leticia hughes

travel blog & photography



Posted by Leticia Hughes on July 21, 2010 at 2:47 AM


I cannot believe that nearly three months has passed since my last blog!! Every time I felt twinges of inspiration to write, I was either glued to my deck chair in the sun, submerged in seawater or just too “busy” to document anything!!  My little, very old laptop also decided to die on its second tour of duty and this has definitely hindered my communication.  So now that I am armed with a new Mac, I have decided to use my migraine-induced downtime constructively. 


I guess I should start with one of the most significant events since my last blog…  yes Marc and I got married.  Now being a “no frills” kind of gal, getting married on the beach in the Bahamas was absolute bliss. The day was all about Marc and I making a commitment to each other for the rest of our lives and we did not get caught up in flowers, cakes, guest seating and table decorations!!!  It was lovely to focus on what was really important and make it a truly memorable experience.  And no surprises, marriage has not changed our relationship, it has simply solidified what we already knew was a good thing.  We started out as we mean to continue with lots of fun, adventure and exploration. 


I must add however that after getting married myself, I think I will now make a more compassionate wedding photographer.  I understand that as a bride you go to a lot of trouble getting plucked, waxed, polished and preened to look good on the big day.  I just had to focus on getting ready and I now appreciate how a bride might also get a little stressed worrying about all the detail such as invitations and catering!!  I promise from this day forward I will not to be condescending towards stressed out brides while taking their photos!!


Now since I last wrote I have been on two cruises, one in the Caribbean and one in the Mediterranean (yes two, don’t hate me).  Now while I am usually the first to take the piss out of over zealous yanks, I have to say they appear completely introverted when compared to a boat full of Italians!!  Lets just say they need to install volume, modesty and etiquette controls in a vast majority of Italians who decide to take a vacation on a cruise ship.  For example, why do the Italian men insist on wearing white or aqua speedos??  I am scarred for life, as I really don’t enjoy looking that closely at Italian packages in what I consider to be undies.  Competitive swimmers and the male Mt Maunganui surf life saving team are the only specimens who are eligible to wear speedos in my world!!!  The Italian women are not much better as they insist on strutting around the pool in heels and tiny bikinis.  Now while the 20 something Italian female can pull this off, I really think the 50 something female should stick to a one piece and flats!!!  In summary, the Italians were surprisingly loud and obnoxious which at least made for interesting dinner conversation with other English-speaking guests.  I must also add that I loved being a Kiwi on a cruise shipfull of Italians when the All Whites drew with Italy in the Soccer World Cup!!!!  I nearly got the NZ flag and did victory laps of the ship!!!


Despite the antics of other passengers, cruising the Mediterranean and Caribbean is a wonderful way to visit some awe-inspiring destinations.  The Caribbean was all about palm trees and crystal-clear blue water.  While the yanks shopped for diamonds and tanzanites, we hit the Caribbean waters with a vengeance and went scuba diving and free diving in exotic locations like Bonnaire and Aruba.


During our Mediterranean voyage we got to visit Spain, Italy and Malta.  The history, architecture and food were just fantastic in all the places we visited, however towards the end of our second cruise I was struggling to distinguish one city from another. I am definitely a small island kind of gal where I can enjoy outdoor activities such as diving and hiking!!! 


After the Caribbean and a quick jaunt to Florida Keyes, we headed for Cozumel, Mexico where the azure water is not dissimilar in temperature or visibility to that of a swimming pool.  We were lucky enough to venture out to the “Devil’s Throat” dive site where we swam through a series of deep underwater caves and tunnels.  At the end of the dive you swim into complete darkness and emerge into a big blue hole that simply takes your breath away.  Combined with a little narcosis, lets just say I was absolutely buzzing!!  During our surface interval we were also lucky enough to swim with a large pod of dolphins.  Despite my dolphin like calls they did not stick round for long.


Our last dive in Cozumel was a night divewhere we saw king crabs, eels and celps that pulsated iridescent lights in the darkness of the water.  When we eventually made it back to land where we so invigorated with diving, that we headed to our dive instructors new bar where we downed three (only three) margaritas to celebrate.  Now Mazza and I are fairly seasoned drinkers, so you can imagine our surprise when we were absolutely shit faced on three (yes only three) margaritas.  We literally stumbled out of the bar and proceeded to roll down the road like typical drunken tourists.  When we finally decided that stumbling was not an effective way to get home, we hailed a taxi using our fins as hands and managed to get back to the Beach House where we were staying.  Lets just say I had to go to sleep with my feet on the floor to stop the room spinning!!  Mazza on the other hand decided that it was a good idea to blow chunks in the bathroom sink… why not the bloody toilet I have no idea.


After the good life in Mexico we made our way to England where we spent a week with the family and also got to spend aweekend with my vivacious friend Susan in London.  Despite my whinging about the London crowds at the Queens Birthday celebration, Marc and Susan dragged me to Buckingham Palace where we were fortunate enough to see Prince Will’s, Camilla and Charles.  While I am not really that fussed about the royals, it was still pretty cool to see them up close and personal.


After a day of sight seeing in London, we happened across over 300 NAKED cyclists.  Now normally this would not be a problem, but Susan and I were both completely disturbed, as we concluded that we have never seen so many small willies!!!!!  Was it shrinkage due to the cold and exercise??  Susan and I giggled like school girls as they road past and I could not help but stare at one lads “Prince Albert”.  The worst thing was he caught me staring and thought this was rather amusing.  Doh - I am a married woman!!!  At this point I’d had enough “Royals” for one day.  That night we headed to the pub to watch the English fans watching the football.  Much to our amusement the Poms drew with USA…  I swear some of the more dedicated English fans were heading home to jump off their roofs and the conclusion of the match!!!  Classic. 


Now previously I have been known to pay out on the Kiwi’s and Ozzie’s that have flocked to England to live, but after spending some time here, I now understand why they do.  While the weather can be less than desirable, the countryside and cities can be so charming with quaint houses, manicured gardens and cobbled streets.  The living is generally similar to home (they have marmite!) except that the UK comes with the added bonus that Europe is on your doorstep – nothing quite like a weekend in Paris darling.  In saying all of this, I would not trade my home in paradise, as New Zealand simply is the best place in the world to live in my books!!


Originally our travel plans were going to include a trip to India, however we decided to trade curry and monsoon for diving in the Red Sea since we were in the neighbourhood.   Our first stop was Istanbul where I gorged myself on kebabs, baklava and Turkish delight.  I loved the happy vibe of Turkey and hope to go back to explore outside of Istanbul one day.  After Turkey we flew to Sharm El Shiekh and I could not believe my eyes… Egypt is one of the most desolate places I have ever seen, as there isnothing but sand and desert for miles and miles.  Sharm El Shiekh is literally where the desert meets the sea.  My initial impression of the diving town is that is has grown too quickly and is now bulging at the seams with resorts and tourists.  Like most others, we signed up for scuba diving and hit the water.


I had BIG expectations of the Red Sea as everyone says this is THE place to dive… While I enjoyed the diving here I think that it was nowhere near as spectacular as Cozumel, Sipidan Island and Bonnaire!!!  Must like Muchu Picchu, it as been “talked up” far too much and as a result I was a little disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, the reefs were still beautiful, but this is not a place we will come back to.


One of the most amusing things about Egypt was the over zealous attention from the men…  They could sell ice to Eskimos and one conned us into his shop with the usual “where you from” line and one cup of tea later, we were the proud owners of a new oil burner and oil.  Just what you need when you are back-packing!?!  Now ladies, if you wanna feel like gods gift to men – go to Egypt.  The Arabs will pour on the charm no matter how ugly and old you are and they even offer Western blokes camels as a trade for their wives.  Marc thankfully turned down the five camels.


So where are we now?!?  Back in gold ole England!!!  We have decided to stick around until Marc’s sis has her baby, which is due by the end of August.  Once our niece or nephew makes an appearance, we will start making our way home via Thailand (oh how I am hanging out for authentic Thai food and Thai shopping!!).


We have seen and experienced so much over the last seven months and we are now officially suffering from traveler’s fatigue!!!  We are traveled out and ready to come home which is a wonderful feeling.  I look back at our photos with such fond memories and I cannot help but feel so fortunate and fulfilled.


When we get home and adjust back to “normal life”, we can see ourselves settling in Auckland for a while.  The last 4 years has been very travel focused and it will be nice to take our feet off the accelerator for a while and enjoy all that NZ has to offer.  In saying this, the world is a very big place and we have so much more we want to see!!!


One thing is for certain, we look forward to seeing you all very soon : )))


Until next time.  :D


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Reply Alan ,Rona Crawford
11:06 AM on July 23, 2010 
Hello Marc,Leticia,or should we say MR. and MRS. Hughs! Congrats.!!! Your travels amaze me. We 1st met on the Bus and we got off at Marathon Fla. and you guys went on down to Key West. We were not sure if we would see you again,and we were honored to see you again at the Dolphin Research Center. We are so happy to recieve this gift from you. You are two BEAUTIFUL people,and we are blessed to know you. The pictures are EXCITING & HEART warming. You have given us a journey of our incredible world without leaving our home and we Thank You. We live in the North Georgia Mountains overlooking a 22acre lake. We sit outside some evenings and watch the native geese land, from now on I will hope for the day you guys take another trip and stop and enjoy the Trout and geese here where we never lock our doors. MR. and MRS. HUGHS we wish nothing less than Peace,Love,& Prosperity to you. Because YOU BOTH ROCK!!!!! Stay in touch and we will get your wedding gift out to you A.S.A.P.! PEACE!
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