17th April: San Diego, Ensenada, The Pacific Ocean

Trip Start Apr 16, 2005
Trip End May 01, 2005

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Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Monday, April 18, 2005

Yesterday was a long day.

Us grown-ups can tell our bodies that, contrary to all logic, it really is 1.30am and not 9.30. When you're two that's just plain silly.
We managed to get him to sleep until 3.30. At 4.30 he and I had a tour of the hotel. We had a bath at 5.30. We were waiting for them to start serving breakfast at 6.
Eventually we were joined by the rest of the team, and also by a number of people coming on the same cruise, either that we'd either already met on the Chicago - San Diego flight or were milling around in that "we're waiting for a rep to turn up" kinda way. In particular, we were spotted (or rather, Graham was, as he had Xander on his shoulders at the time) (or rather, Xander was spotted and they assumed that Graham was me) by a group of folks from the forums at CruiseCritic.com. Nice to put faces to names at last.
Uncle Graham and Xander were very silly. This won't be the last time...

Xander got very excited about the impending bus ride. He's never been on a bus before.
The reality of it was somewhat less exciting though, and we spent most of it trying to persuade him to go to sleep (in the vain hope that if he did so, he'd be back on an even keel time-wise. Great theory).

Crossing the border into Mexico was a remarkable transition. Almost up to the border on the American side, there's nice buildings and well-kept roads. The very minute you're on Mexican soil, the roads are rough and badly rutted and the houses... It was almost like a long sprawling shanty town, except that most of them have large satellite dishes on their roofs.
The entire journey - 2.5 hours in all - was accompanied by a fabulous radio station. The DJ could very easily have been straight from The Fast Show (I was expecting him at any moment to declare "Butros, Butros galli!") while the music itself was a kind of traditional Mexican - all yabbering vocals, two-part trumpets and some surprisingly athletic tuba-playing. Now we really started to feel like we were most definitely on holiday!
The three of us attempted to counter the Mexican music by singing our own song:
We're all going on a cruise tomorrow,
Cruise tomorrow,
Cruise tomorrow.
We're all going on a cruise tomorrow,
We're going to stay till May.
We're going on a cruise, cruise, cruise
How about you, you, you,
You can come too, too, too,
We're going on a cruise, cruise, cruise!

Xander knows all the actions and starts singing it at any opportunity.

We arrived at the Coral Hotel, Ensenada for check in and stepped into another world.
We went from rough-and-ready and somewhat grubby Mexican coaches to being very politely ushered into a hall where we were given our stateroom passes. Then a brief spell on the coaches again down to the dock... and by 'eck she's a big ship! Moreover, the staff can't do too much for you. We're in "Concierge Class" which is about as posh as you can get before going up to the suites (which are serious money), and as such we have a hot-and-cold running stateroom attendant ("Sunil"), who appears almost at the press of a button and sorts out whatever we need. Fab.
Much exploring ensued. Alas, baggage can take a while to work its way up, so we didn't get it until X was asleep at 8ish. H went out to check out the main restaurant with the rest of the party while I baby-sat and had great fun unpacking 3 large suitcases in the half-darkness. I still haven't found some things that I know I unpacked...
And by 8.30, we were off into the Pacific.
The cruise had begun.

[1] It occurs to me that not all the readership of this email will know who Graham is. Or anyone else. So here's a resumé of the party:
* Me, Helen, Xander (of course);
* Margaret and Eric: Margaret is Helen's elder sister by 11 years and Eric, who hails from Barbados, her husband (and is really Errie, but has "anglicised" it to Eric). It is because of Margaret's generosity that we're here.
* Chris and Graham (aka Uncle Kiss and Uncle Gay-um): Chris is H's elder brother by 6 years; Graham's his partner.
* James, Charmain and Tyler: James is Margaret's boss, Charmain his wife and Tyler their (nearly) two year old son.  Yes, I know it's odd taking your boss with you on holiday, but it's somewhat because of him that we're here as it's his company that's ultimately paying. He's also a very long-standing friend of Eric's.
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