Jan 18 – Are you ready for some football?
It’s yet another sea day – number 5 for those of you counting – and the routine is in place. Today featured a not-so-elaborate buffet billed as a traditional Sunday brunch; the only thing traditional about was that most of the food was the normal offerings in the Lido with the addition of cheap champagne and mimosas. But it was football in America and at sea. With the time difference, difference we were able to watch both NFL playoff games live on the big screen. This presented us with a conflict because the Green Bay – Seattle game was scheduled for 1:10 this afternoon local time and Paul’s lecture was set for 2 pm. We avoided the problem by watching the game for a while before MA went to another crafts class. D watched a little longer before returning to the cabin and crawling under the covers albeit with the television tuned to the game. We were really upset with the result.
We did not watch the New England game which overlapped with dinner [and wasn’t worth watching anyway]. D’s cold continues to get the best of him, but, as we say in our house, “There is nothing worse than a man who thinks he’s sick.” Even though D ate very little at dinner, he has gotten no sympathy from MA. The waiters were more worried than she was.
MA read after dinner while D cowered under the covers.
TOMORROW – Day 6 at sea
Jan 19 -- A visit to the doctor
D spent a horrible night fighting the cold, chills, dizziness, etc. Even so, he accompanied MA to breakfast but ate very little of his breakfast, so MA suggested [ordered?] him to visit the doctor. He skipped Arthur’s God Squad presentation with the priest and minister as well as Paul’s lecture. He finished his visit to the doctor just after Trivia started but stopped in only to say he wasn’t playing today. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, cough syrup and meclizine, the anti-nausea medication used for sea sickness, to combat the dizziness. It was suggested strongly that he stay in the cabin until his fever disappears.
Ship life continues unimpeded, though, and there has yet to be an armed rebellion after all of the sea days. While we love seeing new countries and people, we also like sea days. There is no pressure to do anything or be anywhere if you don’t want to. Life doesn’t get much better than lying on a deck chair watching the water. Or being confined to quarters and watching the inside of your eyelids.
Needless to say, D skipped lunch. Before MA went to the Lido, we filled out entry and exit forms for Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. These had been sent to the cabins last week but were quickly recalled without explanation and re-issued today with a “hurry up” message. MA dropped these off at the Front Desk before going to the Lido to play with her Indonesian pals, especially Mukti.
She read outside for a while and then came home to take a nap before Pub Trivia. She slept right past the 4:30 alarm and D’s attempt to wake her. When she asked the time at 5:10, she figured he had missed Trivia and went back to sleep. She left the room pretty much on schedule for her pre-sinner drink in the Ocean Bar. As soon as she was out of sight, D hustled to the Lido to get some food. For all practical purposes, he had not eaten since the Sunday buffet. MA said she was going to look for evidence of room service when she returned, so D brought back ice cream and cookies to prove he had eaten something somewhere.
In an oddity of our race around the world, we set the clocks back another 30 minutes tonight. At least for one day, we will be 3-1/2 hours behind the East Coast. Thus, when it is 7:30 tomorrow morning here in the middle of nowhere, it will be 11 a.m. at home. We presume we will find that odd 30 minutes somewhere along the way.
TOMORROW – Another day at sea
Jan 20 – Still at Sea
With the extra half-hour to sleep and the near-total darkness of the cabin, it was easy to stay in bed this morning. D felt well enough to go to the MDR and try some oatmeal, but he was still “off his feed” as his mother used to say. After we returned to the room, he curled up on and, later, under the covers. MA went on deck to read and then went to Trivia. When she returned, she read the questions from this morning’s and last night’s games to see if D would have been any help to the team. The results were mixed – he knew some answers which the team got wrong but not enough to affect the results.
We ate lunch in the Lido again today. We might have been too late for the MDR, but, regardless, we did not want to spend an hour over lunch. MA made a salad and got cheese cubes while D had what he imagines could be congee [Correct me, Jon, if I am wrong], a soup of noodles, chicken, shrimp, baby bok choy, hard-boiled egg and scallions in a tangy broth. He made sure there were no chilies added.
Although the fever is much lower [and it was never really high to begin with], D continues to feel dizzy, so after lunch MA went back on deck to read and D lay in bed and worked on the journal for a while. Eventually, he joined her outside and they read some more. MA went to Pub Trivia where, she said, the team fared poorly. She brought the questions back again, but the results would not have changed had D been there.
Tonight is the gala Parisian Dinner, another formal night. The MDR was festooned with bunting and French flags when we were there for breakfast and the menu for tonight had a decided Gallic flavor. MA joined the festivities, but D once again stayed home. He had room service bring dinner and had to show MA the dirty dishes to prove it. The only remaining symptom of the cold is the cough and that is improving with medication. If the fever would drop, then the episode would be over.
TOMORROW – The last sea day until the next one
Jan 21 – The Final Frontier
Today was the last of the sea days in this segment. There will be plenty more although there may not be such an extended period of them until we cross the Atlantic at the end of April. That seems so very far away to us right now.
We were in full “sea day” mode today. After breakfast with Ken and Lois in the MDR, the four of us went directly to Arthur’s Rapping with the Rabbi session. No two meetings are ever the same because the audience brings questions that are important to them and Arthur tries to explain the Jewish answer to their conundrums. Much of today was taken with the questions “What is a Jew?” and “Can you be a Jew but not believe in God?” Good stuff to wrestle with at 9 in the morning.
Once Arthur finished, we went to the theater to hear Paul’s lecture on the future of flight. The Final Frontier, as it was called in Star Trek in the 1960s, is being assaulted by multiple commercial groups now that NASA’s funding and role have been cut. There are several companies trying to get in on the ISS [International Space Station] which are building components which would attach to and enlarge the Station. Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s entry, seems to be aiming strictly at the short-term tourist with what would be quite expensive “barn-storming” rides to the edge of space. Paul included a short promotional video supplied by Virgin or pulled from the internet.
We ate by the pool today, sort of. We sat in the shade where the heat was only oppressive but not unbearable. On such a cloudless day, the pool area itself was uninhabitable. We spent the early afternoon in the movie theater viewing Love Is Strange, the recent film with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina about a gay couple who finally can marry and the fallout in their lives and the lives of those around them. While we enjoyed the movie and the acting, we thought there were some weak points in the plot and editing, but what do we know? The popcorn was good, too.
Dinnertime found us in the Canaletto with a group put together by Linda Starr. The group of eight also included Roger and Barbara, with whom they had eaten on a previous cruise, and Kathy and Bob from Cruise Critic. Kathy and Bob met the Starrs on a previous cruise and went to Cuba with Arthur’s “mission” last Fall. Since there were 8 of us and 8 small plates, it seemed only natural to order everything so everyone could have a taste. Of course, we had to order 2 of every dish in order for everyone to have some. Even in small portions, there was a lot of food being passed around the table. We did the same thing with the 5 offerings for the pasta course. We were collectively stuffed, even Bob who seemed insatiable at the start. Still, we managed to squeeze in 2 of the 5 entrees although we only ordered one of each as diners fell by the wayside. There is no explaining how anyone managed to eat dessert, but we shared limoncello, a chocolate torta and tiramisu.
It was well after 10 p.m. when we returned to the cabin to discover another pillow gift. Perhaps it was an omen, but there were collapsible umbrellas on the bed. We are hoping that does not portend rain tomorrow.
TOMORROW -- Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Jan 22 – There’s no yeshiva in Nuku Hiva
Our first stop since Manta is in Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands, part of French Polynesia. Polynesia extends from Hawaii on the north to New Zealand on the south and is roughly triangular in shape. To the west are Melanesia and Micronesia. Linguistically, Polynesia means many islands, Micronesia is little islands and Melanesia is dark islands. The groupings are built on sociological and physical characteristics of the inhabitants who share common attributes and languages within the group.
Nuku Hiva is a typical volcanic island which rises almost straight from the Pacific Ocean. It is gorgeous and green and vertical. There is very little flat ground available for agriculture. It is best known as the site of Survivor: Marquesas.
Before we left the ship, we heard several warnings about what to expect. The one repeated most often dealt with taking nothing from the ship of a food or agricultural nature in order not to disturb the local ecology. The second, which we heard only once, warned against swimming because of the presence of sharks. Great! We were being loaded into small bobbing boats but warned not to go in the water. We hoped the guys piloting the tenders were as aware of the danger as we were.
The tender ride was short and smooth despite the humidity in the boat. As we approached the tender dock, sure enough, there were shark fins circling where one of the locals was cleaning fish. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a photo from the tender and there were no sharks in the area when we returned to the ship an hour later. We did get a picture of the Flat Grandchildren as held by a hula dancer. When we asked where she was from, she said, “England.” “What brought you to Nuku Hiva?” “I’m the ship’s videographer,” she replied. At least we did not have to pay her for the picture.
We were dressed as recommended in the Daily Program – covered up as much as possible because of mosquitoes – in long pants and long-sleeved shirts. We had hats, of course. D wore his fake Panama hat and looked just like Phil from The Amazing Race. Temperatures were lower than we had expected, but the humidity was horrific; it felt like Jakarta or Singapore.
We were docked on the south side of the island in a natural harbor. It may have been the caldera of the volcano which formed the island, but we did not ask anyone. There were sail boats and yachts parked haphazardly on the glass-smooth water, the only disturbance being the wake from the tenders and the sharks.
There was no town to speak of, just a string of buildings around the semi-circular harbor fanning up the hill. What we think was the government building was on the harbor semicircle with 4 different flags flying stiffly in the wind. Some of the roads ran up the hill from the beach, but we did not explore this area. It was too hot to go searching for the local church, too, so we walked about a mile [well, it seemed like it, anyway] before turning around for home. We stopped to look at local crafts but saw nothing affordable which interested us. Luckily, there was a little snack bar next to the crafts area so we got Diet Cokes. Because D paid with the local currency [the Pacific franc], the drinks cost us only 6 dollars whereas the price in USD would have been $8. Either way, it made the ship seem almost affordable.
We ate outside on the Lido deck again today despite the heat. Once we were settled at the table, the heat seemed less of a problem than ashore, but we were in the shade the whole time. It was but pleasant and we saw a number of new/old friends and chatted as we made our way to a table. After lunch, D went to Bob and Kathy’s cabin to show them the information about the snorkeling expedition in Bora Bora. They said they were interested in joining the group and, by a stroke of good fortune for them, Ginger and Dave had had an offer of another tour. They refused to leave us stuck for the money which had been committed but loved the idea of selling their spaces. So Bob and Kathy will go and D gave the money to Ginger at Trivia this afternoon. A definite win-win for everyone.
Trivia at 3 was followed by reading was followed by Pub Trivia. What a busy day!
We were all at dinner tonight in the MDR. Of course, we had been in the Caneletto last night, but so had Ann and Paul. Our waiters were probably bored without us. Tomorrow will be Ann and Paul’s last night aboard; HAL is kicking them off the ship when we reach Papeete on Saturday afternoon. Paul’s final lecture will be given tomorrow. We will be sorry to see them go; they have been good company for the past 3 weeks.
TOMORROW – Another sea day