Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coffee with alcohol and snorkeling...

We’re in the middle of our second 10 day eastern caribbean cruise. We visit five great ports - St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Martin (Maarten) and Tortola. This is a great itinerary and we’ve been enjoying all the great ports.

My Mom and her husband, Ray, came on our first 10 day cruise. We had a very excellent time. We started our cruise with 2 sea days. My mom asked if we could go to some of the gemology talks. We went to the one on emeralds and got a free raw emerald (a small chip worth little but I had fun telling people that I was rich now). My Mom entered a raffle to win a necklace, earrings and bracelet of emeralds in matrix/stone. She won! It was very exciting. She took to calling the set “her luck” and wore them a few times on the cruise.

Ray met some fellow Vietnam Vets and some other fellow football fans. So he split his time between us and his new ship friends. He had a great time swimming and chatting up everyone.

My Mom and I spent a lot of time together but we usually took a little break in the late afternoon to early evening. We started a little tradition of meeting at 5pm for coffee in the Crystal Atrium. At first we just had regular coffee but then we discovered the Cafe Menu....a little booklet of alcoholic coffee drinks....!!! We didn’t have one everyday but we could’ve - they were delicious.

I’ve been looking forward to their visit since we signed on in October. We haven’t had 10 days of vacation together since I was in College. I did take care of her when she had her knee replaced but you can’t really count that as vacation time together. I mean she was unconscious for large parts of it and in a fair amount of pain. We did have some nice moments - we went shopping, ate Amigos fried bean burritos, had some late night chats and had general hang time which we hadn’t had since I’d moved away from home. This was different as it was all just leisure time.

My Mom tried snorkeling again. Ray got bit by a crab. We ate bbq in Grand Case, St. Martin. We fed an iguana in St. Thomas and drank rum drinks. Ray went golfing and met a nice Aussie family. My Mom tried a lime squash and proclaimed it delicious!

This week it’s been quiet without them here. We didn’t go swimming on St. Thomas but chose instead to wander around Charlotte Amalie. We walked from the port to the downtown area about 2.5 miles. We found a shortcut on the way home that cut it down considerably. We wandered around looking at shops and chatting. Basically we spent the day drinking coffee, eating belgium chocolates, trying a local patte and finishing with a rum and coke at a bar that reminded me of the Tropics in Omaha.

It was Deanna’s birthday on Antigua day so she chose the day. She wanted to go to a beach and she had the good fortune to meet Abe, the taxi driver. Abe said we should go to Valley Church beach. It was wonderful. There was hardly anyone there and the water was blue and the sand was like suede. The beach was covered in all kinds of shells - whole shells, no crushed or partial shells. I collected several of them. We played frisbee, collected shells and had lunch. I tried the coconut shrimp and it was amazing. Deanna and I also drank a special that the bartender whipped up - it consisted of fresh banana, coconut and rum.

Today we were in Barbados. Larrance and I decided to have an easy day of it. We got up late and walked into town. There are gardens right outside of the cruise ship terminal area and we walk through them when we walk into town. We stopped on this little bridge to look at the crabs and we spotted an Emerald hummingbird. I tried to get a pic but it was being super difficult. So we walked on to town and made our way to a simple free local beach. There are no amenities but the water is right there and so clean. We took a quick dip. I have a bit of sunburn from our time on Antigua - all these early beach mornings!- so we didn’t spend long. We decided to walk back to the ship and on the way back we saw a sea turtle. We were on the bridge that crosses the marina back towards downtown. I saw something large floating in the water and wondered what it was. I looked down to realize it was a loggerhead turtle! We watched it surface and dive for a bit and then walked back to the ship.

We found out at the beginning of this cruise that one of our cast mates, Mike, is leaving at the end of this cruise. He’s in love and his gal isn’t on the ship. So he’s decided to cut his contract short by one month. I think our last day hanging out as a cast was probably the day in Antigua. It’s been a very strange week. Kind of exhausting but also there’s a sense of giving up. We’ve been trying to cheer him, support him or advise him but that’s all over. He’s made his decision. I can’t say that I’m happy about it but I hope he’ll be happy in Detroit.

We were ported with the Dawn in Tortola today. This meant that we got to see our friends Jeff & Jeannie from the Second City cast on that ship. We went to the Midtown Cafe and had banana pancakes. They were delicious. We were joined by two of Jeff & Jeannie’s cast mates - Tim Paul & Joe LaTessa - we had a lot of ship gossip and stories. Fun.

I have to balance fun with some prep work for the theater. We’re beginning the casting process which will take from about now to the middle of April. I’m going to try to get less stressed about it. At home I usually check my e-mail first thing in the morning, I’ve decided not to do that this year. This year I won’t check it until 2 or 3 pm. That’s what I do on the ship most days and it is delightful.

We’re off to NY. We’ll do a one night booze cruise and then Mike will sign-off. Ryan will sign-on and we’ll begin rehearsing that night. We have just less than 5 weeks left! We hope to get in some more snorkeling and other carib adventures.

I look forward to: seeing family and friends, drinking good coffee, no passengers, no bingo, good food, and maybe a little snow. I’m probably most excited to cook again. If I am coming to your house, let me cook for you!


Larrance here to add my exciting news: The ship has a resident String Quartet from Poland and I’ve befriended them and they’re going to read my new String Quartet that I’m almost finished composing (only the last movement is unfinished and I hope to finish it before we leave the ship).

This is a great opportunity for me to hear and work with this very talented group of musicians.

That’s it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A photo for Marilee

Hi - I'm preparing a post but I have free internet today so I thought I'd post a photo....really it's for all of you but Marilee loves to see the blue waters of the Caribbean it is!