The summer after my junior year of high school my mother decided she wanted to take me on a cruise. I was just happy to escape the Ohio weather, and didn’t care where we went. She chose a cruise that went to two of her favorite places, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. What I was really excited for was going to Honduras, for the chance to practice my Spanish skills. By the time we made the eighteen hour drive and visited relatives, I was beyond ready to get on the boat. We had a small interior cabin, and my backpack was filled with books, I was ready!
Our first destination was Jamaica, and when our ship, the Carnival Liberty pulled into port I was beyond excited. There were a half dozen other cruise ships already in dock, and it was amazing to see how big they all were. We had signed up for a shore excursion that admittedly my mother was more excited for that I was. We were signed up to go tubing through the rivers in the jungle, which sounded fun, but the part that scared me was the zip lining. I have never been too fond of heights, but my mother had her heart set on zip lining through the forest, what was I going to say, no? The tubing was fun, the water much colder that I expected, but fun nonetheless. Though let me tell you, if you have never been to Jamaica, then you have probably never heard the concept of the one lane, two way road. Jamaican. Drivers. Are Scary!!! I thought I was going to die as we drove up high into the woods. They suited us up in what felt like forty pounds of harness, and set off on a two mile hike up to mountain we were starting at. We had three guides, all natives, and all seemed to love messing with the tourists.
The first two guys went, so that we could be met by them at the stops along the way. I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched the guys in front of me go how they kept the path clear of tree branches. The image of guys zip lining with chainsaws came to mind, which was not exactly comforting. By the time it was my turn, I just closed my eyes, pushed off, and screamed. I didn’t feel any branches on the way, so I assume they kept it trimmed. However it came to a great surprise to me when my back met two hundred pounds of built Jamaican man at twenty miles an hour, I swore my butt would be bruised for a week. He stopped me and got me off the line, hooked me to a tree and got me on the next leg, this time I had my eyes open, saying to myself “you’re not going to die, you’re not going to die” like some sort of Gregorian chant. This time I saw the guy and slowed myself down. And on the last leg I was actually excited to go, even though I could see the mat wrapped around the tree that awaited me. I set off full speed and though the hit hurt, I was glad to be on solid ground.
The trip back to the ship was uneventful, and despite my sunburn I slept well that night.
Our next stop was Grand Cayman, we were signed up to go to the turtle farms there and to go swimming with sting rays. This time, I was psyched. We got on to boat to go out to the sting rays and as I looked around the island I couldn’t help notice ho different it was from Jamaica. Cayman was beautiful, a true rich tropical paradise. Jamaica was well…dirty. It amazed me how different they were. We reached the sand bar, and got out. The water was warm and crystal clear, it was amazing. They were dozens of stingrays, and if you didn’t know, kissing a sting ray is seven years of good luck. Considering I broke a mirror a few weeks earlier I guess I just broke even. They rays felt really cool, like a wet muscle.
When we got back on the boat to head to the island I was excited for the turtle farm. I own a little turtle named Steinbeck and was excited to pick up these mega turtles. I actually did get to pick up a bunch of them, and we got some really cool pictures. My mother had been there before and since she had been there before the hurricane hit and destroyed the place, it looked totally different. She says the old place was better but I guess I’ll never know.
We got back on the cruise ship and spent a day relaxing out at sea before arriving at Honduras, weeks before the military coup. We had not signed up for any activity here, mostly just wanted to walk around and shop (hey we’re girls leave us alone). The second we got away from port it was a totally different world. There were little children running barefoot around the streets and women wanting to braid my hair. We walked further and further out into the city and….poverty doesn’t describe some of these places. My heart truly broke for the little children who looked like they hadn’t eaten in days. There was one little boy at a shop we went to, sitting by the door. I knelt down next to him and asked him in Spanish what his name was. He replied that his name was Pablo. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a geode that my grandmother had put in my luggage for luck. He was amazed at the beautiful purple crystals. I told him to keep it and his smile could have lit the globe.
By the time we got home, and it was all over, the thing I found myself remembering most was that little boy’s smile, and I wonder if he still has that geode.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.