And Sea

I got into Newark and it was complete mayhem. The process to get through customs was just insane and took so much time that I was afraid I might miss my flight to Miami. Just a lot to deal with after a 9 hour flight. Anyhow, I got a chance to take a break and have some food at Phillips Seafood. Fish tacos and some cold beers. Pretty good. Little salty. I tried to put off going to the gate as long as I could. I don’t know why. Got in line for the flight and got pulled aside for questioning. Not surprised. In any case, on the flight to Miami. I think I was so jet-lagged, I fell asleep at some point. I don’t really remember. I landed in Miami at a good time, but they kept us on the plane and tarmac for an extra hour. By this time fatigue was definitely setting in. So was the heat. I think I went from 48 degrees to 83 degrees and I just couldn’t change into shorts mid-flight. Anyhow, got off and felt like I was dunked into a steam bath. Uber guy got me and I headed to the hotel everyone was at. I walked in pretty delirious and pretty blurry. Some folks were still up so I grabbed a beer with them and just talked about the last week and my flight. I needed sleep ASAP. I actually slept great at the hotel. Joe and Colleen were gracious enough to let me have the other room in the suite and man was it perfect for my condition. Crashed hard. 

Woke up on Sunday. Logged on to set my out of office. Changed my windows password quick and it would end up ruining first two days of my trips. Back to that later. We all were packing up the car and heading to the terminal to board the boat. It was pretty easy. For it being my first cruise and also making sure Lam got on the boat good, it wasn’t bad at all. It was like walking on to some huge moving club. Ha. We couldn’t go to our rooms immediately, so we walked on to the boat and got to a central point. 

Man, really couldn’t have imagined this was a boat. Huge pools, waterslides (that I went down numerous times), casino, clubs, bars, restaurants, clean as a whistle. I really couldn’t thank Joe and Colleen enough. Lam and I were separated, but we went up to the top sun deck that was empty. We couldn’t get cell service really good, so we just posted up and started having some drinks…and for the smokers, they smoked and drank. I mean, it was vacation. No rules here folks! Eat, drink and be merry….no judging. Ha. We stayed there for an hour or so until we went and met them down at Margaritaville. Yes, Margaritaville on the boat! I felt a huge weight off my shoulders we got to the pool bar and just started having fun. Man was it hot on the deck. I was bugging cause I still had my laptop in my North Face backpack, but I really couldn’t do much about it. We all just started to have a great time and laughing and hanging out. All of us. Joe, Coll, Kathy, Tom, Lam and the Krauss family. So great. Really just a great start to an amazing trip. 

We finally got into our rooms and as soon as I did I was trying to connect to the internet service to try and figure out the issues with my computer. Don’t want to bore you with it. I even pulled the hard wire out of the cubicle and was going that route, but I couldn’t get a phone signal to talk with support. I tried to get into my laptop for two days and then I go up to this guy at guest services and he goes, “aren’t you on vacation?” Right then, for the first time in about 12 years since I started working for this company, I realized what was important and what was not at this time. I walked back to my room and tossed my laptop on to my bed, put my trunks on and proceeded to the water slides and threw myself down several times. Then I see this little guy, all fired up and asking me to race….all of 5 years old. If I could think what my future child may look like, it was like a little me. In some way, it made me feel good inside that this little kid who didn’t know me from Adam, was bringing out the “kid” in me and racing me down the slides. Funny enough, when I beat him for the second time, he said, “it’s probably because you weight more than me…” I ended up meeting his mom and just telling her she has a helluva son. I think that just set the tone for the rest of the trip to tell me that work doesn’t matter right now….family and friends and my life do. I spent the rest of that first days at sea enjoying myself thoroughly. Easily starting the best time of my life. Literally nothing could bother me. 

First day off the boat was in Roatan, Honduras. A little island off of Honduras. Very, very poor area. We had a shore excursion booked. Really the only one I booked. We got into the van with our driver and our guide Luis. He was pretty informative. Ha. We drove through the towns. Kids holding chickens. Houses made out of pallets. A circle K. We got to Little French Key. We got off the van and proceeded to a beautiful private island with a little bar/restaurant and a beautiful clear blue bay to swim in that butted up against the aqua blue ocean. Of course I chose to go snorkeling. Many of us did. We all got our stuff off and got onto the boat. I know that you would’ve stayed on land with Kitty and Tom, but it was so worth it. We got our equipment on and then jumped in around a few 100 yards off shore. The water was so clear. So many beautiful fish. Blue, orange, silver, yellow tipped, brown, and even black. Like being in a fish tank. A few times down there I said Mom. I was hoping I would be able to see something that let me know you were down there with us. Me, Lam, Joe, Colleen and some of the Krauss kids were with us. It was truly amazing and it sure tired us all out. You know me….give me the flippers and I’m gone. I even was trying to get down to the deeper surface when I saw a cliff that seemed to just drop off, but I couldn’t get all the air out of my life vest. Oh well. It was awesome. I felt that sense of peace. That sense that whatever has happened, is the past. It will not shape me going forward. I think I learned that from you. No sense dwelling on misery or miserable and sad people. The fish sure did cheer me up. It was an amazing time. We got out and got back to shore. Oh, forgot to mention. There was a huge cage that was actually on the water….it had 3-4 huge tigers in it. Three normal and one albino. When I say big, these guys would rip us apart. We literally could reach out and touch them if we were allowed. So cool. We all went back to the beach. We got two tickets for any type of drinks, but obviously people could use them for whatever drinks they wanted. Then we all just got some more drinks and we got our food that they were serving. It was like our own private beach and everything cause we were one of two groups that day. So great.

Second spot was Belize. Very easy to get to off the boat. Literally just walk from the port to the gate. It was definitely hotter that day. I believe Harvest Cay. An amazing little island with lots for people getting off the boats. Got there, took off my shirt, and then walked around a little with Kathy and Tom and then met Joe and Coll over at the cabanas. Ocean was pretty warm, but the swim-up pool bar was nice. Everyone drinking and talking and having a great time. It was really chill here. Well, for the most part. I decided to take a walk and spotted Lam at the Laughing Bird for a drink. They had the best chicken tenders! Man. They were so good. Close out the day and went back on the boat.

Next up was Costa Maya. This place had a lot to offer. I didn’t feel great the night before and like the other night was in bed early. Maybe still jet-lagged, but it was all for the best. I got out early and got a chance to get on to the island with lots of time to spare. Everyone was kind of on their own this day. Joe, Colleen and The Krausses took the Mayan Ruin excursion. I kind of thought it might be hotter than hell, so I just went into this new area that was recently built and just did my own thing. When I got in to the full area, I was really impressed. It was a ton of shops and little hut bars and just tons of people having a great time drinking in a big pool, playing games with their kids, walking on the catwalk above the pool and then next to it were rows and rows of chairs to just chill on in the sand. I grabbed a single chair next to this older woman and tied my north face bag to it and got the waitress to grab me a beer. The staff there were all great. I was able to get cell service at Costa Maya, so I was able to let people know where we were. I told Lam where I was and after a few hours at the pool, she rolled up and we got some good fruity drinks that I finally caved to getting like everyone else. There were people doing dancing in the pools and having a blast. It was such a great time. Before I got out to the pool there was a big covered bar/restaurant that had a wrestling match going on. They had the lucha libre guys with full on leather masks and outfits. It was insane considering it was so hot. They were really friendly to the kids as well. Lam and I stayed there til about 3:30 and then walked around in the shops and grabbed some things before heading back to the boat. 

Our last port was Cozumel. We all walked into the mall/store area together. Joe, Coll and The Krausses all decided to go to a private beach/hotel that was a taxi ride away. I wasn’t sure what I was up for, so I hung with Tom and Kathy at a spot right near the main area. We stayed there and got some drinks and tacos and then we walked up the main strip of Cozumel. Wow. That was quite the experience. We were offered every legal and illegal drug on the planet. About 30 times over. Ha. It was insane. It was hot and by the time we got to the end of the strip, we were really just spent. So we stopped at 7-11 and got some beers and water and AC and then we walked back to the main area before the port. I decided to go into Senor Frogs cause the place looked crazy fun. Tom and Kathy went back on the boat. Lam was on an excursion to do horseback riding on the beach and she ended up meeting me quick before going back on the boat. All in all, Cozumel was interesting and fun.

Our final few nights were at sea and basically to do whatever wanted to do and mixed in a few good specialty dinners. Amazing food and more fun. Finally I got up to the sun deck which was a lot more calm, but also a better place to enjoy drinks and allow smokers up there to smoke and the waterfall which was a good relief. You could kind of tell everyone on the boat was winding down. It was slower cause we were all gonna be on the boat for a day or two, but it was still fun. I think we all crossed paths and spent time on the sun deck having fun.

It’s been such a drastic shift from the terrible summer I had last year. Like the entire summer was horrible. I am truly grateful for all the support we have received from so many great people with good hearts. Literally thousands of people reaching out and just being there for us. I know last year was such an all-around terrible year for me and I can already see what things made it so terrible and thankfully all of those things are gone. It’s also great to once again be around people who bring out the best in you and not the worst. Thankfully it’s been few and far between that I have come across such terrible people, but they have their place and it’s not in my life or really anyone I know. Thank God. Before, during and after the trips, I have met so many great people who have had positive and supportive impact on my life. People that actually are locked in for what life can throw at them and handle it with poise, conviction as well as emotion. So many great men and women out there. Again, so grateful that I continue to cross paths with great people while weeding the bad ones out. It makes me laugh cause it really is that easy.  

We really missed you on the trip, but I had my alone times to really just enjoy the ocean and think about the time we all had with you, how much we miss you, how hard life has been without you, how no one who has not lost a parent can understand the true impact it has on your life after the fact, again the love and support from so many and like I said on my post, how no one is perfect, but with a few laughs, some sand, some music, some drinks, we can make our time together perfect. I know you wanted me to grab life back and start living the life I am meant to live. Not that I always have to be traveling, but I can have a good time anywhere I am as long there are good people around. I am sorry I got away from that life and it impacted you. Like you have dealt with tough situations, I had to as well, but that only made us smarter and tougher. You really would’ve loved the boat. We all kind of said you may have bugged being on it with all those people. We joked that you would’ve said, “shit, for a few bucks I could have this room looking like the shit….” And how you would’ve been all about the great food. I know you probably wouldn’t have drank as much as the people on the boat, but man, they put it down. Even I couldn’t keep up and after being in London, I was ok with getting back to my normal routine and working out. You were supposed to be on the boat, but a big part of me knows you were all around us on the trip. Some things happened that I will keep to myself, but they were all positive. Keep them coming. Love you Mom. Bobby


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