Carnival Dream Vacation 2012

July 2012 marks my second group cruise and this post is an ode to a  truly great experience with truly wonderful people. The Carnival Dream was our home for seven days. This was not our first trip together. In fact, our newly found traveling tradition began in May of 2011 with our first cruise on the Carnival Glory, but that is a different journey altogether...

Cruises are all about the freedom, the fun, and the food. The freedom comes from the beautiful scenery and open air. The sounds of the ocean blanket me in bliss. The sunny days and cool trade winds conjure feelings of peace and security.  Of course, being away from work, traffic, and daily chores are a bonus. On this particular adventure, I had the privilege of being surrounded by close friends. I really enjoyed the time I got to spend sharing new experiences with those close to me. We all had the freedom to choose how we wished to entertain ourselves, yet we had the convenience of proximity. That is what I love about cruises. There is so much to do on the ship, yet it is like you never have to leave the conveniences of "your own home".

  We sailed to several places and got to explore ports at our leisure. One particular excursion worth mentioning is the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya. This was my first encounter with Mayan Ruins. I did not know exactly what to expect.  I was afraid the tour would be overcrowded, short, or perhaps in some way limit the freedom to truly explore. Overall, I was satisfied with our choice. Don't get me wrong, this tour, as with any tour, would have been better had it been a private expedition for just my friends and me. However, the location of the ruins was open which gave an advantage in crowd control. We all received a brief history lesson about the area from a seemingly knowledgeable guide and were given time to walk around and get a closer look at each structure. We were only allowed to walk on the steps of certain monuments. Age has weathered the ruins, so I suppose this was in the best interest of the ruins as well as the tourists.

On bus ride back to port, we all received a beverage (your choice of alcoholic or non, age permitting) and a snack. The tour guide told us about the areas nearby and shared Mayan and Mexican culture. Overall, I had a good time, but the tour could stand to be a little bit cheaper :)


I remember thinking what would it be like to stand in this very spot 2000 years ago? What would I see? What would I hear? What insight would I gain?  I thought about how these structures were made. If I could be a fly in the jungle what could I learn? Did hundreds of citizens line up to work countless hours in order to accomplish a common goal? Or perhaps slaves were forced to complete this manual labor. How long did it take? Did they really build their cities according to star locations, or was it coincidence? If it wasn't an accident, how did they have such a vast knowledge of astrology? What could they teach me?

I remember picturing sacrifices at the top of the temple. Did people gather around and cheer sadistically as they have for public executions in the modern era? Perhaps they were scared, desperately holding hands and genuinely hoping that this sad, but honorable sacrifice would appease the gods and save them. Maybe this particular civilization did not practice such a ritual...

I wanted to feel a majestic presence. I searched for it while I was there. The experience did not feel as magnific as I had hoped it would. Perhaps it was the people , perhaps it was the voice of the tour guide, perhaps it was the heat..... in any case, I was still fascinated.

Ruins are a living history. There are many lost civilizations that I would like to see and explore.

One day....