Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: scuba

I heart Bonaire.

I love what I do for my job, most of the time.  I love triathlon, like, a lot.  I love camping and spending time playing in the woods.

The face of a happy girl who’s been in the water all damn week.

But I’m pretty sure given the choice of doing anything in the world, this would be it.  I’d wager that a condo within steps to the beach with filled scuba tanks ready and waiting for me whenever I feel like diving under the sea to the most beautiful reef I’ve ever seen would be my first choice 99% of the time.  Diving days are the best days, and when every day is a diving day, it’s like my own personal paradise.  Even the days we didn’t dive were filled with multiple hours of snorkeling, which is sometimes even BETTER.  Some of my favorite pictures and moments came from those days.

A “day to day” of where I snorkeled and dove and ate isn’t going to be that interesting of a story, so I’ll just give you a best of the best.

Diving Locations:

I’ll be honest, there are hundreds of places to dive here, and we’ve hit a very small sample of them, so I can’t give you a cohesive review (yet), but in my narrow opinion, these are the TOPS.

Just breathe.

Bari Reef is my home.  We just happened to stay there on our first trip, and now I never want to stay anywhere else.  It’s beautiful, it’s diverse, and turtles live here even if the house octopus shunned me BOTH trips so far.  We did half of our dives at this one location.  Sure, it’s convenient, but I also stand by my statement that if we could only dive one place, it would be here, and I could dive it four times a day for a month and not get bored.

Sunset on the pier.

Salt Pier is my second favorite dive site in the world.  We drove down there twice early in the week, because I wanted to dive it multiple times, but it was closed (one day there was a salt boat, the other, construction), and then when it was finally open, it took up two of my last six dives of the trip.  The setting is gorgeous even above the water, the background of the thick steel pipes accentuated with coral growths and pops of darting fish.  Also, you always see unique things there.  Last time, we hung out with a giant turtle feeding in four feet of water.  This time, two squid became our friends and hung out while we shot a bunch of pictures and video.  They’re usually so skittish and run away quickly, so it was a treat!

Let me give an honorable mention to Invisibles and Sampler.  Sampler showed me my first (TWO) seahorses.  They’re so tiny!  The were amazing to see, but very difficult to photograph since we had a big group of divers and I only got a few “proof” shots, none that were in focus.  Invisibles had a trench in the first reef that lead you to a second, deeper hidden reef (thus the name Invisibles).  This was the first dive in a while I actually had to watch my nitrogen levels and I was wishing for more time below 60 feet.  I guess it’s time for Nitrox certification so I have that option.

Things I want to hit next time: 1000 Steps.  Last time, Zliten was less than a year out of his bear fight resulting in three leg fractures, so we didn’t want to chance the entry.   This year, we wanted to hit it, but with Zliten getting sick, we didn’t want to walk ALLLLL the way there for potentially a 5 minute dive that we’d have to abort (and then haul a full tank ALLLL the way back up).  Next time, we’ll hit this one early, maybe first dive on the second day.

Underwater moments:

The Bari reef turtles are our homies and we love them.  We saw at least one of them almost every day.  However, two encounters stuck out in my mind.

Wednesday, we were snorkeling, and one of our turtles came to the surface to check on us.  It was breathtaking to float next to him and watch him breathe for a bit and then descend again.

Goodbye, Bari.

Friday, during the last few moments of our last dive, we found one of our turtles under a rock.  He swam and lead us to the other turtle as they danced at the surface for a bit, and then went their separate ways.  We followed the smaller one back to it’s home (it had anchored itself under a rock), and I waved goodbye to it and it literally waved back, I think it was actually mocking my movement because when I stopped, it stopped.

I always say Octopus are my spirit animal (spirit cephalopods, whatevs), but the squid contingent are definitely vying for that place after this trip.

At Salt Pier, we encountered two very large squid that after careful approach, didn’t run away.  We got really close and they were curious about us and our cameras.  I’m used to getting close enough to get a blurry “proof of sight” picture and having them dart away, so it was awesome to get a ton of in focus pictures and video until we swam away, not them.

Squid buddy!

Then, the next dive, at Corporal Meiss, a pod of squid surrounded us and danced – flashing different colors and waving their fins.  We had jumped in there quickly after lunch instead of a planned dive, since we heard there were octopus in the shallows.  Well, they dissed me, and the rest of the dive was pretty mundane, but this made me day.

Our second to last dive at Something Special, I met the next top Angelfish.  This fish was my little superstar.  While these guys aren’t always shy, this one just came up to my camera and would. not. leave. me. alone.  I had to keep backing up to get it’s whole body in the shot.  This is one of my favorite videos (still working on that part but here’s a shot of my favorite angel).  This fish make me laugh out loud and almost lose my regulator.  It was awesome.

My little superstar angel!  I’m pretty sure he would have followed me home if it was possible.

Honorable mention is literally every other moment snorkeling and diving.  Most of these happened the last day of diving.  If that day never happened, I’d have some almost equally amazing memories from other days hangin’ with seahorses and eels, and other turtles and spotted drums and scorpion fish and the little bitty things Zliten points out to me to photograph.  Every dive here is amazing.  Snorkeling Bari could keep me amused for a week straight.  I spent 25+ hours underwater in 7 days for a reason and I’d be right back there now if I could.

Things we missed that I’d love to see next time: we didn’t see any rays, those darn sneaky octopuses, and more seahorses for Zliten

Food highlights:

Diving is the primary objective, food is always secondary, but suuuuuuper necessary.  Diving for 4 hours a day is probably the equivalent to riding bikes for the same amount of time in terms of calorie burn.  I ate SO MUCH.  However, you don’t travel to Bonaire just for the food, but there are some amazing things to eat, and it was hard to narrow it down…

Between Two Buns has to go on this list.  It’s a sandwich shop, it’s only open until 3pm, and the line is always out the door and I don’t think you can pick anything bad on the menu.  I had the Mona Lisa the last day of vacation, which is a salami, buffalo mozzarella pesto, pine nut, peppers and onions sandwich, and it was pretty top notch.  But, I will say that the burger is the best thing there I’ve had so far.

Rum Runners at Captain Don’s needs to be mentioned.  I had one of the best BBQ chicken pizzas of my life as a late lunch one day.  When I returned the last night of the trip, the only reason I didn’t get it again was that I couldn’t bear to throw out the inevitable leftovers.  Instead, I got some chicken pasta that was also to die for.  Last time, I obsessed over their fish fajitas.  I’m also pretty sure the scenery makes the food taste better, as you can watch giant tarpon play in the water from your table.

The Cactus Blue truck was our lunch stop on Monday and Friday.  We had a curry burger and then their specialty, Lionfish burgers.  They are open 11-3pm and they run out of Lionfish EVERY DAY, even with 16 hunters supplying the fish.  I was excited to try it because it was a novelty, but they were honestly EXCELLENT and worth the wait.

Honorable mentions:

  • I had an excellent chicken curry sandwich at a hot dog, ice cream, and peruvian food joint.
  • Breezes and Bites was the restaurant in our complex.  We ate there a lot out of convenience, but they also had pretty tasty food.  They had some delicious fresh fish catch of the day plates (I ate two) and the garlic shrimp was heaven.
  • Our kitchen: we got a pan of lasagna at the store that lasted two dinners and it was so nice to just chill on the patio and not worry about getting dressed in actual clothes.

Things I want to try next time: there was a vegetarian Indian place down the street that sounded awesome.  Honestly, if we had two weeks instead of one, I’d like to take some more time and check out a wider variety of restaurants and check out some of the nightlife downtown… but with our short time there, honestly, it was just getting fuel for the next dive.  On our walks, we found out the complex has some grills and I’d like to make use of them next time.

Things we did not in the water:

Watching the sunsets.  Sometimes we took them in just after (or before) surfacing for a dive, sometimes relaxing with beer on the beach, but Bonaire sunsets are pretty divine.

My husband, the Iguana whisperer…

Feeding the iguanas.  At first they were skittish, but once they learned that we would save our fruit and veggie scraps for them, they would actually follow us around.  We named them.  There was Wild and Crazy guy, Little Shit, Zliten’s best friend, Red Dewlap… they were our friends.

Taking pictures of the property.  This place pretty much photographed itself and it couldn’t help but be stunning.  This is now the lock screen on my phone and I get a little Bonaire every time I look at it and it makes me happy.

There were a few imperfect things about the trip:

The travel there is not terribly convenient.  I mean, it’s no Australia, and it’s better from Austin-Houston-Bonaire than some places where people were taking four or more connecting flights, but it’s still a 13 hour travel day end to end because of the inevitably long Houston layover.

Zliten caught a cold partway through the trip.  We thought his diving was done for the trip on Tuesday when he couldn’t even get below 15 feet because of sinus congestion.  We tried failed a few attempts on Tuesday before we gave up, and spent Wednesday snorkeling instead.  However, due to handy advice from the internet and dive friends, he went and found some heavy duty meds (Aleve D – a mix of two aleve and two sudafed in one pill) and by Thursday afternoon he was resurrected and did six more dives in a day and a half.   He was an interesting person to be around (sudafed makes him crazy) and I think he borrowed against feeling better quickly since he’s still recovering, but I’m pretty sure he’d say that it was worth it.  Also, he was an AMAZING spotter while on sudafed,  He found all the things.

The last day, while snorkeling, I lost one of my lights on my camera rig.  No idea how it came off and even scouring the area for another 30 minutes, I didn’t find it.  It’s not cheap, so that stinks, but at least it was the last day.  It’s the least important thing on my set up to lose, and it’s only money.  I didn’t lose my memory card or anything.

All in all though, no big deal.

If you’re interested in more oceans, sunsets, yummy food, and selfies, click on over and check out my Facebook album.  I’ll be adding videos too when I figure a few things out.

This trip really solidifies my desire to own property there someday.  Yeah, I say that a lot.  I’d have 10 different houses if I could and maybe that’s actually how I’ll end up retiring someday.  However, this place feels like home.  The ocean in my backyard.  The ability to freely, on my schedule, without a hassle, take a hundred steps from my back door, and be in the water and under the sea gives me immeasurable joy.  Palm trees.  Iguanas.  Beautiful blue sky and ocean.  This is my happy place.  I heart Bonaire.

2018 has other plans (Cozumel), but we’re already tentatively penciling in another trip in 2019, and if possible, for two weeks this time.

Where is your vacation happy place?

Why I am moving to Bonaire… (Vacation Part 2)

The first part of my vacation in Bonaire is HERE.  Let’s pick up Wednesday morning when I woke up, hoping my ears would be OK…


I woke up, and honestly, my ears didn’t feel that great.  They also did not feel any worse, so I figured the most terrible thing that could happen is I’d try to descend, my ears wouldn’t let me, and I’d have to snorkel the shallower stuff.  Life would go on.

Cereal and yogurt, my new official diving breakfast, went down the hatch, and we headed out to catch the boat and head up to the North side of the island.  The boat was just our dive friends by proximity (we saw them evvvverywhere) Dave and Ang, the crew, and us.  Good stuff.


It made for a GREAT morning diving Country Garden and Small Wall. One thing you don’t realize when you mostly do cruise ship diving or one day boat trips, is how awesome it is to not have 5 million other people around, scaring the fish, kicking you, getting in your way (it happens).

Our first divemaster kinda left us in the dust on the way back, but we were all big enough adults to handle it.

Small wall was pretty cool, as it’s the wall pictured on all the dive textbooks for the certification classes.  It was pretty amazing to see – though there wasn’t all that much fauna.

I rolled sans wetsuit again, and it worked out ok for me.  I did put my knee into some coral that stung (I actually had some rash from it for a few weeks), but that’s how you learn how to be careful, right?  After the dive, I went and scoped out some rash guards, but deemed them to be unnecessary and too expensive.


Instead of a huge lunch, we just snacked a bit to get some calories down, and went to the Cliff dive site at the Hamlet Dive Inn.  This was our most challenging entry yet.  You had to tank up at the top of some rocky stairs and walk everything down, and the entry itself was pretty rocky.  Balancing 60+ more lbs then you’re used to in the surge and slippery rocks… makes me really glad I’m not as heavy as I was in my mid-20s!

Another energy bar went down the hatch, and we decided to make it our first 4-dive day.  We hit up the house reef and went out with the intention to find the octopus we saw hiding in the tire, but instead found our turtle friend to play with.  This time, I had plenty of camera battery, so I got to play paparazzi and had a blast.


We saw our boat friends hanging out at the dive center, and when we all confirmed we were done diving for the day, we had a few beers together.  The coolest thing about diver friends is that they LOVE hearing about what you saw in the water, instead of their eyes glazing over when you talk about the specific type of nudibranch you saw at 35 feet down or whatever.  We chatted until they had to go for their fancy reservations and then got ready for a dinner of our own.


We just went to the bar/restaurant on the property, which also houses the resort’s pool.  It was very Bonaire.  We started with some delicious beef empanadas and fried plantains and some margs.  Over 3 hours of diving = you get to have guilt free fruity drinks.  I got them to combine two dishes for me because I am obnoxious but cajun veggie pasta with shrimp was EXACTLY what I was craving and it was amazing.

We spent the evening drinking a bottle of wine with all the windows open listening to a very LOUD concert happening up the street and checking out footage.  Vacation mode was definitely in full effect – the music made it just that much more awesome.


I was out of yogurt, so I had an Oatmega bar and cereal as replacement dive breakfast.  Funny story about those bars – we encountered a gal in our work parking garage with boxes and boxes of them and commented that we liked them!  Apparently she was a promoter and had them packed up to give out at a race that weekend, so she sent us on our way with about 20 various bars.  We thought they’d be perfect for vacation.

Well, some of them were a little… stale.  And when Oatmega bars get stale, they get FISHY.  I was able to stomach some of them, but some I just took a bite and threw away.

The combo of beer/wine/margs and the late night of music thumping meant we were up a little later than expected, so we were UP a little later than expected, so we were the last ones on the boat.  Oh well.  They didn’t leave without us, and we had our gear set up quickly and didn’t mess up the schedule, so all was well.


It was a totally full boat, so not as nice as the day before, but still had two great dives at Monty’s Divi and Carl’s Hill back out at Klein Bonaire.  I feel like I’m usually pretty decent at scuba, but I did almost sit on one girl’s head underwater on accident.  *shrug* scuba is a little awkward.

Being underwater ~3 hours every day just started to feel natural.  I remember feeling such LOVE for it right then, and that my (scuba) life goal was to take pictures that were so beautiful, more people wanted to get over their fears and uncertainties (and, frankly, annoyances… dealing with scuba gear is not easy) and get certified and become divers.

Just as I was in my euphoric state of bliss, Zliten’s pressure gauge started leaking.  He went from half a tank to a third of a tank REAL quick-like.  I was about to give him my extra air and go with him back to the boat, but when we asked the dive master to point the way back, he ended up taking Zliten himself.  That’s fine.  That’s why they’re there.  It was nice to be calm about the whole thing.


At Carl’s hill, right at the end, we saw this GIANT turtle!  I was nice and let all the other people get pictures of it first, and then I booked it out to him so I could get some good shots.  A lot of these people were just doing day trips and not diving all week, so I wanted to make sure they got their shot and I thought it was very nice and adult of me to show restraint.  But… GIANT TURTLE!  Only so much restraint possible.

By that point, I was 7 dives in without a rash guard or wetsuit and realized they DO actually have a point, even in 85 degree water.  I was getting really chafed on my shoulders from the BCD (buoyancy control device), so I relented and we got two Bonaire rashguards even though I was grumbly about the expense.


We ate up the rest of our lunchmeat with a sandwich, made a salad, and some snacks and rested a bit.

Because it was easy, we dove Bari again and saw TWO separate turtles.  One was new, it was bigger and he tried to play hide and seek with us in a bush (but he was too big to fit).  The second, we think, was our turtle, we found him in the same place as we did the day before.

We were out of a lot of stuff, so we went to the little store and picked up more bread, some tuna (which I still have in my pantry, oops), popcorn, fruit, and a bunch of crazy flavors of soda to try.  Cassis ended up being my favorite.  By the way – diet soda does not seem to exist in Bonaire.  I don’t drink it often, sometimes in mixed drinks, but it was weird – just NO diet coke, diet sprite, etc.  Probably for the best in the grand scheme of health.


We then went out for a night dive just as the sun was setting.  Let me tell you, I’m at about dive number 40 by this point, and I’m pretty comfortable with day diving in decent conditions.  This felt scary and exciting like Dive #2 or 3 of my life.  First of all, my primary light (the big one on my camera) wouldn’t stay on for more than 5 seconds.  That’s why you bring backup, but that made it a little awkward and I didn’t really get any pictures because of it.  My backlight also wasn’t working on my dive computer and I couldn’t see it.

Since you always proceed with caution, especially when things don’t go to plan, we kept it very shallow and short.  We checked out the very top of the reef at Bari and then navigated back and spent some time in ~10 feet of water.  We saw our first jellyfish and decided that was it, since we were just in our rashguards.  Oh well!  First official night dive in the logs.


We hit up a place called Pasa Bon Pizza for dinner, which advertises itself as located at Bonaire’s only stoplight (…and it’s a fake stoplight, there are actually none on the island).  It was open air and there were tons of people smoking in the restaurant and tons of incense blowing around which kicked up our congestion pretty quickly.  The pizza itself was pretty great, and we got our first taste of Amstel Bright and we wondered why we had been drinking anything else!  It was definitely your “relaxing on an island in the sun” type light-ish beer.

We cracked the vodka at home, but barely had any, and drifted off to sleep totally worn out – 4 dives a day x 2 days in a row = one killer workout!


Since it was vacation, even though it was our last day of diving, we decided to sleep in.  Not that 9:30 is suuuuper late, but it felt incredibly decadent after 7am wakeup calls.

We had coffee and ate up a bunch of random food around the house for breakfast (salad, cheese, etc) before we set out for our adventure day.  We went down to the dive shop, and asked for advice on what to do, and he set us up with two dive sites that would work for us.


Our first dive was the most south, at Salt Pier.  It’s actually a fairly famous site when you look up Bonaire diving.  Also, it’s a friggin’ pier that’s in use some days of the week transporting salt from the flats.

This was my favorite dive of the vacation.  First of all, in 5 feet of water, at minute ONE of the dive, we saw a turtle feeding and got super close and he was like “I don’t give a fuck, I’m eating, paparazzi all you want”.  Second, the backdrop of the pier made for amazing scenery and actually made the dive SUPER easy to navigate, and there were tons of nooks and crannies for fish to live.


We saw a bunch of eels, some huge tarpin, tons of shrimp, some of my favorite Angels…it was the best.  If it wasn’t the last day, I would have dragged us back there to dive again.

Second, we went to Angel City just a bit north.  I ate an oatmega bar and we scoped out the entry.  It was a little rocky but we thought it was doable.  Sadly, I fell on my ass in about 2 feet of water, but I just let the surge do its thing and pulled myself a little deeper and… voila.  Dive time.

Right away, we saw the BIGGEST green eel I’ve ever seen.  He was longer than me and super fat.  We were at about 50-ish feet down and he was closer to 60, so we gave him his space.  My pictures didn’t come at all, but Zliten got an AWESOME video.  I think Angel City had the prettiest coral formations we’ve seen on any dive.  Otherwise, the dive was pretty standard (beautiful) in terms of fauna.


We swapped out tanks at the Port Bonaire Dive Friends location and had some tea and a snack, and tried to head to Bachelor Beach.  Upon inspection, we found that the tide was out so far, we would have had to do some crazy gymnastics to get off the platform to the water, so we decided to head north to Andrea I.  We almost got lost and decided to head back to our home reef instead for our last dive, but after giving up, we found it by accident.  Yay!

Andrea was a pretty solid dive, mostly more of the same stuff we’d been seeing, but we closed out the day with a new turtle friend!  When we got out, we were both sad to be done diving, but super hungry and ready to relax.

We rinsed and stored our gear for the last time (sad), and then sat outside at the shop and ate some snacks and drank some beers (caaaaaalories) and talked with people.  We planned to meet up with our boat friends for dinner, so we returned to Rum Runners.  I liked the fish tacos so much the first time, I got them again.  I had two fruity mango drinks and every time, they gave me turtle toppers and that made me happy, because turtles.  They’re sitting on my desk at work to remind me of Bonaire fun.

After that, we all grabbed our leftover bottles of liquor and sat by the ocean until about 3 in the morning looking at dive pictures and shooting the shit.  Vacations are fun. 🙂


I was only able to sleep in until 9:30, so I got up and brewed coffee and had a snack and looked through the real estate guide  and dreamed a bit.  Of all the vacations I’ve taken lately, I really feel like this is somewhere I could end up someday.  I’d love to be like the 85 year old guy we met, who flew the same week as us for a winter of diving here (but hopefully a little earlier in my life).


Once Zliten got up, we got going – we hit up a place downtown Kralendijk on the water for lunch.  Justine’s served a lunch plate, a soda, and a dessert for 11 bucks which in Bonaire terms was a value meal.  I got this amazing mahi with pesto garlic, rice, and salad I will be dreaming about.  And the carrot cake was pretty dreamy too.  While eating, we watched a dude climb over a bar railing to get into his boat.  #bonairethings I guess.


Cool downtown street art.

After lunch, we headed out to tour the island.  And I really do mean the whole island.  Bonaire is about 24 miles long and 3-7 miles wide (111 square miles total), so we set out to see what we could see from the truck.  First, we headed north which turned into this long, tiny, one way road (but, still the main road of the island).  We passed the 1000 steps dive site – glad we decided to skip this one this time.  It’s a long way down hauling gear.


The one place we skipped was the far north of the island – the nature preserve.  It is probably a whole day trip on it’s own (next time, maybe).  We turned inland and stopped for some donkeys, and then hit the scenic spot to see Rincon before we headed into the valley and passed through it.  Tiny little town!


Then, we hit the east coast.  Only one company on the island dives there and they were all from a boat.  We could see why – it’s REALLY rough out there.  Very rocky, a lot of surge… but gorgeous.  We admired the seven seas monument and the ocean and I conquered a rock and then we moved on.


We decided to skip the donkey and iguana sanctuary because, time, drove past a cool lighthouse at the southern tip and then we made our way back into more familiar territory.


It’s an odd thing to say – but the Slave Huts are actually a big touristy thing to stop at, so we did and took pictures.  There were 4 different types of salt, and thus there were 4 different colors of huts and a tall monument of the same color by them, so boats knew where to pull in to get the type of salt they wanted.  We stopped at the orange ones because they were so striking against the coast and wanted to read some of the history (and scope out the associated dive site).  They were so tiny! We passed by the white ones a little bit up the coast, and I believe the other 2 no longer exist.

We stopped for a while at the Salt Pier to watch it do it’s thing.  I’m really glad we were able to dive it the day before, because when the boats are in, they don’t let you (for good reason).


We rolled back into downtown Kralendijk, avoiding more donkeys and dremples (signs all over said Let Op! Dremples!  which means, Watch Out! Bumps!), and hit up Whatta Burger.  Texans will understand why this is funny.  However, in my opinion, superior because a) by the ocean, b) had hammocks, c) curry fries.


Sadly, it was time to get packed (nooooo) and then watch the sun set on our last day of vacation from Bari beach with our feet in the water chasing iguanas.


One place that was on our list was It Rains Fishes (because of the name, and their menu looked yummy), so we headed back downtown.  They started us with a delicious sushi taster and some bread, and finished with amazing shrimp, veggies, and a little pasta.  We had our last glass of wine at the condo, experiencing one more night with everything opened up and breezy, listening to the last concert… and fell asleep a little to late for our super early wake up call.


Since this is already a novel, I will not belabor the details of another travel day, minus the fact that our diving suitcase wanted more vacation as it took an extra day to arrive.  Other than that, it was just a looooong morning (3:30am, home around 2pm our time) and we thoroughly enjoyed sinking into our couch and bed that evening.



Things I’d do differently next time:

  1. More snacks during the day, less meals.  A big breakfast, a big dinner, and then things I could eat after each dive (energy bar, pretzels, whatever) would mean less downtime and I’d be willing to adventure more.
  2. I would actually plan the groceries and food a little beforehand.  I tried to totally type B this vacation, and it worked in the sense that I didn’t have a set schedule of “I have to eat this, this, this, and this at this time”, but we did waste a little food because we went to the grocery store without a plan and Zliten got a lot of “I don’t know…” when he asked me what I wanted to eat.
  3. Bring my rashguard and maybe my cheapo running tights – in 85 degree water, there was no need to hassle with a wetsuit but some protection was nice.
  4. I will definitely buy a BCD before I go on another dive vacation like this.  The rental fee would have been a good chunk of the price of the one we found on sale.  The regulator would be nice to have, but they cost a chunk to get serviced once a year so the cost of renting vs owning is probably negligible if we only do this like once a year.
  5. We did 3 days of boat diving.  I might next time decide to do 2, or even 1.  I like being on the boat and being able to see normally inaccessible places, and it gave me a good excuse to get up and going early, but we really enjoyed the day where we went exploring by ourselves.
  6. Change my camera lights before a night dive even if I think they are ok.  And maybe do one of those group UV night dives with the dive shop.  Those looked super fun.
  7. Clothes – half of what I brought I didn’t wear, but I know better for next time.  Less real clothes, more swim suit cover ups and lounge wear.  I was legit in bringing 4 swim suits though!

FYI: if anyone is interested in food cost – we spent nearly 200 bucks on groceries (that included the beer and wine and vodka).  A cheapish meal for 2 (think burgers, sandwiches, lunch type places, chinese food) was around 20-30 bucks (we did this about 3-4 times).  A typical sit down, nice place with a drink or two was about 70 bucks for the two of us (I think we did this about 3-4 times).  You could probably be more frugal than us and eat most of your meals in the condo, but we wanted to see what was out there.

Also, if you’ve made it this far (congrats!) and are interested, there is an album here where I will put all my underwater photos (the good ones, that have been edited).  I’m through Day 1 + 2 right now, more to come as my lazy ass edits my pictures!

All in all – this is not the place if you just want to lie on the beach.  There’s not much beach.  However, if you like to be active on the water (boating, diving, snorkeling, fishing, kite surfing, etc), Bonaire is an awesome, kick ass, low pressure vacation.

Why I’m Leaving Austin and Moving to Bonaire… – Part 1

…not really, but I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind.



…was just a really, really long travel day.  Up at 6am, got from door to gate in 40 minutes, and had a really chill day.  We had a 3 hour layover in Houston, which was nice because we got a chance to sit down and have lunch, but by the time we got there, it was 7pm – dark and late.

That evening, Bonaire consisted only of our stickshift truck that got a little lost on the way from the airport, our condo where the living room AC didn’t work but felt nice once we opened up the windows, one little trip to stick our feet in the ocean, and the Italian place (Sofia House) across the street which was the only thing in near walking distance open. It was fancy and served us glasses of red wine and lasagna the size of our heads, and salad the size of our fingernails.  After refueling, we crashed into our comfy bed and read and decided to roll sans alarm in the morning.


While really motivated scuba divers would have been up and at ’em to be at the shop when they opened in the morning at 8, that was not us.  We slept ’til 9:30, headed down to orientation around 10:30, and then had a delicious lunch on the water at Breezes and Bites before even THINKING about packing up our gear and heading for our checkout dive.


We got there in the afternoon and I was awkward setting up all my gear since normally someone swoops in and does it for me, but after some dithering and help I was suited up and we jumped in the ocean to do our buoyancy checks.  We sank just fine, so they sent us on our way.

This was actually the first time we had gone diving with just us.  We’ve either had an instructor, a dive master, a group, or at least a boat waiting for us.  I mean, we’re certified to do this and more, but it felt like being allowed to walk to school by yourself for the first time.


I got to spend all the time I wanted looking at fishies and trying to get good pictures.  If we felt like turning around or going deeper or shallower or just being done, we could.  It was awesome, albeit a little scary because if something happened, we were indeed on our own.

We liked our dive at Something Special, just offshore from the Yellow Submarine Dive Friend’s shop location, we grabbed a second tank and went back.  I remembered vaguely our dives and experience in Bonaire two years ago on the short morning and early afternoon we were visiting from the cruise ship.  I knew we had to go back for longer, and that afternoon reminded me why.


First, the dives are BREATHTAKING.  Even on a rough or not-so-clear day, every dive is probably the best dive anywhere else of your life.  So many fish, so much to see, and 85 degree crystal clear turquoise water.

Second, the people.  At first, while I was transitioning from not-being-on-vacation Quix who was like, “hurry, hurry, efficiency, why haven’t you served me my food I ordered it 2 seconds ago, hurrrrrr”, it was a little annoying, but once I calmed my shit… I loved the relaxed attitude.  Everyone was pretty friendly, but it wasn’t that fake, customer service type friendly.  They seemed to just genuinely be happy to be doing what they were doing, living in paradise.


After two tanks, we called it for the day because we had one more errand to run before really sinking into vacation mode – hitting the grocery store.  This was an experience in and of itself.

Unlike the US, where there is a mega mart on every corner, there is ONE large supermarket, and it is primarily Dutch.  This is the place you go if you want to get what you want, rather than roll with whatever happens to be there.  The carts are locked together, and we actually couldn’t figure out how to deal, so we just grabbed a few carry baskets and looked ridiculous.

We picked up the essentials – breakfast (decaf coffee, cereal, milk, fruit, and yogurt for me, nutella on toast and stuff to make cheese quesidillas for Zliten), lunches (sandwich stuff, salad stuff, a weird chinese soup to try), snacks (chips, crackers, etc), beer and wine, and some european sweets that looked amazing.  If it sounds like we were shopping for teenage kids (minus the booze) – each hour down burns me almost 600 calories, and that’s not counting the setup and takedown.  We needed the fuel. 🙂


However, since it was our anniversary, we decided to leave the groceries at home and walk down to get food at Rum Runner’s, and got sat at a lovely table right on the ocean.  While we drank our margaritas (my margarita came with a turtle on it, which meant they knew me because they’re my favorites) and waited for our food, giant tarpin played in the water below us.  I ordered the fish fajitas and Zliten ordered the shrimp in this magic anise honey chili magic love sauce, and we split both.  It was perfect.


We sat on the couch and went through dive pictures and photos, and split a bottle of wine and floated off to bed soon after.


Set the alarm for 10 but didn’t need it.  We woke up and brewed some coffee and lazed about that morning.  Our goal was to hit up all the 5 dive shops and dive from those locations over the trip (since it was the most convenient) and today’s targets were Dive Inn, and our house reef, Bari.  Let me tell you – I miss having a “house reef” where I could walk out my door, gear up, grab a tank 10 feet from the water, and go.  But, I digress.

First we hit up Town Pier and dove there.  There was rumor of a turtle, but I got a little confused underwater, and I told Zliten to turn us around before we got there.  Here’s the weird part about diving and communication – it’s a game of charades where you can’t cheat even if you want to.  You have to communicate to your partner what is going on or what your intentions are (or what the problem is) without the use of voice.


You find ways to get by.  Fish get their specific hand signals.  Tapping on the tank to make noise means attention.  At first, you want to give the thumbs up when you want to say that you’re ok, but since that means go to the surface, you learn to use THIS instead.  There’s a symbol for squeezes (when you have trouble equalizing).  There’s a symbol for “how much air do you have left” but I usually just grab Zliten’s if I’m curious or tell him mine first.  Pointing in certain directions or at certain things seems obvious.


But when the weird stuff comes up, you definitely feel awkward and trying to communicate “hey, I think that we’re not supposed to go past the pier and I think this is past the pier” and he’s trying to say “but wait, I think this is where they saw the turtle up ahead” without using the turtle symbol as to make me unnecessarily excited is advanced level charades shit.  Diving dictates that you always go conservative, so if one person says turn back, you turn back.


Needless to say, we didn’t see a turtle, and I was kicking myself, but hey, we had many days left and we didn’t get run over by boats.

After some lunch from our fridge (a turkey sandwich and a salad and some chips and probably a sweet or two was like HEAVEN), we headed out our door to Bari.  People had said good things, and I think we would have gone even if it wasn’t home base, but I’m so glad it was.


It was magical.  The reef starts at about 20 feet down (so, almost snorkeling depth), and just the sheer AMOUNT of fish around the area was… amazing.  We took one tank and went one way, and took a second tank and went the other.  The highlight of the day was seeing a great barracuda as long as me just hang out with us. It was a little scary at first, but as I said earlier, it was more interested in friends, not food.

After cleaning up, we decided to try a place up the road… it was a sketchy looking bar but said it also had food so we moseyed in and found that it was actually a chinese restaurant with an extensive menu, so we ordered eggrolls, egg soup, and I got chicken chow mein.  The eggrolls were amazing (or I was just hungry), the egg drop soup was WAY better than the traditional, and my chicken chow mein was great.  The only bummer was the use of dark meat chicken in everything, which I don’t love, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority there.


Even though it was a bar, we saved the drinks until we got home and drank these little tiny Polar beers (Venezulan beer that’s made in Miami?) and headed to bed early.


We had to catch a boat at 8:30, so I was up early enough to eat cereal, fruit, and yogurt and use the potty (sounds a lot like race morning?), and then we were off to board the Carlotta and head out to Klein Bonaire.


Pre-boat dive.


Post boat dive (oh the hair-manity!)

We dove Sampler and Country Garden.  They were beautiful dives, but at this point in my memory, everything is running together.  The only real memory that stood out was being cranky with my gear.  My wetsuit was causing me STRIFE.  Being that I’m a little heavy right now, it takes a little effort to get on and off.  Pairing that with all the gear hauling, I had so much abrasion and chafing going on I just hated the above water parts of diving so much right then.


For lunch, we hit up a local sandwich shop called Between Two Buns, and when we both noticed a burger and fries, that was it.  And honestly… it was the shit.  The meat was so flavorful and it was super huge and filling and all I wanted and needed out of life right then.  We took a walk around the property and chased around the leezards and soaked up a little sun.


And then… we went back to the condo and I crashed for a 90 minute nap.  I kinda hated wasting precious diving hours, but diving is SERIOUS BUSINESS, y’all.  You do this incredibly peaceful thing, but then you come out of the water and all of a sudden you realize that a) your body is WORKED and b) you either need to eat or sleep or both.  I guess I needed both that day.

As soon as I got up, we did a dive that ended at sunset at Bari and decided to ditch the wetsuit.  I was a little nervous because of all the ouchy coral around, but it made me be more careful and that’s probably a good thing.  At the end of the dive, in just a few feet of water, we finally spotted our first TURTLE!  I was cursing myself so hard because my camera was dead and I didn’t get a great shot of him, but hey… TURTLE!


I’m cheating and subbing in a turtle picture from another day, so, *spoilers*, it was not the last sighting.

We were tempted to try doing a night dive, but my ears were giving me trouble, and I wanted to make sure I was good for the boat in the morning.  We ate food in the condo (I enjoyed a grilled cheese and tomato chinese soup, and some other random snacks), and just melted into the couch and then the bed.

…and on that note, we’ll call it here.  Part 2 coming shortly HERE!, including equipment malfunctions, giant eels, a long swim under a (not-so) short pier, road donkeys, and much much more.

I’m on a boat! (Cozumel/Roatan/Belize Cruise)

If someone asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, and said money was no object, scuba diving in Cozumel would have been pretty near the top of my list.  And, spoilers, that’s exactly how I spent my day.  My life is rad.  But let’s go back to the beginning, because it’s a very good place to start.

This is a long one, campers.  Get a bevvie, a sammich, and a comfy chair as I’m doing this all in one shot.

Saturday: Embarkation


I went and had a little jog that morning, and while a PR or at least a great race would have been a great way to start vacation, any morning I get to run 13 miles and am still upright after is a great one.  The tummy issues started to subside as I got some food in me, and though we had a small wait to get on board, it was handled really really well (unlike ONE YEAR when we had to wait in line for like 9 hours outside and I got sick), and we snagged some lunch (potatoes, aloo, chickpea soup, salad, bread, scallops, stew, veggies – tastes of everything that looked yummy), and then went back to the room and popped the champagne cans we had saved for after the race.  I felt much, much better by then.

The boat drill had us standing for quite a while, and I was really cranky because my legs were sore from racing.  Once I got back to the room and finished my champagne can #2 though, I wasn’t feeling much pain anymore.


We changed for dinner (yay for our bags getting to us quickly) and as we sat down and ordered a glass of wine, we got notification that we had to book it to beat the fog, and we were off!

My plan was this – try not to eat like a complete jerk the rest of the time, but eat whatever I wanted at dinners.  This particular day I enjoyed a roll with butter, spring rolls with peanut sauce, tortellini soup, crawfish etouffe w rice and veggies, split flourless chocolate cake with my mom, and had some bites of honeydew sorbet.  So, yeah – I those carb stores were all back to where they should have been.  Yep.

We saw the welcome show, which was a taste of all sorts of acts and meeting all the major staff.  After that, we played cards with the ‘rents.  Dad and I lost, which did not make us happy, but it was what it was.


Then, we left my parents and went up to the nightclub (the only bar that was still open) and drank a few crown on the rocks.  This was my plan for drinking – mixed drinks I can pound until I can’t see straight, and I was hoping not to come home with another injury.  The straight stuff, I sip like a normal human being, and I look classy.  Bonus.

We weren’t feeling the dancing – running a hard half marathon does that to you, I guess, but we really enjoyed people watching and talking, and later retired to bed to watch TV with a to go drink, and drifted to sleep with the rock of the boat.

Sunday: Sea Day


After a few early wakeups, I really enjoyed sleeping until I couldn’t sleep no more in the dark of the interior cabin.  Good times.  Once I got up, I dithered around a bit, reading, tv, etc, and then finally got myself presentable to leave the cabin and we went to lunch.

Food there was a salad with spectacular tomato basil vinegrette, pea soup, a bite of fettucini, a few bites of some really great (usually cruise mexican food is WAH WAH) chicken enchiladas, and some fajita innards with a few tortilla chips, and more veggies.  Yum.

After lunch we headed to the champagne art auction, because a) champagne and b) we were actually interested in buying some art.  However, the art we wanted didn’t come up, and nothing else struck our fancy.  I was kinda getting grumpy about spending 2 hours at it, but it was kind of fun (the auctioneer made it not so super serious).


We spent the afternoon playing cards with the ‘rents.  I lost.  Again.  Meh.  I was also cranky because I had yet to get any fun in the sun pool time, butt it was ~70 and super windy, so I decided to be patient and not tough it out for the sake of doing it (yes, poor me, pity me please…).

It was a fancy dressup night, so I decided to split the difference with fancy dress and some make up, but I let me hair do the au natural stuff and ended up with a fairly nice picture of us, so I’ll maintain I made the right call.


Dinner was pretty stellar, the requisite bread and butter, chilled corn soup, asparagus and salmon soup, salad w blue cheese, garlic shrimp dinner with rice and veggies, and the BEST desert – Oreo pb pie with a little bit of grapefruit sorbet on the side (not great together, but so so so good individually).


Please keep in mind this picture was AFTER the dinner when looking at the full body shot.

We did a lot of walking around, getting more pictures, drinking a glass of champagne, checking out the art gallery, and then we showed up to a PACKED revue show to which we got crappy seats not together, but it worked.  We couldn’t locate my parents after, so we wandered more and ended up at the majority rules game show. Was not in the majority, lost badly but was a lot of fun.  We decided to try to show up to more gameshows.

We hit the late buffet just to grab some snacks to bring with while diving the next day – but ended up snacking on some greek salad, some brie and blue cheese, green beans, and a potato croquet.  Oops.  We had a discussion over the snack of the idea for a new game feature, which could be promising!  Can I write all this off as a business expense now?

Ended up back at the room really early and zonked out on my last day of being 34.

Monday: Cozumel (Birthday)


It’s fuzzy, but for some reason I look like the girl from She’s All That.

Happy birthday to me!  I woke up semi-on time, and in enough time to fuel up for the day with corned beef hash (this is my cruise breakfast treat – I love it but it’s just so awful, I know), two hashbrown bits, english muffin w/ cream cheese, bacon, and fruit.  It sounds like a lot, but diving REALLY takes a lot out of you.

We waited and then finally got the signal to go and our party was missing one – it happened to be the guy we were talking to that mentioned he was waiting for his wife on the ship because she had his passport.  We relayed the message and she had to run back there and we had a little wait.  It harkened to the days before cell phones.  What did we do without?


We finally got all our peeps, then got out on the water and rode for about 45 mins to the first spot.  I was happy as could be, I could have not asked for a better day, except for ONE THING.


So, my birthday wish was to see a turtle.  Now, on the first dive, I saw MANY COOL THINGS.  I saw a manta ray with a ramora fish attached.  I got to hang out with a 5-6 foot nurse shark for a bit, real close.  So many pretty fishies.  But, after the first dive, when Zliten was like “OMG did you see the turtle?”  I was like… “Whaaaaaa?”  I totally missed him.  He was super far away.  So, I guess I got to SWIM with a turtle, close enough.


I could talk for a whole post about diving, but I’ll give the short version.  The crew was pretty cool and did a lot of the heavy lifting for us.  We got to go in the group that was first off and last back on, so lots of water time.  We drift dove in the Cozumel currents, which meant we started at point A and the boat picked us up at point B.  I fumbled a bit with my new camera, but got some great shots.  This was not my favorite diving experience (it will take a lot to top Bonaire) but it was solid.  Never a bad day when you get to spend time like this.


The boat dropped us off, we did a quick change, and went to one of those super touristy bars on the pier.  It was my birthday, I wanted a big sugary fruity drink.  I had some restraint though, I only had one.  We met a couple from Oregon and talked a bit.  We saw them throughout the cruise, but they always looked either super drunk or super hung over and cranky, so we didn’t really become cruise friends.  On the way back to the ship, I picked up some rum cakes for souveniers and we waved bye bye to Cozumel.

A quick change, and then we toasted my birthday before dinner with champagne with the family.  I got some earrings and socks.  I’m a simple girl.  I was happy.


Birthday dinner was ultimately spectacular.  I’ll say it was my favorite, but I may contradict this later in the writeup.  So much good food.  On the menu: crab dip w/bread, Caesar salad, filet mignon and gorgeous shrimp, chocolate birthday cake, and butter pecan ice cream.

We played yet another round of cards and yet again I lost.  No birthday luck there.  We had originally planned on being super good that night because I wanted to spend EVERY MOMENT POSSIBLE in Roatan, but we got there later than I thought, so we went back to the nightclub bar to hang out and people watch for a bit, but then realized that the room bottle service was a MUCH better deal and we weren’t feeling social, so we got that (and maybe some fries for electrolyte purposes) delivered to the room.

Tuesday: Roatan


I got up super duper excited for the day and fueled up with a similar healthy breakfast except I had a strawberry pancake instead of hashed browns.

Once it was FINALLY TIME we got off the ship, we took a gondola ride seeing some gorgeous views (fun fact: I booked the gondola ride because I got the impression it was the only way to get to the private beach.  My parents walked and made it there before us.) and then it was SNORKEL TIME!  I love diving, but it is such a hassle to deal with equipment and snorkeling you can just get in the water with a few things and GO.  It’s like comparing triathon to running.


Again, I could do a whole post about this day, but here’s the highlights.  At first, we got in and explored the swimming area and it was kinda snoozey.  Then, we cut across to the slightly deeper area and RIGHT THERE was this HUGE reef.  It took everything I could to not go find a phone, tell everyone I wasn’t coming home, and move to Roatan.


We spent two hours out there exploring and finally I got dragged out of the water by Zliten for a rest.  Boo.  We found my mom lounging on the chair reading under the clamshell and Zliten got us a plate of smoked jerk chicken, beans and rice, pico, and fried plantains to nibble on for lunch.  While that digested I went for a float w Joel and then we decided to go back out to the reef.


The second time we got a LOT better pictures and got a lot more bold.  We both free dove probably about 20 feet down to look at stuff, we saw lobsters and crabs and creeped on a school of fish playing paparazzi, and I saw my octopus buddy again!


I also saw a HUGE spotted ray whiz right by me, and I tried to chase it down… and ended up WAYYY out in the boat lane and the kayaker yelled at me to come back.  Oops.


Zliten was done with the water, so he did the reading thing, and I went to go float with my mom for a while.  I noticed my heels were chafed from my fins… or so I though.  Nope, HOLY BACK OF THE LEGS SUNBURN.  It was bad.  It’s STILL peeling, and I spend a lot of time in the sun so it takes a lot to burn me.

We had to say goodbye to our pretty beach, and we ended up meeting a couple from San Diego on the gondola ride back and shot the shit with them.  I looked into every little shop for a tee to bring back and finally found my birthday turtle on a shirt.  I was satiated.

We had a little wine, and then went to dinner.  It was italian night.  I love italian night!  I had a little spaghetti and meat ball appetier (I meant to get it to taste it but ate the whole damn thing because it was GREAT), minestrone soup, salad with cheese and bacon, tilapia, and limoncello sorbet with a bit of tiramasu.

After dinner, I was having food hallucinations.  I was so tired from so much sun and fun and a huge meal.  We went to the show (it was called Calliente – some really cool costumes!) – Zliten couldn’t keep his eyes open waiting for it to start, I made it through – but begged off right after and retired to the room to watch TV and read and sleep super early.

Wednesday: Belize


Yep, someone still had the red filter on from the day before…

We were booked for an early ruins tour, so I slept like a sleep monster until 5 minutes before I had to go, thus skipping breakfast.  We had some emergency snacks packed, so I shared a bar with Zliten on the bus and life was fine.  The bus ride was about an hour to get to the ruins site, and the tour guides entertained us with stories about Belize.


There were so many schools and churches, and while a lot of the houses were rickety, we found out at 18, they get to apply for land granted by the government and get 5 years to build on it.  So they all pretty much know how to build a house.  So useful!  Also, there were some sweet houses for the rich people – mostly government officials.  The day was gorgeous, about 80 and humid, but the sky was SO BLUE and the trees were so GREEN.  I just couldn’t get over it.


We got to the ruins of Alten-ha and got more stories about what they were used for – I’m going to gloss over this part because I don’t remember a lot of it and this is already epic-length (and that’s what google is for), but we got to climb a bunch of them and look out… so pretty.


It was a nice reinforcement of fitness because the climbs were NO PROBLEM for us but hard for a lot of the group.  I guess I’m not THAT bad at hills? 🙂


Our bus broke down, so we had a bit of a wait after the tour so we grabbed a beer (BELIKIN! Yay!) and soon we were on our way.  Zliten napped on the way back, I took pictures, and then we were all of a sudden back at the docks.

We hit up the Wet Lizard – a totally tourist bar, but we had met the owner last time so we were hoping to see her and say hi.  We did – she probably didn’t remember us (it had been 3 years) but talked to her for a bit.  Being that it was late afternoon and all we had was half a bar and one beer, we indulged in some belizian meat pies, fish and chicken tacos, and a bucket or two of Belikins (we mixed a few lighthouse lagers in there too), watching the ocean and the construction workers next door.  It was a nice, relaxing afternoon.


We picked up a souvenir tee shirt for Zliten, then picked up a tender boat back to the ship, and relaxed in the room for a bit (potentially with some Crown on the rocks, because, why not, we were done with responsible stuff).

Night came, so we washed up for dinner, which was goat cheese tart with bread, butter lettuce salad with an amazing shalot vinegrette, orange roughy with rice and veggies, and bites of creme brule, amaretto ice cream, and a chocolate haystack for desert.  Y’know, a light dinner.  We followed that up with some great big band music, and convinced my parents to stay for the YES/NO gameshow.

2014-03-05 19.04.09

The host asked you questions and you had to last two minutes without saying yes or no.  I lasted about a minute, my mom lasted just over a minute, Zliten got screwed on the second question, and my dad convientently went to the bathroom when his name was called.  We also did the “jingle” trivia test, and got really close to winning since we had a lot of decades covered, but some others beat us.

We hit the buffet late night style but I kept myself to veggies and hummus and a little salad.  Two more crown on the rocks were needed in the room (yay more bottle service) to wind down with TV and books, and then we drifted to sleepyland.

Thursday: At Sea


Another sleep until we couldn’t day.  Ahhhhh.  We got up and got on our pool attire and headed up to deck to read.  We were unfortunately treated to cloudy skies and some wind.  Booooo!  Then, it started to rain.  Double booo!  It was about lunch time so we headed indoors and I had some salad, catfish, bites of lasagna, amazing ginger chicken stir fry, veggies, and bread.


It was not great weather, but it stopped with the raining, so I went out and chilled and read more.  Since my Zliten had recently decided to shave his legs for triathlete purposes, I poked him to join in the sexy legs contest.  He did alright, but he didn’t strut enough and some 16 year old kid won.  Whomp whomp.  We had many people come up and say later that they cheered for him though, so that was good.


Finally the sun came out, and we continued with the reading by the pool.  I heard they were doing a contest called “Bar Wars” and I was all in for that, so I got to be a judge and got to grade the Mai Tai category.  I did end up giving a point to the guys (they made it stronger) and the two teams tied.  Oh well.  Went back to reading, and then retired back to the cabin and had a few more adult bevvies and more book.  I usually read SO MUCH on vacation and I barely got through ONE.


It was fancy night #2 – and this time I actually did my hair and stuff.  I felt a little less than sexy due to the cruise bloat (not a whole lot of weight gain, just the rich food bleh), but my dress was forgiving so out we went for din dins.  A quick stop in the cabin to have some wine with the parents, and we arrived for the feast.


Dinner was bread and butter, cheese from a cheese plate, Thai rolls, tomato soup, salad w vinaigrette, shrimp and lobster, pralines and cream ice cream, pb haystack.  I suppose I should mention that these things are portioned out nicely.  You’re getting a five course meal – they know you don’t need any of them to be gigantic.

We finished up the domino game and I finally won something!!! Woohoo!!!  We started a new game and it was looking promising for me again, but put a pin in it to go elsewhere.  We were looking to have one more night of debauchery, but it was hard to motivate.  We spent HOURS digesting and reading in the cabin, but finally got back up to the dance club.


It was packed.  We barely found a table.  This was some FUN people watching.  A group of older ladies were dancing, and one fell as Zliten walked by and he caught her.  What a shining night in armor!  She just got back up and kept dancing though, she was a trooper.

Finally, a song caught us and we danced.  And danced.  And danced.  It was a blast!  The DJ actually cut us off after hours and we begged him for more music but it was not to be. I joke that we close out the gym instead of the club nowadays (truth-I got the lights turned off on me in the pool the other day while I was swimming laps) so it was nice to have a flashback of previous selves.

We went back to the room to keep imbibing.  We called room service for some drunk food – actually twice.  We ordered fries and a salad to split, but when they came, we got like, five fries and a tiny side salad.  We tried to go to the little cafe but the food didn’t look appetizing, so we called again for more food.  Gluttons.  However, since dinner was at 5:30pm and it was 4am, it was time for a feeding, especially after dancing for hours.  Once the hunger beasts were satiated, we slept.

Friday: at sea


Slept until 10, which sadly was only 5.5 hours.  My mom called and was like, “Hey there’s this sale, let’s go check it out”, to which I reluctantly, but dutifully like a good daughter got up ad checked out.  Didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t really in the market for anything there, but it was fun to look.  We then caught the end of the kitchen demo, and headed to the galley tour.  I mean, I know they need huge kitchens to produce that sort of gluttony, but HOLY WOW the kitchen was big, and we only saw the “production floor”, there was a whole ‘nother level or two of food stores.  Just wow.

It was time to feed the beasts, so we headed to lunch… shrimp fry, bite o mashed potato, bite spinach lasagna, pineapple, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, veggie soup, bread, bites of Asian food, and bite of coconut mousse thing.   One thing I loved about the cruise food was the amount of healthy food that was just readily available at the buffets.  Sure, I had bites of lots of things, but I was able to load my plate up with mostly veggies and a little fruit, and then a small corner of other things to nom on.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I haven’t gained the “cruise 10” the last times I went.  Also, not being afraid to skip meals.  Lunch OR breakfast was perfectly adequate when I had super rich, big, 5:30pm dinners.

We did the read and nap thing a bit (in the cabin – bad weather – boo), and then the captain came on to announce we found something in the water and we were circling back to check it out!  We went up to deck and it was an abandoned small boat – no one in it – but still… crazy!


Being the last day, we packed up our stuff (it all seemed to fit as it did before, which was nice).  We decided to treat ourselves to a slice of pizza as a midday snack.  Oh, woodfired pepperoni pizza, you’re my only friend. Back to the cabin, and we watched a movie – Red 2 – and I napped a little.  Because that’s what you do the last day of vacation when it’s crappy out.

We just couldn’t do any more wine, so we gave my parents the last of our leftovers to drink before dinner, and then had a last feast – lingine w clam sauce appetizer (I didn’t expect to love it and got it just to have a taste – but OMG SO GOOD I finished the whole thing, oops), shrimp cocktail, salad w eggplant, zuccini, asparagus, tomato, which wasn’t really my thing, curry fish with rice and veggies , bday cake (we wanted to celebrate Zliten’s which was next week), baked Alaska, and a bite of cherry sorbet.

After dinner, we walked around, bought souvenirs, picked out our picture for the cruise (from the first formal night), and then went to finale show.  It was called born to be wild, and was a lot of fun.  Probably one of the best we’ve seen on a cruise.  They had a for reals pink cadillac on stage the whole time.  Legit.

We finished up domino game #2 and I won again!  There was my mojo back! After trouncing the ‘rents and Zliten, we went back to the cabin and did final packing.  Zliten decided to be indulgent and grab something from the cafe, and I told him to surprise me, and he came back with a black and white mousse to split.  I had a few bites, cried fatty pants uncle, and then we went to sleep.

Saturday: Go Home (BOO)

2014-03-08 10.18.44

Up at 745 (latest possible time I could) and showered just in time to get out of the room by 8.  I had one last breakfast of the typical fare:corned beef hash (ahhh, til next cruise), bacon, half an english muffin, pineapple, waffle, and a hash brown.  We got off the boat as scheduled at 9:45, drove home uneventfully except driving through a huge cloud which was scary, and got home around 1:30 and hugged our couch and bed.

I was lucky that this was a rest week for me, so no formal run/bike/swim – though I did rack up quite a few steps walking around the boat, and over 5 hours of active water time with snorkeling and diving (and dancing).  I was a little up when I hit the scale Monday – but it took 3-4 days of normal eating to see normal numbers on the scale, so it was a total success!  I highly recommend an intense long run before vacation to rev up your metabolism to fight off greedy eating weight gain.  No injuries to report, and no nights I don’t remember.  35 is about being old enough to know where the line is better, I suppose!

Also, I just want to be back in Roatan with the fishies.  Until next time…

If you’d like to see more diving/snorkeling pics, click here

February Fun Times

Just wanted to start this with proof that I actually look nice once in a while and don’t always wear spandex or funny t-shirts…


February is one of those transitional months.  March is a GREAT GREAT month due to birthdays, usually better weather, fun stuff, first metric of the season (Rosedale) which means I have to motivate myself to ride outside at least few times in preparation, and it’s usually just the start of the best part of the year (read: everything but Jan and Feb, really, minus a few whiny moments in August to get over the 100 degree temps).  While January is just a whole lot of depressing suck, February there is at least light at the end of the tunnel.  Helps that we’ve had some awesome, although unpredictable weather.

Also, there was no racing in February.  It was kind of nice!  I mean, I’m racing on March 1, so it’s close, but I’ve had 5 weeks and 6 days of just train and build, train and build, and it’s been great. I find I really figure things out a few weeks into a block, and if I’m racing too often I miss that “learn, push myself, recover, and grow” part of training where I can do it in a less judgmental place.

I may be the ONLY person in the world that gets excited about trainer rides, but I love them, and I’ll top 400 miles on my bike JUST in February (how’s that for bike focus), and with 200+ in January when I really wasn’t trying, I’m pretty happy with butt in saddle time in 2014 thus far.

I’ve been keeping up with the swimming longer and doing focused sets and it seems alright – I’m posting slightly slower times overall, but I suppose that makes sense when I am swimming twice as long (if I could hold that 8:50-ish pace I can hold for 5 miles for 10 miles I would have a HUGE PR but I can’t, not yet) and also taking rest during sets as prescribed.  I haven’t felt any major breakthroughs, except the one in which Zliten actually likes spending an hour at the pool, so I’ll take that one, it will pay divedends.  I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some (a wee bit chilly but that’s why I have a wetsuit) open water time next month.

Running – yeah.  She’s an unpredictable mistress.  I’m looking at about 75 miles this month.  MUCH better than Januray, as expected.  I’ve alternated between 4 shorter runs (~5 miles) and 3 with one longer run, but ramping up after the half has gone slower than I’d like, oddly enough, you can’t just add swim and bike volume and expect to adapt immediately.

I seem to have maintained my run gains for the most part, though its changes day to day.  My standalone 10 miler earlier in February was like UGGGGHHH to keep 10:45s, and my post bike 9 miler last weekend felt like prancercise to stay around 10:30s (both flat courses on nice overcast temperate days).  Next month, I aim to ramp back up in miles to ~30+ per week (it’s run month).  I responded really, really well to higher mileage with appropriate rest in the fall, let’s see how that goes with more swim/bike mixed in.

My body has been in decent shape.  I tweaked my back once, but that resolved itself in just over a week (and I got a great swim focus week so there’s that).  My heel seems to be doing weird things – it’s touchy but if I take care of it I’m doing just fine. Lately, I need a 1 mile or so warmup to get going faster paces, which is probably a GOOD THING anyway.

I am definitely playing the shoe shell game.  It seems as if a week+ of wearing my hokas straight triggers heel ouchies.  Sads.  I love my clouds.  They feel great sometimes and not others.  I’m going to work on alternating them with other shoes, but I don’t think they’re my one go-to shoe.  I’m not sure if my new Asics are wonderful or horrible (I have only put ~25 miles on them), but my old shoes I did the marathon in (that are not QUITE defunct yet) seem to be a safe middle ground right now, so I’m wearing those as well on days I feel vulnerable.  My heel feels excellent walking around on these new massaging sandals, so I bought them and am doing that.  Icing it also feels nice.  I’m going to race in the old Sauconys tomorrow, and hope the rest week next week works its magic.

Not much progress on the scale, but it feel like my shirts are getting larger in the waist and smaller in the shoulders, as they tend to do as I ramp up for tri season.  It’s weird, I only fluctuate about 5 lbs total between my OMG I’m so bloated and my “not bad, not bad” weight right now, but it’s like night and day to me how I feel at 175 and at 180.  So bizarre.

And now onto ALL THE COOL THINGS from February:


I swam the longest I ever have in the pool (I had it all to myself and I just forgot to get out) and then ate delicious pizza.


I actually participated in Superbowl Festivities this year (go sports! win the things!), with some DIE HARD Broncos fans.  While it didn’t end well, their house was SUPER festive and it was fun.


I got to game again!  We finished the session (I lost my chicken pet to a sub-machine gun… SADS) after taking over a dirigible and found our portal in the arc d’triumph in Paris.  Now, next session it’s my turn to tell the story.  Of course, I picked something ambitious and scary and hard but its what called to me, so look forward to that in March. 🙂


We celebrated Valentine’s day.  It’s funny, we called everything over the long weekend was “romantical!”.  This was my romantical shirt, and I made romantical caesar salad and romantical arugula and cheese ravioli.  I even put a heart on it because I am teh cheesy.


Aieeeee bike ride outside!  I am a wimp and skipped two planned outdoor days earlier this month due to cold or wind, but this day was perfect and it was a great 43 miles around the veloway with a great brick run after.


Zliten’s meal for me was romantical filet mignon, lobster, cauliflower, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts on the grill.  It was a great weekend of eating.  First, though, we got our cheer on for the Austin Marathon with our cheer hats, handing out bananas around mile 18.  I think I prefer cheering that one instead of racing it, but maybe I’ll do the full some year.


President’s Day, we were treated to a great sunset, and I saw it as we came out of our romantical (read: ouchie) massages at the Beijing Massage place.  Also, who put Pinocchio’s nose on me? 🙂


I finally got into Birds (yep, procrastinated again and ended up at the walk-in place instead of supporting my awesome friends of friends who do hair, oops) for my yearly shearing.  And…uh… it’s kind of short.  But it’s super low maintenance, and will be rather nice instead of dragging around almost a foot more of sweaty mop through two-a-days. (Upper left, before, upper right, day of, lower left, day after, lower right – sweated and showered in and looking more like my normal fro.


Wicked!!! This was one of my Christmas presents to Zliten (and to me, of course :D).  We got some yummy greek food first, and then settled in.  The show was FANTASTIC.  We both loved it.  I forgot that Broadway shows usually run ~3 hours, and we were shocked by the 11pm conclusion.  Made getting up the next day hard – I’d say we’re old, but really, we’re just triathletes.

And, that’s pretty much a wrap for February fun times.  March should be pretty legendary, so onward and upward!

What was your favorite thing you did in February?

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