Friday, March 18, 2011

Holland America here we come!

Nothing like a list of mechanical issues to really  make you feel like you are back from vacation. In fairness, I left with most of them brewing and just took the Scarlett O'Hara approach of "I'll think about that tomorrow" but it is no fun when:

1. The washer wasn't working for some weeks now as supposedly a lid switch has quit, the life partner retrieved it from the innards of the machine and delivered it to the hardware store so a replacement could be ordered. The only problem with that plan was when I checked upon my return home (almost two weeks wait) the part hadn't even been ordered yet. I was very cranky with the parts manager. He suggested on Friday when I followed up to ensure the part HAD actually been ordered that it 'might' be in Wednesday or if not then it might be a couple of weeks. I phoned yesterday, the parts manager is on vacation so perhaps the part is in but not sorted, maybe I should check again tomorrow. Unimpressed? You bet! Almost as ticked as when the shore captain siphoned out the 1/3 of washer tub full of dirty water and flooded the mud room with it. When you use all the available towels to mop up the mess how do you then wash them? Hmmm. I have been imposing upon the good will of a friend who offered the services of her washer and so I did four large loads of laundry on Saturday afternoon. At least this malfunction doesn't equal the one years ago when I had a 3 1/2 yr old, 2 yr old and a 6 month old and was doing at least six loads of laundry daily (including one of cloth diapers and one of baby clothes) and the stackable washer/dryer quit during the first week of lobstering when the two oldest had a stomach bug. So I would wait every evening for the shore captain to come home exhausted, smelly and wind/salt burnt - feed him and put the two oldest to bed, taking the baby with me and traveling the neighbourhood to source a local washer/dryer. Thank goodness the girls weren't in the habit of waking after getting settled as there was no way their father would have been conscious enough to deal with them. In the debacle of waiting six weeks for a part we finally bought a new washer/dryer after two weeks as it was that or ship me off to the psyche ward and we fixed and sold the original when the part finally arrived. So troubles are all relative. However, the lid switches arrived yesterday, the shore captain was tasked with picking them up from the store (I could NOT trust myself to visit in person and was teaching first aid anyway) and returned home to install them. Only problem was.....the washer still didn't fill will water. After doggedly refusing my appeals to "call the repair man which you should have done in the first place" he finally gave in and did just that. The repair man arrived first thing this a.m. and promptly pronounced that "the fuse was blown likely from the lid switch sticking". So I guess it was likely a good thing the switches had been replaced but a bad thing that he didn't have a fuse in his bag of tricks. However, by the time I made it out to the hardware store he had located one and left it for me at the desk. I had the boy mechanic install the fuse this afternoon and put the washer back together - yeehaw- I did three loads of laundry one after the other, only to discover that it was leaking. Sigh. After going all CSI on it and much grumbling and foul language the shore captain stated that it was from twisting the machine out and back and I 'think' that after several adjustments this problem is solved.

2. The transmission in the car began clunking and grabbing when shifting just as we left on vacation. Much worse when we returned so I had the only son check the transmission fluid (down he says, needs at least a liter) but when his father was instructed to put the transmission fluid in (he says the transmission fluid is full) so I say "one of you doesn't know what he's talking about - you work it out". Although the senior male says "I've been around truck and boat engines all my life" my money was on the lad who has torn apart engines since he was in elementary school. Turns out there are lines on the dip stick for cold and hot levels of fluid but the cold level doesn't mean the engine is turned off, it means it's on (to ensure there is pressure as it is pumped through the transmission) but not warmed up yet or so the junior male educated me. There was a leak as the boy had found a puddle of fluid in the driveway to prove it (either seal or line - I don't care which it was easily and relatively cheaply repaired including cleaning the fluid off the breather as the old guy didn't know where to put the fluid either) so as you can guess I am a bigger fan of the junior male as mechanic now. After both the low and high beam headlight were replaced things are all good with the transport aspect. When I dropped the car off at the garage they were trying to tempt me by giving me a brand new Avenger to drive - ah, what a sweet ride but I am not so easily lured as my next vehicle will be a standard I've decided as I miss having one of those for some years now. All digits crossed to keep the Sebring on the road for another season. This car owes me nothing at this point! A quick switch of cars on my way to work nights and all was good with the universe.

3. The wireless internet was still acting up when I returned from vacation and as I told Eastlink "I have just spent 7 days in a country that can't even guarantee potable water and I had wonderful high speed wireless internet!" So I spent the usual hours on the phone daily, got a service appointment for Tuesday morning and was offered two free weeks of internet. I said "so you're offering me two weeks free of something that doesn't work?" to the supervisor who magnanimously suggested this.  Like being asked at a restaurant if you'd like more when you return your unsatisfactory meal my friend said. On Monday morning as I lost the signal for the umpteenth time an Eastlink van drove into the yard so I assumed that they were working on something. Not so, they were responding to my troubles - obviously on their own schedule, but I'll take it - the short, stocky nerdy tech who looked as if he'd spent the night hacking into the Pentagon and I am sure has watched every Star Trek movie at least 35 times, busied himself checking out the antenna on the house, my computers, router etc. Shortly he appeared around the corner of the house with a ladder and began working on the antenna. He finally got both my computers working and pronounced that he had "changed the settings on the antenna as my jitter was too high" which surprised me that he'd know that much about me as I'd never met him before. I assured him that he was correct as far as Eastlink was concerned my jitter was extremely high! He also suggested that my router was likely needing to be replaced and they could run a wire above the ceiling due to our concrete walls as they had done in another house of this construction. So, again all digits crossed and occasionally unplugging and replugging the router and I am in contact with the outside world. Mind you this posting alone I have had to reboot the computer once and unplug and replug the router twice. Sigh.

So, I've decided that working two 12 hour night shifts is about the right schedule for me. Now if I could get paid full time and only work that much it would be all good. The two shifts passed quickly as the first was rather frantic, followed by a full sleep day and the second was spent catching up and of course knowing you're going to be off again for a few weeks doesn't lead you to be heavily invested in all the politics.

With all the returning from and leaving again for vacation in full swing - meaning laundry the hard way, small amounts of housework as I have to pace myself, and attempting to catch up a bit on my course, along with teaching two first aid courses and a community meeting for disaster planning - it has been a busy 10 days - and that's not counting what the shore captain's been up to. We had a short visit from the student nurse daughter and her main squeeze on the weekend for brunch which was nice as we got to enjoy swapping vacation stories.

So the plan for tomorrow is to finish up the household tasks and complete the packing. I was most amazed that the travel partner voluntarily began packing FIRST this evening. He did unearth a pair of dress pants (which he had inherited from the suit for the brother usher from the June wedding) needing to be hemmed. Of course since the son is 6 ft. and he is 5' 9" there is a lot of trimming and hemming needed but as he pointed out when I complained that it was last minute that "it's not really last minute as it's over 36 hrs before we leave" so hard to argue with that logic as he is usually stuffing his clothes in the suitcase as we head out the door. Bit more packing required as there are three formal nights on this 10 day cruise but we're still well below the luggage allowance as apparently we don't require a suitcase the size of a steamer trunk which seemed to be the norm in Cancun airport - we had two small bags and had seriously over packed for the week we found.

Off to Fort Lauderdale early on Sunday morning spending three days there. My main plan is to explore the canals of Ft Lauderdale the Venice of America and check out the Everglades. The resort sure looks like it won't be hard to take either. Then we will be heading out on the Holland America, Zuiderdam on Wednesday afternoon with the sail away at 5 p.m. so you can just think of us enjoying the view and me with a tall drink with an umbrella as we head towards the Bahamas, Aruba, Curaco, Panama, Costa Rica then back to Florida. I'll be the one with a huge grin on my face and the camera in my hand. Plans for snorkeling in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Aruba and Curaco, checking out the Panama locks and canal and in Puerto Limon the aerial tram over the rain forest and Tortugara canals with banana plantations. So photos to follow. Hasta.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All good things...

Luis making our flaming volcanos
Well, as wonderful as a week at the Blue Bay Grand Esmerelda on the Mayan Riviera has been and it HAS been as we are well and truly spoiled. Take note of Luis at the Italian a la carte restaurant making our dessert for us. I had to ask "does your mother know you play with fire?" The a la carte restaurants were good with the steak house, Italian and seafood being our top three favorites. All good things must come to an end and thus we are contemplating a return to reality tomorrow. Sigh. Sounds like we have at least spring like temperatures not winter as some provinces so we'll have to take it. Flight out tomorrow afternoon but as anyone who has vacationed knows that means a morning checkout, bus ride to the airport, check in and wait before a five hour flight then three hour drive home. So close and yet so far when it will take over 12 hours to accomplish all that. But as I said to the travel partner today "we've found the solution for the post vacation let down with a second trip coming up but what are we going to do after the cruise?" His answer was that it may be close enough to warmer temperatures that we can handle it. We shall see.

The weather has been warm - high 20s and low 30s with the Mayan Riviera having high humidity so I'm surprised that I haven't had cankles this week but no I do have ankles and calves. A few tropical rainshowers one evening and Sunday afternoon it did shower for quite a while so we took in our coupon for the spa and indulged ourselves in hydrotherapy, drank iced tea, ate grapes and then had naps as if we were Greeks or Romans. All in all it has been a week of relaxation which has passed much too quickly. This place even has a large group of coatimundis who make the rounds begging for food from the guests.  I tried to convince the travel partner to do some other excursions but he says we need to leave something for our next visit so I'm not going to argue with that concept.

On Thursday we were taken to Playa del Carmen by one of the resort staff for a few hours and we did the tourist thing where we checked out 5th avenue with its t-shirt shops, negotiated for jewelry I didn't buy and finally picked up some clear vanilla which I had promised a friend and some tequila because I think this summer may have some margueritas in it. It is a small seaside place which has grown over the past 20 yrs from a fishing village/backpackers haven to a tourist town. It reminded us of small towns in Cuba with the colonial designs, Spanish signs and construction.
Lighthouse at Tulum

Sea turtle Akumal reef

Manta ray who visited us snorkeling

We took an excursion to see the Mayan ruins of Tulum yesterday morning in a small group with a wonderfully informed guide named Rueben (the guides in Mexico study for four years and then intern) where you can see how beautiful it is above and then to snorkel at Akumal on the reef where we saw lots of fish and some really large ones too with the shore captain seeing a 4 ft. grouper. 

Today we spent the morning on the beach and even with the SPF 30 sunblock we managed to bake ourselves just a tad bit more than we intended. The Cool Aloe I.C.E. has been procured from the hotel store which should help a bit. My excuse in part was that I was watching the wedding taking part on the beach where the bride wore a white bikini (her bouquet was bigger than her outfit) and the groom wore white Billabong embroidered shorts and no shirt (they had to put more clothes on to go in and have the wedding lunch) although the attendants were more traditionally attired in sundresses. Lots of champagne, photographs and kisses all around. That explains the resort employees struggling down the cobblestone pathway with a cart full of chairs, poles and shovel this morning - apparently this is how the gauzy gazebo and covered chairs appeared at noon time.

Well, the after sun lotion has dried so we are off to source some supper and will check out the buffet as we've tried all the a la carte restaurants we were interested in. A later post when we return to the 'real world'

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That's it I'm running away....Playa del Carmen here we come

I've had major internet problems over the past few weeks which ended in a showdown with Eastlink which ended with me being without internet for four days and told I would have a service call in over three weeks time to look at my problem then getting a full refund for the month of February and supposedly having someone named 'Will' a the call center disciplined and losing a days pay for being rude to me as in "I'll have to ask you to refrain from eating when you're speaking to me" as I used my 10 min. lunch break at 2 p.m. to question him as to why I was having a service call the next morning when I had a call from the wireless tech telling me the tower was fixed? It made it darn near impossible to work on my online course without internet at home as work was beyond busy. The course has begun to rule my life and I'm quite a ways behind where the overachievers are (as always) which is not helpful. At the end of each day I've said "I didn't update the blog" and it is:

We leave in the morning for Playa del Carmen for a week on a direct flight from Halifax to Cancun, after we stop the car off with the son-in-law in the morning. Packed, cameras ready, e-readers charged and loaded and the house, animals, plants etc. taken care of. it has been good to be off work since Saturday and trying to wrap up the details and delicious to think that I only have two LNs to work between Feb 26 and April 6th. Yeehaw!

I can see clearly now.....
Although work has been frantic there are times that you just have to take care of the staff. I'm posting a copy of two of my coworkers. The one being operated on has a wood stove and apparently got a splinter in her foot which her husband with poor eyesight couldn't assist with. So the LPN says "shall I get the googly eyes?" and proceeds to remove the foreign body from the foot before we can get down to business.Thank goodness for magnifying glasses at times like these.

Lots of travel going on actually as the teacher daughter and her husband are returned from their cruise which of course was a wonderful time. They snorkeled extensively and enjoyed all the Caribbean had to offer. Apparently need to get back into the swing of work and the exercise program after all the great meals on the ship. The baby daughter and her main squeeze are spending a week in Dominican Republic, which is the way you should spend your spring break instead of stuck in a snow bank in Fredericton. They leave a day after us.

There had been a posting online for a great sale on airfare to South America this month of only $515 return with taxes in from Halifax to Buenos Aires (instead of $1200 usually) so I was grieving having other travel plans but it turns out that it was some sort of glitch and didn't actually work out for folks who thought they'd bought tickets from this travel consolidator as Air Canada wouldn't honor them. Whew, now I don't get to feel jealous.

Had a nice visit this evening with the prodigal son and a new female friend who he is quite smitten with - and understandably so as she is attractive, quiet, self employed and has her own place. We were quite taken with her too - did I mention she has her own place? Not his usual choice of woman - a serious upgrade - so we're all amazed and holding our breath.

Had a wonderful meal on Saturday night at Lothars in town and it was German night so I would hope he could do that proud. Great menu, friends to visit with and all close to home. Now off to catch a few z z z s before heading out and towards good meals all the specialty restaurants. I am traveling with the laptop so if there are a few moments to update and there may be with someone else doing the cooking and looking after us, I shall update you. Hasta leugo.