08 May 2016

Crafty Chica Cruise 2016

The last week of April, 2016 I went on a cruise with 50-ish creative folks and crafted with... The Crafty Chica!  {You can learn more about Kathy Cano-Murillo, aka The Crafty Chica, here.}  The cruise was 8 days, 7 nights to Mexico.  We stopped in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.  On the 3 full days we had at sea we crafted our guts out!  This was my first time on a cruise ship and such an amazing experience!  I hope Kathy offers the cruise again, as I would sign up in a heartbeat!

My Crafty Chica cabin-mates!  Bex {on the left} and I work together and Jany {on the right} is Bex's fabulous Mom!
Our first meet up for the cruise... boarding at SFO for our flight to LAX!

Cabo San Lucas
{Actually, most are from Todos Santos, as we took a tour there instead of checking out Cabo.}

The ship doesn't dock in Cabo San Lucas, so we have to take smaller boats from the ship into port.

Here's the little boats... They're called Tenders.

Our van ride from Cabo to Todos Santos.  It was packed full of Crafty Chicas!  Our driver was erratic, but entertaining.

Mission de Nuestra Senora de Pilar - Todos Santos

Look for the little bird singing in the window!

Across from Hotel California is Tequila Sunrise {both famous, according to our van driver.}

I love this painting!  I want to try to paint something like this myself.

We stopped at Tequila Sunrise after walking around Todos Santos for a not-so-quick bite and margarita!
The women at the table next to us were also Crafty Chicas.

After Todos Santos our van driver took us to Modatelas, a fabric store in Cabo San Lucas.  We had one hour to buy all the fabric we could!   Haha.... I bought a lot.  The fabric is a lot cheaper in Mexico and I love all the bright colors of the woven/yarn fabric.  I bought 10 yards of woven/yarn fabric, 5 yards of some crazy printed mesh fabric, and 4 yards of oil cloth.  The process to buy fabric is different in Mexico than from the US.  There are several employees milling about the store.  After you pick out a bolt of fabric, you either find a table or wave down an employee.  At the table they cut the fabric much like they do in the US, however if you flag down someone they come over with a meter stick and spread the fabric out over other bolts of fabric and cut it freehand!  After they have cut your fabric pieces, they tally up the totals on small, free-standing computers that print out 2 slips.  One for the fabric and one for you.  They take the fabric and leave it at a counter.  Then you go to a different counter where you pay for your fabric, based on your slip.  You then take your slip and receipt to the first counter and your fabric is bagged and ready to go!  Once I figured out the process in this store, I felt more confident doing it alone in Mazatlan... where I did buy more fabric!

The view from our balcony.  I realized as we were returning to the ship that we were docking right under our balcony!


From the cruise port in Mazatlan is a Blue Line painted on the road that leads to Old Mazatlan.  The walk is under a mile and leads through neighborhoods, that I felt completely safe in.

On the blue line walk through a neighborhood... this dog cracked me up!

A random church with beautiful mosaics on the blue line walk.

Graffiti on the blue line walk, just before reaching Old Mazatlan.

Teatro Angela Peralta

Old Mazatlan - Central Square - The area is surrounded by restaurants and shops.

I wasn't used the the heat and humidity at all!  So I stopped for a pina colada
and guacamole and chips at a little restaurant on the square.
I sat outside, watched the throngs of tourists ebb and flow,
and listened to a couple playing guitar and singing in Spanish.

About 6 blocks from the square is the Cathedral Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion.  Behind the Cathedral are several blocks filled with stores... some tourist traps, some local shops.  That's where I found another Modatelas and bought several more yards of fabric! {I was given directions from the square to the Basilica by a "blue shirt".  There are a group of retired Americans living in Mazatlan that hang around the tourist areas in blue shirts.  They offer advice, directions, and guidance to tourists... free of charge!}

Cathedral Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion

This guy in the orange shorts!  I don't know why, but he made me smile!

This man crawled the entire way to the altar.

View of Basilica from the rear.

Inside Modatelas Fabric Store!  Those prices are in pesos.
At this time the peso conversion was 17 Mexican pesos to 1 US dollar.

I got 5 yards each of those red and blue woven fabrics. They were 19 pesos per yard!
On the left is a hand-stiched shawl I bought in Todos Santos.
The middle are all the fabrics I bought in both Cabo and Mazatlan.
The right is a table runner I bought in Puerto Vallarta.

At the end of my Mazatlan adventure, I was too hot and tired to walk back to the cruise port.
This was my taxi ride back!

I will say I felt completely safe wandering around Mazatlan alone.  I've traveled in foreign countries alone before and feel I do a decent job of being aware of my surroundings.  However, one of the women in our Crafty Chica group did get pick-pocketed in Mazatlan.  They stole her cellphone.  It was a good reminder for me that I can never get too complacent when I travel.  Especially in cultures where I don't physically blend in well.  

Puerto Vallarta

 In Puerto Vallarta the Old Town area is a few miles from the cruise port.  It was $6 per person to get a van taxi to the area where the Malecon and church are.  From here we walked a loop through the city to a flea market, a tile factory, and back down along the Malecon.  To get back to the cruise port it was $4 per person for a taxi.

I don't know who these kids are... but how fun is this!?!  I had to take photos of them on the Malecon.

Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

My friend Bex discovering a payphone... that actually had a dial tone, too!

At the tile factory at Mundo de Azulejos you can watch the tiles being hand painted.

I dream of owning my own home someday and having tile murals like this in my kitchen and bathroom!

Even the ceiling in the tile store was brightly painted!

On The Ship

Bon Voyage!

The carpets were amazing... all over the ship!

First day on the cruise!  Hadn't even seen our cabin yet.  This is in the main dining room, Tsar's Palace.  So lux!

Watermelon and feta appetizer.

Poached peach and something dessert!

Welcome aboard!  I had pre-arranged a little surprise for my cabin mates.
A Bon Voyage decorated room with this delicious cake!

All guests are given a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolates in their room upon arrival.

Jany, one of my cabin-mates, on our balcony.

Are these not the cutest!?!  A monkey hanging from our ceiling.

...and an elephant on our bed.  Our steward, Deepak, was amazing!

 tour of our balcony cabin - Norwegian Jewel, room 10100 - aka The Binary Bungalow.

And this is the place I spent a great deal of time!  They have a Thermal Spa Suites area that you can buy a day or week-long pass to.  I pre-purchased the week-long pass, as I love to soak in jacuzzis! It was rare to be in there with more than a couple of other people.  The space is limited to 100 passes per cruise.  It is divided between Women Only, and co-ed.  The women only section is clothing optional... and I took advantage of not having to get all swimsuited up to relax!  I spent every morning in this space.  I would wake up early {not intentionally, but that's just what my internal clock was doing}, grab a pre-packed bag full of my day's clothes, and slip out of my cabin quietly.  I would soak and steam and relax before showering and getting ready for the day.  It was nice to have a place to go with a little space to get ready, and not be bothering other people.  I shared a cabin with 2 other women... and being an early riser on this trip, it would have been a bummer for me to have to lie in bed quietly for a couple hours waiting for the rest of my cabin-mates to rise.  This space was a perfect place for me to start my day!

Women Only Area
On the left, the entrance to the Sauna.
 In the middle is the Cold Plunge Pool.
The glass, steamy door is the entrance to the Herbal Steam Room.
On the right are a couple of quick rinse showers.

Women Only Area
The Herbal Steam Bath info.
This was my favorite part, after the jacuzzis!

Women Only Area
Sitting area at the bow of the ship.. with an incredible view!

Women Only Area
View of Puerto Vallarta from the Thermal Spa Suite.

Women Only Area
Jacuzzi Tub that also has the above, glorious view!

Coed Area
Heated, tiled loungers.
These were built well, ergonomically speaking.  Very comfortable to lounge in!
They also have an amazing view out to the bow of the ship.

Coed Area
Thalasso Therapy Pool
There are loungers built into the pool, so when you turn the jets on you can lounge and be surrounded by bubbles!
{When we got a spa tour at the beginning of the cruise, the spa tour guide said the water in this pool was mineral waters.  I have my doubts, as it smells heavily of chlorine - and all the natural, mineral waters I have soaked-in in my life, none have been chlorinated.  Either way... the spa is great!}

Coed Area
A flavored water bar and hot tea bar!  I filled my water bottle here every day!

Me and Bex at the White Hot Party!

Crafting on a Cruise

...and here's the best part of the cruise, the crafting!  The Crafty Chica provided us with several group craft projects, instructions, and ALL the materials needed to do them!  It was so much fun to try my hand at crafts I hadn't tried before, see all the beautiful creations of other crafters, and make lasting friendships!

Before the cruise we were told that many of the crafters would be bringing Artist Trading Cards.  I had never even heard of such a thing before!  So after a little Googling I discovered it was basically a business card size piece of art.  I created these little collages and included a kindness card in each of mine.  I had made too many though, and on the last day of the cruise I spread them throughout the ship for random cruisers to find!
It turns out.. that the Art Trading Card didn't have to be a card at all!  Many of the crafters made beautiful little things like earrings, keychains, pins, and I even got a scissors keeper specially made for me with the Virgen de Guadalupe on it!  The above trade is a Traveling Worry Box.  How stinking cute is this!?!

The Crafty Chica herself - Kathy Cano-Murillo!
This cruise was like cruising with your favorite rock star!  Kathy is a beautiful woman!  Her smile is infectious.  She is incredibly kind and thoughtful.  And she is a crafting crazy woman!  She is such an inspiration to me.  As I decide what to do with my life in the coming months {I recently learned my company, Virgin America, is going to be acquired by another airline... which will result in a layoff for me.}, I can't help but be inspired by her effervescent spirit!

My attempt at water color.

Attempting water color clouds...

My paint inadvertently looked like a heart!

My shared creation station.. with Bex, Vesna, and Diana.
My embroidery project mid-stitch!

My mosaic before grouting and my finished embroidered apron!

Finished grouting!  {and not pictured... after I grouted I painted the edges blue!}

And here's a little side story.  As briefly mentioned I found out just a couple of weeks before this cruise-of-a-lifetime that my beloved employer, Virgin America, would be acquired by Alaska Airlines.  This has been very tough for me {and all my of fellow Virgins} to process.  I have been very blessed these past 6 years to have been given the opportunity to grow my career with Virgin America in ways I could not have imagined.  Sure, I have worked hard, but I also believe it was a little bit of fate and being in the right place at the right time.  I have had a tremendous amount of support from my colleagues and management there.  I value their opinions and strive to mirror their work ethics.  So... having had just a couple of weeks to process all of this... and naturally having a sour taste in my mouth regarding Alaska Airlines, it doesn't surprise me that the stars gave me a big slap in the face {basically telling me to stop my Alaska-loathing}.

On the first night of our cruise, a petite redhead with a darling accent and an adorable little girl sat at our table.  We were having a group dinner, to meet the other Crafty Chicas, and get to know the our craft-mates.  Naturally, the conversation lead to... what do you do?  And it didn't take me long... as the conversation wound down that road... to realize our new crafting friend worked for.... gulp!... Alaska Airlines!  Oh universe, you slay me!

Vesna, was just what I needed.  Cheery, kind, creative, and an individual in every sense of the word.  It also didn't hurt that her daughter, Maggie, is charmingly shy!  It gave me the opportunity, not only to make a new friend, but to personalize the face of Alaska Airlines.  A reminder that, whatever my feelings are about the acquisition, that that was just business.... and Alaska Airlines is full of people.  Individuals like Vesna, that are not vulgar, cold-hearted, and unconcerned with the livelihoods of thousands of Virgin America employees.  Individuals that are a lot like me and my fellow Virgins. 

I feel blessed to have been able to spend the week creating with Vesna, Bex, Jany, and the dozens of other Crafty Chicas!  Everything was just as it should have been and I wouldn't change a thing. 

Me and Vesna in the Customs line disembarking our cruise!


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