Thursday, May 8, 2014

Report # 130 Puerto Chiapas, Mexico May 8, 2014 Thursday Chance of rain, 79 degrees

Welcome to Puerto Chiapas
Well, the weather did not look too good as we sailed into our first port in Mexico, Puerto Chiapas, early this morning. It was raining, as it did all night. It would not matter that much to us, because since we have been here twice on previous cruises, we were not going anywhere special.

Harbor is part of the mangrove

Waterside abodes

The gangway

Gangway

Docked on the starboard side today

Groups getting off the ship

Lots of security

Nicer dock than yesterday

Nosed in

Ship docked

There is not too much here in the way of things to do, unless you take a tour. Shore excursions had a total of seven today. If you wished to see ancient Mayan ruins and a museum at Izapa with a stop at Tapachula, the closest town, then you had to book a tour. Or, instead of paying $90, you could take a local bus that was taking folks to Tapachula for a round trip that only cost $10. each. Not a bad deal. There is a town square downtown with scores of souvenirs. If you were looking for regular shops or pharmacies, then this is the place to go. Been there, done that.

Many flags decorate the pier

The breeze had picked up

Many flags


A restaurant and swimming pool

Looks nice

The portal to the area



There are coffee and banana plantations, as well as a mangrove boat ride to see birds. We have also taken this tour, which was OK, but not the best if you compared it to the same tour in Costa Rica. We do remember learning a little bit about chocolate made from the local cacao beans, and also the cultivation of cashew producing trees. Not everyone knows that the cashew is produced as a seed from a fruit that grows on trees. We did not, until our guide pointed it out to us. The raw cashews are actually inedible, even poisonous until they are leached and roasted correctly. The by-product of the fruit is used for a local alcoholic drink we understand.

Before we went to breakfast, there was an announcement that we were staying here until 5:30pm instead of leaving at 4pm. The excuse they used was that our time was extended for an operational procedure. Wonder what that was about? We would find out later in the day. The good thing was the rain had stopped, and it appeared that it would remain that way. It was warm and steamy, but no where as bad as yesterday.

We finished our job of emailing, which by the way, has been working somewhat normally since the world cruise ended. Figuring that fewer people are using it, we have had less problems with the internet shutting down. We headed off the ship around 11:30am to explore the manicured gardens around the huge palapa, or thatch-roofed hut. 


Fountain
Manicured park at the pier

Which way to go?

Some locals were sleeping here earlier


Waiting to explore the palapa


The veranda around the palapa

Bird may be a grackle

Portal to town

Palapa
One of the largest palapas on the Mexican 



Entrance to the palapa

We heard it was the second largest hut on the Pacific Coast. We were greeted by a marimba performance by three musicians. 

Marimba players
Wooden carved marimba


Shops inside the palapa


Sunken stage

The marimba is a wooden instrument similar to an xylophone. We saw five people playing a huge one yesterday as well in Guatemala. Another group of dancers were entertaining the folks at the exit to the palapa. They were dressed in local costumes, made with brightly colored fabrics.

Local group danced for us

Wow...what colors

It took us about an hour to check out every shop, although we found nothing special to purchase. Most of the souveniers were the same as yesterday's, however, they cost more. Did not hear much bargaining happening either. Of course, they did have Poncho Villa Wanted Dead or Alive t-shirts for sale here. Like we said earlier, the best deal here was the transfer for $10. to Tapachula. 

Good round trip price for a shuttle to Tapachula....$10. 

There was a line of folks to take that ride too. Hopefully, they keep their time schedule as promised and leave every hour. Since it is not an HAL tour, you do take that chance.

On our way to check out the restaurant/bar, we ran into Henk and Christel on their way for a run. They were taking a walk through the garden of trees planted around the grounds. 


Restaurant/bar

Christel and Henk out for a run

Good place for tacos, nachos, and beers

Pool was open to all

Lounges by the pool

Not in use yet, maybe later 
Nice setting
Flame tree

Palms do well here, but are not native

Decorate this park area nicely

You are here in red

We were happy to share our knowledge on the cashew tree, since neither of them had seen one before. 

A cashew fruit with the "nut" or seed underneath

Tree was full of fruit

We asked Henk about the time change for leaving, and he admitted that it was due to a medical emergency. Now we are really curious as to who was having the emergency. Usually the ship waits for no one, so we must assume this may not be a passenger, but a crew member. Don't know if we will ever find out. You will never hear it from the medical staff onboard. 

The only way out

Guarded gate

Every vehicle is checked

A waiting van

Veranda
Lots of shade from the palms

Mangoes
Cashew tree blossom

More fruit

Some were citrus


A cattle egret

A member of the heron family

He has peach-shaded feathering

They eat insects off of cattle, when not eating bugs elsewhere

Cattle egret
Peach-colored feathers with the white

Manicured palms


Palapa


If we had left the ship a bit later, we would have tried the nachos or tacos with beer at the cafe/bar. However, it seemed like we just ate breakfast (we did), and were not hungry yet. It was probably just as well, because if we had drank beer, we would not have felt like packing. Frankly, we never feel like packing, but it must be done, and the days are passing by quickly now. So that chore kept us busy for the afternoon, even though we already had two duffels packed. We even watched a movie while packing.....Ronin 47, a true, but brutal story about Japanese samuri centuries ago. Made the time go by faster for sure.

Sailaway was at 5:30pm, with the music from Darlene and the HALcats on the aft deck. 


Dancing Diane....she made the finals on Dancing with the Stars at Sea

Looks like we took on new passengers

Dropping the lines

A crowd of locals had come to the shores to watch us leave. We did get some good bird photos as they scurried away as we left the little harbor. 

Shorebirds

A flock of pelicans

A tern

Pelican in flight

Pelican

Birds on shore

Tern

Tern

Diving for food

Taking wing

A young bird

Egret

A flock

Always searching for fish

By the time we reached the ocean once again, the ship did a zig-zag and a ton of water poured out of the pool soaking some sunbathers things. Must have hit a rough patch, because as we headed further out, the seas calmed down. And the rain never did fall for the best part of the day.

A dance on shore that was not announced

Beautiful dresses

Must be warm


Dinner was formal again tonight, or was it? There has been no enforcement of the dress code so far on this trip. The majority of the passengers we see at the 8pm dinner are dressed properly. However, at many tables near us, we see no jackets, let alone a tie, and open-collar shirts. Some fellows even wore sandals, with no socks. What gives? We asked our head dining room manager, upon leaving tonight, and he said they have not enforced the dress code, because the air-conditioning has not been working properly. 


Harbor boats

Harbor vessel

Local boat

Local federalies


Well-armed, so it appears

A shrimp boat

Family going fishing

Lighthouse
Rowing

Onlookers as we leave

Leaving the pier

Local tug

Goodbye Puerto Chiapas

Wonder if any more ships are coming here?

The beginning of the mangrove

Very civilized set-up

A beach for the locals

The village of Puerto Chiapas

The pilot boat

The Pacific Ocean is notorious for undertow 

Seas got rough once out of the harbor

That us smoking

We do know that a team from the Ukranie is onboard for that reason, and they are supposed to have it fixed. We are not really dining room snobs, but if they wish to come dressed casually, then it should be announced to the entire ship that formal is optional on this trip only. We are all sweating dressed in jackets and formal wear, even the waiters are uncomfortable. We just hate to see such a nice tradition bite the dust because of a few that choose not to adhere to the rules. We never thought that HAL would go the way of casual only, but nothing would surprise us.

We did enjoy our food however. Our starter was jumbo shrimp, followed by salad and soup, then entrees of Szechuan chicken. Desserts of creme brulee and strawberry ice cream finished our meal. Showtime featured the Amsterdam singers and dancers with Sessions, tunes from Billy Joel, Carol King, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles to name a few. This group is really earning their money on this cruise, as they seldom did more than a weekly performance on the world voyage.

Well, we now have two days at sea to kick back or continue with the packing. Plan on doing a little of both.


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