Friday, January 13, 2012

Cozumel, Here we come!

I gave a peak preview in a post a while ago about going on a ten day vacation in March. We will be flying from Arcata to San Francisco on the little wind-up prop plane. I shouldn’t make fun of the plane because it is one of the most dependable workhorses in the small airline industry. It is a turboprop Brasilia. But, it has a lot of prop noise that gets right inside your head and rattles around. Anyway, it will take us to San Francisco, where we will board its big brother for a direct flight to Chicago. When we arrive in Chicago, we will be about as far away from our destination as we were in San Francisco. So, then we will board a plane for Fort Lauderdale Florida. The flights are all as cheap as we can get, so the accommodations are crowded and the seats are hard a concrete, the good thing is it is all free… more later.

Then, we will rest in Fort Lauderdale for a day, then board a cruise ship to Belize, a small country just south of the Yucatan peninsula.  From Belize we will cruise to Cozumel Mexico. Then back to Florida. The cruise ship accommodations will be the lap of luxury, we will almost be able to forget the airplane rides.

Now the great part, the trip is all paid for by Radio Shack. My wife is a Radio Shack dealer, and she earned an “Incentive Trip”. That is where, if you meet certain goals, you earn points toward the trip. It’s kind of like a class average grading system, but it’s based mostly on sales. We look good because our sales were within the goal standards, and the other Radio Shack stores didn’t do as well, so we came out on top of the heap. It’s more than just a little humbling to be winning a trip. When we bought the Sears Catalogue Store in 1974, Sears was the number-one retailer in the United States and had been for a few years. Sears started their steady decline through mismanagement, and we got to enjoy the agony of the steady slide downhill. A man by the name of Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) helped Sears with their fall from grace. It was difficult to be a part of the decline. All of the managers that we dealt with were inflexible, and were quick to point out that they were the number-one retailers, and they knew what they were doing, so, the problem with sales must surely be you!

We struggled with sales the whole time that we owned the store. We actually did fairly well, and we were one of their better stores. We even won a set of luggage one year as an incentive prize. But, Sears continued to bottom-out until one morning we came to work and turned on the television display just are they were announcing that all of the Sears Catalogue stores were closed. We had leases, bills and NO business. We were able to hold on long enough to open a Radio Shack. I won’t bore you with the many sad details of moving from a Sears Store to a Radio Shack. We made way less for a while but we won a trip to Hawaii the first year. Eventually the store started making money and we have traveled most all over the near world on Incentive trips. London, Switzerland, Ireland, Bermuda, Hawaii, Alaska and more. This year, Cozumel and Belize.

The trips that we take, we could actually leave our money at home. All travel, accommodations, luggage handling and meals are provided. They pick you up at your door and take you back to your door. In our particular case “Our Door” is Arcata. Like in, “You live where???” Garberville??? Is that really a place??

I wanted to study a little bit about the culture of the places that we would be visiting, so I would know what to look for. The first place that I started to research was Fort Lauderdale. There were three Fort Lauderdales. One up river at the forks, until it was destroyed. Then one at half way between the forks and the ocean. Then the last Fort was at the ocean. Something about three different Seminole Indian wars. The Seminole Indians were never defeated by the white guys. I also found out that some of the Seminole Indians were actually blacks. They had slavery in the southern states of the Mississippi delta hundreds of years before the California Gold Rush. When a slave would escape they would head deep into the swamps to avoid being recaptured. They eventually formed alliances with the Seminole Indians. Some of them even formed marriages, and made babies. So I have a jumping off point to study the history and culture. It sounds interesting.

By the time I get to Belize, I’m sure that I will know what I want to study there. Spyrock already gave me some tips. Thanks Spy! I know that In Cozumel, back in the 1500s you could buy a wife for 200 coco beans. Coco is still the way to my wife’s heart. Maybe I will go on a coco bean trading expedition!


Fred Mangels said...

Garberville??? Isn't that down by San Francisco?

spyrock said...

when the cruise ship stops in cozumel take a $10 taxi ride to chankauaab park to some great safe snokeling. bring your own fins, mask and snorkel. you can use these in belize too which has even more things to see in the water than up at cozumel. the park is about 4 miles to the right of town when you get off the cruise ship. the shopping is pricey but you probably won't be able to keep your wife away from the stores.
the bars never seem to close. ft lauderdale is a bunch of very tall condos right near the beach, maybe a good day to relax and stay close to your hotel.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Nope, Fort Lauderdale we are going to go up-river and look for some history and eat aligator medallions deep-fried in egg and cracker crumbs, and eat spicey hush-puppies!

Cozumel, I have googles and fins and a snorkle already packed. When and if I get tired of the water I will explore the area a little bit. The cruize ship that we will be on has many suggestions.

r said...

Cruise ships aren't doing well this week!

Ross Sherburn said...

waz me

Anonymous said...

Most people go to Belize for the diving and snorkeling, which is great. But, Belize has beautiful mountains inland, also you can travel into Guatamala to Tikal, an extrodinary Maya ruin. Don't know if the cruise will allow time for that, but well worth it if possible.

spyrock said...

it might be good to make a daily journal of your trip ernie. i found my grandmothers holiday book when they went to england in 1962. on one day they went to a farm owned by a vernon hereford in herefordshire england where they looked at the bulls and my grandfather looked into the eyes and inspected the heads and ends of 100 cattle. i think he looked into the eyes because herefords are likely to get eye cancer in sunny countries. not sure about the ends. maybe in fort lauderdale you will find an alligator, look into its eyes and hope you don't come out the other end.

Robin Shelley said...

I think you're right, Fred. It's where they grow the artichokes!
(I say this because some years ago I mentioned something about G-ville & an aquaintance told me about going to the Artichoke Festival there. No kidding!)

skippy said...

This is pretty exciting. Nothing like winning a trip and getting out of town for fun, sun, and a cruise, Ernie. Haven’t been to Cozumel or Belize. Been to Florida and amazed at how flat it was. On freeway overpasses you can see for miles.

Went to one of those alligator shows. They wrassle with alligators. They approach from behind, jump on, and skinny up the backside. They reach over the top of the head and clamp two fingers down on the jaw. Saw the show twice. Saw the technique and studied those moves carefully. The alligator was 11 feet long, pretty lazy and slow. Well fed and jumped on several times a day.

“Easy as cake,” I said. “I can do that. No problem. Just need to find the right gator to practice on.” The nieces and nephews thought it was a grand idea, too. We should give it a try, they agreed. But they didn’t like the ‘we’ part. So it was left up to me. Solo. You know how it goes.

Driving down the freeway we spotted our target. A little 5 footer sunning itself by a canal. "That’s it! That’s the one," the nephews said. "Stop the car!” I said. This was gonna be as easy as pie and punch after church. Brave relatives cheering me on and the wife in disbelief, I got out of the car. The gator looked perfect, asleep-- and just ready to be jumped.

But the minute the car turned off and the door slammed shut, that rascal was off like a flash. Jeez, it was fast. It was amazing how quick it was. Not like the show we just saw, Ernie. I gave up on the idea after seeing that. Everyone was disappointed. “That was a really stupid idea,” I thought. “I could’ve been bit. Or eaten. Promptly.” Not only do fools rush in where angels fear to tread, they lose fingers and limbs, too. No wonder people's poodles go missing in Florida.

Have fun on your trip, Ernie. The scenery is there, wish we were beautiful. Have some gator nuggets for us.

Anonymous said...

I went to Idaho once.


Ross Sherburn said...

Ross is going to Oregon next week.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well, the good news is every cruise ship in the world is renewing their safety procedures. All of the captains are probably starting to wear suvival suit underwear just in case they have to go down with the ship. It should be a very smooth by the book cruise.

It's so darn cold this morning I think that I would be warmer in Idaho. There is nothing colder than a frozen fog. It's 29 degrees and 98% humidity. BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

Ernie Branscomb said...

Being an old country boy I just have an instinct about jumping on an alligator. It's not the 5 foot alligator that you jump on that's so dangerous, but the twelve foot aligator that chased him out there for bait.

Never get distracted by the animal that you are hunting. The others will get you. You always hit the secound deer crossing the road because you are still watching the first one.

skippy said...

Gulp. Coco beans are much safer.