Our Mexico Trip

We were blessed to have been able to take a vacation to Mexico this past week, with some memorable experiences and hiccups along the way!

We booked a cruise (my 2nd, T's 1st) through Holland America last fall when trips to Mexico were super affordable. We were definitely excited to experience some sunshine and warm weather (almost forgot what that felt like!). We left the night of spring break and flew down to San Diego to board the Holland America Oosterdam ship.

Our "embarkation" on the cruise ship was just like any other: Wait in lines to check bags, take an elevator up to our room, wait for our suitcases to be delivered, head up to the ridiculously huge buffet for the beginnings of a week with unlimited eating, and wait to take off. We had no idea what was ahead of us as we began exploring our ship that night!

We took off and were at sea for two days, heading down to our first port, Puerto Vallarta. We were previously scheduled to go to Mazatlan, but due to a bunch of recent violence there, Holland America pulled itself from that port and we spend two days in PV instead. The waters were really choppy as we headed down the Pacific, so it took a day or so to get used to the rocking feeling and swaying back and forth. A lot of people were seasick and wearing seasick patches, but we were okay for the most part.

On Sunday, we received an announcement from the captain that there was a disabled Holland America ship that had broken down in the Pacific while sailing up from the Panama Canal, and instead of making our first stop to the Bahai Magdalena to go whale watching, we needed to speed up and deliver some parts to the ship near PV to rescue it. We were kind of disappointed that we had to miss whale watching, but we did see a bunch of whales and sea lions along the way while we cruised to different ports.

We got pretty used to our routine each day: Wake up with room service breakfast, go lay out by the pool, get lunch, read books, play cruise games (we won some great coasters playing "Name That Tune"!), lay out some more, get ready for dinner, meet new people at dinner while we ate for 2 1/2 hours, go see a show, dance, and come back to our room around midnight. :) Some days we went on excursions while ported, and some days we just hung out on the ship. It was a life we were not entirely sure if we could get used to! Zero responsibilities except what to eat and what to wear. :) One night, we sang a karaoke duet of "Sweet Home Alabama" in front of 300 people with a 5 piece band backing us up! That was pretty cool. Apparently we were the best act, and people kept stopping us in the halls the next day. :)

While in Puerto Vallarta, we visited a private island once owned by produce John Huston called "Las Caletas." There we layed in hammocks, read by the ocean, ate lunch by the waters, kayaked into different coves, watched parrots and monkeys crawl around and just relaxed in a lush Mexican rainforest. Totally worth the money. Then, in Cabo San Lucas, we found a quiet cliffside resort called Sierna Del Mar, where we were able to lay by the infinity pool and watch the waves crash up on the rocks while we ate and drank at the swim-up restaurant. It was absolutely breathtaking at that resort! 

On our last day, the ocean was incredibly choppy with bad weather, so our ship was rocking from side to side and pitching forward like crazy. Virtually everyone was in their cabin laying down (including us). I think we watched 5 movies that day, and went from eating 5 course meals to eating beef broth and saltine crackers. I was definitely ready to be home at that point.

Finally, when we arrived in San Diego to board our flight, we got caught up in the Alaska Airlines fiasco, and were told our flight was cancelled and we wouldn't be able to fly home until Monday or Tuesday because of so many already overfilled flights due to Spring Break, etc. We are both teachers and knew we had to be back, so instead of wait around at the airport, we rented a car and drove home-- 20 hours straight!-- from San Diego. We left SD at 12:00 noon on Saturday, and arrived in Portland (exhausted) at 7am. It wasn't much of a vacation coming home, but we did have some In-N-Out, which pretty much made the drive worth it. :) We also experienced 85 degree sun, then snow, then torrential rain on the drive home. Our outfits from the cruise weren't really Portland-compatible by the time we got home!

Overall we had a great trip and made TONS of friends. Holland America is known for being the 60+ cruise line, but we honestly met some great couples, most of which were older. Every day we would meet a new couple that had been married over 40 years at least, who would give us marriage advice and tell us about how they met, etc. They were SO fun! We loved meeting people each night and then seeing them in the halls or at shows. All of the people we met became our "cruise family." We just regret not getting their info on the last day to keep in touch because we were all bedridden. I highly recommend cruising-- especially when you can get a good deal on it! It's a great experience. :)

Soul food.

I love this website and recipe. I make this at least once a week and it never fails me. Tonight, I needed it. I needed some good old fashioned comfort food after a tough day, and I was very excited to turn on jazz music and pour a glass of red wine while I cooked. This dish is definitely for one of "those" days-- where all you want is some soul food, but not a lot of mess and work. I literally throw everything in a pot and let it cook for 20 minutes, with a couple of modifications:

*I use macaroni noodles instead of lasagne and cook them in a pot to soften for 10 minutes, then place them in the skillet. 
*I let mozzerella cheese melt on top of the dish when there is 15 minutes left
*I do not use ricotta cheese, as we don't really like it very much. The food still turns out amazing without it, though I imagine that if you do like ricotta, you will love it even more.


Blogging tips