoulders and my knees.
Tomorrow we will be in Cozumel, Mexico. It will be our last excursion on this cruise. I don't want to go home!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Creepy, Creepy Jamaican Man

We got onto the shores of Falmouth, Jamaica bright and early this morning. It was a lot how I expected, with men in dreads and brightly colored outfits walking around with their ukuleles, singing, “Don't worry 'bout a t'ing.” Seriously—that was my first impression of Jamaica.  We shopped for a few minutes and then boarded a bus and rode for forty-five minutes to a river further into the island. I loved the bus ride because I got to see a little Jamaican village, where many people lived. It was very poor and rundown, which made me sad. The best part was seeing the little school children come walking down the streets, dressed in their uniforms. I also got to see a lot of the Jamaican landscape. It jamaican market jpgwas nice to get to see the “real” Jamaica and not just the resort part.

At the river, we had to store our cameras and belongings in a locker, so I don't have any pictures. I wish I could have taken some, since everything I saw was very lush and green and beautiful. We climbed into the back of a truck and held on for dear life as we began one of the most scary car trips I've ever experienced—second only to Kenya, Africa. There were potholes and cliffs and deep puddles of mud everywhere we looked. The entire vehicle was rocked about like crazy. To make matters worse, the driver wouldn't stop speeding and we didn't have seat belts.

There were three guides who helped us through the river: Dennis, Thiopia, and another one whose name slipped my mind. They all seemed like best friends and constantly bantered, teasing each other nonstop and talking back and forth in their own Jamaican language called Patois, which is actually a mixture of broken English and slang, which was fascinating to hear.

One of our guides ran up to us, singing loudly and shouting, “I just listened to Bob Marley! I'm feelin' good ri' now, mon!” In fact, throughout the entire journey, the young men would frequently burst into song. They usually sang Bob Marley, interjecting with cries of, “Oh, yeah, mon! Dat's ri'!”

As we drove in the rocky car back up to the main building, several youths hopped onto the back of the car. One fell off during a particularly rocky jamaican dock at jpgspot, but he turned out okay.

After we returned, the kids went back onto the ship and my mom and I stayed behind in Jamaica to shop. There were many little shops with all sorts of little things to buy. I found a freshwater pearl necklace that I absolutely loved, but it was thirty dollars. I finally managed to bring it down to fifteen dollars (I have no idea if that's a good price or not, but I sure felt like it was!).

The man who sold me the necklace said, “If I sell you dis for fifteen dolla, my lady, will you t'ink of me ev'ry time you put it on?”

“Yes,” I finally stammered, unsure of what else to say.

“Promise me,” he insisted.

After I promised, he asked to be the one to put it on me and then he said, “If anybody asks you where you got dis, my lady, tell dem dat your sweetheart in Jamaica gave this to you.”

I smiled and said I would.

In fact, I seemed to be a hit with the men in Jamaica. My whole family was laughing. At one point, while Mom was looking at t-shirts, I heard a knocking on the window beside me. There were about six Jamaican men in construction hats who were whistling and waving and blowing kisses at me. “You are beautiful, beautiful!” they kept saying. I waved back. I was too embarrassed to even think about blowing kisses back at them.

The last thing I bought was a t-shirt that said Falmouth, Jamaica. The t-shirt vendor was a fairly older man and he actually gave me five dollars creepy creepy jamaican jpgoff, although he refused to bargain with any of the people before me. Before I left, he actually called my mom over to us and said, “You mus' tek a picture wit' me to remember.”

“O—okay,” I finally agreed. I didn't have much footage of Jamaica anyways since most of our day had been in the water. Perhaps this would be an entertaining picture... and it was, but for different reasons than I thought.

It seems that this man also liked me, even though he wasn't a young guy like the others. When we posed for the picture, he got a little... close. I'll let you see for yourself.

The man put one hand on my stomach and the other hand on my lower back. And then he was sure to get as close as he could with his face on my head. Mom later said, “I was afraid he was about to molest you while your mother was sitting there taking a photo!” Thankfully, he didn't get THAT close.
Dinner was casual, so there isn't much to report about that. I love our waiters: Faycal and Odalis. They're two of the sweetest men I've ever met.

When we got back to the room, we couldn't find a little towel friend. We were disappointed, thinking our housekeeper must have forgotten. And then Luke looked up towards the ceiling. It was a bat! Our little towel friend hung from a hanger hooked to the ceiling. We all had a good laugh about that.
Tomorrow we arrive in the Cayman Islands. It should be an interesting day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Posting from Labadee, Haiti

When we woke up bright and early this morning, we immediately spotted a little wooden rowboat rocking precariously in the deep waters of the ocean. “We must be near land!” we cried out to each other, clinging to the rails and watching the tiny speck of a rowboat in the distance.
Soon the island of Haiti loomed into view, green and mountainous. Heavy rain clouds cloaked the top of the mountains.
We arrived in Labadee, Haiti around 8:00 this morning. We got off the ship around 8:30 and walked down a pristine white dock towards the island, surrounded by crystal-clear water. When we looked down, we could see coral and rocks, but I'm pretty sure the water was much, much deeper than it looked.
cloudy haiti jpg
Nawnie was given a funny-looking wheelchair for the long walk.
We were immediately taken onto a water taxi with about ten or twelve other people. We rode the waves of the ocean for about fifteen minutes while we were taken to another part of the island with a private beach only for us and a little Haitian village.
A sweet woman named Rosie took us on a tour of the village, showing us how to make Haitian peanut butter, bread, and chocolate and how they make their houses. She even showed us a tree with a cure for insomnia, saying, “Ninety-five percent of Haitians have insomnia. The parents lay awake at night wondering how they will feed their children and send them to school since we have no public schools. The children lay awake at night because of hunger.” It put my thoughts into perspective when I realized that while I had been given the opportunity to relax on the beach with my family, there were people on that same island who were going to bed hungry.
I went to buy some trinkets from the islanders. This is the only way many of these people make their livings, so I spent two or three times more than I would normally be willing to pay. I bought a little bead bracelet, a small statue of Haitian people, two metal painted lizards, a t-shirt, and a stone heart.
Our little private island was absolutely beautiful. Amy and Luke enjoyed scampering through the waves and finding several hermit crabs and clams. I was able to sunbathe a little and even got a bit of a tan, I think.
hermit crab in jpg
We returned to the main beach in a couple of hours. We ate a lunch of fruit, bread, and pound cake, and then Nawnie and I sat out on the beach and waited while the others prepared to go on a zip line that was 500 feet above the beach.
It became cloudy and rainy through the afternoon, so it wasn't quite as nice as the morning, but I still liked it. At times, I hid under my umbrella as I poked in the sand with my toes. I love the feel of grainy sand beneath my feet.
Finally, the rest of my family came by on the zip line, beaming widely and waving at us. They came back to the beach with a jerk as their lines hit a spring and bounced them backwards to stop their fall. And then it was over.P1030035.JPG
Mom and I decided to go shopping in the little Haitian artisan while the others returned to the ship. The little shopping market reminded me a lot of Kenya's. Many vendors lined the roads where men would come and call out, “Pretty lady, pretty lady, come and see what I have to show you. Let me give you a gift. Don't you want something nice? Don't you want something beautiful?” It was always very difficult to say no to any of them because not only were we helping them to feed their families, but when we said no, we were also saying no to their artwork. At one point, Mom made the mistake of calling my name and after that, wherever I went, I heard cries of, “Emily! Emily! Emily, come see what I have for you. Beautiful Emily. Where are you going, Emily?”
After buying a few little things, Mom and I returned to the ship, showered, and took a long nap before getting ready for dinner. I had crab cake, sirloin steak, baked potato, steamed vegetables, berrymisu, and lemon tart. Everything was delicious. Our waiters, Faycal and Odonis, are wonderful.
Waiting for us back in our room was a little towel turtle.
I'm writing these words from my bed. It's only 8:30, but we'll probably retire early again because it's been a busy day and we have another long and exciting day tomorrow in Jamaica. Can this trip get any better?
haitian villager jpg
beautiful labadee jpg

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Beautiful Ocean

The moment I woke up and looked outside, I was amazed. The water literally looked gold from the sun. It was so bright and beautiful that my entire family stood in awe of what the Lord had made. The clouds hung gently in the sky, only making the brightness of the water even more magnificent. Beneath us, the water was a deep blue. Churning white waves erupted from beneath the ship.
sparkling waters of the jpg
We got up around 9:30 in the morning and went to eat breakfast. I had an omelet, scrambled eggs and baby shrimp, peach yogurt, a banana, watermelon and frosted flakes. Delicious!
After breakfast, we ventured out to the poolside, where Mom and I stretched out in the sun to try to improve our very weak tans.  I dozed in the sun for a couple of hours and then we went to lunch, where we had a pretty good meal. We went back to the poolside after lunch and watched Luke and Amy both climb to the top of the ship's rock wall. It was fun to see everyone's amazement as adults struggled to reach halfway and both brother and sister made it all the way.
Not a whole lot happened today since we were at sea. No excursions or big activities. All we did was relax and nap and enjoy ourselves, which was very, very nice. I don't do that often.
at the pool jpg
Dinner was formal wear, so we all dressed up very nicely. Dad and Luke wore suits, Amy and Mom both wore dresses, and I wore a swimsuit cover-up. No joke. I got a black swimsuit cover up when I was back in Texas. When I tried it on without a swimsuit, Mom and I burst out laughing. It seriously looks like a nice dress, especially when it's paired with a black set of heels and a pearl necklace. So that's what I wore. A thirteen dollar fancy dress and nobody ever noticed anything.
Dinner was very nice. I had shrimp cocktail and even tried some escargot. In fact, the entire family tried some. I absolutely hated it, but I felt adventurous for trying. I had some prime rib for my main course and then some strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Overall, it was absolutely wonderful.
eating escargot jpg
We went onto the main deck to watch the sun set, but unfortunately, the sky was covered in thick clouds that blocked the sun from view. Also, the wind was terrible on that side of the ship and tended to blow our dresses around terribly. We couldn't stand without having to hold the hems of our dresses down.
watching the sun set on jpg
When we got back to the room, we found a few towels formed into the shape of a dog. The towel dog was absolutely adorable and it was wearing Amy's sunglasses. I skipped the show tonight and spent the night relaxing before going to bed early.
Tomorrow will be our first excursion: to Labadee, Haiti.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boarding the Ship

Today has been a long day, but a great day. We left the hotel around 10:30 in the morning. A snazzy black SUV picked us up to take us on the hour-long ride to Port Canaveral, where we quickly checked through security.  As I passed through the metal detectors, a guard stopped me and said, “What do you think you're doing? You can't get on this ship!” I froze, feeling startled and nervous. I couldn't get on the ship? What? “You're going to have to go buy a Longhorns shirt somewhere because no Aggies are allowed past this point.”

A smile broke across my face. I was wearing an A&M t-shirt. Of course, the guard was only teasing me, so we exchanged fist bumps and grins after I passed through the metal detector. “We're cool, we're cool,” she reassured me. “We can still get along.” What a Longhorns fan was doing in boarding the jpgFlorida, I'll never know.

We are traveling with Royal Caribbean's "Freedom of the Seas."  The ship is HUGE and very fancy!

Boarding the ship was a little nerve-wracking for me. I'm terrified of the ocean, as many of you know, so as I stepped over the bridge and onto the slightly rocking ship, I knew there was no turning back.

It really isn't that bad. When I walk, I can feel the rocking of the ship the most. Dad says he feels like he's drunk or something and I see what he means, even if I've never been drunk. The ship moves up and down between steps, so it's easy to lose footing. Luckily, none of us is seasick.

Our room is very small. Amy, Luke, and I all have to fit into three twin-sized beds and a bathroom that somewhat resembles an airplane restroom. However, the beds are topped with memory foam and soft sheets, so while we are in cramped quarters, we will be comfortable.

In our room is a balcony that overlooks the ocean. At first, the balcony made me a little nervous, but now it's not so bad. For a little while, we enjoyed pointing out stingrays and jelly fish that we could see bobbing just below the surface.

We put on our bathing suits and Amy, Luke, and my Dad all went for a swim in one of the several swimming pools on deck. Mom, Nawnie, and I decided to tan instead, laying out on beach chairs and relaxing. I'm not sure if I tanned at all, but the sun sure felt nice. We get complimentary ice cream and soda wherever we go.
sun bathing in the jpg
At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship departed, quickly leaving the shore behind us. We are now only surrounded by a deep blue ocean that tucks behind the curve of the earth. No islands are in sight at this point. Tomorrow's journey will be entirely at sea.
foamy ocean jpg
fancy dinner at jpgWe took dinner at a nice restaurant where we met our waiter from Tunisia. He's a very nice man and I'll enjoy getting to know him over the next week. He has a very thick accent and it was hilarious to see him try to communicate with Nawnie, who is half-deaf and forgot to wear her hearing aids today. With everything he said, she'd smile and nod and not understand a single word until I finally tapped him on the shoulder and said, “She doesn't have her hearing aids, so she can't understand a thing you're saying.” We all had a good laugh.

We went to see a show after dinner. At first, a very corny musical group performed, which made us all cringe with dread. Was this going to be the entire hour-long program? Thankfully, a comedian came and spoke, and two acrobats performed as well. Overall, it was a great show.

Now we've returned back to the room. The door to our balcony is wide open, so a light breeze is drifting into the room where I sit. I can hear the loud sound of the waves crashing against the boat. It's a little eerie to look out into the black ocean. The sky and water are both very dark. It's a little frightening. The water is so big and deep that it could easily swallow me up and out of sight.
It's best to not think of such things!

Anyways, it's been a great day so far. I can't wait to see what is in store for tomorrow.