Saturday, 24 January 2009

Day Sixteen: Sheer Magic!

A nice slow start to the day and then a total cock up with the tour timing. We arrived in Acapulco only to discover that there were another two tour ships in front of us and they were both slowing our berthing. By the time we got to harbour one of them managed to dock and the other decided to anchor offshore and take its passengers in by tender. We then had to make a complete180 degree turn and basically reverse into our berth. Instead of being in at 9.00am it was much closer to 9.30am and this threw everyone’s timing off. All tour parties meet in the Theatre Royal where they are given little stick on badges to designate their tour and group. Our tour was G1 and we were suppose to meet at 9.20am and depart at 9 .30am but due to the late berthing, the chaos in the theatre it was well past 10.00am before we even started to move down the stairs to disembark. While we were all seated, that is groups A1 to A7, Gs and E’s and after they had set up a stall outside the theatre to sell water, crisps, nuts, biscuits etc. the announcement came that Mexico prohibited all food stuffs from being taken off the ship for later consumption. The sight of 300 people scoffing the stuff that they had squirreled away in their kit bags was amazing to behold; my earlier breakfast had been a bowl of Weetabix and here I was at 10.00 scoffing two bananas and half a packet of crisps just so that I didn’t take them ashore. Naturally when we finally did leave the ship the Mexicans didn’t bother to check anyone’s bags and we could have taken a ton of food with us should we have wanted to.

The tour guide on the bus was great, a Mexican called Jorge (George to us) conducted us on a sight seeing trail through old Acapulco, into the Golden Area, followed by the Diamond Area. Each stage got progressively richer and some of the hotels and houses are breathtaking, as are the views from them. However the pace of progress is such that the roads have not kept up and a huge road building programme is under way, consequently traffic crawls at a very slow pace. We reached our destination after an hour and a bit of travel and we were greeted at the gate with soft drinks, water or beer while we waited for some more tours to arrive. Seated outside, but shaded inside a canvassed off area we listened fascinated to a discussion about the problems with turtles in Mexico. Up to 20 years ago it was normal to eat turtle meat, turtle eggs and have turtle soup for weddings, christenings and birthdays but slowly this is changing largely due to a woman called Monica. She has set up a trust that protects turtle eggs (the penalty for being found with them is 30 years in jail – although we were told that due to corruption in the police most handlers buy their way out of this). However Monica has now set up a permanent base camp at the beach and has a network of people telling her when a turtle has come ashore and laid her eggs. One of her advisors told us that all Mexican men want to die like a turtle for apparently they make love for 5 days continuously and 50% of male turtles are so exhausted that at the end of it they sink to the bottom of the ocean and don’t have the strength to get back to the surface! Monica’s group collect all the eggs from the nest and hatch them out in a protected area and this stops them being poached or killed by predators such as sea gulls.

We were then treated to the best part of the day when Monica first brought out a pair of baby turtles to show us what we would have to do and then a large container with about 100 baby turtles were brought out and taken to the beach. We were lined up along a rope barrier just a few feet from the shore where previously a young man had carefully raked the sand to provide channels for the water to run up and to make it easier for the turtles to crawl to the sea. Hilary and I were first in line (naturally) and so we were holding our turtles for a lot longer than many of the others and we were next to the official cruise photographer so my hands and my baby turtle will appear in the official P & O DVD of the cruise! Then it was time to name them and let them go, I called mine Elvis and Hilary called hers Tommy (apparently turtles are bi-sexual for the first 3 months and then they decide which gender they would like to be). Tommy was out of the blocks like a shot and within minutes was leading the pack to the sea, while Elvis took a more circuitous route but eventually he headed in the right direction and followed his friend. Within 20 minutes all the little critters had made it to the sea although some of them needed a helping hand, naturally all were filmed and photographed as they progressed to the water’s edge. With a last wave (in both meanings of the word) we left our fledglings behind us and went back for another Coke and some delicious guacamole and chips. We donated some money and got their website address and from now on we will keep an eye on this group that relies entirely on donations for their work, as I said in the title “Sheer Magic”.

The drive back was routine and much quicker and we arrived back at the terminal around 3.00pm. All these terminals seem to have large areas associated with them where you can buy souvenirs, postcards, T-Shirts, booze and gifts and Acapulco was no exception. We entered the area intending to buy just postcards and ended up with a turtle fridge magnet, a polo shirt with Acapulco on it for Sam and a beautiful silver necklace for Hilary that she will tell you about later. Note for our daughter Sam here – please look out for the UFCU credit card and pay it when it comes in thank you.

Tiz I. What an amazing day – it might have been a late start but so worth the wait. We learned so much about the turtles and their life styles and it was sheer magic to hold the baby, although a little scary as it was so small. My turtle seemed to be determined to get to the sea before anyone else and made a beeline for the waves – not even a cheers or bye! The setting was beautiful, with coconut palms along the shoreline and golden sand. The sea had some surf, just enough to make the perfect picture. It was very hot – 88f and the shade of the trees was very welcome although a little hazardous as two coconuts fell to the ground while we were sitting there. We sent another bunch of postcards today and after we had written them I went down to the reception desk to post them. On the way back I decided to go to the little deck near our cabin for the last couple of pictures before the ship leaves port and I met a lady who could talk the hind leg off a donkey – an hour later I got back to the cabin! Oh yes, it has been a lovely day. The necklace that Sam mentioned is so pretty, silver backed with blue/green stones, very posh. Now I will have to get my hair cut in San Francisco to tidy myself up to do the necklace justice! Dinner is smart casual tonight thank goodness – I do not think I could cope with dressing up all posh after such a day – so exciting. Sam will blog the latest picture of Jimmy. He does not have hands, cuffs, pocket, button, bowtie or drum yet – that’s probably tomorrow’s project. I love getting the comments on the blog, I will have go with Sam to the computer room and figure a way to answer them all off line so I don’t use up all the minutes of computer time that Sam has purchased. Anyway ‘til then thank you all for the comments I love getting them all and reading them. Oh, I forgot to mention that the natural harbour of Acapulco is a haven for pelicans. We have been thoroughly enjoying watching them swooping low and hunting for fish. I’m afraid that the only photographs I have of them are rather blurry and hard to distinguish – but I know that they are of pelicans. Now I am really pushing my luck with the time – dinner in 20 minutes and I have not even showered yet! And my hair is so windblown that I absolutely have to shower and wash it now. God bless, I’m off.

We have decided not to go to the theatre tonight as we are both tired after our hectic day with the turtles, the show tonight is a comedian and we talked about going but decided instead to have an early night. At sea tomorrow and that continues until the 27th when we get to San Francisco. Have included a bunch of pictures tonight that I hope will upload OK. Godbless.

Oriana is very particular about hygiene; the ship is obsessed with not having the Novo Virus spread and at every entrance to a restaurant, the gym, the CyberStudy or place where contamination is possible there are both automatic and manual dispensers of a hand gel. The restaurants are particularly careful and if you forget e.g. you take your breakfast outside to eat and then nip back to pick up a spoon then you are gently reminded by one of the staff to “please use the gel sir.” Touch wood we have not had or seen any sign of illnesses among the many friends that we have made on board, Richard had the sniffles yesterday and so did Hilary and I for a little while although we put that down to the excessive use of smoke in the Rock ‘n Roll show. We have both felt off colour once or twice but I think now that we are used to the food and water and Hilary now has her soya milk in our fridge so that she can have tea or coffee when she feels like it.


samw7 said...

When I first read that you were going to release turtles, I thought it would be a great experience, and it sounds as though it was. Melissa used to do that in North Carolina. She worked with a group that hunted them by flashlight and then helped them make the transition. Turtles do seem to have some significance to us. Now we just have to plan to swim with them again soon in the warm waters off Kauai.
Love to you both, Sam

Liz said...

Hello there!! Ive finally caught up with your blog. What a fantastic adventure you are both having.

I love hearing about all the wonderful wildlife you have been seeing. I'm so envious, but you are documenting your daily events so well that it is almost as if we are all experiencing the trip with you.

I love your clay model Hilary. How artistic are you?!! Yet another hidden talent is revealed, I can't wait to see the finished article.

Am working everyday this next week but will write again next Saturday. Until then, carry on having a fantastic time.

Love to you both, Liz

Hayley said...

aww you are so lucky to be there at a time when you could release those turtles!!! They do it in Bali and surrounding isles too but only every 6th months (they wait for them to grow safely in tanks first, and set them free at an age when they have a fighting chance. What an experience you lucky devils! Loving the clay model aunty it is truly a masterpiece. Glad you are both having so much fun, thinking of you daily.

Ooh also, got a job! Working for the council again doing admin at the civic centre but chance of permanent position on their rather generous payroll! So all good here, Rachel sends her love and says thank you for the card! She thinks she was on the Oriana and one time too!

Much love, Hayles xxxx