Christmas Under the Sea, Cozumel (Photo: Paul Getchel)
Nothing like a warm-up before Christmas. We recently returned from a cruise to the Western Caribbean with port stops at Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel and Princess Cays (actually in the Bahamas). Sixteen of us travelled together to celebrate my brother Paul's 50th birthday.
Sting Ray City, Grand Cayman (Photo: Paul Getchel)
If you haven't cruised, you don't know what you're missing. It's the quickest way to release those tense shoulder and neck muscles. While we enjoyed the balmy tropical climate, the folks at home froze—in fact six inches of snow fell. After two relaxing days at sea, four fun-filled activities at ports of call, seven days of being pampered and fed the finest fresh food, we dreaded the return to reality, but arrived rested and ready to dive into life.
Gumbalimba Park, Roatan
Our cruise route to and from the Western Caribbean navigated the waters north of Cuba along the Florida Straits. On the return eastward through the straits the ship made a complete stop and announced they spotted a small boat in which there appeared to be a person in distress. As required by International Maritime Law, a rescue craft was dispatched to assist the person if possible. We watched the drama unfold from our balcony as the rescue craft sped toward the horizon to intercept the boat about six miles off. The rescue returned with the man from the small boat appearing in good condition.
Party on the Balcony
That evening the rest of the story circulated about the rescue. The man, a Cuban, got off course while fishing and would be turned over to immigration when we reached the Bahamas. He would certainly be returned to Cuba. The back story: He attempted to escape Cuba and reach U.S. soil before perishing at sea or being picked up by a ship and sent back. His gamble got him option #2.
Princess Cays, Bahamas (Photo: Paul Getchel)
During vacation I finished a non-fiction story about grieving and loss and began another, which I finished and submitted when I returned. I wrote the latter story in response to a call for non-fiction stories of how my marriage grew through a painful time to become a deeper, more vibrant and strong relationship.