Monday, January 31, 2011

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

January 29, 2011; Day 26 at sea

Today is an at sea day again.  I prepare for class and work.  My class is at 2 pm every sea day.  I joined the HAL Chorale today and we meet at 4 pm on sea days. 

January 30;  Day 27 at sea

We arrived in Rarotonga , Cook Islands  and are waiting for tenders to take us to shore.  Seas are rough, but able bodied people will be allowed to go in.  Our tender liked bouncing away from the boat while loading passengers.  We made it to shore safely and since it’s Sunday most stores are closed.  Most people go to one of the many churches on the island. We took a tour bus $10 each and got a wonderful tour around the island.  They grow everything  imaginable here—esp fruits.  Wonderful fruits.

There are around 17,000 on the island—lots of beautiful resorts. It’s very green with lots of sandy beaches.  There is no road crossing the island, only two buses running clockwise and counter clockwise.   Our driver took us inland to show us the crops and farms. An amazing tour.

We were back on the ship by lunchtime and I spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool and working with photos.  Another time change.  Set clocks back again.   We will soon lose an entire day.  In fact, we will have no ground hog day.  Whatever shall we do? 

We are currently heading in a northwesterly direction on our way to Alofi.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bora Bora -- Ahhhhh...

Day 23-24, January 27-28

Bora Bora.  Now this is living. Unbelievably beautiful.  Water goes from royal blue to turquoise to lagoon green depending on the depth.  The ship is anchored in the harbor and tenders take us back and forth to shore.  Yesterday we went into town—dusty and not so clean, but the water…. Ah.  Some tourist shops.  They are known for their black pearls, but I didn’t succumb.  Nothing called my name. J  My cold is still a bother, but I’m still keeping on.  Today I went on a tour and we drove around the island in a converted truck bed.  The “bus” had real a/c—windows open.  Flowers decorated each window. So many beautiful sights on the way.  We stopped where a family makes crafts and  saw them dying  their cotton fabrics. They are dyed and laid out in the sun to dry with cut out pieces of linoleum on the cloth which removes some of the paint.  Fun.  We continued up the mountain through several small towns.  Past several resorts with those thatched huts that extend out into the water.  Would love to visit one of these some day.   But I’m happy to go back to the ship.  Our last stop was at Bloody Mary’s Restaurant.  Polynesian.  James Michener  created the character and it was made famous in South Pacific.  I got back to the ship around 12:30—just in time for lunch.

Immediately put on my swimsuit and have been out on the deck all afternoon.  Soon time for dinner.  Captain Olav has just told us we are leaving this beautiful place.  The ultimate tropical paradise.
We’ll be at sea two days and then in a port I can’t pronounce.  More on that later. 

Tahiti Paradise

Day 22, January 26

We are docked in Tahiti. Quite a lovely island.   We were greeted by natives –Polynesian music and drums.  We went across the street to an ATM machine.  There are no stop lights.  You have to just step into the street (rush hour traffic) and pray they stop.  We went back by the dock and walked along the water through a part.  Nice. It’s expensive here.  A bottle of sun tan lotion cost 30 dollars. We didn’t buy it. It’s very warm here.  Ron walked on the the cultural center and I want back to the local market and then to the ship. I was going to buy one of those cotton cloths that you tie into a dress or skirt, but the fabric is a cheap cotton and they wanted too much for them.  I spent the rest of the day lazing by the pool and working in my rewrite for the GP book. 

We left  just after sundown and the lights from the city were gorgeous on the water. 

Our days at Sea

Day 20 at Sea, January 24

One day at sea is like another.  Restful.  Lots of time for writing and preparing for my class.  Lots of people watching.  Did I tell you about the high numbers of severely disabled people on board and elderly folks.  A man died—only 59. Very sad. I only know because of Doc.  Imagine, a boat load of people over 80 and a man that young…   There are several here with MS or some such degenerative disease.  More wheelchairs, walkers, canes than you can imagine. 

One of the things that amazes me is how we can sail for days without seeing another ship or land.  We are truly out there and the water is the bluest blue.  We eat amazing meals and see a show each night and then stop by the piano bar to enjoy a get a chocolate coin every night on our turned down beds.

I guess you could call life at sea decadent. J

Day 21 at Sea, January 25

Every day, someone changes the carpet in the elevator to reflect what day it is.  We really need that reminder because days flow into each other and it’s easy to forget.  There are so many little things that make cruising such a pleasure.  I have a cold so I’m not an especially happy camper.  Too many people coughing and not covering their mouths.  I sit out on Lido deck every day—it’s open and the pool is here along with the large Lido restaurant which is a buffet.  I take a dip whenever I get too warm.  A wonderful breeze has been blowing . I am tanning, though I don’t sit in the sun.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pitcairn Island --Mutany on the Bounty

January 23,  Day 19 at Sea

Think  Mutany on the Bounty and Fletcher Christian.  This is the island he brought the Bounty to after he’d tossed off Captain Bly.  Set him and his faithful in this vast blue ocean and it was a miracle they survived.  Was Bly really the bad guy here.  Some are not so sure. In 1790 the mutineers along with their Tahitian companions settled here and set fire to the Bounty so avoid being found by the British. The wreck is still visible under water in Bounty Bay. Today we circled Pitcairn Island, but were unable to anchor out and send passengers in. There are only about 45-65 people here from nine families.   Instead of us going ashore, the townspeople came to us in a longboat.  They set up shop on the Lido deck and gave a slide presentation.
Ron had his picture taken with Michelle and Natalie Christian, direct decedents of Fletcher Christian.  They brought all kinds of gift items and souvenirs and even brought a post office.  We mailed two cards with Pitcairn stamps to Caryl and David.  Kids, don’t expect these until March! 
We sent our islanders off with lots of food and supplies to thank them for coming aboard and such.  They were wonderful.  Amidst all that, I did a class on creating characters.  Once the islanders were gone, we set sail and are headed for Tahiti.  Yeah!   Love to all!

Two more days at sea

January 21, Day 17 at sea
Poetry day—I worked.  Grateful for the time change as it seemed I had more than a full day.  We changed the time back the night before.  My class went well.  Several shared some amazing poetry.  Time change again tonight.  Observations.
January 22, Day 18 at sea
Class today was grammer day.  Kind of fun.  It was our last meeting in the theater. Now we will be in the Piano bar.  No drinks. J 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Great Big Stone Heads

January 20, Day 16 at Sea

We are anchored just off the town of Hanga Roa, Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Everyone is excited about their tours or just visiting the island.  The captain came on the loud speaker with the bad news that with 10 foot waves crashing in to the dock area and the rocks, it is too dangerous to tender people in. He won’t promise anything, but they will move us to another, southerly part of the island in hopes we will
have better luck.

There are a lot of disappointed people as many of these people came on this world tour because of this stop.  Several people passed me (I’m on the Lido Deck writing) singing Kae Sera Sera. They are adjusting.

It’s late afternoon now and what a day. Our captain Olaf is a hero. He anchored just off shore  and we can see a beautiful cove with a sandy beach—clear aqua and blue waters. He went ashore in a tender himself to make certain it was safe for us.  When he returned, he made the announcement that only those without physical disabilities could go ashore.  We had to take the tender to shore and go through another stabilized tender in order to reach the shore as waters were still a bit rough.

Vans and busses had come from the original site to meet the people who had booked tours.  Natives were camped there and I wondered if they might live there.  After disembarking, we connected with another couple. Sharon and Allen (they speak decent Spanish) and checked out the taxis to go to the town of Hanga Roa.  They all wanted too much money—like $40 per person. 

So, we took photos of the stone heads—amazing by the way, and the beautiful cove, then went to another area where locals were camped and had a number of stalls.  There we found Carlos who volunteered to drive us round trip into town (18 mi.) and back and wait for us while we shopped at the market.  He charged us $10 each. What a deal. A very sweet man.

We discovered that the town was not all that exciting, but the sights on the way made the trip worthwhile. Cows and horses roamed free, crossing the road at will.  We caught glimpse of the ocean as we drove and were happy to get back to the wonderful beach.  Our only disappointment was that the post office in town was closed for siesta and we couldn’t buy the local stamps. We did get some postcards at the market though.

Once home, I took a dip in the pool, talked with my friend, retired nurse, Barbara, and then dinner.  We were later entertained by Johnny O who played an electronic wind instrument—quite good.  Later Diane entertained us with great songs and shared the port song she wrote: Great Big Stone Heads to the tune of Lady in Red.  Very cute and funny.

Heading out to sea

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

5th Day at Sea--Wow!

January 19,  Day 15 at sea

What a lovely day.  Mostly sunny.  I had my Scandinavian breakfast of pickled herring, smoked salmon and hard boiled egg plus papaya and blueberries.  

This is the longest I have ever been at sea and it’s rather fascinating.  Did you know that the Pacific Ocean encompasses one third of the Earth’s surface, making it the largest body of water with an area of 69.4 million square miles—an area significantly larger than the entire Earth’s landmass?

The long time cruisers seem quite at home. I really don’t miss the land and have become acclimatized to the movement.  What has been a bit difficult is lecturing each day and doing the preparation.   I have not been able to work on my own writing for several days.  I am however scheduling some easier classes the next couple of days at sea. 

Did you know what December’s birthstone is now Tanzanite?  We had a class on gemstones.  While I have always liked turquoise, I love now having a rare and expensive gem!  I have my eye on a gorgeous ring and necklace, but am afraid to find out what it costs. My dreams will be shattered. J 

So tomorrow we anchor just off Easter Island and tenders will take us to shore.  We’re excited.  I’ll share more about the island tomorrow.

No Ships, No Land--Only Sea

January 18,   Day 14 at sea.

At sea all day again today. We have not seen another ship or any land since leaving Peru.  You would be amazed at how many lectures and events and activities are stuffed into sea days.

Once again I spent my morning working on class.  Today’s was Journaling with Ease.  No hot tubs still, but the pool is open.  And yes—white caps and waves again.

Tonight was Casino Night and we went formal. We have two new tablemates at dinner.  Delores and Waldo.  Yes—we have found Waldo.  They are a delightful couple in their late eighties and expert cruisers.  We are learning so much from these long time cruise people.  They love being here.  I can certainly see why.

The entertainment  was a group called the Horizons who were quite good—did a medley of mo-town music.  We didn’t stay though as we got too warm.  People had been  complaining about the cold so the captain took us from frigid  to tropical.  It got really warm.  I felt sorry for the group with all those lights. One guy had to keep wiping his brow.  Called himself the Rainman because we was always dripping.  J 

Rockin' and a Rollin'

January 17, Day 13 at Sea

The ship is still rocking and rolling and I am still feeling a bit qoozy.  However, the show must go on.  This morning—all mornings, actually, we are treated to birds singing in the main dining room.   A recording, but very realistic. It’s always pleasant in the formal dining room. We eat most of our meals there.  At the moment I am on Lido deck working on my power point. 

Things are a bit different today. We’ve been told that there is a virus on board that is spreading.  Not a lot of cases yet, but they are not taking chances.  We have to use a lot of anti-bacterial lotion and not touch anything. No shaking hands and no dancing with strangers. J  The dance escorts on board are on standby and not allowed to dance with the ladies.  I’m tickled with the adjustments people have made and the good naturedness.  Instead of shaking hands many have taken to touching elbows. It’s as if touch is still very important.  Long time cruisers take these things in stride. 

I’ve noticed a lot of people are using their e-readers. Some however are reading real books.  Because of the sanitation rules, all books in the library are locked up.   If you want a book, the librarian will get it for you and when you return a book it gets sanitized. How does one sanitize a book? 

It’s evening now and my class went very well.  My title was Let’s Get Ideas. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rough Waters

January 17,   Day 13 at Sea

We are still at sea and we still have ocean-like waves and whitecaps in the pool.  I spent much of the morning preparing power point for my class and writing some.  I’m doing quite a few power point presentations and suspect I’ll have about 45 different classes when I’m through. Tried to get on line earlier, but we are at sea in the middle of nowhere so signals aren’t the greatest.

I have taken seasick pills twice today.  During my class I wobbled about a little, feeling like I’d had a glass of wine too many.  Diane, one of my students said to do the Tai Chi horse pose or some such with my knees bend slightly.  Also green apples are supposed to help.

My class was called Let’s Get Ideas and I talked about not only getting ideas, but unblocking the mind so ideas could flow. I talked about creativity being locked up by criticism and fear.  Also talked about releasing those critics and embracing ones creativity. 

After class, I met Ron in the Crow’s Nest for tea and then headed to Lido deck to have a short swim and hot tub.  It’s such a nice place.

Dinner is always a fascinating affair—interesting foods prepared in interesting ways.  And almost everything is good.  There is a romance writer on board who comes to my classes. I have yet to meet her for a one on one.  It’s interesting how you see some people nearly everywhere you go, but others you rarely if ever encounter. 

Tonight’s show time features a piano duet. 
Signing off and hoping for a good connection. 

White Caps in the Swimming Pool!

January 16, Day 12 at Sea
We’re heading in a south-westerly direction toward Easter Island.  The swimming pool looks like a miniature ocean with white caps and waves.  Seas are choppy and my tummy is feeling the wave action. I had to take some meclazine (sea-sick pills) today. Nothing severe. In fact I made it through my class without a sign of nausea.  The class went well—only a couple of people read, but it was productive. 
I went to bed after dinner—just not feeling well.  Ron went to hear the comedian.  I was going to go to Karaoke at nine, but my tummy decided against it.  So early to bed and not so early to rise. J

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lima Highlights

January 15; Day 11 at sea

We are still docked in Lima. Today I took a Highlight tour of the city. Saw some amazing architecture and learned a bit about the history.  On the way we passed through poverty. There was an old woman selling candy on the sidewalk and a less than a block away men in white shirts and ties, dressed to the nines, were conducting business on the stock market and in the banks. 

We toured several cathedrals—among them St. Francis.  Wow!  There is a lot of weather and earthquake damage, but the artwork is phenomenal. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside.  So many paintings and tile work.  We also saw down into one of the catacombs where several skeletons were exposed.  The guide said they had found bones of infants and suggested that perhaps the nuns and priests got together for more than prayers.  Not a nice conclusion. 

We also say the presidents palace and a number of government buildings. They’ll be having an election in April and the streets were full of campaign posters. 

While I found the history and architecture fascinating, what really caught my attention were the number of buildings with unfinished roofs. There would be maybe two stories and while some of the buildings may have sustained earthquake danmage, others were waiting for the residents to come up with enough money to complete them.  Also, the tour guide said there are many unfinished because people don’t have to pay as much tax if they are not completed.  On many of the rooftops you could see colorful clothing hanging on the lines.  I suspect people lived on the rooftops as well among the debri.

Lima is very dirty as they have very little or no rain.  Water comes from underground sources and they except to run out of water in ten years.  There is a lot of vegetation however and this is apparently due to the 80-to 90 percent humidity factor.  This is a good thing because rain would destroy those buildings build on the cliffs.  I’m hoping to share some photos with you soon, though with the internet, that might not be possible.

Near the ship is a small marketplace for folks who don’t like to venture out.  They sold sweaters and other items made with 100% alpaca wool.  We found postage cards finally and mailed out three.
Neither Ron’s mom nor mine have internet access.  It costs $2.50 per card to mail so I’m glad we have the internet. J    

We had another wonderful evening—attended the sail away party, but we didn’t sail.  Apparently we were waiting for some people to get back from their Machu Picchu tour.  There are so many tours I’d like to take, but since this is our first time in Port and since some of these tours run $1000 to $8000 apiece, we’re sort of slumming it.  J   This is such a gift,  And I am so grateful for the opportunity.

See you next time. 

Callia (Lima) Peru

July 14   Day 10 at Sea

We are in port.  Ron and I took a shuttle into Mira Flores.  Mira Flores and Callia are basically suburbs of Lima.  Combined area of around 9 million people.  On the drive, we went through the slums and crossed into more upscale area.  We drove for much of the time along the ocean.  We were dropped off at a very plush Marriot that sat directly across from a lovely park. We were told there was a shopping mall there, but couldn’t see anything like that. Someone directed us across the street and down the steps.  Moments later we were in the most amazing shopping center I’ve ever seen.  Three layers of stores were tucked into the cliff walls.  Many restaurants—TGIF, Tony Romas, and several local places. There was even a Starbucks!  We chose a local restaurant with balconies that jutted out over the cliff wall. I had a Pico Sour (the local drink) and Ron had a banana split.  I would have liked a lunch, but we had just eaten before getting on the shuttle. 

We found a Hush Puppy store and Ron bought shoes!!   After dinner, we watched a glorious sunset. Ron took pictures.  We then went to the theater to watch a Celine Dion documentary that was fabulous except for the very narrow bar of movie that distorted everything and made her look twice as wide as tall.  Ron left shortly after it started but I stayed for the entire two hours.  Love her singing and the tour was fascinating. 
We met up again at the Piano Bar to listen to music and sing along.  Diane plays our favorite music and has an amazing repertoire.  At ten or so, we seem to turn into pumpkins.  

Sailing Sailing Over the Deep Blue Sea

July 13,  Day 9 at Sea

Missed posting for a few days as internet wasn’t the best. Or maybe it's my timing. 
We had a great day, just hanging out. I worked on my book for a while. Got my Guidepost book back and began the rewrites.  Nothing truly major this time.  I walked a fair amount, and that is a good thing. 

At 2 pm I had my creative writing class.  Writing Beyond What You See.  Had a good sized group again.  Talked about getting under the surface. It went well except for the flower arranging people who had the theater after me.  They came in a bit too early.  But ah well.  Grace!

Evening festivities were amazing.  Formal again.  The entire ship was decorated in black and silver as we had the Captain’s Black and Silver Ball.  Amazing.  Sadly, Ron (still without dress shoes) decided to eat dinner in his room.  I on the other hand was not about to pass  up lobster so I ate in the dining room in my black and silver top with matching jacket and dress slacks.  I looked rather elegant if I do say so myself. J  After dinner, Ron joined me at our favorite piano bar. We later went to the ball.  The floor and tables were littered with tiny black hats and silver stars.  People danced on stage as well as on the dance floor.  We didn’t dance.  By then it was past ten and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I noticed a number of people yawning.  J  We walked out on the promenade deck for a bit before retiring.  What a life.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Passing the Equator--Cheers! Ole!

January  11  --  Day 7 at Sea
Another day at sea. Up at 5:30 to walk the promenade for a mile. Today I watched the pinnacle Grill chef make his famous crab cakes.  Yum.  He used Dungeness crab with no bready fillers.  Just crab, finely diced vegetables: red  peppers, garlic, onion, chives.  He used mayo to hold the mixture together, made small cakes and coated them with panko.   The sauce was excellent.

I had my class at 2:00 today—opposite Mitzi Gaynor.  I didn’t expect many, but I had as many or more than I did the first day.  I did a workshop on creativity and had several good writers.  Most of them are there to journal or write memoirs. 

At the evening show we had the ms Amsterdam singers who did a medley of tunes from the 50’s. Did I mention that Ron and I are among the young ones here—well except for some of the entertainers? 
After the show we walked a 2/3 of a mile before turning in.  I considered staying up until 1 when we were scheduled to cross the equator.   Our first crossing. To celebrate we were treated to champaign at dinner. The captain promised he wouldn’t make the announcement when we crossed, though if I hadn’t been so tired I’d have been tempted to stay up for the occasion.  If I had stayed up I’d likely have missed it since there are no strings of lights or signs on the water. 

Tomorrow early, we arrive in Ecuador, which by the way means equator.

January 12  --  Day 8 at Sea

We are docked at Manta Ecuador.  We were provided with a shuttle to take us off the port and into town to the market place.  It was like far too many market places.  The locals push their wares.  Ron bought a Panama hat for a good price.  Taxi drivers descended on us wanting to take us for a ride.  I bought a jade-like cross.  I’m wishing now that I had gotten a small painting but I suspect there will be more at the next port which is near Lima, Peru.  Manta is big on exporting tuna.  Lots of fishing boats in and around the harbor. 

We were back aboard before lunchtime and spent another leisurely day by the pool and in the dining room.  I wrote a bit—still haven’t settled in or found my perfect spot. 

Tomorrow is another day at sea and another class. I’ll be continuing my sessions on creativity.  “Writing Beyond What You See.”

Getting on the internet continues to be somewhat difficult.  I couldn’t post today—hopefully tomorrow will be better. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

January 9, Sunday Day 5 at Sea
We are docked in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Seasoned travelers have indicated that this is not a very clean town.  Ron was asked to escort a group to an ariel tram which takes 7 hours.  He wasn’t feeling well so had to decline.  We went ashore and shopped at the market place.  Lots of souvenirs, but no dress shoes.  We couldn’t fine postcards either.  The night before at the formal dress evening, Ron had to wear his sandals.  I don’t think anyone noticed. At least he didn’t get kicked out of the dining room. 

We’ve discovered that at least one woman lives aboard.  I haven’t met her yet, but I think it is the woman with straight white hair that goes to her waist in the back. She wears these unusual hats as in fuzzy bunny hats.  She is usually dressed in what look like pajamas and slippers.  I think the dress rules don’t apply to her. 

At any rate it’s a lovely day and I walked 2/3 of a mile in the morning.  I’m losing the weight battle, but hope to get back on an even keel.  It’s warm and humid here—tropical. I spent most of the day lounging around and taking cat-naps.  Ron and I are both very tired.  We are not doing well with the late dinner seating.  Ron managed to get us switched to the 5:30 dinner.  Much better.  Our tablemates are Valdimar an older gentleman and his son Brent. Brent is a chef and talked about the finer points of our meals. They are from Victoria! 

We’re losing an hour tonight. Showtime at 8 pm featured an amazing harpist from Argentina. 
I am rethinking my post on Mitzi Gaynor’s show.  I haven’t seen her on board, but someone said she could hardly walk.  I decided that she’s pretty gutsy to continue performing. 

Tonight we sail to Panama and the canal.  What an experience that will be.

January 10  Day 6 at Sea

The Panama Canal

How amazing.  We were up at 5:30 am, Ron ran and I went out on the bow to watch the ship approach the first of three series of locks.  We had overcast skies and as we were entering the first lock, it began to rain. Over the course of the day we wove through a number of islands, passed through several locks, finally coming to Panama City.  The city is much larger than I ever imagined. A million people in the city and about three million in the country.  It rained off and on, but what’s a little rain when you’re moving through one of the wonders of the world.

I managed to write two pages this morning. I spent most of the day poolside as it was very warm and humid.  Nice to be able to cool off whenever.

Our entertainment tonight features a pianist from the UK.  He’s brilliant and funny and very talented. We’ve been enjoying all of the shows.  Nice way to end the day.  After the show, we stopped at the Rembrandt Lounge to listen to Diane Fast sing and play.  She was in my first writing class and would like to write screen plays. 

We’re on our way to Ecuador.  Since we are at sea tomorrow, I will have my second class.  Can you believe I am scheduled at the same time as an interview with Mitzi Gaynor!  Uf da! I will be surprised if I have any students at all.  J 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jan 8 Day 4 at sea

We are sailing toward Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. I spent much of the morning pulling down e-mail and posting my blog.  Used nearly 60 precious internet minutes.   I went to the culinary lecture this morning and to my surprise, the chef is the owner of Matt’s Restaurant at Pike St. Market in Seattle.   He showed us how to sear a perfect salmon.  He really used too much oil for most people, me included.  I suggested using cooking spray instead. Not sure if that was appreciated.  My salmon is near perfect as well.  J

After a nice lunch in the dining room, I had to rush back to my room to get ready for my class.  The tech had everything together and set up my power point. Not one technical problem.  Some of you OCW conference people will appreciate that.  I had quite a number of people and feel we’ll have some good critique groups.  I did an introduction and overview and gave them an assignment.  My next class day is the day after tomorrow after we leave Panama.  We’ll get down to business then.

Evening came on us rather quickly. It was formal night and I wore my long black sleeveless dress with my new purple/blue elegant jacket and rhinestone shoes.  The Captain had his welcome party before dinner with drinks and appetizers and an introduction of the officers.  Dinner at eight was way too slow—took two hours and then it was time for the show. Mitzi Gaynor was our entertainment.  I wasn’t really entertained.  She’s in her eighties and is still in good shape, but her voice is shot, she moves slowly and I personally think she might want to consider leaving show business behind.   She seemed a bit pathetic— she could have been elegant and maintained an air of dignity. Unfortunately, she came off as being needy.  I felt sorry for her.   

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Friday, January 07, 2011

We’ve arrived in Grand Cayman, but Georgetown, our planned stop was too dangerous for the tenders so we are on another part of the island—anchored offshore.  I decided to stay on board as I didn’t really have any shopping to do and we’ve been here before.  It’s been quiet. I was able to get on the internet but it took 30 of my precious minutes to go through my e-mail messages.

Ron went ashore as an escort to a group going to seven mile beach. I tried to write but had people wanting to talk—not about writing. I may have to write in my room for a couple of hours each morning so I can get something done.

Tomorrow I offer my first class at one pm. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up. Went to tea with Ron at three and had my eyebrows waxed at 4:15.  At the moment I am writing this blog page.  It is just after seven. We’re underway, heading to Costa Rica.

Time for dinner and to send this blog.     
Amazingly yours, Pat 


Thursday,  Jan 06, 2011

Gorgeous day. We slept in until eight, and went to breakfast in the elegant dining room. Lovely view. I had the Eggs Royale, which is like Eggs Benedict  with Salmon rather than Canadian bacon.  Yum.

After breakfast I went to the library to buy minutes and met one of the musicians.  After talking a bit, she said the crew gets a discount on the internet soooo, I went in search of an answer and found that yes, I could pay $40 for 450 minutes and get a card.  How much better is that than $250 for 1000 minutes. 

Lifeguard drill at 10:30 We met David and Annette.  She’s an editor.  I wrote from 1-2  by the pool. We had late lunch at 2 on the Lido Deck where the pools are after hearing a lecture on the Caribbean by Dr. Adrian Cooper from London.  Interesting. 

I still don’t know my teaching schedule and am waiting for my internet card.  Tea at 3 where I met an interesting woman from the Netherlands.  Tea was served in the Crow’s nest, a lounge on the top floor that boasts a panoramic view.  Lovely tea. 
It’s now after five and I have been at the pool since 3:45. It’s perfect. My computer is home, rejuicing.  Speaking of juice—we get fresh squeezed OJ. Oh, and one more thing: they have chocolate bread pudding. Uh-oh, I’m in trouble here.


Wednesday:  January 5, 2011

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on time—6:20 am.  Sleep deprived and hungry.  We ate breakfast at the airport—don’t ever try breakfast at Chili’s.  At 8:45 we hailed a taxi and reached the port in about ten minutes.  I had no contact person and no instructions on how to board the ship.  However, I did have passes to embark.  The ship had come in, but with a couple thousand people disembarking things were rather chaotic.

So started the waiting game and the rather non-brilliant security guard who gave us wrong instructions.  We weren’t on the manifold because of our last minute status. However, one of the ship officers heard our name and said—we’ve been looking for you. I thought, finally.  We’re going to be taken care of.  But no, she said, “When you got off the plane, you picked up the wrong luggage.”
“No,” Ron and I both said. “That can’t be.”  Ron had picked them up. I went to look and sure enough one of our bags was not ours.  Ron had to take a taxi back to the airport, make the switch and get another cab back to the ship.  The miracle is that the airport people found us and caught us before we boarded the ship.  Whew!!!

Another two hours later we tried to get someone’s attention again.  Once more I showed them our passes to board the ship.  “One of the security guards said, “You can go right on with those.” And so, the delay allowed us to get our luggage.  Finally we boarded and once again we weren’t on the manifest, neither did we have a room assignment. In short order though one of the ship’s officers gave us back our passports and sent us up to the office. 

We are in 3307 and we have a window. We’re on the promenade deck.  We put our things away and at 2:30 went up to the Lido deck to grab some lunch. The restaurant was closing, but we got salads.
Our room keys (cards) are also our method of payment.  Looking over the schedule for the day, I noticed that we were to make dinner reservations or changes by four.  I went to make sure we had 5:30 seating since neither of us like to eat late.  Well everyone else (most people here are older) wanted early dinner as well and since we were last minute…”  So we hung around and did a tour of the ship.  In the Queen’s Lounge we discovered the cruise director introducing the supplemental staff (of which I am one) 

Ron and I joined them and I was introduced as well and received some instructions.  Nice of them to let me know before hand. J  But hey—God had been taking care of things all along, why stop now.  We were to be part of the 9:30 pm show where Bruce, the cruise director would introduce his staff and us supplementals.

More wandering around.  Our ship, the mc Ansterdam was built in Italy in 2000 and had been updated.  There is an internet cafĂ©/library/coffee shop called Explorations. I found out that the internet costs $250 for 1,000 minutes.  Yikes. 

At 8 and went into the La Fontaine Restaurant.  Very elegant. We were seated at a table by the window  17 with two other couples.  Lee and Ken are from Canada just north of Bellingham.  Ron and Pat (yes, our table mates are Ron and Pat) are from Fargo, ND. Lee and Ken were married in 1963, same as us, and Ron was married in 63 to his first wife.

We had to rush out before dessert so we could attend the meeting prior to show time and be told what to do and where to go so we’d be on the stage in the wings when Bruce was ready for us.  Supplementals included me (creative writing) Marie (arts and crafts), yoga, dance lessons, computer use, 5 male escorts to dance with the single ladies and bridge instructors.  The arts and crafts lady made it on board, but her luggage and all of her supplies didn’t. 

At this point I don’t know where or when my class will be or start. Fortunately, we don’t have to begin our classes until our second day at Sea which is Saturday.  On our first day at sea, we went to bed around eleven after picking up an ice cream snack.  My legs hurt so badly, I could hardly walk so I took some Aleeve.

The beds are comfortable, nice pillows and room for all of our luggage. Oh, and Ron forgot to pack his dress shoes so he can’t go to the formal dinners.  It looks as though he might be able to pick up a pair in the Cayman Islands.   

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins
Tuesday January 4, 2011

Our visa arrived from the Indian Embassy at 10:30 pm on Tuesday Jan 4th after them saying it couldn’t be done.  At 11m Ron and I went to the doctor to get a waiver on the yellow fever vaccine since we were not going into any yellow fever ports.  After a bit, she was able to come up with the right language.  We were ready to go.

I e-mailed and called the booking agency as soon as we got home—no  answer so I left a voice mail.  As it turned out they were having trouble with their phones and their internet provider.
I called again an hour later and a short time after that, the agency called back.  They gave me a contact person at Holland America (HAL).  I called him and no answer—twice.  Around 2:30 I finally reached his real voice.  Ten minutes later he called me back with a flight number. 

At 5:50 pm we were on our way to LA.  I’ll tell you all about the traumatic transfer from Alaska Airlines to Delta.  Oh, my goodness. Talk about your third world country. Two busses, a terrifying ride ON the tarmac, and two sets of two story stairs carrying our baggage later we arrived at Delta to find our plane was late.  Poor Ron had to climb the stairs multiple times because I can’t carry heavy stuff.  No elevators except for wheelchair people.  We were aghast to say the least.

By 11 pm we were on the redeye to Ft. Lauderdale.  Our seatmate was a Hispanic guy who looked like he was about to fall asleep on his feet.  He had a carry on and said to the attendant, “I have a medical condition. Of course, my ears perked right up. Then he said, “I just had brain surgery and I need help.” No wonder he seemed a bit off.

The attendant helped him get his bag in the overhead.  Over the next four hours we discovered that he’d had this surgery two days ago and had undergone a chemo treatment. I’m thinking who in their right mind would let this guy fly home alone?  He lives in Ft. Lauderdale and worked as an artist.

He slept much of the way, but when he was awake one could see that he was not ready for prime time. The attendant gave him a ginger-ale and a skinny straw. He stirred it round and round about a dozen times, and then put the straw in his mouth. Instead of drawing the soda up, he blew bubbles.  
There’s a story in this somewhere and my mind is already at work on it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting ready

Exciting news!!!

Our India visas were delivered to the American office in SF today and they sent it to me for arrival tomorrow.  That means we may fly out tomorrow night!  It also means we will board the ship in Ft. Lauderdale and be able to enjoy the entire journey. 

Some of you have been praying about this because we were told we couldn't possibly get the visas before Jan 5.  So we are two days early. 

I am so excited.  Still tons of stuff to do, but it's coming together. 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cruise Itinerary

There are over 50 ports of call. If you'd like to see the ship's itinerary here's a link to take you there.

Blogging at Sea with Pat Rushford

Hi all

I'm going to try this blog thing again. Mostly because some of my friends want to share my travel experiences.

I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime--well maybe a dozen lifetimes.

For the next four months I will be cruising around the world on the ms Amsterdam with Holland America. I'll be onboard as a lecturer on creative writing and journaling. My husband, Ron, will be my guest.

I couldn't be more excited and I hope you'll be joining me as I share experiences and share photos. I'm not sure how this bloging works quite yet, but I guess I'll find out.

Happy cruising...