Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The People Were the Best

This is the last post about our cruise, I promise, and it's a long one. There's no knitting content, so if you're sick to death of hearing about our Caribbean experience, just move along. There should be some knitting content tomorrow.

Everyone we met was interesting, and we really lucked out with our table assignment for dinner. There was a a couple from England (Trevor and Sarah) and a family from Australia (Peter, Marion, and their sons Martin, 19, and Nick, 16).

I was delighted when Marion sat next to me the first night because my favorite TV show, bar none, is an Australian series called McCleod's Daughters. (It's no longer available in the States. We order each new season when it's released on DVD.) I was a tad disappointed to learn that Marion doesn't watch MD, but I soon got over it.

It turns out Marion and Peter are environmental scientists. They’ve lived in some exotic places (i.e. Jakarta) and have taken some adventurous vacations. Next year Peter plans to take a motorcycle tour of northern India with his mates, and then meet up with Marion in Nepal for a 3 week backpacking trip to Base Camp on Everest, complete with guide and Sherpas.

Trevor and Sarah have traveled extensively (Marion had great fun challenging Trevor about his carbon footprint because he prefers to fly first class), and they own homes in several countries. They bought Sarah’s engagement ring in Singapore. Before the cruise, they arrived in Florida early to take advantage of the weak US dollar. Sarah was happy because she loaded up on “trainers” (athletic shoes) at JC Penney.

Top row: Peter, Trevor, Nick, and Marion
Bottom: Dave, me, and Sarah
Missing that evening: Martin

Everything you’ve heard about the level of service on cruise ships is true on the Radiance of the Sea. One evening I left my knitting on the bed (it was made) and came back to find that Francis, our cabin attendant, had gently moved it to the love seat – not a stitch had been dropped. In its place was an animal made from twisted towels. We found a different animal every night.

On occasion, Francis helped himself to Dave’s sun glasses to enhance his work.

Our waiter at dinner was Malakey (pronounced Male-a-key), and he’s from India. I’m lactose intolerant and have other dietary restrictions, but Malakey made it his personal mission to see that I ate well every night. By the end of the cruise, Peter was asking to have whatever I was having sight-unseen, and Trevor suggested I work on perfecting my Queen of England waive because I was so spoiled. If I could have taken one person home with me after the cruise, it would have been Malakey, no question.

Among the musicians onboard was an amazing duo from the Phillipines called Rosario Strings. The electric violinist explained that missionaries introduced him to the violin when he was 11 and gave him lessons for 2 years. When the missionaries moved on, his family couldn’t afford lessons or an instrument, so he didn’t get to play again until he borrowed a violin from a friend when he was 23. Now he earns his living as a professional musician (he’s incredibly talented) and his two sons study violin in NYC – one of them at Julliard.

On St. Martin we met a cabdriver who was born on Curacao and had been a cop on Aruba before coming to St. Martin for a 2 week vacation 18 years ago. He never left. He speaks 5 languages and is especially proud of a younger brother who works for a shipbuilder and speaks 10 languages. The cabdriver shared some surprising insights about the Natalee Holloway disappearance. He said it’s not uncommon for people to “disappear” in the Caribbean only to reappear later, and he believes Natalee will turn up alive eventually. That attitude probably explains why the Aruban authorities did such a half-assed investigation. I believe Natalee Holloway is dead, but for her parents’ sake I hope the cabdriver is right.

To my surprise I didn’t meet a single self-identified knitter. In fact, over the 8 day cruise, only one person even commented on my knitting. It felt like the Twilight Zone. When people asked, we told them we were from Ohio. When they asked what we do for fun in Ohio, we were hard-pressed to come up with an interesting answer. I confess that I wimped out and did not say “I knit.” When compared to motor cycle tours across northern India, backpacking on Everest, and shopping in Singapore, knitting sounded lame somehow – even to me.


Robin said...

I've never been on a cruise but I always love seeing the "towel animals"! My cousin took pictures of was a bit obscene until she figured out what animal it was!

CresceNet said...

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