There are plenty of things I’m good at, like applying eye makeup, rapping “Ice, Ice Baby” (with accompanying dance moves), or opening bottles of champagne. But there’s something I’ve discovered I’m really, really bad at — turning off my phone and taking actual time away from work.

It’s not like I’m so important, or so damn good at my job. I’m just … I don’t know … neurotic? But by the end of last year, I was actually starting to crave some time (and more than a weekend) away from work, away from my phone, and just away. Oh, and the fact that Jared was heading to Hawaii for work without me (not his fault — we tried to make it work out and it just didn’t, plus he brought home presents!) kind of added to my itch for travel.

For the first time since we got married and went on a honeymoon nearly six years ago, we planned a vacation that had nothing to do with a work trip or visiting family or friends. We made plans based entirely on what we wanted to do and what we wanted to see. We booked a southern Caribbean cruise.

And you guys, it was awesome (and not like a hot dog; more like 100 billion hot dogs).

Not a bad view in Barbados. You can almost see the sea turtles.

Not the ship, although it was beautiful and totally impressive (and had a demographic of about 80% senior citizens — seriously, we were definitely in the running for youngest couple not there with a parent. And we’re NOT that young). And I’m not talking about the food, although it was delicious and hella plentiful. I’m not even talking about the hot dogs, which, of course, I didn’t eat, but Jared thought were just fantastic.

I’m not even sure it’s accurate to say the fact that my phone was off (TOTALLY TURNED OFF!) for 10 whole days was awesome in the true sense of the word, though it did feel pretty awesome.

No, you guys, it was the seeing and the doing and the experiencing. We explored the most beautiful natural settings, checking out the Baths of Virgin Gorda, which we only went to because a nice lady at the tourist information booth in Tortola suggested it.

The Baths

One of the few pictures of the two of us -- a hazard of traveling without anybody else!

Clearly, this is our kind of place.

Hooray beer!

We hiked through the rainforest in Grenada, smelling and tasting fresh spices from the trees as we passed them, and swimming in the crystal clear water of the Seven Sisters Falls. (We also smelled some other, uh, “spices” when our tour guide, Rooster, lit up a doobie while we swam. Do people still say doobie? Because I think that’s such a fun word and I so seldom get to use it.)

Jared and Rooster

Seven Sisters Falls (and us, and some lady)

The "popular" falls (AKA the easy ones to get to. Strange how "easy" and "popular" so often go hand in hand!)

Seriously, if you go to Grenada, book a private hike to this area and bring a picnic lunch so you can stay all day. I would still be there now if I had the opportunity (and could bring the dogs). I was literally breathless, which could have had something to do with the brisk pace at which we climbed the rocks, or the cold (COLD!) water, but neither of those things explain the pure joy I felt looking up at the top of the falls. Even though you know hundreds of people see these areas each week, it’s easy to imagine you’re the first.

We snorkeled with sea turtles in Barbados after running into a couple who mentioned that they’d gone swimming with sea turtles the last time they were on the island. (Paynes Bay, folks. It’s a cheap cab ride and you can swim right out from the beach, bypassing the super expensive excursions and tours.) After swimming out, I don’t know, 20 yards or so from where our comfy, shaded chairs were, I looked down and OH MY GOD THERE WAS A SEA TURTLE. I mean, yes, that’s why we were there, but that didn’t stop me from gasping and laughing in amazement while continuously poking Jared and pointing.

We zipped through the rainforest in St. Lucia, which, if you know me AT ALL, you’ll realize is huge. I’m absolutely terrified of heights — bridges, in particular. And not only did our “treetop adventure” take us on 11 different ziplines (some ridiculously high, others really long, and one which was crazy fast), but it also forced us to walk over two rope bridges — by FAR the most frightening part of the excursion. On the first, I shook so badly it made the entire bridge shake. That smile? Ohhh, that’s fake and plastered. (No, I wasn’t plastered. Yet. Just the smile.)

All I could think of was, "Hang on lady. We going for a ride!"

There were other sites that were, well, slightly less awesome (but still totally fun). In St. Maarten/St. Martin, we had no plans, so we headed over to Orient Beach. Yep, that’s the one that’s partly topless and partly fully nude. Now, we did not go fully nude (and Jared was the only Seymour who went topless), but we did walk the beach and HOLY COW WIENERS EVERYWHERE. Umm, in case you didn’t guess that. See also, BOOBS. Aside from all of the naughty bits on display, the beach was absolutely gorgeous, and we fully enjoyed the calm waters and cheap beers. And also, the Sexy Fruits.

I honestly have no idea what this means. But I still love it.

A warning of not-so-sexy fruits

Aruba was absolutely picturesque, and we did a snorkeling excursion on a pirate-type ship (with a rope to swing on! and rum punch!). We nearly didn’t make it because, well, to put it delicately, there was a virus. The most horrible, disgusting, miserable virus EVER, actually, and the day before (when we were in Curacao, which I’m sure is lovely) I really didn’t get out of bed (except to go to the bathroom, because, you know, DISGUSTING VIRUS).

Not a bad ride.

Anyway, I was thrilled to be feeling up to snorkeling, but at our first stop, the water was waaaay rough, not to mention there was nothing much to see. J and I headed back to the ship, along with pretty much everyone else — the waves were picking up quickly. I was next to climb up, but saw a large, older gentleman to my right who was really struggling, so being polite and kind like I am (oh SHUT UP), I moved aside to let him climb. It was a little tricky because I’d already taken off my flippers and was holding them in one hand, but since they’d made us wear life vests, staying afloat wasn’t a big deal.

Anyway, I saw him get to the top, I swung around to the ladder. BIG mistake, because he fell (yes, from the top of the ladder, a few feet above the water) ONTO MY HEAD. Aside from a lingering stiff neck, I’m totally fine, but the bitch of the whole thing is that he knocked my mask and snorkel off my head. My PINK mask and snorkel, which fit me and worked. Ugh. So, the next time you’re in Aruba, if you see a turtle wearing a pretty pink mask, you’ll know it was mine.

Awesome.

You know what else was awesome? Realizing that the world (and the internet, and my job) doesn’t end when I unplug for a few days. I still feel like I’m catching up somewhat, but considering I was able to completely forget what day it was on multiple occasions, I think that’s not a bad trade.

So naturally, now, we’re working on our next travel plans. Where have you been and what have you done that you’ve positively loved?

More pictures to come (yes, there are more!) on Flickr.

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