The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ride With Me Wednesday

Or, let's try this sucker again and see how far we get this time.

You all know by now how much we enjoy traveling, seeing new places and revisiting old favorites. Whether cruising or camping, driving or flying, hiking or riding, it's all eagerly anticipated and greatly enjoyed. Traveling has the benefit of allowing one to meet many people from many different countries and cultures, and I never cease to be amazed at how alike we all really are.

Cruising provides an ideal opportunity to meet new people. We always enjoy meeting the staff and learning who they are and what is important to them individually. Last October we had a dining room server named Khan; he was from the very north of India -- literally, from the same area as M.M. Kaye's "The Far Pavilions" -- another book for your list, Ann! He was very intelligent and well educated; he was working towards his degree in hotel and restaurant management and had already worked and studied in Paris and other areas. He told us a lot about his native land and I will never forget the dinner when he sang for us part of a Hindu love song from his particular culture.

On our short cruise last August we had the pleasure of being served by Christian from Chili. He noticed the small crucifix that I wear nearly every day that I'm not at work, and began to talk to us about faith and God and from there to his life back in Chili. We noticed him one evening, when the dining room staff was entertaining us with dancing and singing, that he was dancing with one of the young lady servers and it was obvious that they only had eyes for each other. When he came back to our table, we asked him who he'd been dancing with; his answer, to our great delight, was that she was his wife. They had met aboard ship and had gotten married on Catalina Island. She was from Moscow and he told us about traveling there to meet her family. We insisted on meeting her and he hurried off to get her; she was absolutely charming and sweet and it was obvious that he was very much in love with her. They made a wonderful romantic couple and it was easy to see that they would make wonderful friends and/or neighbors anywhere.

This cruise was no different. We met Tatjana, our server at lunch, who was charmingly pretty and had a wicked sense of humor. She was very lonesome for her native Croatia -- she taught us some Croatian which I have already forgotten -- and was looking forward to returning in a few weeks. We had a fascinating conversation with the cruise director from Brazil, all about the production shows and the entertainment. A grand discussion about what American audiences enjoy and what the Europeans want to see; the difficulties of performing on a moving ship. And then there was David, the pianist who played every evening during dinner. It seemed that everyone was ignoring him, so finally one night I went up to him as he was preparing to start playing -- our table was right by the piano -- and told him how much I was enjoying his music every night. He brightened up immediately, and after I told him how much I enjoyed Rogers and Hammerstein, played nearly the entire dinner hour everything imagineable from R & H. After about half an hour a young lady at the next table was heard to say that she was getting bored with the music; I mightily resisted the temptation to go over and tell her that if she would express some politeness and appreciation, she too could probably hear the music she enjoyed. But it probably would have gone over her head; after all, on formal night, the guys in her group showed up for dinner in shorts, flipflops, and cowboy hats.

Last Wednesday we docked at Cozumel. There must have been eight or nine cruise ships in port, a regular cruise convention. We opted for the horseback riding tour, riding past ancient Mayan ruins and sites. These ruins were not anywhere near as grand as the ones we were to visit the next day; however, it was intriguing to see the old structures and the caves that had been unearthed.

It was a very large ranch and had about 150 horses. I have never seen a trail riding ranch that had such well trained horses. I rode a little mare named "Isadora" who was very responsive and willing to go anywhere. Joe's horse was named "Electrico" and was also very responsive; however, Joe had problems with the old wooden saddle and ended up with some interesting saddle chafing. Barbara's horse, although one for beginners, also responded well for her. Our trail guide, Clinton, was very good about matching horses to the rider's abilities. He told one very nervous lady, "You'll be okay on this horse. He's almost dead, anyways".
Clinton was very knowledgeable about the island and it's history. All the trail guides we saw on this ranch were very much "born to the saddle" and excellent horsemen. Clinton was telling us that he had spent the night in the hospital with his wife; their daughter was born at 3:00 am and he was back at work first thing in the morning, meeting us at the port and taking us for our ride. I can't speak much Spanish but I do understand a fair bit; the other trail guides were coming over to Clinton to ask about the baby and he was proudly announcing the news. There were smiles and congratulations and handshakes all around. (We gave him $10 later "for the new baby".)
Part of our trail ride, after seeing the ruins, was taking a good gallop across the savannah. Isidora was ready for a run and we took off through the underbrush. Joe was not far behind and even Barbara got in a bit of a gallop. When we got back to the ranch, we were all invited to the cantina for sodas or Coronas as part of the tour package. It wasn't quite noon yet, but after the dusty gallop we were more than ready for a few beers. (Poor Barbara had to settle for an orange soda and a bag of chips.) I talked to Clinton about the beautiful horses in a separate corral; he told me that they were the owner's prize stallions that he, the ranch owner, trained and rode and showed himself. Clinton told me that when hurricanes came, the horses were all turned loose to fend for themselves. But I would be willing to bet that the prize horses were evacuated well away from the storms.
We went back to the ship for a late lunch and a spell in the jacuzzi. And to treat Joe's saddle sores. Not to worry, he's thoroughly recovered from the discomfort.
On the way back and forth to the ranch, we passed what I would say is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. Wild, rough, and absolutely amazing in the sunlight.
Next time, Costa Maya and some experiences of a lifetime.



Anonymous Kelly said...

It sounds like you had a great time. It must be fascinating to get to meet all those different people!

4:05 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

Cruising? Awwwwwsome!!! And Cozumel is SUCH fun! Wonderful photos. You are a great tour guide.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Margene said...

Cruising....I had to read twice. Thought it said cursing;-)
What a lovely trip!

7:21 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Such a fun travel log for us to read. I love the photos Pat. The woman with the new baby, probably could have done it without him anyway! Hispanic women are strong and resilient. Their babies are among the strongest too!

9:18 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Pat I'm so happy that the post worked this time! It was worth waiting for these beautiful photos. I always feel like I've just been on a luxury vacation myself after reading about your travels and seeing the photos. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us and for taking such great pictures of it all!

10:11 AM  

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