Cartagena, here we come

Yesterday I couldn't get back on line to finish my vigil with you of the Panama Canal transit. This morning I've been cut off in a bleat about the rough seas and wind. I don't get seasick, thanks to my Viking ancestors, but enough people do that there are barf bags stationed at the elevators.  The pool is empty  :-(  

We dock at Cartagena at 11 a.m. and I'm going on an excursion, "Highlights of Cartagena".  I keep thinking of "Romancing the Stone". I think we'll see the fortress. No crocodiles, though. This is the second last excursion before we dock in Miami.  We get two sea days before we explore Key West. Time to pack.

a man a plan panama

I love palindromes and what better time or place to quote this famous one? My blog today is going to be an ongoing account.  I'm in Horizons, Forward, on Deck Ten, and it's ten to five in the morning. I'm told this is the best viewing spot on the ship and that the place will be packed with people well before nine a.m. when it's all supposed to begin. After a while, though, I am told, the crowd dwindles as the transit goes on and on. It sounds like watching paint dry, but we'll see. 

It's no hardship for me to come up here at this hour; I often do. There's a coffee/tea station at the entrance where people can make their own beverage, later augmented by muffins and buns and orange juice. I can hear a cup being filled as I write, facing forward into the blackness. Sunrise isn't  until 6:03 a.m.

TRANSIT SCHEDULE THROUGH THE PANAMA CANAL:

9 a.m.       M/S Insignia arrives at Mira Flores Locks

10 a.m.      M/S Insignia departs from Mira Flores Locks

10:50 a.m.  M/S Insignia arrives at Pedro Miguel Locks

11:25 a.m.    M/S. Insignia departs from Pedro Miguel Locks

12:25 p.m.    M/S Insignia Passes by Gamboa

2:35 p.m.     M/S Insignia arrives at Gatun Locks

4:20 p.m.    M/S Insignia departs from Gatun Locks    

-- and sails for Cartagena, Colombia (270 nautical miles)

(he above times are approximate and subject to change.)

It's now quarter to seven and the grandstand seats around me are filled with people with iPads and coffee. There are a number of ships in the water, like the stacking of airplanes waiting to land, but farther apart and by arranged booking, not just first-come-first-served. I'm going to run our of battery power before this assignment is over.  A bientôt.

 

 

countdown

The day after Canada Day, into July now; we dock in Miami on July 8 and I fly to Toronto later that afternoon. So the countdown begins. I woke this morning with terribly domestic thoughts and even checked my grocery flyers although I'm not ready to buy food yet.  But we still have too much to do to worry about that.

Tomorrow we transit the Panama Canal. Tomorrow.

Today has been a Sea Day and I have written stuff and people and made lists, and talked to fellow travellers and went to another wine-tasting, this time Wine-Pairings.  I always learn something; this time I was given a revelation about Reisling.

Yesterday was fabulous; we went on  a Mangrove River Cruise.  I love boats and rides and bridges and trains and all kinds of conveyances.  (Not heights though.) In spite of another HOT day (98 degrees F.) there was a little breeze as we moved along the river gazing at the mangroves, liking the little blue herons, whistling at the macaws (saw two of them), howling at the howling monkeys,that is, our guide howled, and also whistled.  Anyway, the creatures responded, and we saw them. At least, most of us saw them.   I gaze and gaze and gaze and sometimes I see something.

I keep thinking of James Thurber and his poor eyesight.  He wrote about his university days and his inability to see through a microscope.  He almost failed Biology because of that.  Try as he would, he couldn't see a specimen under the microscope lens.  Finally, after frustrating efforts, he managed to pull up an image and called his teacher.

"I see something," he said in triumph.  The Professor came over to look, and turned away in despair.  "No, no," he said.

Thurber had managed to focus on his own eyeball. 

Well, that's what I do and he's who I think of when I gaze into a mangrove forest searching for a howling monkey.  I heard them, though.

I'm happy.

HAPPY CANADA DAY

Also Happy July First.  Very few Americans on this ship know about Canada Day, even the Trivial Pursuit people, who know everything.  But as I was writing that (I'm in Barista's, the coffee bar, with a weak Americano that Marco makes for me), a woman (European-born not American) wished me a happy Canada Day, bless her.  

Port Days are busy. The excursion at Huatolco on the 29th took me to  a posh tourist resort.  My choice, because I am interested in the contrast. Everything was slick and clean and neat and manicured and fake, created for tourists, looking like a movie set.  Contrast that with the drive the next day from the port, steamy hot, up a mountain through rain and cooler air to a fiercely ecological macadamia nut farm,where we were served a "snack".  Good thing I didn't eat lunch. We ate three - count 'em - three pancakes made with macadamia nut flour studded with chopped macadamia nuts adorned with macadamia nut butter and blueberry-m-nut jam, beside slices of banana and papaya. Actually I ate just one, more than enough.  We also had the best coffee since I left home, also grown here.  

But the drive: up through jungle (rain forest?) and indigenous homes, slapdash bits of wood with thatched or corrugated iron roofs, a far cry from the factitious (fictitious) buildings of the day before.  Very different.  Yesterday we docked in Nicaragua where my excursion took us on an hour and a half bus ride to Managua, blessedly air-conditioned because the heat was killing: 98 degrees F. with a strong dry wind.  You know what white-outs look like in  (parts of) Canada? Well, we drove through a brown-out, with dust blowing so strongly that we couldn't see the road, as the wind lifted the topsoil off the dry land. Our guide gave us a political history and updates on the Nicaraguan economy, with a hopeful prognosis for the new canal.

Today we will dock in Costa Rica about noon and I have chosen an Eco Mangrove River Cruise requiring not only sunscreen but also mosquito repellent. 

So I'm still exploring, although mentally I have begun a countdown.  Next Sea Day - tomorrow, I think - I'm going to have to look at what I've accumulated and think about packing.  Oh my.

here we are

BLOG

 

 

We are just docking in Guatemala, well, in Puerto Quetzal, for a brief (7 hour) stop before we sail on.  I can’t remember what I signed up for, so long ago in February and March.  I read the descriptions three times, checking weather, time and information, trying to allow for my stamina.  I’m actually stronger and in better health now than when I started out.  I don’ remember what I chose and I can’t understand some of my choices (like the tequila class). Today I’m going to a macadamia nut farm.  I guess it’s going to tell me more about macadamia nuts than I care to know, but I like macadamia nuts and we’ll probably get to sample some – with chocolate, i hope.

I’m writing this in WORD and I’ll transfer it to cobwebblog when I get on line. It’s difficult again because there are so many people on board now.  Perhaps by the time I get to send it to you I’ll have more to say about macadamia nuts, and other kinds of nuts – we have a lot on board.

I still have not seen the new nuts. My roommate had left her iPad online so I couldn't get on - one stateroom account for the two of us. Perhaps I'll get back to you or perhaps not. It's a four-hour excursion, they say but it usually takes longer, mostly because people with cameras want to take just one (or two or three) more pictures. I don't mind, but we'll be late for dinner And I'll miss Trivial Pursuit.  Minor problems. 

Just wait till next week.

still exploring

Where did yesterday go?  I thought I did my blog for yesterday it but I see it's a day later than I thought it was.  You think I'm confused about dates? Time is the killer. We have been going forward an hour every day or so. Now, tonight we have to go back an hour for Guatemala but then we go forward again for Panama. 

I tried another resort today: a hotel - Las Brisas - in Huatulco, Mexico (pron. wah-TOOL-co). It was very hot today. I didn't swim in the hotel pool; I stuck my feet in it and the water was hot.  I swam on  the ship at 6 and it was perfect and because we had docked, the water was calm. So I sat (in the shade) and caught up with my New YorkTimes and then I got acquainted with some of the newbies.  I think I told you, the ship has a full complement now, 684 passengers, of which only 100 are the old-timers - the World Travellers.

I think I've almost worn out my name-recalling skill.  I worked very hard at it and I was doing okay but this vast influx of new faces and names is too much.  On the other hand, my persona is sticking, worse than ever. You know the hail-fellow-well-met, jolly old lady sitting there with a smile and a glass of wine?  That's me. I've pretty well stopped attempting interesting conversational ploys. I just let the talk ride along on ship gossip and the day's travel sensations. The conversation never lags; That's why people think they've made such good friends because they never run out of things to say. Once they're off the ship and back to real life -- well, no wonder all they can manage is a Christmas card.  I can only speculate how it will be for us, the world travellers, after three months of constant companionship. We'll just wait and see.  

 

 

catchup

We're on two Sea Days now so I will have a chance to catch up. I'm very aware that we're on a countdown and I am starting to make lists of things I have to do when I get home. But there are lists to attend to on board, too, very self-indulgent things, I'm afraid.  I've had a stiff neck and shoulder for a while and I finally signed up for three 25-minute zone massages to deal with it, third one coming up in half an hour. I've kept swimming and the movement of the water is incredible. Who would have thought it in a tiny pool, but the motion of the ship and the state of the sea and wind determine the activity of the waves in the pool.  It's like a lap pool with four different currents at once and that's what probably contributed to my stiff neck. Hazards of shipboard life?  I am not complaining.

Yesterday we spent about 9 hours in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico, a resort dedicated to fun, so much so that the environment has been damaged and efforts have begun to restore and maintain it and to and prevent further harm.  I can't think what possessed me but I found that I had signed on as a tequila aficionado for a tasting class.  I've never had tequila - well, maybe one or two margueritas in my lifetime.  I'm going to have one tonight.

The tequila tasting was not as satisfying as the wine-tasting on the ship when we have a very knowledgeable sommelier teach us about the soil and the vintages and so on.  Mind you,the Tequila Class, as it ewas listed on a brochure, told me more abut agave than I ever knew or wanted to.  Blue agave is the one we like; it has to grow for 7 years and be mashed and ferment and be distilled for another length of time - did he say 30 years?  Anyway, our lecturer talked a lot and it was  hot and it was afar 1 p.m. and I dozed through it.  Food was put out, little taster amounts that people gobbled  up as it was served: guacamole , salsa and tortilla chips, then seviche, then something (chile?)with some spices, ground beef and maybe beans? 

I was seated between a couple: she wanted to sit near the power point screen and he wanted to sit under a ceiling fan, so I got the seat between them.  I took my first sip of the pure white Tesoro (brand name?).   Very strong.  I sipped very slowly, with nibbles of food.  The man next to me asked if I was going to drink it all and I shook  my head so he took my glass and poured tee remaining contents into his. The woman leaned over and said  "Don''t let him do that again."

I choked on the next sample and had to drink water to recover. I said jokingly, "I think I'll have a marguerita on the ship," so the man took my glass full -- well, hey weren't full, you know; they were just sipping samples.  I leaned over and apologized to the woman.  I sipped the last glass very slowly but I hung onto the glass - it was more like a cognac so I managed it. 

And now I really am going to have a marguerita.

 

day two

This is Day Two of the last leg of our cruise, beginning in San Diego (yesterday), at sea today as we sail to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After working so intensely on my film project, I feel as if I'm on holiday again, much more relaxed. And as it's another cruise, we have repeats of all the things Oceania offers new cruisers, starting with fire drill - last night - going on to the Captain's Party tonight (free drinks).  

Yesterday was great. A woman who liked what I said at my writing chat weeks ago (?) who lives in San Diego invited me for a personal tour of the city, along with a couple she met (or knew before, not sure) at Trivial Pursuit when she was on the ship, lis the Cruise Director's mother, on board for a few days to visit her peripatetic son and daughter-in-law. Kate, our hostess, was very generous with her time; we drove all over San Diego for about four hours, stopping at Rubio's, a famous franchise that specializes in fish tacos. Not my favourite thing but I can say that I had a famous f.t. from Rubio's now. On the other hand, San Diego is now one of my favourite cities.

It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States. According to Forbes magazine, San Diego was the fifth wealthiest city in the United States in 20054, and the 9th safest city in the top 10 its of safest cities in the U.S.in 2010.  Our hostess attested to that.  It has a naval base,  lively artistic and cultural activity, an esteemed university, and a lot of research centres.  Awesome.  Our Canadian director, Des McAnuff, recently attached to the Stratford Festival, was a.d. of La Jolla theatre, where he directed a production of Jersey Boys that is still making the rounds. 

I'm going to the Captain's party now.

Sea Days are busy days

I've said that before.  And I'm busier than most Sea Days because I'm working on a pitch for a movie I'm writing with a partner on whose book it is based. By a most serendipitous event I have an opportunity to meet with a film director tomorrow when we dock in L.A.  He may find it mutually beneficial to co-operate on the production of our movie, so I am working on the log line and the synopsis to present to him.  Running out of time, I may have to pitch him verbally. Anyway, the several (five) Sea Days it has taken us to sail to Los Angeles have been both busy, cruise-wise, and productive, film-wise.  But I miss my ergonomic chair at home.

I have skipped several "enrichment" lectures but I have continued to play Trivial Pursuit.  A lot of people I have known for 2 or 3 months now are getting off in LA. and I will miss them, including some of my team players. A huge number will be boarding for the transit of the Panama Canal, bringing the ship up to its full capacity for passengers (584, I think, double occupancy).  I'm not sure if I can cram ay more names and faces into my mental Rolladex file.  I may have to resort to "Hey you!" smiling all the while.

More foreign countries coming up, too: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Columbia, and then Florida.  So it ain't over till it's over.  I've run out of toothpaste and calcium pills, and my silver-haired shampoo and I'm sick to death of my clothes, so Ugess it's time I turned to thoughts of home.

But I'm still having a good time. We had another Premium Wine-Tasting yesterday and four people gave me their caviar (to go with the champagne sample)  Num.

 

did you miss me?

Again, trouble getting online. The vagaries of wifi at sea are daunting.  I have solved the problem this morning by getting up early and sticking my foot in the metaphorical door.  It's 4:25 a.m. out here - down here? - we are cruising once again, heading for Los Angeles now, a five-Sea-Day sail.

The ship was very quiet the afternoon and evening of the Missouri party  I was told I missed a great bash with prawns as big as chicken legs and the waitresses dressed up in '40s styles. Not for me.  I enjoyed being alone and did some more thinking about my screenplay. I've said before it takes longer not to write a script than to write one.  I've been taking that lengthy time and I have five days to work on it before I meet with someone who may be influential in my future.  We'll see.

In the meantime, life went on in this floating village. For the first time, I didn't take a scheduled excursion. We were in Lahaina, Hawaii, and I wandered with one "old" (some two months old) and some new friends in the touristy town with lots of stuff for sale, from kitsch to glamour with arts and crafts in between. We found a restaurant our friends knew and ate lunch overlooking a beach where surfers were learning and splashing. I have met so many people who have been here before, not once or twice but several times.  "Been there, done that" is a familiar phrase except that they don't mind doing it again.  I have discovered that what I thought was my bucket list is to many others merely a drop in the bucket. 

I could get philosophical or critical about tourism but i's a benign industry and preferable to war.  War is very damaging; tourism is not.  Not in that way.  Yesterday found us in Kauai, yet another tropical paradise, on another excursion, a musical river cruise to a fern grotto, in the company of another new/old friend (of two months) with whom I plan to travel again. I am remembering to take the odd picture with my iPad Mini and I will try to send some - soon.  On the whole, I prefer to lock a sight into my memory.  I want to write something more about that cruise but it will have to wait.  I must get to my scene cards.

Anon, anon.  

 

 

 

green planet

Yesterday I took a mild, pleasant excursion billed as  "Panoramic Hilo" -  nothing to exclaim about. Today I took one entitled natural "Highlights of Hawaii" and it was outstanding.  Our guide told us about the flora and fauna of the island and how it all got there: by Wind, Water and Wings, later arrivals called Canoe additions.  She showed us the efforts being made to preserve the island and its contents, especially the water, on which everything is dependent. 

I took more pictures: one of the beach where one of he most famous love scenes in movies took place (remember From Here to Eternity?)and the view from some high place or other.   I promise I will sit down soon and try to send along some pictures. I'm so busy trying to lock pictures and memories in my mind that I resent the time it takes to activate the iPad and aim it.  I saw some red-crested birds I was told are cardinals, different from ours, smaller and quite charming. By the time I got the iPad aimed, they were gone.

We're back in the United States; Hawaii became the 50th state in 1970, I think it was.  This afternoon there is a special excursion to the Missouri, where WWII ended with official signatures. That ship is connected by a bridge to the memorial of the sunken Arizona.  I'm not going, not because I don't care but because I'm an aging Canadian and I have different memories of that war.  I visited the Arizona when I was in Hawaii in 1977 and I realized then that it's a shrine for Americans, as well it should be. I respect that, but it's not mine.

What belongs to everyone, however, can be found everywhere, including Hawaii.  Yesterday there were more and longer line-ups at Walmart than for any ship excursion.  Walmart co-operated, too. I was told that the store was running a shuttle bus between it and the ship, for shoppers' convenience. 

Travel is so broadening.

more food?

Sea Days are over for a few days. I went on an excursion this morning, an easy, short one. I'm in Hilo, Hawaii and took a "panoramic" tour.  Hilo is lovely and a living green lesson as to what to do after a tsunami.  Two, actually, in 1946 and in 1960.  The first time, apparently, the era was swept clear of houses and schools, etc. and was built up again. The second time when the same region was devastated, the land has been allowed to remain without buildings and the whole area now is beautiful parkland.  I took some pictures and I'll see what I can do with them.  I'm sill not a camera buff.  

I also took a picture of Rainbow Falls. I love waterfalls.  And also, since I was there, I tried to capture the King Kamehameha Statue.  I'll try to send that along, too. 

But not now.  I'm working on my screenplay project and I have to do some more thinking. Thinking takes a lot of time. I haven't forgotten I promised I'd tell you about the food.  Soon.

 

 

food for thought

Well, let me tell you first that I have not gained weight, actually down about four pounds.  I have seen people whom I met when we first embarked last March (can it be?) and who I think have gained about 15 pounds each by the look of them.  It's not hard to do.  The food is abundant, constantly supplied and beautifully served. (So is the wine.)

Every day is different. On a long trip like this one meets people who are delightful to be with (and some not so) and a choice of food and venues makes it easy to make new social arrangements each day. One develops favourites among the restaurants as well as among the fellow diners. And the activities of the day often dictate the choice of venues as well as of food. 

I've mentioned Sit-and-be-Fit, a half hour exercise routine available only on Sea Days because otherwise the land excursions trump the shipboard activities.  I found that eating breakfast too soon before the exercise provoked a discomfort: too much food or of the wrong kind sat heavily. So I have learned to eat on the outdoor pool deck immediately after my swim; it's open to the sea and the pool,  but with a roof and windows. I can eat in my suit and bathrobe and help myself to the breakfast buffet.  I choose sliced oranges and a ham and a cheese slice on a baguette slice plus a couple of dates and pecans, with English Breakfast Tea,  enough protein to supply energy for the fitness routine or for an early a.m. excursion.  I like variety, though, so this morning I had a bowl of low-fat granola instead and it sat okay.  

The open deck is called the Terrace Grill and it offers, in addition to a breakfast buffet (continental breakfast),  a BBQ lunch: various burgers, fish or chicken, plus fries, and a selection of salad ingredients, plus ice cream.  The burgers are gigantic and if I have one I usually split it with a friend. The Terrace Cafe on the other side of the pool/ship has an air-conditioned indoor dining area and an outdoor deck with sunshine and umbrellas. It's a glorious cafeteria with endless choices and ethnic specials.  I have trouble making up my point in the face of so many choices.  I walk up and down either side of this food aisle before choosing. Some dishes are cooked to order (omelets or scrambled eggs at breakfast; various stir-frys, make-up-your own pasta, and so on). Waiters help with the carrying and bring beverages, soft or alcoholic, and tea or coffee.  I like being waited on totally so I limit my visits to this cafe depending on the specialities they offer, the weather on the sunshine deck and the people I want to dine with.  Sometimes, we are back so late from an excursion that we must go to the Terrace for lunch because it closes later in the afternoon.

There are two specialty restaurants: one specializing in Italian cuisine and one in grilled food, available by reservation. It's not exclusive but you have to book ahead.  Two things I love in Toscana, the Italian room: roasted garlic served with the baguettes and other breads; and my favourite dessert: a minuscule dish of crème brûlée.  They serve a quintet of deserts, tiny servings of their specialties.  I want the one only and they're quite willing to let me have it.  The hardest part of ordering it is getting a very small coffee spoon without the espresso coffee it goes with. 

And then there's the Grand Dining Room, which is comforting and comfortable. The nightly newsletter, Currents, always includes a separate sheet with the next day's menus for the Grand. I tuck it into my purse and ponder it during the day as I decide what I will have, depending on the calorie count and what I've been doing, plus how I feel and what wine I have on hand. I buy a "cellar" of seven wines to choose from; so far I've had three cellars' worth. I'll go into detail about the menus in another blog. This evening I plan to go to The Terrace Cafe for dinner because they have sushi and sashimi, which I love, and haven't had for several weeks.  

And I'm meeting friends for lunch in the Terrace because it's  a lovely day and I want to get warm. The air-conditioning on  the ship is bracing, not to say aggressive. I carry a blanket around with me to most of the large meeting rooms, and I asked for an extra blanket for my bed because wouldn't you know, I have a room-mate who is hot all the time and who complains about the heat. So we have AC  in the cabin.  

It's okay.  I'm happy, and well-fed.

busy busea

You have to admire these people and the arrangements they make to keep people occupied, distracted, entertained, busy and happy, especially on Sea Days, and there's something to suit all tastes.  I walked into Horizons Lounge the other morning and saw all these women bent over their iPhones but they aren't iPhones, they were needlepoint kits.  Each little project comes packaged, form (a glasses case, a change purse a scissors holder, a make-up purse) with a  design on the cover and the necessary coloured thread to sew into it.  One woman claims she has made 60 and counting.  She has a stocking stuffer for each member of her family and now she's working on her church bazaar. 

Elsewhere, travellers are making greeting cards or postcards or origami thingummies.  Every morning I go to Sit-and-Be-Fit and it's remarkable how many exercises one can perform while sitting in a chair and flexing the abdominal muscles. That's just half an hour on Sea Days only ; Land Days we're all out on early excursions.  There are Bridge lessons and Mahjong lessons and a hugely attended Art class taught by bona fide artists (third one so far, during my long sojourn on they ship). Guest chefs pop in for a cruise (present one from French Polynesia to Hawaii) and give cooking demonstrations at which the attendees line up like homeless people sat a soup kitchen to get a free taste of the goodies.  Failing that, they can get specialties in the Grand Dining Room, with the new items listed in bold face.  I plan to have one tonight, something special he does with halibut. Last night it was Salmon Napoleon that I plan to make for my son John when I get home, because the chef gives out the recipes for his demo items.  

And I haven't mentioned the Fitness Centre or the Canyon Ranch Spa.  In addition to selling fabulous (expensive) services, they offer counsel on how to improve or feel better.  If you want to stay physical, there's ping pong and shuffleboard, and dancing at night after the show - I'm never up late enough for that. 

Two Trivial Pursuit games a day, afternoon and evening, provide a different kind of workout. I just hope I'll remember everything I've forgotten and retrieved.  

And here I am, trying to work, doing quite well, except for today,  There's a lecture I want to hear at 11 a.m., and this afternoon I'm signed up for another Wine-Tasting, which is why I'm writing my blog now.  

Anon, anon...

all at sea

"All alone, all at sea/Wy does no one care for me?"  Lyrics by Larry Hart to music by Richard Rodgers.  It's a pretty tune. When I'm lonely I think of it but I'm fine right now. All at sea made me think of it. Tomorrow I will tell you of the ship activities I'm skipping in order to spend time thinking about this screenplay I'm doing. It's all good, as Gwyneth Paltrow says.

I'll also give you some sample menus. right now I'm going to eat one.

back up a bit

I missed telling you about Rangiroa on June 6. I think it was because I couldn't get online.  A glass-bottom boat made it possible for me to see what's going on underwater without actually snorkelling. Wonderful!  We started early, first excursion out so the fish weren't glutted with food. The boat seats ten passengers, five on each side on benches enabling them to lean over and peer down  through two deep enclosures with glass on the bottom.  We gazed through shallow, incredibly clear water at the fishes going about their morning business: surgeon fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish.  Our boat driver put on the longest fins I've ever seen and snorkel goggles and a breather and took frozen fish, snaring  hunks on the spear of a spear gun, then diving down to offer breakfast to the little fish and big ones, too: lemon sharks and black-finned sharks and a bigger fish that played tug-of-war over a juicy hunk with a tortoise--right below us!  We were given pieces of stale baguettes to toss overboard, to see the fish attack it as if they piranhas and the bread  was a man overboard.  I thought it would be a good way to get rid of a body (human) and said as much. See, don't watch horror movies, It's already been done.

That was a lovely day and the weather was divine. The world is so full of a number of things/I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.  (R.L. Stevenson)

rainy day

And so restful.  Actually, it didn't begin until after we (most of us) had returned from the morning excursion. We are anchored at Nuka Hiva, the last island in the string of islands that comprise French Polynesia. This one is actually the second in size after Tahiti but it is relatively unoccupied and very rustic or rural.  The harbour is beautiful and surrounded by "mountains" (coming from Canada I have trouble calling big hills mountains.) Our excursion filled up all the cars/vans/pickup trucks on the island, I think, with the exception of two SUVs I noticed had been engaged by independent fellow travellers who had managed to find a tour business to look after them.  

It was a simple and most enjoyable  drive: up one mountain and down again; up the other mountain (on the other side of the bay) and down the others, with photo stops along the way. (I tried; I think I got a video of some feet walking.)  We had a pit stop where the inhabitants were selling beads and carvings and things and giving us slices of mango and papaya, fried bananas, and breadfruit chips.  

This is the island that Herman Melville ended up on afar he jumped ship.  He was taken prisoner but allowed to live (and not to be eaten, apparently) and stayed about three weeks (CHECK THIS). The place he stayed was call Taipetai (CHECK THIS); he called his novel TYPEE, something else I must read.

I have been sitting in HORIZONS lounge on the top deck (Ten) and forward.  It's 4 p.m., teatime, with a string quartet and lots of goodies, which I do not eat - just one or two minuscule (delicious) sandwiches, with my Earl Grey, before I go down to the Insignia Lounge, (Deck Five, aft) to play Trivial Pursuit. It's very cold there but I have a blanket. 

I'm fine.

sea day so busy

I'll check in but that's about all.  For the first time in almost a week I didn't have an excursion and I was looking forward to getting a lot done - including, first of all, my financial situation, checking the invoice and my receipts (bar bills!!).  I didn't swim because the water was so rough they half emptied the  pool so It wouldn't splash the decks and sun cots.  A cooking demonstration with a new guest chef preceded lunch, followed by another marvellous talk about D-Day (June 6) and then another one about the art stolen during WWII, followed by an early run of Trivial Pursuit because there's another Captain's Party because it's a new cruise.   And that's where I'm going now.

 

A bientôt

another pic nic

Anon, anon...

Here I am but not for long. Another pic nic today, this time without the stingrays hogging all the food. We are in Huahine, still in French Polynesia, and our excursion today will take us to another remote island beach for sun and swim and lunch.  It's a good thing I brought two bathing suits.  I swam at  6 in the ship pool but I have a dry suit for the beach outing. 

We had a land excursion yesterday:a drive around the entire island with a  guide who talked for four hours non-stop with a 15-minute break for a soda or beer (for us) in the Gaugin restaurant. He was full of  Information about everything. I  dozed through a lot of it but I learned things, too. I know more about hibiscus( hibisci?)  than I ever knew and I'm looking forward to renewing my relationship with them when I return to my potted friends and my beloved balcony.  

I'm going to leave soon. I'll have more to say when I get back.....

Just to say it was heavenly. There was an unexpected  - that is, not in the description of the excursion but welcome to those involved - stop at a snorkelling ground before we rode o to a beach for lunch. We ate at tables in the water and sat on chairs similarly situated (in other words, up to our ass in water) and dropped crumbs to the fish playing around our feet.: little ones no larger than minnows; black-finned ones that swim in  schools and several needle-nose ones - so named by a knowledgable neighbour.   They like rice. We had cooked fish and beef with vegetables and rice and more seviche made on site.  It needed more onion but it was very good.  Plus local  beer,  Hinano, I think it's called.  Our guide was a lovely, sexy, mature woman who taught us how to wrap a pareo into a dress, using several of our group as models.

Back in time for a shower and shampoo and a nap and off I go to Trivial Pursuit.  Could I be any more relaxed?