Monday, 22 February 2016

Travel Diaries: Costa Rica

Christmas is pretty much my favourite time of year.

Nothing the beats the feeling of christmas. Surrounded by family, food, warmth, presents, love, why would any other time of the year be any better?

Well this year, I wasn't surrounded by immediate family in fact I was surrounded with a new second family of people that I had met in September.

This year I spent christmas in Costa Rica.

Considering i'm from England where at christmas time you pretty much risk pneumonia when going outside, to spend this time of year in the tropical heat of Costa Rica (Puntarenas to be exact) was something very different.

We started the morning opening gifts from each other. We had organised a secret santa amongst our cast and we were each exchanging our secret santa gifts with our recipricantt.

Once that was over and we had necked a couple of bucks fizz's and hot chocolates, we decided to get off ship.

Prior to christmas day actually arriving we had realised that there was a zip-lining experience that we could do whilst in Puntarenas and what better way to spend christmas day than zip-lining through a tropical jungle?

After an hours taxi ride partnered with an indescribable level of humidity (because his air conditioning didn't work) and a strong hangover from the night before, we pulled up just outside a local shop.

This shop was flooded with tourists and locals. It sold local produce, imported snacks and little handmade trinkets.

But the thing I loved the most about this little shop is that the most common thing to do was to order a coconut.

There was a counter, kind of like you would find at your local coffee store. However this place wasn't for ordering coffees...oh no...the common thing to do was to order a coconut.

You literally ordered a coconut over the counter and it was handed to you with the top cut off and a straw sticking out of it. 

Nothing on this earth beats the taste of fresh coconut water. 

After filling up on coconut juice, we then decided it was tims to go zip-lining. Unfortunately, due to it being an extremely popular activity to do (even on Christmas day) it was over crowded and we were unable to do so. 

But, what happens next is what truly made this Christmas memorable.

Our taxi driver had mentioned that there was a monkey sanctuary nearby.

Now, something that I have had on my bucket list since I was very little, was to hold a monkey.

I know that might sound weird but, I have always had a fascination with monkeys. At one point in my life I owned roughly over 100 monkey plush toys of various sizes. Up until christmas day 2015 I had only seen monkeys in captivity.

Our taxi driver took us to this "Monkey Sanctuary" which basically meant that he droves us into the middle of the jungle to a shack where a man was living.

This man came out and welcomed us and with his limited English he beckoned us further into the woods. As he did so, whilst carrying handfuls of sliced bananas and crushed crackers, he whistled loudly.

After a couple of moments of silence, the trees began to move.

A further couple of moments later and an army of capuchin monkeys came swinging down from the trees to meet us.

For the next thirty minutes or so we had dozens of monkeys crawling all over us.

It was an experience, a christmas and a moment to tick off of my bucket list that I will never forget.

I don't think I will ever have another christmas day like that and I will never forget it. 


Next Stop: Aruba

Monday, 15 February 2016

Travel Diaries: Loreto

Our next stop in mexico was in Loreto. 

Again, a place I have never heard of. 

But that didn't stop my need for an adventure.

Now when you visit all of the exotic places that I have visited in the last couple of months, it might sound a little bit spoilt but, simply laying on a pictoresque beach with crystal clear blue water becomes (and I hate to say it) boring to me.

You visit a completely different culture that is pretty much a world away from what you are used to and all you can think to do, is go and lay on a beach? 

I can only stomach that to a certain point and then I get sick of it. 

Maybe it's just me, maybe I have a short attention span, I don't know....but I can only handle laying on a beach for so long.

So when I went to Loreto, I was determined to have an adventure. 

I got off of the ship with our female singer and her husband, two people whom I absolutely admire.

Initially we just wandered around the local town, which in itself was lovely because it had a hell of a lot of character and was just extremely quaint.

As we continued to walk around, the need for an adventure got stronger.

Eventually we came across a man who said that he would take us about an hour out of the city on a hike in the desert to see some Native American cave drawings that had been done thousands of years ago.

A hike in the middle of the desert with a complete stranger in a completely foreign country......sure!

After an hour's ride that took us out of the city our driver suddenly turned off the main road and we were driving completely off road to what seemed like the middle of nowhere.

Eventually, after stopping and letting some cows pass the car, we had "arrived".

And by arrived, I mean he simply just stopped in the middle of the desert and said "we are here".

It's strange because for some reason, none of us were apprehensive about being seemingly dropped off in the middle of the desert with little to no idea as to where we a) were or b) going.

We hopped out the car and began our hike.

It was an absolutely stunning experience. 

I was surrounded by baron lands with nothing but rocks, dirt and a couple of plants that were desperately in need of water.

And so we continued walking for around two hours. Up and down mountainous tundra and over rocks that could quite literally have broken my ankle had I put the wrong foot forward.

Until suddenly, we had arrived. 

Initially it was quite a vast expanse of rocks with the bed of a dried up river running through the centre of it. There was a cliff that towered above us and directly at the foot of this cliff was some hollowed out sections.

Above these sections were some drawings.

Drawing that had been done thousands of years ago by native american tribes who had found refuge in the exact place that I was standing.

I was completely blown away.

It's mind boggling to think that thousands of years ago. there were tribes of human civilisation that found life here. 

That they communicated by drawing on the walls or carving into the rocks.

As I sit here and type on my laptop, I'm able to communicate with anyone instantly. 

Just to think that at some point in our history this was all there was. Rocks, walls and boulders.

I felt honoured to be in the presence of such a beautiful thing and it was completely worth the hike into the desert accompanied by a complete stranger. 


Next Stop: Punteranas, Costa Rica 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Travel Diaries: Peurto Vallarta

The time that we docked in Peurto Vallarta was the first time I had ever set foot in Mexico. 

You hear so much about these countries. 

Sombrero's, Taco's, Chips & Salsa, Tequila, Magarita's etc are some of the stereotypical things that people will think of when it comes to Mexico.

And being fresh off the boat in a country that I had never visited before, I didn't know what to expect other than that. 

As I walked off the ship, we were greeted by a local mariachi band who were playing an array of beautiful music to welcome us to their country. Dressed in traditional clothes, they played and played for many an hour whilst guests and crew left the boat to venture on land. 

Myself and two other members of my cast hopped in a taxi which was quite frankly a terrifying experience. If you have ever been in a yellow taxi cab in New York City you will know what I'm talking about. Our journey was nothing short of a virtual reality experience of somebody playing Mario Kart badly. Truly, I think I left an inprint of my nails on a handrail in the back seat.

Anyways, much to my delight we eventually arrived at a resort we had heard a lot about and got out of the taxi in one piece.

Here we sat on the beach at a resort called "Blue Chairs" which was a extremely popular gay resort.

To be completely honest, the last thing I expected was for a place like this to have such a welcoming area for homosexuality. 

And much to my surprise and delight, this was a similar theme pretty much throughout the majority of the places I saw in Peurto Vallarta. 

When you visit a foreign country, although it shouldn't be like this, you have to sometimes be cautious as to whether or not your lifestyle is as universally accepted as you want it to be.

Thankfully, this place proved a pleasant surprise.

And so, with many margarita's, tortilla chips & salsa in my system, I felt completely relaxed and free in a place like this.

Free to be whoever I wanted to be with no worries of judgement.

I loved Puerto Vallarta and I am excited to visit there in the near future.


Next Stop: Loreto, Mexico