Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blue Skies and Fun in the Sun!

The first two days of the cruise was spent out at sea. Ruth and I were still struggling with a dose of jet lag and so much of our time was spent snoozing in our cabin or (in my case) snoozing up on desk in the sun (with sunscreen and a hat on, of course!). In between sleeps, we spent our time eating at the buffet, making friends with the cruise folk or just practicing the art of simply doing nothing.

Cruising is all about doing nothing. And if you cannot handle doing nothing, you eat. Eating is the main activity on this boat and boy, I have never seen so much food being consumed in my life. I know that a majority of my readers come from the US, and so I must be careful not to appear disrespectful, however I have been overwhelmed by the number of morbidly obese people on this ship. I am not talking about a little round in places, I am talking about people who are gravely ill from weight problems. They do not seem to care though, and their eating habits reflect that. I have wondered whether this is a symptom of a larger problem with American society, or if it is just that cruise ships attract that kind of clientele. I do not make fun of it – I have learnt from it. I have watched what I have eaten, and only enjoyed a few sweets here and there.

On the third morning, we finally reached our first port – Grand Turk. We arrived just on sunrise and like the two previous mornings, Ruth and I were one of the first people awake. I was extra eager this morning, as I had booked to dive at 8am (to give you some idea of how much I wanted to do this, the one of the first things I said to a doctor after the accident was “can I still dive in Grand Turk?”.

Grand Turk is the largest island of Turk and Caicos in the Caribbean. We docked easily and it seemed as though the entire place existed on the fact that cruise ships dock there every day. As I walked (skipped?) off the boat, it was almost as though they said “cue the Caribbean atmosphere” and the man started playing reggae and the local shop assistants put on their best smile. The “Dollars” had arrived. On land, the part of Grand Turk that I saw really didn’t knock me off my feet in terms of interest – it really was just a bunch of nicely painted shops with a whole lot of “kitsch”.

For me, the real Grand Turk was all about what lied underneath.

Grand Turk is said to have one of the largest barrier reefs in the world (the other being, of course, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which I am yet to dive!). There were only seven of us with dive certification (seven out of about 3500 people!) which was great because it meant that we could spent a greater amount of time in the water. Due to my back issues, I was one of the first in the water, and they needed to hand my scuba gear to me so that I could put it on whilst in the water. This isn’t as easy as it sounds! I managed though, and we all descended down to the first reef, being the Coral Garden.

Within minutes, we sighted a hammerhead shark, something very few people can say they have seen in their diving lives. Thankfully, for our safety, the hammerhead shark seemed more interested in something in the distance and was swimming in the opposite direction but I knew many of us were a little worried that he had a short attention span and would back track on us to see who and what we were. It got the heart rate up and little but not enough to stop me from clicking away on my disposable water camera – we shall see if the photos turn out. Later, towards the end of the first dive, we also came across a nurse shark, another exciting piece of marine life. This time, the shark was sleeping quietly under a rock and did not seem to mind us all watching as he snoozed. Forty five minutes of diving and our tanks were running low so we made the ascent back to the boat for a mandatory “wait” (to allow the nitrogen levels in our body to drop).

The second dive, at Chief Minister’s Reef, was more about the pristine coral than the marine life. We spent another forty five minutes down there and I again clicked away with my camera. I sure hope my photos turn out.

Tomorrow, we arrived in Half Moon Cay, where we plan to swim with sting rays. It is not a tank dive, but more a pool for tourists. It won’t get the adrenaline going like scuba, but I expect that it will still be really fun.

It is indeed my birthday tomorrow, so I shall make sure I have a cocktail or two to celebrate – and that is, of course, depending on whether I can stay awake long enough to do so. The jet lag has really knocked me about!

Next stop, Half Moon Cay!


  1. Yay - I get to live vicariously thru your travels and adventures, Kate! Thank you. Scuba diving is something I've always wanted to do (in addition to skydiving), but I've extremely narrow eustacian (sp?) tubes and always feared it would be way too painful for me to do (I can hardly bear to dive to the bottom of a swimming pool!). I can't wait to see the photos from the underwater camera! Those little cameras usually work really well!

    As to the obesity issue - don't worry, I believe you are right on the money with your observations and are only being honest - not cruel. I've often wondered what the underlying cause is myself. Lack of education? Lack of concern? Inability to afford good food? (I rather doubt this last one - fruits and veggies don't cost near as much as fast-food or fatty meats and other fatty-rich store-bought foods). My personal opinion formed over these many years: eating has to do with nourishing oneself in order to continue living; and for whatever reason, many folks harbor an intense fear of dying, so the assumption tends toward "more is better insurance". In other words, the more I eat, the longer I'll live and the better I will have "nourished" my needs. Whatever they are."

    Make any sense? Probably not ... LOL!

  2. Both of you are making a lot of sense, but education and fear of diabetes isnt working. So want else can be done to save these people.

  3. Ma, it works

  4. Annie showed me a different way. Now I will constantly comment, arent you a lucky girl.