I truly did want to go on this cousin cruise, but I could not justify the expense. I had recently returned from the Holy Land and did not want to burden Mike with this added cost. I prayed about it and felt comfortable to back out of the trip. I called my sister Norma to inform her of my decision. Norma tried to dissuade my choice but I knew better. A few hours later, Norma’s daughter, Leah, announced that she would be paying for my trip. I tried to talk her out of it, but Leah asked me not to rob her of her blessing. Leah’s blessing did not surprise me because I know of her kind heart.
We were nine cousins in all, representing four different families on the Lopez side (mother’s side). Two sisters from the Coachella Valley, Nellie P. and Elvia, two sisters from San Diego, Nellie G.and Roxie, cousin Sally from Fresno, two sisters, Letty from Yuma, AZ, and Angela from Rancho Cucamonga, my sister Norma from Mesa, AZ, and me. We were on a slow boat to Ensenada, Mexico.
The Carnival Cruise facilitates everything for their guests, including an App that allows you to text. Only one cousin took advantage of this. I told everyone that I did not need this because I was boasting that I was a world traveler, and that my phone would automatically switch to a special service allowing me to text around the world if need be. My phone did switch but I could never use it; every text I sent returned with a failure message. So this so-called special international service slapped me in the face. By the time I figured out that my phone was useless, it was too late to get the boat App.
Our first night after dinner we went to a Karaoke bar. We were pretty much all to ourselves when we arrived. Nellie P. and I performed a duet, and with the music blasting, it covered all the cracking in our voices. I felt like I could do this all night, so I convinced my cousin Roxie to join me on stage. We picked a Four Seasons song and kept losing sight of the lyrics; we just sang the chorus. I’d turn to Roxie during the singing and say, “I hate this song!” We laughed and kept singing. Soon a large crowd had gathered. A really good singer took to the stage, a few were so talented that none of us dare go up again; some sang so badly that it made us feel like professionals.
The following morning, since we could not text, Norma and I had to find which cabin our cousin Nellie P. was in. At customer service, they would not give us the cabin number, but allowed us to call the room. We wanted to meet the group for breakfast. Nellie P. was speaking English, but Norma did not really get the right name of the restaurant. Norma kept referring to the breakfast places as Seabiscuit, but I told her that was name of a racehorse. I thought I heard Sea Breeze. We were both wrong and ended up having breakfast somewhere else.
We all loved the Guy Fieri Hamburger stand; they were excellent. The dinners on the cruise were mediocre, but the service was impeccable! The wait staff called us by our first names, and twice they were part of the entertainment. They sang and danced, while we enjoyed the not-so-great meal.
Two nights on the ship we attended shows that were right up there with a Broadway production, as the singing and dancing were exceptional. These young entertainers are also part of the staff with other activities. While our younger cousins were dancing at pool side, some of the dancers were mixed in the group to help the guests learn the dance moves.
Early Saturday we arrived in Ensenada, Mexico. I looked out the window and yelled, “Land ho!” I had never been to this part of Mexico, and was pleasantly surprised how clean it is, and quaint too. Three of us, Letty, Angela, and me, decided to take an excursion to the La Bufadora. It is one of the largest blowholes in North America, and the first one I have witnessed.
Our tour guide mentioned a restaurant that was serving free margaritas with lunch. We wanted to try the fresh seafood, but we ordered way too much food so we were forced to order another margarita because the first one came in a shot glass. With the sea happily waving at us we were serenaded by young man singing romantic Mexican songs that our parents had enjoyed. We ate to our hearts’ content. Our tour guide mentioned that we had to meet at the bus by 1:00; we wanted to do some shopping, but we only had 15 minutes. We did not really know what to purchase but I did consume. Why I bought a fake Louis Vuitton belt I cannot say; maybe because I thought that I had these great bargaining skills or was rushed in shopping. Either way, I’m never going to wear the stupid thing. I don’t like fake anything. It was great to spend this special time with Letty and Angela. Letty is a first-grade teacher and Angela is a psychiatric nurse. These sisters are so pleasant to be around.
This trip was special to us all, and the bonding and special memories we shared will keep us better in touch. Most of us are Facebook friends but this was so much better. I learned so many new things about my cousins: Elvia makes beautiful jewlery; Nellie P., aside from coordinating the trip, won best dressed; Nellie G., was the most popular because she was pulled from the crowd and serenaded by a young male singer in the band. Roxie and I tied for most time spent with God. Norma downloaded the schedule, which kept us busy, plus tried to prove me wrong on all subjects. Sally was the healthy eater. We laughed so much, and we did not need any alcohol to laugh out loud.
Thank you, my sweet cousins, for being so kind, and putting up with my sarcasm. Thank you for all the lifetime bonding. Our parents would be proud for keeping the Lopez family together.
When we returned, I had a big surprise waiting for me. Sonja and Russ moved on Friday, and I was so happy that I was out of town and unable to help. I don’t know if it was out of guilt, but I agreed to help Russ clean out the condo while Sonja puts things together in the new home. Dear Lord, what a big mistake! Every part of my body was sore. I tried to open a bottle of water and my hands cramped up so badly that if I could have, I would have driven myself to Urgent Care.
Before Mike left on a business trip, he asked me what the trip cost and told me he would reimburse Leah. This is how my husband rolls, and one of the many reasons I love him so much.
I rate Carnival Cruise, also known as “The Booze Cruise” a 7, but their staff is 10.
Psalms 133:1 NKJV