Well, obviously several days have passed since I wrote up the diary.

We met up with friends, Jan and Garry in Fort Lauderdale and despite feeling like we were in danger of imminent death we had a lovely day. First thing we did on getting back on board was to go to the doctor who confirmed, yes we both had temperatures and we both had bronchitis- all that for $320 (Aus!!!!) for diagnosis and antibiotics.

Despite all our misgivings about American customs, we were out and off within 10 minutes- must be a record.   Jan and Garry had planned out a great day, we went out on a river boat called ‘The Jungle Queen’, well what else could it be called…We toured the waterways looking at the homes of the rich and famous, they started at 9 million and kept on going up. We went to a park where a mad young man wrestled a forty year old alligator. He said the 60 year old one was too heavy… he actually put his head in its mouth!!!!

After that we went to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, all quaint and cutesy, with a specially alluring shop full of goodies. Jan assured me we could do better. And, do better we did!

TKMax is a discount, end of line chain found in Europe and down in Florida- probably all over the northern hemisphere, not sure but it is full of bargains and we got a few. Time was limited so Jan kept bringing the clothes to me. I was after a pair of white trousers, but have the wrong shape…got yet another pair of black ones…true Kiwi.

Last stop was a Walgreen Pharmacy, we had a list of 10 things so each of us was sectioned off to get specific things, guess who did that.  We made it back to the ship with about five minutes to spare. Really appreciated Jan and Garry coming all that way from Port Charlotte to see us. Just hope we were non infectious.

Back on board we were told that a storm called Emily was on its way and Cartegena in Colombo was off. It seems that ports have been missed a lot since the orginal round the worlders got on in Sydney. Ryan Sea! We were to go to Nicaragua to a port nobody had heard of instead.

Next excitement was the Panama Canal. It poured with rain at the first lock and again at the last but was fine in the middle. What an amazing engineering feat. Never realised that it had three locks and a large lake, thought it was one long lock/canal. Took over 8 hours to get through and cost Ryan Sea something like 350,000 US dollars.

We caught a glimpse of Panama City in the distance, very modern striking skyline. Panama City is as big a banking centre nowadays as Switzerland. Would have loved to have gone ashore there but no way.

Forgot: the afternoon before Panama we stopped at a rat hole called Colon… Had a supermarket so we bought some more wine and vodka. While doing the derelict trick with the vodka, a frightfully British woman stopped and said they had done the same with 4 LITRES of Bombay Gin in Gibraltar, she said she did not think they would need any more!

A day at sea then Puntarenas in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is quite mountainous and touted as an eco tourist place by Ryan Sea, but we were not intrigued by the thought of six hours in a bus to see a mountainous village up in the cloud line so stayed local. Had a mooch around, PA was quite nice in a shabby kind of way, had booze in the supermarket and we have discovered the pleasures of golden rum.

Today we are in San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, again quite cute in a rundown sort of way, more hilly than PA and more charm as well. Lots of small painted houses and every second one is a hotel and a Spanish language school. We were sauntering along cameras in hand when a fellow passenger said be careful of your camera, T showed he had it firmly tied to his hand, man lifted up his sunglasses to show us a stunning black eye, someone had bashed him in quiet little PA and whipped his camera. We quickly put ours way.

Our health is just starting to mend, 4 weeks today for me since it hit and I am still coughing away at times, T is a few days behind. We have just finished the expensive antibiotics so hopefully all will be well.

We are actually a bit bored, as apart from Fort Lauderdale and the Panama Canal the stops have not given us enough time to do anything much. You can go on the tours but they condemn you to sitting on a bus for hours. The cruise is a bit like visiting Akaroa and saying you have seen NZ!

Don’t think we are truly ‘cruisers’ we get fed up with being surrounded by people all the time and the entertainment on board is targeted at 80 year old Americans. A few more good lectures and a bit more time ashore in ports that are accessible would be good.  We are also a bit dismayed at how ill mannered our fellow Kiwis and trans Tasman mates can be.

For example we thought we would go to a learner’s dance lesson; firstly a woman tripped T up , he fell to the floor, hands and knees stuff, the woman looked at Terry as though he had crapped on her foot, we danced away, bumped into another couple ,’keep in your own space’ snarled the man, a woman walked all over my feet and somehow it was my fault- end of dance lesson- we have not been back.

And as for the book swap- well, suffice to say someone nicked a book I was reading and had actually bought in Glasgow! Won’t go there again.

Many of the passengers are quite well off, the men having made their money as milkmen or grocers or similar and they are very full of themselves. Actually a lot of them seem very grumpy…


Twenty two more days…