Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everybody needs a little time away

It seems I get inspired to blog about once a month so here goes February! (Happy leap day btw)

As of February 17 I'm halfway through my 3rd year of med school, and I've been on my 3 week break. Since I'm not likely to get much time off in the near future my mom booked us a family vacation to the Bahamas so here's a little recap of the trip.

Day 1 - Sunday, Feb 19
We flew in from Detroit to Dallas to Nassau. For the first flight my mom & I were blessed with 2 small children sitting behind us that yelled, squealed, and kicked our seats for much of the 3 hours with no attempt from the parents to get them to behave. I mean seriously, you've gotta at least try. Anyway, we got to the resort about 4pm and explored a bit. Seeing various shapes in bikinis gave me the courage to wear my own brand new one - the first in a good 13 years I'd say. So here's my first beach trip in the Bahamas:

Day 2 - Monday, Feb 20
We took the bus downtown to see the sights, and we visited the Straw Market (don't ask me why I was surprised that they mainly sell straw woven crafts, [but also t-shirts, jewelry, and wooden carvings]) and some of the shops in the morning. Then in the afternoon we headed to the beach and I did some snorkeling. I was hoping to go kayaking, but unfortunately I learned that a red flag means the water is too rough for water sports. I stayed within the designated swimming area to avoid being run over by a jet ski, and I found a big star fish and a small variety of fishes, one of which played hide & seek with me in its little cement block home. At one point when I was coming back to shore a guy was bringing 2 star fish back to the water and handed me one:

I like the little suction cup feet. Yes, I took it back to its home after a short time examining it.

Afterwards we went to the main dining room for dinner, and then we caught the free shuttle to the casino where I played blackjack for almost the entire 2 hours on just $20 that my dad gave me. I was almost winning for a while.

Day 3 - Tuesday, Feb 21
Sea lion day! Before the trip I had done some google searches to see what we might want to do there, and I was sold on this one. Sure, most people prefer the dolphins, but sea lions just have these fun, goofy sort of personalities that lured me in. Plus, I think I just like to do things differently from the rest sometimes. ;) Anyway, we took a boat ride to Blue Lagoon Island where Dolphin Encounters is located, and we were taken to the sea lion area where we had a brief educational lecture about the fun-loving creatures. After that we went down to the dock and posed for pictures with a sea lion kissing our cheeks (Bonny was her name). Then we got into the (freezing) water and stood waist-deep while taking turns frolicking with Bonny's mom Maggie. We each got to stroke her soft fur, feed her a fish, shake her flipper, give her a hug, check out her tail and the little claws on her back flippers, and get a big ole kiss on the lips - Maggie's sort of a player, I bet she can't even name all the people she's kissed! Here's a picture of me & my dad with Maggie (purchased from the lovely photographer there):

That night we did manage to get reservations for the Garden of Eden Restaurant. Trying to get reservations for the 2 resort restaurants is ridiculous fyi, but the food was great and the atmosphere was lovely. And after dinner we watched some of the resort entertainment - they have a different show every night, and Tuesday included a guy juggling knives & torches.

Day 4 - Wednesday, Feb 22
We started the day off with a trip to the Ardastra Zoo. They have 41 animal exhibits and their claim to fame is a 1957 feature in National Geographic Magazine about their marching flamingos. A military man trained a bunch of flamingos to march in formation and follow commands. It was pretty cute, and you can get up close & personal with our feathered friends - one actually walked right into me. He didn't even apologize, dreadful manners.

This zoo also offers the opportunity to feed their Lory parrots, so of course I did that too. They provide apple slices and the birds stand on your hands (or shoulder or head) and enjoy the juice from the apples leaving somewhat of a mess of apple pieces (in your hand or your hair).

Besides the interactive attractions, I enjoyed the lemurs, various monkey species, and the big cats as well. And overall it was a cool experience to walk through the shady & lush gardens rather than the typical concrete atmosphere of the American zoos I have visited. It felt more intimate & natural.

Anyway, then we spent the afternoon by the pool, and I participated in a balloon toss with my dad, beach bowling (which I suck at), and bingo poolside. In between these resort activities I soaked up some rays and enjoyed some of Richard Castle's "Heat Rises."

Wednesday night we had dinner at the resort's other fancy restaurant, Martino's. This waiter, Keno, provided even better service, and the food was fabulous. We again went to the nightly show, listening to Funky D & the Summer Breeze band and watching cabaret performances involving Grease & Michael Jackson & Tina Turner. The performers were all quite talented.

Day 5 - Thursday, Feb 23
Naturally, being the day we left, this was the only day where there was a green flag enabling all water sports. We left at 12:30pm and were welcomed home to Michigan around 11pm with a snow storm.

Since this was an uneventful day I'll throw in a family photo from Martino's:

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