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Fun-filled, Fantastic and Fabulous February, 2014

February 1st was here before we even knew what had happened to January! I entertained a few friends who were returning to the states – they had visited here on the beaches for a short period of time – and then Sunday, SUPERBOWL was here once again and it was SEATTLE vs. DENVER!.

I had a Superbowl Party to attend and just had to have a shirt for Seattle, so I had one made with Seattle Seahawks written on the front and now I was ready to party!

Hosts Pete and Penny with Phyllis

Hosts Pete and Penny with Phyllis

What a fabulous game that was for Seattle and I was in my glory. Not that I wanted the game to be so lop-sided, but it was so encouraging to know that here was a team that was actually put together with no stars BUT had a coach that made everyone of those players feel like they were champions and made them play every game of the season as if it were a Superbowl. He made that team so great from within, they had no chance of losing. Sorry Peyton Manning, your team just couldn’t do it and it is now time for someone else to shine. And I must say, the Party was a lot of fun as well and Penny and Pete are great hosts!

Eating and Watching Seattle Score

Eating and Watching Seattle Score

By Monday, I had to start to get my act together as I was preparing to leave on a cruise with my cousin Frederica for our mutual birthdays and a lot of packing and a lot of things to get done here in Panama before taking off. Friends wanted to get together before I left and I just had to put things on “hold” until my return. I had to finish some business things up here first as I refused to go away and come home to any kind of work. I wanted to be free to enjoy and have fun on a vacation trip that at this point I really did need. And coming home – well – I wanted to come back to relax and enjoy the good life again without all of the business complications. And so I spent the 5 days before having to leave my home and get into the city before flying out to the U. S. organizing clothing and making plans to leave the condo for a few weeks. That is always fun (packing for a cruise). I think my friend Helen in St. Pete is the only one that truly understands as we have always had the same conversation – getting clothing organized and ready for all the things we do – and then the ladies thing – toiletries, etc. OMG- one could croak with all of this. BUT- it does get done, always and we always wonder WHY we were so concerned. I truly wonder if this was a lot easier when we were younger?????????

Well I am packed, ready and now so very eager to get going. I am so looking forward to this adventure. I love cruising as many of you know, and always have such a good time. It is what you make of it. I love meeting people, I love the activity of whatever is going on and I love the food and just being served for 24 hours around the clock. And so I am looking forward to the trip to Ft. Lauderdale in Florida and then boarding the ship and taking off. This is not a spectacular trip as Frederica and I did this same 12 day cruise a few years ago. We go to the Caribbean, passing through part of the Canal, spending a few hours in Colon (yes, Panama) Aruba, Cartagena, Limon and Grand Cayman. Nothing truly special but we make it very special and always have so much fun. The fact of being away and just able to spend time away an meet other folks (if we feel like it) – the drinking, shows, gambling – you know – all of it. Exciting for a change

One of the nicest things that happened before I left was a special dinner and evening with my friend Isabel. Her birthday was in November and she was unable to even celebrate as her mother was quite ill and in the hospital. Then came New Years and again, no celebration because Viola was still not well enough. I always buy a special bottle of Champagne for New Years, and have been doing that for many years. It so happens Isabel loves that as well and I was trying to save it for when we could both share. Lo and behold, she made it out here to Coronado before I had to leave and I made reservations at the Coronado Golf and Country Club for a special dinner celebration and I guess I said something to Chef Ivin and Food and Beverage Manager William because after dinner when we were stuffed , I said NO DESSERT and the next thing we knew, about 7 waiters started singing Happy Birthday, the piano player was playing and out comes this cake with both our names and 2 candles!. What a fabulous surprise that was!

Isabel and Phyllis Celebrating (Jaime in Background)

Isabel and Phyllis Celebrating (Jaime in Background)

And the cake- I do not know what it was, but the most delicious dessert we have ever had. I have not been back long enough to find out from them just what it was, but need to do that. Really very different.

The next morning, Isabel drove me and all of my luggage back to Panama City where I would spend the night with her at her place in the city before going to the Airport the following morning to fly to Ft. Lauderdale . I already felt like I was on a merry-go-round and really needed this vacation. I was ready to relax, unwind and let someone take care of me for the next 12 days. Could not wait! Fredericka and I met in Ft. Lauderdale in time for cocktails and dinner at the hotel and just started our vacation right then and there. And as Jackie Gleason said so well………”and away we go.”

Journey Without Boundaries (our new motto)

Journey Without Boundaries (our new motto)

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to finally board the Coral Princess and take ourselves around the ship to get familiar with our home for the next 12 days. We even went to the dining room for lunch and before we knew it, our luggage was arriving. BUT – Phyllis only got her little suitcase – the big one was still missing and as the time ticked away, and the later it got, the more nervous I got. I found out where luggage was and went a hunting and was politely told to leave as I could not be there. And with that, I told them I wanted to make sure my luggage was aboard before we sailed in 10 minutes. They assured me it was and I was a wreck as I have heard horror stories and now I am beginning to believe I will be out of clothing, etc. Anyway- I tipped one of the guys, explained my luggage and what it had on it to identify it quickly and begged him to PLEASE find it. Ten minutes later, suitcase arrived in my cabin and oh how happy I was!!!!! Miracle of miracles. For all the years, and all of the times I have travelled, I never lost anything – ship or airline and certainly did not need for it to happen now. OK- all done and now we are ready to Party, Party, Party!!!!! This is after all, a Birthday Celebration and a Fun Time to be had.

Frederica & Phyllis ready to set sail

Frederica & Phyllis ready to set sail

And indeed it was – all the way. There were so many surprises for us and we had so much fun on this trip. We wound up at Crooner’s Bar with Jonathan and Vijay as the Bar tenders extraordinaire and they truly took such good care of us. They even arranged to surprise us with decorations all around the bar on our birthday, and knowing we had decided to drink Champagne all day that day (yep- breakfast thru the wee hours) they took 2 Champagne Glasses and decorated them in “hearts” for us. Then each one of us got a cake put on a plate with our names done in Chocolate on the plate. Unbelievable bar guys.

Start of the Day- Breakfast and Vueve Cliquot!

Start of the Day- Breakfast and Vueve Cliquot!

Bartenders Johnathan and ViJay

Bartenders Johnathan and ViJay

BUT- I really need to go back and give you the highlights of the day.

Happy Birthday outside our room

Happy Birthday outside our room

Starting with Breakfast in the Dining Room, the Champagne found it’s way to the dining room and right away they knew something was up and found out it was our birthday. You got it- a birthday cake and candles, waiters singing Happy Birthday and all this was added to our Bagels and Lox Breakfast.

In fact, we took the extra cake to the Bar where we knew we could refrigerate it for later use. And the leftover Champagne Bottle went back also to our favorite bar for consumption when ever we were ready. We were at the pool for lunch- behaving, sort of, but certainly not drinking at that point. At 5:30, we promised we would be at Crooner’ s Bar and when we got there, we found the bar all decorated with balloons and a Happy Birthday banner. They even took two champagne glasses and decorated it with hearts for us. And yes, here came two more cakes with candles and the plates they were on were written in Chocolate with Happy Birthday and our individual names.

Happy Birthday at Crooner's Bar

Happy Birthday at Crooner’s Bar

Just what we needed before going to the Specialty Restaurant, Sabatini’s for a fabulous Italian Dinner. We asked them to please hold the cakes and after the show that night, I would bring in ice cream and all of our friends could have ice cream and cake. I was told that I could not get any ice cream after 9PM as the kitchen closes those areas down and nothing will be brought out. I promised everyone “not to worry” – Phyllis will bring in ice cream! And the show did not start until 9:30. And I wasn’t about to miss the show as Daniel Oliver played in the lounge at Crooner’s Bar every night and he also sings. His voice is magical and this was the one night he was entertaining in the theatre on the ship. So- I was definitely going and Frederica and I were going to continue the Party.

Tom, Lynn (from Iowa), Phyllis & Daniel Oliver (Piano Player and Singer)

Tom, Lynn (from Iowa), Phyllis & Daniel Oliver (Piano Player and Singer)

Dinner at Sabatini’s was absolutely divine!. The food is so out of this world – unbelievable what you can get by paying a little extra in the specialty restaurants. Well, our Champagne did follow us (of course this was not the original bottle) and they too realized we were celebrating our birthdays. Well, we certainly wanted to taste their desserts but had no room for another bite when out comes two more birthday cakes which we could really not even touch. We asked for them to please be sent to our favorite bar, and by now we must have had about 5-6 cakes there waiting (chocolate mousse cakes at that) for us. Great party for later that night. Frederica was absolutely exploding and decided she was changing clothes and walking the decks. I went to see the show and all of a sudden Daniel Oliver asks where I am and asks the entire audience to sing Happy Birthday to me. So I just sat there listening and enjoying every minute of it. This is like a party that was never going to end and I was having so much fun all day long.

We always had to try ALL the desserts on the menu - just a wee taste!

We always had to try ALL the desserts on the menu – just a wee taste!

Show over and now I need to get ice cream to the bar for friends and the bar – men there. I passed one of the Specialty Restaurants that we ate dinner in on another night, and Ricardo , the Maitre D’ was right there, smiling away. I went to give him a big hug and kiss and told him I needed ice cream for all of the birthday cakes we got and I had promised I would get it so everyone could have ice cream with the cake. Well he smiles and says NO PROBLEM – he will deliver it himself!. And 10 minutes later, it is now close to 11 PM. here comes this tray of ice cream scoops in the silver dishes delivered to me at the bar!!! No one could believe this was really happening as no one could ever get ice cream at that hour. And the party continued and the Champagne flowed and I finally wound down this special birthday among new friends on a ship, having the most marvelous time and enjoying every single minute of it. I am going to insert a few extra pictures to give you an idea of other things we did for fun.

Phyllis, Executive Chef, and Frederica

Phyllis, Executive Chef, and Frederica

Jonathan (ukelale) and Daniel entertaining guests

Jonathan (ukelale) and Daniel entertaining guests

Flamingos in Cartagena

Flamingos in Cartagena

The rest of the trip was uneventful as trips go and when it was over, I was ready to come home! I am often asked if I miss home (meaning St. Petersburg). “HOME” is where I live, and it is where my things are. I live in Panama, and Panama is HOME to me. I do not miss Florida as I have adapted to Panama and I truly do love it here. I am having fun with my new friends and those that I consider “family”. I SEE things and appreciate so much more now that I am taking the time to actually “see” where I am and understanding what my new life is truly all about!. Yes, I love Panama and all it offers me. And I am also asked “how long will you stay?” – that I cannot answer. Right now I am in love with this Country (even with its problems) and how long that will last, I do not know. I do not know what lies ahead for me in any aspect of my life and have learned to live each day for what it is and enjoy what every single day has to offer me. And that is how I have learned to just not take things too seriously and avoid the stress. I could be here for another year, another 5 years, or whatever. Time will tell and dictate.

Here's to all of you from us in Margaritaville

Here’s to all of you from us in Margaritaville

And friends, as we end this month, please know that CARNIVALE begins here on March 1st for 5 days. The traffic is horrendous here on the beaches with folks coming out to party and going to other places around here for the parades and parties. It is impossible to really get to anywhere and expect to get back home again, so most of us just stock up on groceries and things and are prepared to not go anyplace at all. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes that I got in calls, cards, e-mails, etc. I have not had time yet to respond but will in due time. Hope everyone is well and having fun. And if you need to learn how to have fun, come on down to Panama in Central America and let us teach you the art of living and the art of fun!!!!! Until next time, with love to you all…………………

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