Anniversary Vacation Trip to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

For our 2 year anniversary, we decided to take another trip to the Caribbean.  This time we went to Freeport, Bahamas.  It’s located in Grand Bahama Island.  We chose this destination for two reasons:  its secluded beaches (since most tourists’ destination is Nassau) and its diving activities.  Getting here sucked, we had to take 3 planes!  Three!  With a baby.  We brought Seanna along because we just didn’t have the heart to leave her behind.  And besides, we want her to love the water, so what better place to start her love for the sea than this paradise?  The trip was more than worth it.  This place was absolutely beautiful!  Absolutely. Beautiful.

We stayed at the Our Lucaya Reef Village which is adjacent to its sister resort, The Radisson Our Lucaya, which has the really cool shape of a cruise ship.  The resort was nice with very friendly staff, except for the “Concierge/Tour Information” lady that had a face like she had few friends and was mad at the world — with an attitude to match.  We enjoyed our stay here and would come back again.

Anyways, on to the good stuff.  Here’s what we did:

Day 1 — 7.3.2010:

We arrived and did nothing but just hang out.  No pictures or videos.  We literally just hung out by the beach all day and did absolutely nothing, not even eat.  By the time dinner got here, we were starved.  We went to the plaza where all the touristy restaurants and shops are, which is a rock throw distance away.  Man, the food here is super pricey.  Actually make that mad pricey.  A burger runs you about $12-15 bucks, plus a can of soda ($2.50 — no refills), times 2 people, plus tip (15%) — per serving (breakfast, lunch, dinner) = Ca-ching!  If you wanted something better than a burger, you were looking to pay $17 to $32 for an entree plus the extras.   That really adds up.  So, if you’re thinking to visit this area, the all inclusive package should be considered.  We didn’t go that route because we weren’t planning on staying at the resort.

Day 2 — 7.4.2010:

We again stayed at the resort.  There was not much to do but lay at the beach and relax.  Mariana was anxious to do some water activities so Monica went on the Banana boat ride with her.  When they came back I noticed that Mariana was walking very awkward.  Something seemed off about her.  One glimpse at her butt and she had to tell me about the unfortunate events that took place: As she found out, it’s not a good idea to go on the Banana boat ride when you are wet and only wearing a bikini.  At first she thought it was funny that the motion of the rubber boat and the sand rubbing her butt gave her a funny feeling.  “I feel like my butt is exfoliating,” she exclaimed to Monica, laughing, almost with a private joy.  Soon though, as the boat picked up speed, the “exfoliating” turned into “OUCH! My butt feels like it’s being rubbed with sandpaper!”  Which then turned into “AAAaaah!!! It feels like someone is chainsawing my butt!!!”  From the boat you could hear screams of joy, of pain, and what sounded like someone was being gutted by the Texas chainsaw murderer — that was Mari.  Poor Mari.  Her butt was on fire.  It was glowing red — almost.  She had a mad rash.  She needed Neosporin, but we had none.  I tried to convince her to take a picture of it, so I can post it on this blog, but since she said it was “up deep in there”, she declined.  Here at thedownsclan.com we like to be detailed and provide you, our readers, with as much information as possible, sooo… since Mariana did not want a picture of her butt on this post,  in an effort to provide you with a glimpse of what she looked like, here’s an accurate portrayal (except she wasn’t wearing a bow):

After some snorkeling, taking pictures and just laying out doing nothing, we went to plaza to have dinner.  We went back to the hotel and waited for the firework show to start at 10PM.  At 10PM we heard the fireworks go off and so we immediately left our room, got on the elevator, sped down the hall, to the lobby and exited the building.  By this time, the fireworks show was over.  The “Show” lasted approximately 1 minute 30 seconds.  Bummer.  The “Mariana fireworks curse” continues.  If you ever want to see fireworks for the 4th of July, make sure you don’t spend it with Mariana.  She never gets to see them and neither those who are around her.

Here are some pics of our little lady being patriotic (4th of July):

Day 3 — 7.5.2010:

Monica and I got up very early because we had scheduled 2 reef dives and a shark dive.   I had researched for weeks where to best experience sharks in the Bahamas and all sites and reviews let us to UNEXSO.  These guys really run a professional diving organization.  They are well established.  My only complaint about them was that we got outvoted by some rookies that didn’t want to go on the 80-100ft dive to “Theo’s Wreck” (a shipwreck) so we ended up going to a 45 foot dive at a reef instead.  The way I see it, don’t pair up scared noobs with more experienced divers (or at least divers who are up for the challenge).  Scott and Jim were our captains/dive masters and they were very nice and took the time to show you all they had seen underwater.  Below is a quick clip of the first two dives:

After the reef dive, we did a shark dive… and it was awesome…!  I’ll write about this tomorrow…  Part II coming soon…

2009 Year in Review

What a great year! Worthy of being in VH1’s “Best Year Ever” episode. I got promoted at work, bathed in 9 different beaches, become closer with my family, closer with friends, and received the gift of creating life: my little lady, Seanna Sofia.

She’s so beautiful. So adorable. So gentle. Tender and sweet. Just like the flesh that made her and carried her in her womb. I love how she smiles in her sleep, how she opens her mouth wide and closes her eyes when she yawns, how she makes sounds like a kitten when she cries — But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So let me start with the first day, January 1, 2009. Man, what a party! What a crazy youth-spirited reckless night! What loss of control, what disregard for the norm of society. It was fun. To be careless one last time. To sing along songs, out loud; to dance like a high schooler, raising a glass of champagne to love and life, and bring in the new year one last time without second thoughts, toasting along friends and my beloved Monica. Aniceto and Jose, Primo Productions, you are to blame for such madness. And that was it. No more partying like a rockstar. We felt that it was not for us anymore.

As far as getting the new year started, Bianca, Monica and I went snowboarding and man it was about 75% torture and 25% fun. We ended up on the ground so many times that I felt I had bursted an instestine. We hit the ground so hard so many times that even though we had gotten the “All Day” pass until 10PM, by 5PM we couldn’t get up anymore. When we fell, it took us a good 5 minutes of just laying there, motionless, groaning, gathering strength to get back up. The problem was that when we went, even though it was cold, it wasn’t snowing. Instead of snow, there was ice on the slopes. It was basically trying to snowboard on frozen concrete. Looking back, I don’t think it was the determination to master the bunny slope that kept us there, it was plain masochism. This was just plain painful. I wish we could have made it to the regular “grown up” slope though, but we’ll shamefully admit that the Bunny Slope punished us so bad we got scared. After we left, Bianca looked like she had gotten in bar brawl, Monica looked like she had married a wifebeater, and I, well, I still looked good.

In February, we visited our good friends Yazmine and JP in Puerto Rico. We really enjoyed our stay with them and got to visit different parts of the island. I had many times seen the sun at sunset, but never actually sat down to contemplate it and enjoy it. When we visited Dorado, we did exactly that. And it was beautiful. It was an orange reddish circle with a soothing glow, slowly being swallowed by the dark sea and the endless dance of the waves. I wrote about this beautiful experience here. We also got to visit hidden coastlines and experience Puerto Rico underwater; we went Scuba diving in La Parguera, a diving spot where you can supposedly spot whale sharks during their migration. Unfortunately, we were a day late. The guides said they had seen a 40 foot whale shark the day before. What a disappointment 🙁 Puerto Rico was a lot of fun and its waters hold a special place in our heart since that’s where Seanna’s nickname “Sirena” came from. I was going to write about our scuba diving experience but didn’t get to it because Monica surprised me with the news that she was with child. I won’t be able to finish the second half of our Puerto Rico experience, but below are some videos and pictures we took of our dive trip. Although it was nice and full of corals, we were disappointed that there were very little fish. Weird.

Video of Scuba diving. From getting into the water, diving to bottom, seeing the “wall of corals”, to getting back on boat:

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Monica’s Coed Babyshower

What a great time!  To all those who came, we thank you.  We are very grateful for all the friends and family that made it out to Monica’s babyshower.  We had a great time!  We feel very honored that you took the time to join us through this very special “first” of our lives.  Your presence really made this moment very special.

We would really like to thank our family for all the time,  effort and dedication they put in to making this babyshower a success.   We also would like thank our babyshower committee: Esperanza Burgos, Marilyn Downs, Claudia Bruzzo, Mariana Burgos, Leslie Shea, Claudia Urrutia, Aline Marques, Bianca Paolomeque, Richard Downs and Lucia Roe.  These girls were mean, lean, hot working machines who put a ton of effort and heart into their respective duties.  Richard did a ton of  the heavy labor.  I don’t think I could have assembled a better committee.  We also would like to thank Eric and Karen for letting us use their house to party and get messy!

Below are some of the funny games you can only have a coed babyshowers:

***Update: Youtube is currently trying to fix a bug that slows down the video and creates a choppy sound for HD video, so the following may be in slowmo and really crappy sound (still funny to see though)***

The first one is called “Feed the baby”.  This was hilarious!  The men had to eat Gerber baby food, but it wasn’t any Gerber food, it was the nastiest flavors known to babies!  I can’t believe people force their babies to eat that, they really taste terrible!  Listen as all the guys taste the first spoonful of this delicacy and groan at the same time!

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Welcome to Big Corn Island (Honeymoon Day 2)


Our really old Plane, La Costena

Our really old Plane, La Costena

We woke up at 4:45 and called La Costena, the regional airline that would be taking us to Big Corn Island, because we hadn’t made any reservations. They said that there were some spaces available but that we would need to get there ASAP. When we got there, our equipment was weighted and then we were weighed. Yes, you read it right: we were weighted. The plane is an old plane, maybe from the 1940’s, I don’t know, I could be wrong, but it’s definately old. We boarded the plane along with many europeans, and a couple Americans. We flew to Bluefields, where some got off, some got on, but most stayed in the plane. There was a drunkard that tried to board the plane but when the stewardess apparently smelled his breath, reeking of alcohol, she alerted the pilot. The pilot, an old lady with an authoritative presence, came out of the cockpit and told the drunk that he couldn’t board the plane because of his drunken state. He started yelling that Nicaragua was a “disgrace and that there should be war!” at which point all the passengers watched as he was carried away by security guards. We flew once again. When we arrived to Big Corn Island it was raining 🙁 We hurried across the runway and into the very small room where we were to pick up luggage. In effort to emphasize how old this plane really is, I’ve opted to put a pic of it in Sepia tone, just like the pics our grandparents use to have..

We took a taxi to Casa Canada. The taxi driver was very mellow young guy. He spoke a broken English with a Caribbean accent, almost Jamaican-like. The rain had ceased when we arrived. This place is the best hotel in all of Big Corn, and I say this in literal terms, not figuratively. The staff was very welcoming, the place very clean and furnished and talk about prime real estate! All rooms where within spitting distance of the beach. It had a very nice “infinity pool” overlooking the ocean, a restaurant and subtle details all around. Once we were given our room we fell asleep since we hadn’t slept much. When we awakened, the sun was out and you could see the beauty of the clear waters as well as the dark spots on the water indicating the corals that lay beneath. Monica went to the restaurant and ordered a chicken sandwich, which was good, but not worth the $8 it cost, not here in Nicaragua at least.

All Rooms in Casa Canada were within diving distance off the beach!

All rooms in Casa Canada where within Diving range off the beach!

Casa Canada had one sick Infinity Pool!

Casa Canada had one sick Infinity Pool!

After we hung out, we decided that we should take a tour of the island, so we rented a taxi for an hour to drive us around. We drove around the entire island in less than an hour; it took us that long because we stopped at every corner to see if it was a good moment for a photograph, but unfortunately gust of rain and dark clouds dampened our hopes in making a Kodak moment. Our driver told us that the island was torn to pieces about 10 years ago by some hurricane. He also told us that I may be inheriting a piece of the island, really. Well not exactly but he did mentioned, as Monica found out earlier, that the biggest family in the islands are the Downs. We made to the other side of the island, the “Picnic Beach” and the water was serene, like a lazy lake. It was very beautiful and soothing. The beach was deserted and the sun was setting behind the gray clouds. We took a few pictures as Mr. Downs Downs, our taxi driver, took us back to Casa Canada.

Monica at Pic Nic/Arena Beach pier

The sky and the water were absolutely beautiful!

Pic Nic Arenas Beach pier

Monica contemplating the serenity of the beach.

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