LICENSE PLATE COLLECTION OF MATT EMBRO


HONEYMOON CRUISE - OCTOBER 2008

SINCE OUR CRUISE WAS LEAVING ON A SUNDAY OUT OF TAMPA, WE FLEW DOWN TO FLORIDA ON THE SATURDAY MORNING SO WE COULD SPEND A DAY IN ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES, CLEARWATER BEACH. WE LANDED AT TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AND PICKED UP A RENTAL CAR FOR THE DAY.. I HAD ORIGINALLY BOOKED YOUR RUN-OF-THE-MILL COMPACT, BUT THEY HAD SOME SORT OF PROMOTION GOING WHERE YOU COULD UPGRADE TO A MUSTANG FOR $10 MORE THAN YOUR QUOTED RATE, SO WE WENT FOR IT. SWEET!


WE HAD A GREAT FIRST DAY.. ATE DINNER AT OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT, LAYED AROUND THE POOL AT OUR FAVORITE HOTEL AND SPENT A FEW HOURS DRIVING AROUND THE GULF COAST IN A REALLY NICE CAR :)

WE RETURNED THE CAR TO THE AIRPORT THE NEXT MORNING AND GRABBED A CAB DOWN TO THE PORT OF TAMPA, TO EMBARK ON OUR FIRST CRUISE TOGETHER. IT WAS A SEVEN-DAY DEAL, WITH FOUR PORTS-OF-CALL IN THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA, ABOARD THE CARNIVAL LEGEND. WE GOT THERE PRETTY EARLY, SO WE WERE ACTUALLY ON THE SHIP WITHIN AN HOUR OR SO, WHICH WAS NICE. ALTHOUGH WE HAD TO WAIT A FEW HOURS TILL OUR ROOM WAS READY.. SO WE TOOK THE TIME TO EXPLORE OUR HOME FOR THE NEXT WEEK, AND TO HAVE A FEW COCKTAILS. DUH! ;)


THE SECOND DAY OF THE CRUISE WAS A DAY AT SEA, SO WE JUST RELAXED AROUND THE POOL MOST OF THE DAY. THERE WAS A FORMAL DINNER THAT NIGHT, SO WE GOT TO BREAK OUT OUR NICE CLOTHES FOR A COUPLE HOURS (DOESN'T HAPPEN VERY OFTEN, BELIEVE ME LOL!).

WITH THE THIRD DAY CAME OUR FIRST PORT-OF-CALL.. GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN. I HAD ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO MEET UP WITH A FELLOW ALPCA MEMBER WHO LIVES ON CAYMAN FOR THE DAY, BUT I COULDN'T GET MY PHONE TO WORK AND WASN'T ABLE TO GET A HOLD OF HIM, UNFORTUNATELY. SO, WE DECIDED TO RENT A SCOOTER AND TOUR THE ISLAND ON OUR OWN.


WE WEREN'T REALLY INTO THE WHOLE TOURIST PACKED BEACH THING, SO WE HEADED UP THE WEST COAST OF THE ISLAND TO A MORE PRIVATE, LOCALLY-KNOWN BEACH THAT I HAD BEEN TO ON MY LAST VISIT TO THE ISLAND, CEMETERY BEACH. IT'S NAMED THIS BECAUSE THERE IS ACTUALLY A CEMETARY BETWEEN THE ROAD AND THE BEACH. A BIT MORBID, BUT WORTH THE LACK OF TOURISTS LOL. WE STAYED THERE FOR A SWIM AND AN HOUR OR SO OF LAYING IN THE MORNING SUN, AND HOLLY GRABBED SOME SAND FOR HER COLLECTION FROM THE PLACES WE'VE VISITED.


THEN WE WERE OFF TO A PLACE WHERE MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME TO GO OVER THE YEARS, HELL. IT'S A LITTLE TOWN ON THE NORTHWEST TIP OF THE ISLAND WHERE THERE ARE THESE QUITE INTERESTING LAVA ROCK FORMATIONS, AND THERE IS A POST OFFICE THERE SO THAT YOU CAN MAIL A POSTCARD HOME THAT IS ACTUALLY POST-STAMPED FROM HELL. PRETTY COOL. IF YOU LOOK CLOSE ENOUGH IN THE PICTURE, YOU CAN SEE THE DEVIL HANGIN' OUT IN THE ROCKS.


ON THE WAY BACK TO THE SHIP WE STOPPED AT THE CAYMAN TURTLE FARM AND THEN THE PUBLIC BEACH FOR A QUICK DIP, BEFORE RETURNING THE SCOOTER AND RE-BOARDING THE SHIP FOR OUR NEXT PORT-OF-CALL.


THE NEXT DAY WAS PORT-OF-CALL NUMBER TWO.. COZUMEL, MEXICO. THE WEATHER WAS PRETTY BAD ON THE WAY IN TO PORT, SO WE THOUGHT THAT THERE MIGHT BE A CHANCE THIS STOP WOULD BE SKIPPED DUE TO THE ROUGH WATER. BUT, AFTER THREE OR SO TRIES TO DOCK THE SHIP THE CAPTAIN FINALLY LANDED IT :). WE HAD SO MUCH FUN TOURING AROUND ON OUR OWN THE DAY BEFORE THAT WE DECIDED TO DO IT AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME IN A JEEP (WHICH, BY THE WAY, ENDED UP BEING FREE.. THEY NEVER CHARGED MY CREDIT CARD FOR IT. SCORE!). COZUMEL ISN'T A VERY BIG PLACE BUT THERE IS A ROAD THAT LOOPS AROUND THE ENTIRE ISLAND, SO YOU CAN BASICALLY SEE THE WHOLE THING WITHIN A FEW HOURS, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DID.


AND OF COURSE ALONG THE WAY WE FOUND A NICE PLACE ON THE BEACH TO STOP FOR A COUPLE DOS EQUIS :). TOO BAD THE WEATHER DIDN'T WANT TO COOPERATE.


PORT-OF-CALL NUMBER THREE WAS THE NEXT DAY, AND WAS A PLACE THAT I HAD ALWAYS WANTED TO VISIT.. BELIZE CITY, BELIZE. WE HAD BOOKED A SHORE EXCURSION AHEAD OF TIME FOR THIS STOP, WHICH WE WERE REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A DAY OF OFF-ROADING IN THE JUNGLE IN A LAND ROVER, BUT UNFORTUNATELY DUE TO EXCESSIVE RAIN AND FLOODING THE TOUR WAS CANCELLED. SO, AT THE LAST MINUTE WE HAD TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING ELSE TO DO.. WE CHOSE TO TAKE A BUS TRIP TO SEE SOME MAYAN RUINS IN INLAND BELIZE, WHICH ARE CALLED ALTUN HA. AFTER TAKING THE TEN MINUTE BOAT RIDE INTO PORT (THE SHIP HAS TO DOCK A COUPLE MILES OUT INTO SEA IN BELIZE, BECAUSE OF THE BARRIER REEF WHICH IS THE SECOND LARGEST IN THE WORLD.. ONLY BEHIND AUSTRALIA'S) WE BOARDED AN OLD BUS AND HEADED OUT, THROUGH BELIZE CITY AND INTO THE BELIZIAN COUNTRYSIDE.


THESE RUINS ARE RELATIVELY NEWLY DISCOVERED, SO MUCH OF THEM HAVE YET TO BE EXCAVATED. I HAVE BEEN TO OTHER MAYAN RUINS BEFORE, AND I MUST SAY THAT THESE WERE A BIT LESS EXCITING THAN OTHERS, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE STILL PRETTY COOL TO SEE. HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR THE CRITTERS THOUGH! (NO THAT'S NOT ME!)


AFTER WALKING AROUND FOR A COUPLE HOURS (AND GETTING EATEN ALIVE) THEY TOURED US BACK THROUGH THE SOUVENIR AREA AND ONTO THE BUS TO HEAD BACK TO PORT. LUCKILY FOR ME, JUST ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE PARKING LOT THERE WAS A BAR, SO I DECIDED TO HEAD OVER AND TEST OUT THE LOCAL BREW. ON THE WAY BACK THERE WERE SOME PRETTY CRAZY ROADS, SOME OF WHICH WEREN'T EVEN WIDE ENOUGH FOR TWO CARS TO PASS BY EACH OTHER. WHEN WE GOT BACK TO PORT WE CHECKED OUT SOME SHOPS AND HAD ANOTHER DRINK BEFORE BOARDING THE BOAT BACK TO OUR BOAT (LOL).


OUR FOURTH AND FINAL PORT-OF-CALL WAS THE NEXT DAY AND WAS THE ONE THAT WE WERE MOST EXCITED ABOUT.. ROATAN, HONDURAS. WE HAD PRE-BOOKED A PRIVATE TAXI FOR THE DAY ONLINE, THROUGH A TOUR COMPANY BASED ON THE ISLAND. ORIGINALLY IT WAS JUST GOING TO BE THE TWO OF US, BUT ANOTHER COUPLE THAT WE WERE SEATED WITH AT DINNER, WHO WERE ALSO ON THEIR HONEYMOON, DECIDED TO JOIN US AS WELL. WE WERE LITERALLY THE FIRST FOUR PEOPLE OFF THE SHIP, SO WE FOUND OUR DRIVER AND HEADED OUT RIGHT AWAY. WE DROVE UP ALONG THE COAST AND INTO THE MOUNTAINS AND MADE A STOP AT SOME DIVING RESORT (WE NEVER DID REALLY FIGURE OUT WHY, SEEMED THAT THE DRIVER NEEDED TO TAKE CARE OF SOMETHING).


NEXT WE WENT TO THE OWNER OF THE TOUR COMPANY'S FARM, WHERE THEY HAD SORT OF A MAKESHIFT ZOO. THE GIRLS REALLY WANTED TO SEE THE MONKEYS, SO WE WERE ALLOWED TO GO INTO THE CAGE AND HOLD THEM. LUCKILY FOR THEM, THERE WERE SOME BABIES. ONE OF THEM REALLY TOOK A LIKING TO MY BACKPACK LOL


AFTER FINALLY PEELING THAT MONKEY OFF MY BACK, WE GOT BACK IN THE CAB AND HEADED FOR THE MOST TOURISTY SPOT ON THE ISLAND, WEST BAY.. WHERE WE GOT TO CHECK OUT SOME OF THE BEAUTIFUL COASTLINE. IT HAD BEEN RAINING QUITE A BIT RECENTLY, SO IT WAS A BIT TOO ROUGH TO SWIM, BUT AT LEAST HOLLY WAS ABLE TO GET SOME SAND FOR HER COLLECTION. ON THE WAY THERE WE STOPPED AT A BAR FOR A SAMPLE OF HONDURAS' NATIONAL BEER, SALVA VIDA.


WE HAD ANOTHER DRIVE ALONG THE SOUTH COAST OF THE ISLAND BACK TO THE PORT, ALONG THE WAY STOPPING A COUPLE TIMES TO TAKE PICTURES AND CHECK OUT A FEW SHOPS. TO KEEP THIS SORT OF PLATE RELATED, HERE ARE A COUPLE PLATES THAT I SNAPPED ALONG THE WAY LOL..


AND SO CAME THE END TO OUR PORTS-OF-CALL. WE HAD ONE MORE FULL DAY AT SEA HEADING BACK TO TAMPA, WHICH WE USED TO RELAX AND TALK ABOUT THE GREAT WEEK THAT ALL OF US HAD SHARED. THAT LAST NIGHT WE HAD OUR FINAL FORMAL DINNER, WHICH WAS A GREAT END TO AN AMAZING WEEK, AND HONEYMOON :)


CHEERS ;)


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