Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Princess Diaries, Part 4

Be prepared for a picture heavy post, as there were so many wonderful and diverse things to see.

Two days before we went through the Panama Canal, on October 2, we were in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

A bus ride took us through the countryside.

 We were looking forward to our time at the Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary.
The scarlet macaws are magnificent birds. It is illegal to privately own macaws in Costa Rica so most of the birds have been rescued from private owners or poachers.
Most of the birds are in a very large circular cage that allows them to spread their wings and fly continuously. Otherwise, when they are rehabilitated and released back into the wild, they would not know how to fly. It's a huge cage and I believe the tour guide told us there were 40 to 60 macaws.
A few get loose.
Love birds? Their tails are quite long.
I wasn't able to get a good picture of a toucan.

While I was impressed with the macaws, these were my favorite.
The female is a luscious shade of green, which also allows her to blend into the foliage.
No chance of that happening with her male counterpart! There was something about their feathers that made them look like velvet. These males were really spectacular.
Have you watched the movie, Rio, the one about about the blue macaw? They didn't have strictly blue macaws here in the sanctuary, but rather very striking blue and yellow macaws. The tour guide also made a point of stressing the fact that these blue macaws are not native to Costa Rica, but are from Brazil.

I also loved this little gray beauty.
Right before I snapped the picture, this white bird had spread the feathers on his head, just like on the sign. He wouldn't do it again for me, and the tour group was moving on...

The sanctuary has other animals as well.

It was such a fascinating tour that we thoroughly enjoyed.

The second part of our excursion consisted of getting on a boat, on the search for crocodiles, iguanas, etc. That part of the excursion was pretty much of a bust. This is about all we saw--brackish water and reportedly an iguana, who pretty much blended into the tree branch. 
It was another extremely hot and muggy day so we were more than happy to get back to shore, board the bus and get back to the ship.

The next day was another sea day, with some rain and choppy water.
Tuesday, October 14, was our passage through the Panama Canal (see previous post), and then we were on to Colombia.

Cartagena, Colombia, where we docked on October 5, is a place both of us would like to revisit. We began our tour at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress built by the Spanish for protection against pirates.

We then made our way to the Old City, a fascinating and beautiful area of winding streets and Spanish Colonial architecture, surrounded by a wall. 
Once inside, I was captivated by the beautiful buildings.

 This might be my favorite picture from the whole trip.

 We toured a modern art museum, which contained this lovely old brick.
We were treated to some Colombian coffee on the second floor of the art museum, with a balcony that gave us a view of the city. Mark took these very interesting pictures that show the contrast of the old fortress with its guns and the modern city in the background.

More beautiful buildings.

Our next stop was to a series of 23 shops that are housed in what were formerly dungeons. Mark was on a mission to find a hat. After what seemed like a chapter out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, trying on many hats that were too small or too big, we finally found one that was just right. And then it was time to head back to the ship.

Our day in Cartagena was thoroughly enjoyable.

We didn't dock at Aruba until mid day on October 6.
The water was many gorgeous shades of turquoise and aqua. I don't think I've ever seen water such beautiful colors.
 For fun, I couldn't resist using the Waterlogue app on my phone to see one of the photos rendered as a watercolor.

The last excursion we had signed up for consisted of doing something I never thought I would do. I'm not a fan of large bodies of open water. I love looking at them. From the shore. However, we had signed up for a submarine ride to view the tropical fish.
First of all, don't try to compare this to the Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland, where you stand in line and then board a submarine, which feels like it is going deep into the water but actually stays at the surface.

Nope, nothing like that.

After a ten-minute boat ride away from the shore, up popped a submarine.
The trick then was to get from our boat to the submarine. Our boat pulled close, they were somehow attached to each other, with a little gangplank that went from the boat to the top of the submarine, where we stood and waited while people came up from the submarine, and then we took the stairs down into the submarine.

We saw quite a few fish, although the water wasn't as clear as we expected, perhaps the remnants of Hurricane Matthew that had recently blown through the area.

We saw a sunken ship.

We went down to a depth of 145 feet.
And I was glad to resurface, get back on the boat heading toward shore and back to land.
For most of the second week, we had wondered how Hurricane Matthew would affect our arrival at Ft. Lauderdale and departure from the airport in Miami. While a lot of people were greatly affected by the hurricane further up the coast, by the time we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale early in the morning on October 9, flights out of Miami were again departing normally and on time.

It was a wonderful two weeks, a perfect way to celebrate Mark's retirement from a thirty-year career to which he devoted so much time and energy.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale early on the morning of October 9, refreshed and ready to see what the next chapter holds for us.


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Needled Mom said... #

Terrific photos, Cindy. I'm not sure that I would have been a submarine fan either, but the fish look amazing. Looking forward to following that next chapter.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said... #

Good for you trying the submarine....too enclosed for me!

Robby said... #

Great story told with wonderful pictures! And that submarine? I could do it, but it would definitely not be my favorite thing. Glad y'all weren't too impacted by the hurricane.

OPQuilt said... #

Very fun trip! I think you two did a great job of giving us a taste of a cruise especially all those photo showing Colonial South America--just so interesting! Welcome home!

Anne / Springleaf Studios said... #

Looks like you and Mark had a wonderful time. Love the hat photo too, and all the colorful birds. The kids and I took one of those submarine rides when we were in St Thomas.

Terri said... #

This looks like such a fun day! Love seeing all the beautiful scenery and ocean views. I would have loved seeing that animal sanctuary with the macaws. And that submarine excursion - how cool! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Jenny - the lilac cat said... #

Thanks so much for taking us along on your wonderful holiday. Realistically these aren't places I am ever likely to get to as I'm the other side of the pond but found your trip absolutely fascinating. So wonderful to start the next phase of your life together in such a way.