Fiascoes in Paradise

The semester ended on December 13, but we remained on the ship to work in the library and the lab during a three week Enrichment Voyage through the Panama Canal. The Latin American itinerary is nearly identical to the voyage we did in 2009, so we spent lots of time reuniting with old friends from voyages past, relaxing on the beach, and trying to process the experiences from last semester.

One notable exception to our beach bum lifestyle this time around was an overnight visit to Antiqua, Guatemala. We were able to get a fabulous room at Casa Santo Domingo, a converted monestary turned hotel and art museum, for an exceptionally good price. It was absolutely breathtaking, and the only place we’ve ever stayed that even comes close to matching these exquisite accommodations is the Addo Elephant Reserve on our South African safari.

The last time we visited Latin America, many people wanted to know about our favorite port. We couldn’t give any sort of straight answer because all the countries are so unique, and we had memorable and moving experiences in each of them. This time we’re going to come right out and state our preference: Guatemala–Antigua, specifically. If you’re thinking about a vacation to Central America, think about this charming little city. It’s nestled in a valley between two volcanoes, so the views are breathtaking. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, the shopping is superb, the Spanish is immersive, and the colonial architecture offsets the natural beauty of the landscape in ways that surprise and delight. You can’t do much better. Also, if any of you are thinking about a destination wedding, think about Casa Santo Domingo, and please think about inviting us. 🙂

Antigua, of course, wasn’t our only adventure. Here’s a brief run-through of a few of our more memorable experiences.

  • In Nicaragua, the kids were just as cute as the last time we visited, and Sam had a ball trying to think up games on the beach that he could explain using only very limited Espanol.
  • We transited the canal again and took screenshots with the live webcam on while we went through.
  • Transiting the Panama Canal – Miraflores Locks from Sam and Shannon Bloomquist on Vimeo.

  • In Roatan, we went on our first official open water scuba diving adventure since being certified at an Indiana rock quarry earlier in 2010. Our friend Courtney bought us to a great little dive shop called Tyll’s Dive. They cut us a really good deal since we work on the ship, and we really like them a lot. We dove a site called Turtle Crossing where we were lucky enough to see several sea turtles as well as an eel, barracuda, crab, and lionfish. Tyll’s Dive has a motto–Fiascoes in Paradise–which helps Roatan to remain one of our favorite Caribbean ports along with Guatemala. We hope to head back for a longer visit someday.
  • On the Caribbean side of Guatemala, we hired a boat with a bunch of fellow staffers and toured the Jurassic Park-esque Rio Dulce Canyon. We’ve really become accustomed to life on the water, and we’ll miss the pelicans, ibis, and magnificent frigate birds (Sam, especially, because he’s a birder at heart) in a major way when we return home.
  • Perhaps the best part of this trip was having a few friends from Indy along. Sam’s former co-worker Steve came along with his wonderful family. Having them here was a nice touch of home just when we needed it, and we had a blast goofing around with our fellow Hoosiers and exploring Central America together.
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librarian, writer/editor, floundering guitarist, breakfast addict

mobile software developer, dog owner, hiker, adventure racer, enemy of bureaucracy
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