Day 28, February 24, Half-Way,                                                     Some Reflections On Cruising

Sunday marked the half-way point of our cruise. We are having a grand time.

Cruising is a nice way to see the world but if you don’t work at it, you only get to see the surface. For Sherry and me, we believe you never get to know a town, a city, a country till you walk the off-the-beaten-path and see the neighborhoods where tourist don’t usually go, meet the people tourist don’t usually meet, talk with the locals, see where they live, eat the food they eat, all with goal of finding the heart of the place you are visiting. And it's not as easy to do when you are on a cruise.

On pre-scripted tours, like the ones the cruise ship offers, you travel, with 30 or 40 strangers in a bus, to pre-determined points of interest, to restaurants which cater to tourists and offer an americanized version of the local cuisine. It’s all well and good but you never “know” the place.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago we cruised the Baja peninsula and one of our ports of call was Mazatlan. Sherry had arranged a private tour for us. We visited local artisans and had an opportunity to talk with them. When it was time for lunch our guide asked us what we wanted to eat for lunch. We told her we wanted to eat where the locals eat. She was doubtful, but the driver of our car understood. He took us to a local sea food restaurant. We sat at tables close together, elbow to elbow with folks from the community. Our driver ordered for us and we sampled food prepared for the local population. We had an opportunity to talk with some of the people around us.

On the walls of the restaurant were photos of the rich and famous who had eaten there and among them was a picture of the then president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

When we returned to the ship we spoke to some of our fellow cruisers who had taken a ship’s tour to the very places we visited. They saw the same things we saw but didn’t have the opportunity to interact with the artisans. They were taken to a restaurant with a prix fixe menu and ate elbow to elbow with the people from their tour. For us, our tour was an unforgettable experience, for most of them it was just another tour day.

Sherry had pre-arranged a few tours for us before we left Louisville. We also had signed up for a couple of ship’s tours (the one in Papeette, for example). Our tour in the Easter Islands was a private tour. We were driven by our guide and we were able to ask questions about his life on the island and to ask in depth questions about what he was telling us. That’s something you can’t readily do when you are sitting on a big tour bus. We also hand picked the places we most wanted to see on the island. If we had to rely on the ship’s tours we wouldn’t have been able to see the places which piqued our interest the most.

That’s my rant for the moment - there are others I will share with you.

Hope you are vicariously enjoying our travels as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.

Harry & Sherry

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene