2023 – 3 – Grand World 3.1 of 5 – On to Africa

On Monday, February 27, we were at sea.  There was plenty of work of all sorts and I did it until four o’clock.  Then I took a wine glass out of my bar cupboard and stepped out to our block party.  That was a lot of fun.  It got too crowded in our hall, so we took it to our elevator lobby and ended up with a bunch of port side people, too.  Henk and Christel came by and it was great to see her.  Old friends, Ginny and Dean are on our block and I think I have made some more friends, Rolande from Quebec and Leigh and Ken Parrot.

I had planned to hold a lottery at Happy Hour, to see who got to go to GOLD in Cape Town, but there was now no need, as they had given me 24 seats, so we will all go, except for the three people who wanted the fancy French meals.  I would have been with them, but my job is to go with the majority, and so I will.

Elijah Rock, a classic crooner, with a bit of tap dance, was on stage and he was excellent, not to mention easy on the eyes.

Still at sea on Tuesday, February 28, same drill, checked my email, did the client work it brought and the shipboard admin.  I don’t go to lectures or concerts, nor do I participate in arts and crafts, Bridge, or Trivia.  I pretty much just do my jobs, log and blog, and have my fun in the evening.  If I tried to fit the other stuff in, I would just be stressed all the time, and not do as good a job.  It helps that I really enjoy what I do.  From the time I was in kindergarten, I was the kid that organized the playground games at recess.  It’s in my DNA.

Beryl came to office hour to tell me that she and Nona had booked a tulip tour in Amsterdam and I should, too.  I duly went up to the shore excursions desk and did that.

My cabin is next door to one of two Pinnacle Suites and I was going to dinner with the occupants this night.  Kelly, from Arizona, and Polly, from Georgia, had invited me over for a glass of wine before and I was dying to see the suite.  I have a client in Montreal, who thinks this just might be the ticket for two women traveling together who can’t see sharing 250 sq. ft. and one sink.  Kelly and Polly are very happy in the Pinnacle Suite.  It’s 1290 sq.ft. including verandah, almost as big as my apartment in Montreal, which is 1350  sq.ft.  It has a separate master bedroom and the living room converts into a king bed at night.  They both have wide screen TVs, there’s a dining room, an enormous deck, with a hot tub, a walk-in closet and two bathrooms.  The master bath has a tub and a shower.  Kelly has all that and Polly uses the shower whenever she wants it, because the powder room, which is her bathroom, is, well, a powder room.  They each have a desk.  Polly has the better one of these.  It’s in the dining room.  There’s a huge armoire of dishes and glassware for entertaining and a butler’s pantry with a full-sized fridge, sink, counter, etc.  Singles pay double for regular cabins, so this really does start to make sense, especially if you can pick it up as a last-minute upgrade to a Neptune suite. 

I missed Trevor Knight at the dinner table, but you can’t have it all.  Kelly and Polly and I ate in the dining room and got along like a house on fire.  We’ll do it again.  We split up after dinner, as I wanted to see the movie, Tar, with Cate Blanchett.  What a mistake that was.  None of the movies has been good.  They are picked because they are award winners and/or Oscar nominees, and I don’t know who thinks they deserve it.  This one was bloody awful.  It was dark and slow moving and it never pulled itself to a conclusion.  After 2 hours and 38 minutes of freezing my butt in our meat locker of a theatre, they just rolled the credits, with no warning. 

Yes, we were still at sea on Wednesday, March 1. I had a newsletter to deliver and elected to do that early in the morning, as it would serve as a reminder for Ken Stein’s talk in the afternoon. 

I did a final check with Nyron that we did, indeed, have ONE catamaran and TWO buses.  Then I went to the Hudson Room, where Ken Stein was scheduled in our Distinctive Speakers Series, at 4:00pm.  Being after Bridge, allowed us to attract a bunch of Bridge players and I charged them, too, because Holland America was making us pay for the audio-visual support. 

Next I was off to a cocktail party in Dan’s room on Deck 5.  Dan is a single guy, who was once one of my Distinctive Voyagers.  He likes to have little parties to get people he thinks should meet, together.  He has reconfigured his cabin for more space by having one of the beds collapsed and stored behind the couch.  It works well.  I think there were nine of us in there and we could all sit down in an oval configuration and share one conversation.  Brilliant, Dan.  Good choice of people, too. 

We had Elijah Rock for dinner and I was delighted to be seated beside him.  He is an exceptionally nice man.  Trevor Knight was on stage again, with an all John Denver program – very easy listening. 

Finally, on Thursday, March 2, we docked in Port Louis, Mauritius and it was time for our shore excursion.  Everyone was on time so off we went. There was a surprise waiting in the parking lot. We didn’t have two big buses, we had four little buses.  The one I had only had a driver on it, so I assumed that was the case for all four buses, and adjusted the tips accordingly.  At the end of the bus ride, ride, there was a bigger surprise.  It wasn’t a big dock and a 120-passenger catamaran but a very small dock and three much smaller catamarans.  That’s challenging for the structurally impaired, or just old and rickety.

The Catamaran experience itself was wonderful, especially wonderful for those who were able enough to get onto the bows of the cats.  It required a lot of sunscreen in the morning, but none later in the day when it had clouded over to an absolutely perfect temperature.  Weather wise, it was a glorious day.  It would have been too hot for most other activities, but this one, full of wind and water, was perfect.  The experience differed markedly from the tour description, mind you, which promised, coastal scenery and deep-water snorkeling.  

The coastal scenery was only briefly visible in the river on the way to the waterfall.  The rest of the time, it was just water, water all around, punctuated by parasailing activity, which was beautiful to watch.  The waterfall itself was lovely.  While we took small boats to get our photo opportunities, the crew cooked the BBQ lunch in the protected water of the river, and served it to us, just as we came out of there.  It was positively delicious. 

I understand there was a good snorkeling spot near a reef, but that recent weather activity had so churned up the water that there was nothing to see.  So, they took us to a beach to swim and snorkel, and, again, the time passed the fastest for those able to get into the water and enjoy it.  The swim cooled us off.  There was enough wind to hoist the sails on the way back, but they kept the motor on to meet the schedule.    I spent sailaway with Becky and Mario and a very nice Canadian Couple, who now live in Malta.  Dinner at the table was fun but the movie was worse than Tar, if that’s possible.  It was the critically acclaimed “The Banshees of Inisherin”.  It has all Tar’s faults and was gratuitously gruesome to boot.  Now I know I have to see the rest of the movies, just to see if it can possibly get any worse.

On Friday, March 3, we were in La Possession, Reunion.  I worked in my room all morning, mostly writing up yesterday’s shore excursion.  Then I went out in La Possession.  I took the shuttle into town accompanied by a lot of crew.  Once there I found the old market, now ye olde souvenir mart.  There was nothing there I wanted to buy, so I went clothes shopping.  I found the shops, a pair of white tights, and some wonderful gelato, which I shared with a nice gal from the ship, named Julia.  I somehow had managed to walk even further from the shuttle pickup.  Good thing I speak French.  It made it easier to get turned around and pointed in the right direction.  Next I found a bus, boarded it and asked the driver if he went down where I wanted to go.  He did. Bon.  He did not take cards, nor US$.  Not so bon.  I told him how old I was, and how tired I was, and asked him what I should do.  “Faites ce que vous voulez” he said.  So I sat down on the bus. When it was time to get off, I gave him a couple of bucks, thanked him and told him to “Faites ce que vous voulez avec ça”.  “Oo la la, merci” said he.  That will get paid forward.

I went to sailaway where we learned we would be bypassing Madagascar.  It was being hammered by cyclone Freddie and it was going to get worse before it got better.  We were going to give it a very wide berth.  I hung around enjoying sailaway in the dark, until it was time to go to the table for dinner and our terrific entertainer, Elijah Rock.

Back at sea on Saturday, March 4, I took some calls and did some work.  Office Hour was busy and I got the bill for the AV for Ken’s March 1 talk.  It was less than half of what I expected.  I signed that chit and set to thinking what I was going to so with the extra money I now had.  I figured out a good solution.  The next three talks are going for a bargain rate.  I can’t make them free because too many people had already paid, but those that did, get the rest for free. 

Happy Hour was good, with the Hobsons, Peggy and Vicki and Doris.  I had dinner with Shari and Pat and the three of us enjoyed the wine Cher recommended, Andrew Peace’s Langhorn Creek, Cab Sav 2021, Western Australia.  We also enjoyed the production show, Avalon Ballroom.

Sunday, March 5, we should have been in Tolanero, Madagasgar, but were were at sea, again.  I spent a good part of the day creating another newsletter, for delivery on March 6.  Now that I had a plan about what to do with my fee-based speaker series, I spent some time creating a spread sheet to deal with it.  I solve most of my problems with spreadsheets.  I don’t like to brag, but I just might be the queen of paperwork.  Computer-based paperwork, that is.  The comedian on stage, Mark Palmer, was hysterical.  He got right to the bone with the COVID jokes, like you couldn’t even cough to hide a fart, the fat passenger ship jokes, the obnoxious airplane passengers.  Really edgy stuff.  I loved it.