Sunday, May 8, 2011
I'm happy to report that last week's Caribbean cruise was, in a word, lovely. We splurged on a balcony cabin, and I spent every spare second outside, breathing in the ocean air and just watching the waves go by. Ahhhh.
This was our view leaving Miami:
It's really mesmerizing. Plus, the wake from the ship would send up little sprays, which flashed quick little rainbows in the sunlight. You can just see one in this shot:
Our first port was in Freeport, the Bahamas, but we were too busy relaxing to even think of leaving the ship. We had a nice view from the balcony, though:
See those trees with the orange flowers? Those are Royal Poncianas, my all-time favorite tree. (Is it weird to have a favorite tree?) You'll find them all over the Caribbean and south Florida, and they have the most delicate, fern-like leaves. Super pretty.
Now, I know what you're thinking: GET TO THE GOOD PART, ALREADY!!
Ok, ok. Let's move on to our stop in Nassau, the Bahamas, where I inadvertently made my own remake of Hitchcock's The Birds.
In Nassau there is a sweet little park called the Ardastra Gardens. It's technically a zoo, but the main attractions are all birds.
You'll have to humor me a bit longer, though, because I have some beauty shots to share:
There were lots of parrots on open air stands stationed around the park, but this guy in particular demanded our attention. He'd squawk out increasingly desperate "hello!"s and do all manner of tricks and tumbles to get us to watch him. Here he's hanging by his feet:
...but he also flipped upside down and hung by one leg - and then, when we turned to leave, performed his pièce de résistance:
(While hanging, he continued squawking - I'm guessing the parrot equivalent of "Look, Ma! No hands!")
Here our friends Ray and Julianne (along with Ninja Baby Isaiah) and John are being swarmed by the horde:
Now, lorikeets are beautiful birds. However, being birds, they are, naturally, from the devil. (I say this as the daughter of a bird-lover, and having grown up with everything from cockatiels to african grays.) So, naturally, once I acquired my own apple slice to feed the little flying hell hounds, one immediately nipped me on the finger while another busied himself pooping on my shirt.
When we tried to leave, this little bully decided to claim John's sneaker for all Hell-kind:
He wouldn't relinquish his hold for anything, and it took over a dozen steps and some rather exuberant hokey-pokeying to get him to flap off. Heh.
Next we went to see the flamingos.
(Ah, you perked up there, didn't you? I thought so, you blood-thirsty lot, you.)
Ardastra is famous for their marching flamingos. They have a show/demonstration where the flock is paraded around a circular open-air theater, responding to a drill sergeant trainer's commands.
Before the show, the birds roam freely outside the theater, eating, sleeping, and honking at each other:
(In case the suspense is killing you: this is not when I was attacked.)
Heeere they coooome!
It was neat watching the flock parade around and about-face on command. They'd stop mere inches from our seats, too:
Fun fact: flamingos can reach five feet in height with their necks extended. Being five foot tall myself, I can now personally verify this fact after being nose-to-beak with Mr. Beady Eyes. He got closer, and closer, and closer, and then started going for my head.
For my dignity's sake, I tried to simultaneously laugh off being attacked by a giant lawn ornament while attempting to keep my shoulder up to shield my face.
It...was not a pretty sight.
But, for your amusement, I'll show you anyway:
I have other shots of me leaning waaaay back, stark terror in my madly grinning "no, really, I'm not scared!!" face, but I'll be leaving those visuals to your imagination.
But wait, there's more!
After the flamingo show, we spied these pretty black swans in a nearby pond:
We stopped to ooh and aah, and after a few moments, one of them heaved himself out of the water and started waddling towards us.
"Oooh, he's coming to say hello!" I squealed, forgetting, again, the whole demon-spawn thing.
Sure enough, the swan came right up to the little hip-high wall separating us, and lunged. At the last possible second, I realized he was going for my water bottle, which I'd set on the wall to take a photo:
John snatched it out of the way just in time, but the bird made a few more desperate grabs for it, shooting his head forward snake-like. I guess he really doesn't like plastic bottles.
Despite the bird attacks, we still had a fantastic day at Ardastra - and in all seriousness, I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting Nassau. In fact, I'll leave you with a little more eye candy:
This gorgeous guy paraded around for us for a full five minutes with his tail extended, showing off his feathers.
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