vrijdag 14 april 2017

The English story of our cruise, part 2

 Sea day (14th March). The story of  Mientje.

On sea days Jan and I do the ‘Walk your mile’ on deck 9. We do not really walk a mile but we walk about 45 - 60 minutes in a high tempo (4-5 kilometres an hour). That is more than a mile.
After the walking we go to the self-restaurant Marco’s to get us a nice cup of tea. 
On this day Jan and I were chatting and suddenly a woman  at a table near us said in Dutch: ‘Do I hear speaking Dutch?’ Till now we met 3 other Dutch people. This cruise was not offered by a Dutch travel agency and the other Dutch people booked individually like we did.
The lady told us that she lived in England since 1953. After talking about all kinds of subjects, she told us that she had written a book. The book was called 'Mientje', her first name which she used in the Netherlands. She changed  it in Hermi, because British people cannot  pronounce her name correctly. The book was about her tragic and happy experiences in the war, written from the view of a little girl, who cannot entirely understand what happened. 
When I asked her where I could order the book, she proved to be a good marketing agent of her own book. She brought a whole trunk of books (27) with her on the Marco Polo. At the end of the cruise, she told us that she sold  all the books and there was a waiting list now.
When I told the story to our friend Dianne, she wanted the book too and we both started to read the wonderful  book. 
During the cruise we met Mientje and her nice friend several times and had lovely conversations.
The cover of the book

Ocho Rios, Jamaica (15th March). Excursion: Bob Marley and Nine Mile

Route excursion 'Bob Marley and Nine Mile'
When we read the information about the shore-excursions in Jamaica, we choose to do the Bob Marley tour. We are not big Bob Marley fans, but you cannot ignore the fact that he made Jamaica very famous in the 70s. Besides the reggae part,this tour was the only one that drove through the rainforest and offered us a chance to see more of Jamaica then rum and beach.

In the coach we had a lovely lady guide with a nice accent. She talked so much, that you once and a while hoped she would pause for a moment.
She told everything about the island, about what we saw, about Marley and his village, the Rasta people and the marijuana. She said: ‘We show you what we like to show you, but also what we don’t like to show you’.
When we told her that the law in the Netherlands will be changed for more allowance for marijuana, she was very surprised. She was not a  supporter of the use of this stimulant.
The drive through the rainforest was lovely and beautiful. We saw a lot of poor villages too and now and then the houses of (sometimes foreign) rich people.

Jamaican people getting fresh water from the pump.

The village where Bob Marley was born and later buried, Nine Miles, must have been very poor. Nowadays the Bob Marley place is very touristy.
When you arrive, they offer you a joint for 10 dollar. The people do good business with all kinds of souvenirs. But you cannot blame them for making money.
The Bob Marley visitors centre
The guide in the village was a Rasta man. He said he was not allowed to smoke during his work, but  in the two hours we saw him, we did not see him not smoking pot!
Our Rasta guide
In the village you may visit the tomb of Bob Marley and his family and the house where he grew up. You were not allowed to wear shoes in the tomb, but smoking hash was not forbidden.
Waiting without shoes to visit the tomb
Bob's place and our backpacks
We didn't smoke the marijuana, but we must have been a little bit stoned of the air. A lot of tourists took the offer of a 10 dollar joint. 
After the tour to the tomb and the Marley house we were treated by a Reggae concert and our guide was the solo singer. He was not bad at all.
Reggae band
Our guide is singing out of this world
We bought ourselves nice shirts and we have had a beautiful Jamaican day without problems.

Georgetown, Cayman Islands (16th  March) .

At this port it was not possible for the Marco Polo and other cruise ships to berth at the pier and therefore we had to anchor. Normally in such a situation the crew brings the passengers to the shore with a tender (lifeboat). However the waves were so high, that it was not possible to step from the Marco Polo into the little boats. There were other big cruise ships. We supposed they succeeded in tendering, because they were nearer to the shore. After several attempts, we left the Caymans and set course to Belize.
Georgetown, Cayman Islands
Lifeboat from the Marco Polo returns to ship, 3 big cruise ships in the background.
Lifeboat near the vessel

Belize City, Belize (18th March). Excursion:  Mayan Ruins Explorer to Altun Ha.
In Belize we had to anchor too. Belize City offers a  tender service with their own ferries, suitable for 120 persons. These are sailing much faster then the tenders of the Marco Polo and it still took about 20 minutes to reach the shore.
Tender service in Belize City
Because we left the Cayman islands sooner, we were earlier than expected in Belize. The captain gave us the opportunity to go ashore in the evening.
We walked to the city, it was Saturday night and  the Belize people were shopping or they visited pubs. A lot of streets however were very dark and looked a bit unsafe. There was a café with a beer garden and there were at least 50 people of the Marco Polo trying to get Internet. We also tried to get Internet. Jan succeeded and I did not.
Route excursion Mayan Ruins Explorer to Altun Ha
The next day we went  to the Maya Centre Altun Ha by coach and we again had an excellent guide in the coach.
We drove in rather green surroundings and saw a lot of beautiful houses, but also poor villages.
Belize villa
Small Belize house
Green surroundings
Aboard the Marco Polo we had followed the lectures of dr. Louise Bonner about the Maya culture. These were a very good preparation of the visit of the ruins. On the site we had a guide of Mayan origin and he told us a lot new and interesting facts.
Altun Ha and our walking route
Altun Ha was founded around 900 BC and served as an important trading and religious centre.It is believed to have housed more than 10,000 people.
We could not help to think about the film Apocalypto of Mel Gibson with rolling heads of beheaded people.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypto
Blood was significant in the Mayan culture. Drinking human blood or eating products with blood such as chocolate, gave you the strength of the enemy.
Temple of the Green Tomb A1
Temple of the Green Tomb A1
Maya Gods
Dutch tourist from Bussum
After the visit we went back to the ferry and the ship and we were now even more curious and excited about our trip to Mexico on the next day.

To be continued . . .

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