Monday, May 4, 2009

Panama Canal Trip - At least it begins with a "P"

I realize that this blog is supposed to be about my adventures in publishing, but I took two weeks off to go on a cruise through the Panama Canal, so today’s post will be about those adventures instead.

Not that we had many adventures. When I’ve taken cruises in the past I usually gather up as many friends and family as I can and then spend my entire vacation telling them where to go and what to do. It was quite disappointing to someone of my maternal/herding instincts (I think one of my ancestors was a sheep dog) to only have my husband to tell what to do and where to go for two weeks. Really, I could have just stayed home and done that. I did manage to find four people from Switzerland on our ship who didn’t speak much English and I persuaded them to let me arrange their transportation in Cartagena, Columbia. We all shared a cab from the port and got off in the Old Town. I had a map and had done research and started showing them some great Baroque architecture, and they asked me if I’d mind if we separated and just all met back at the taxi. So it was back to leading my husband around. Since I got lost several times (it wasn’t my fault, the streets in Cartagena are CRAZY) he mutinied and stole my map. The other problem I had was I was working off a travel article from The New York Times that had suggestions about where to eat, and of course none of the restaurants mentioned in the article even existed anymore, so that made it kind of difficult to find them.

We had more success in Antigua, Guatemala. Actually, it was a near perfect day. I got a little turned around at the beginning, and Jonathan kept proposing that we hire a local for a walking tour, but I vetoed that suggestion and eventually we got our bearings. We found a great French restaurant and had crepes and tarts overlooking the ruins of an old Cathedral. Later we stopped at a beautiful courtyard cafĂ© for one of the best cups of coffee we’d ever had. Life was good.



But the next day the ship docked in, horror of horrors, Mexico. Not that Mexico is horrible, but we had no idea it was in the midst of a Swine Flu epidemic. So in blissful ignorance we got off the ship and exposed ourselves to a dreaded illness. It wasn’t until we docked in California early last Sunday morning that I spoke to my mother on the phone and she told me about the news reports. This week none of the cruise ships are even docking in Mexico. I don’t think either of us caught the Swine Flu, but I am feeling kind of achy so my family refuses to see me. After envisioning a joyful reunion after a long absence, it’s a bit anticlimactic. Oink. Oh, excuse me.