The beaches of Cozumel held tight to the warmth of the midday sun, as I carefully tip-toed across, slushy drink in hand.  The sky was cloudless and as blue as the ocean before me.  Paradise.

Of course, that was 2003... the last time I was on a "proper" vacation. Before I launch into where I was all last week, and you get all "well, she's just gloating about her trip" on me, please understand that I really, REALLY needed this.

Really.

So, where was I all week?  What shenaniganizing did I get up to?  I took a cruise.  To the Bahamas.  And I basically did this for five days:

Stefani Bishop

And then I'd switch it up and do this:

Stefani Bishop

It was truly a complicated feat. I'm winded just looking at me.

It's amazing, though, how living on a floating city thousands of miles from home can magically wash all the worry and fret of day-to-day life away.  I mean, when you put a little distance between you and your problems, you gain so much perspective.  When you don't have access to the internet or cell service you realize there's nothing you can do about any of the things bothering you back home, so you just get to put it all away for a few days and forget about it.

Booze helps, too:

Stefani Bishop

Booze and distance.

That thing with the pineapple wedge in it is called a Rebellious Fish.  This picture was taken in the middle of my third Fish... I can safely say that I had too many Fish that day.  Enough Fish to fill a small aquarium.  Great day... not so great night.

But here's the thing I learned about sweet, fruity drinks; I can't drink them.  At all.  The first one tastes good and is refreshing in the way you think an island boat drink will be.  But the third one tastes like a liquid Sweetart, and by the time the seventh one is served, your stomach is screaming "I'm not a four-year-old! What are you doing to me?"

After the fateful Fish Rebellion Day, I switched to Irish Coffees and wine for the rest of the cruise.

Of course, I didn't spend the whole time on the ship.  There were three destinations on the agenda; Freeport, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay.

Freeport

Stefani Bishop

I'm too short for Freeport.

I left the ship that morning on a mission; get new sandals ASAP.  I made the mistake of breaking in some new sandals for my first two days on vacation, and then this happened:

Stefani Bishop

I know, I know; it looks like nothing.  But any woman who has had her skin rubbed off by bad flip-flops will understand my pain.  Literally.  That's a pic of it all cleaned up and dressed.  When I made it to the island to shop, my entire toe was bloody.  I spared you that pic.  You're welcome.

New sandals in hand, it was back to the ship for more of this:

Stefani Bishop

And this:

Stefani Bishop

Nassau

I have no pictures from Nassau.  Sorry.  I left my phone on the ship.  I was sure that you couldn't photograph anything inside the Pompey Museum, anyway.  See, I am not a shopper.  I am not a collector.  I don't need souvenirs.  I need history. Named after a slave who led a revolt, the Pompey Museum is in the old Vendue House.  What was the Vendue House?  A former slave trading post.  So, rather than just looking about at rusty shackles displayed under glass, and a diorama of the wreck of the Peter Mowell, you're standing on the very floor where people were bought and sold.  It was an eerie feeling, indeed.

A nation's guilty conscious fully accounted for, I made my way back to the ship... for more of the same drinking/sunning.  After all, I'm supposed to swim with stingrays in the morning... a girl needs her rest.

Great Stirrup Cay

...and the water was too choppy for stingray swimming.  See, Norwegian Cruise Lines owns Great Stirrup Cay, and since their large cruise ships can't dock near the island, they have a fleet of Tender ships that run back and forth from ship to shore.  Five foot swells that larger cruise ships scoff at were certainly formidable foes to these tinier vessels.  Not wanting to run the risk of sea sick cruise passengers, the company called off all Great Stirrup Cay activities.  I have to admit, I was disappointed that I didn't get to swim with the stingrays.  But it didn't get me down!  I discovered a cruise ship secret that you CAN'T TELL ANYONE.  I'm serious...

See, no one hangs out in the sports bar on the ship until the bar within it is actually open, around 7pm or so.  That means the bar is pretty much empty until then.  So you might have to walk a little to refresh your beverage - who cares? You've got the whole place to yourself.

I became quite the Liverpool fan.  Arsenal played well, too, but I was told by someone I'm not aloud to cheer for them.  Eventually the bar does fill up and people come with all their opinions on sportsball.  Sheesh.

Back to Miami

Of course I wake up at 4:30am the day we are to return to Miami.  My body was already trying to get back on it's horrible schedule.  I didn't mind it so much that morning.  I had coffee in hand watching the glitter of a sleeping Miami slide past me...

Stefani Bishop

It really is quite... wait... what the hell is on that building?

Stefani Bishop

Yeah... right there... what is that?

OMG!  That building has a giant scrolling message: "GOOD MORNING, MIAMI!" Oh no!  Now people are dancing on it.  It's like an old iPod commercial.

Stefani Bishop

Calm down, Building!  It is 4:45 in the morning.  You are going to wake up the whole town.  Shame on you, Building.  You're at about an 11; I need you at about a 6.

Enough of that.

Went back to the room, packed, and when I popped my head back above deck, this is what greeted me:

Stefani Bishop

Not a bad view on a beautiful day.

Final summation: I did NOTHING for five solid days.  I ate like a queen.  I watched (and enjoyed) sportsball.  And just like a 5-year-old, I got to fall asleep in my swimsuit.

Life, my friends, is good.