It was unanimous!
There would be NO crazy bike excursions on our last port of call, Labadee, Haiti!
Of course this could be because no bike tours were offered ----
But really, this was our last port before starting our return journey home, we’d had 3 previous days in a row of pedal to the metal ((Literally!)) cycling tours. This was our day to VEG OUT!
Labadee is not a Haitian village --- it’s more like a private resort island owned by Royal Caribbean. Their description?
“On the north coast of Hispaniola, surrounded by beautiful mountain slopes and exotic foliage, sits Labadee®, Royal Caribbean's private paradise. This exclusive destination offers pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and spectacular water activities…”
No town to go to, no skinny dogs to rip my heart out over, no locals fitting 6 people on a motorcycle ---- All we wanted to do was find a shady beach chair and NAP!
PERFECT SPOT!! We quickly moved these chairs over under the shade of a tree, planning on spending a few hours just watching the waves. And the ZIP LINE!! Though you can’t see them, there are several wire lines just above the photo ----waiting to watch people do THIS:
HOLY MOLY! We’d considered it, but it was about $80 for a 40 second ride…..No thanks! The beach chair would do me just fine!
Can you see the “fly specks” on this photo? Those are people flying down the zip line! I was wishing we had our Olympics score cards --- “8.5 with good form!” One lady didn’t pay attention to the “rules” and sat up, killing her momentum, and they had to come drag her in….DEFINITELY needed a score card for that one! LOL!
We were served a BBQ lunch on shore ---burgers, ribs, chicken, salads, desserts ----I LOVED the fruit on this cruise. The pineapple especially was to die for.
Ahhhhh! What a view! I read a little, napped a bit --- we only had until early afternoon to enjoy this day, as THIS was the day we had to make an early exit to avoid that storm coming off Bermuda.
Don’t you think this photo should be our Christmas card this year? ULTIMATE relaxation has been reached!
It’s amazing how the blue of the water fades into the blue of the distant mountains and into the blue of the sky.
This was our view as we pulled up to the pier on arrival….that dock used to NOT be there, it’s a recent addition, and most welcome! MILES of concrete.
On our way back to the ship, I just had to snap this beautiful picture. It was a GREAT cruise and I hope it isn’t my last by a long shot!
I have to say that even though Labadee is not a “real” village --- it employs many local villagers from just a ways away, on the mainland. The people we talked to LOVE working on the island, there are cruise ships coming and going all the time. Steady employment is helping so many families.
Spending time in these struggling countries really has opened my eyes so much --- and at Thanksgiving time it is something to really think about. Some of us are worried about how to cook and serve our turkey. People in other countries don’t even have a turkey to put on the table and may be living off of bananas and coconuts and having to heat their stoves with coconut hulls.
One thing we did every day was hit the ship's dining room for breakfast, where they seat you with random strangers until the table is full. We like this because it gives us a chance to meet and get to know others.
The morning we docked at Labadee, which was the day AFTER the Dominican Republic – by far the most destitute living circumstances for many of the people – I sat next to a woman who must have been quite wealthy by the way she talked and looked. Her fingers were dripping with jewels as were her ears, and the diamond necklace around her neck was huge. ((This means nothing, I’m just setting the stage here –)) and her comments were so interesting.
“I wish the cruise lines wouldn’t take us to such dirty poor places. I get tired of being approached to buy this and buy that……I am so tired of saying NO!”
I thought of the woman I had met just the day before, taking her machete to coconuts for $1 each to earn her living for her family. I thought of the man who had the bikes in his little shack of a house, trying to make a living by providing a service to tourists. I thought of the vendor that I bought a necklace and earring set from ((It was all of $25.00!)) in order to put food on the table for his family.
We have so much. My heart was so full. And I couldn’t take it anymore, and I opened my mouth and said something to this stranger that I wouldn’t have if she was someone I would ever run into again! ((Isn’t it amazing what you will say when you know your paths won’t cross further?!?))
“If someone wanted a HOMOGENIZED vacation, why not go to Hawaii, or Key West, or any number of other places, instead of choosing to come to countries like this where you know people are struggling? “
I just felt that someone should KNOW, that things are not so up to the par WE have set as our accepted "normal" in these places. How could someone look so down on these people? She booked the cruise, she knew the itinerary. This was NOT Club Med ---and I was dumbfounded.
Our being there WAS helping these people. The tourism industry is an important part of helping these people get on their feet and providing many of them with means for a living……and it’s not hard to say no if you don’t want to buy something.
I never felt pushed, prodded or otherwise coerced into buying something that I didn’t want. I enjoyed the people. I’ll remember the faces and the smiles and the attempts at crossing language barriers. I’ll remember the little girl in the Dominican Republic who ran out to hand us flowers as we cycled by. These people are full of so much joy and so much LIFE, even with the little they have.
And I know it’s kind of a rant, but one that has stuck with me, and I’ve been home for way over a week now!
I don’t want a Homogenized Existence. I want to experience what LIFE is like in other places – the good, the bad, the heartbreak, the joy --- we are all in this world together, and there is so much we can learn from each other.
Thanksgiving in the states is tomorrow, yet I’ve been so grateful for EVERYTHING since we returned home. I’d like to keep this going year round. Things are just things. The most important things in life are NOT things --- it’s people.