Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Kaui : We went snorkeling. As we were getting on the van, I had Bucky out, waving to everyone. Our guide looked at me and said, very kindly, “How long have you been out?” “It’s OK, “ I assured him. “I’m still on my meds.”
Paul, our tour guide, was what hyperactive ADHD kids grow up to be. He made noises like Bobby McFarin- sirens, barking dogs, bird calls, traffic jams, you name it. So he got us to the base where they had racks and racks of wet suits, flippers, and masks. And three very casual dogs wandering around until they figured out that we didn’t have treats or Frisbees. We all got suited, masked, and finned up, then Pauk drove us to the beach. It was a great place to snorkel, but getting in and out was a trial. The waves were rough, the shore was rocky, and the water was relatively chilly. Thank goodness for the wet suits! I picked up a couple of bruises on the way into the water, but from there on, it was awesome! Paul attempted to lead us around. It was a lot like herding cats. There was so much going on, we kept getting led astray. A school of butterfly fish went by, pursued by a few of our group. Two Moorish Idols went dancing in another direction and a few more snorkelers drifted off. There was a strong, persistent current, that moved us away from where the guide wanted us. It was worth putting in the work to stay around him, though. He knew where a small octopus lived, and coaxed her out to play. She was maybe 12 inches from top to tentacle tip, and so very graceful! It was really awesome to watch.
Then I drifted over a cleaning station and watched two varieties of wrasses cleaning some parrot fish. Troplical fish are the most awesome colors!! Time flew by. The sun threw moving nets of light across the bottom. The coral polyps were beautiful shades of purple and pinkish orange. You could hear the fish nibbling at the coral It was all light and color and movement and that damn cold current. I realized I was thoroughly chilled, so headed for shore. The waves really beat me up and I couldn’t get my balance at all. I wound up crawling over the rocks on my hands and knees to get out. Not a good plan but the best I could come up with.
Back to the ship. Then off to the Kukui Grove shopping center where the food court had free internet. There was also a K-Mart and a Long’s Drugs at the shopping center. Most of the crew was at that center, picking up life’s little necessities for cheap. The bus back to the ship was so crowded we were standing back to chest. The guy in front of me kept turning his head and trying to cough into his shoulder. Mostly he was successful. Very cozy. Back to the cabin. I fell asleep.
The next day we docked in Honolulu. I woke up with a sore throat but figured I could just walk it off. Our niece, Lisa, and my Uncle Bud and his wife showed up and we all went out for breakfast. We talked and talked and talked until the waitresses started giving us the hairy eyeball. Oh, but the family history, the old memories, “Did you ever hear about the time when your dad . . . ?” I could have sat and talked till the cows came home except the throat kept getting sorer, and the energy was draining out of me like water out of a leaky bucket. Kyle got me back to the room and into a hot shower. The fever broke, and he tucked me into bed. I spent most of yesterday in bed, except for a brief stint in the steamroom. I will probably spend most of today in bed as well. It’s the upper respiratory crud that has been going around the ship. Most of the crew has had it, and the passengers are picking it up wholesale.
So I’m whiney and snarfy, and Kyle will likely come down with this, too. What a lousy way to end a glorious trip! Well, at least I’m not pregnant!
Saturday, April 27, 2013
April the somethingth
They put a carpet in the elevator with the day of the week on it. Thank God for that because the sea days melt into one another quite seamlessly. Bucky and I go down to the Promenade deck in the morning and cheer for the walkers. Kyle and I go to lunch. We lie on the hot beds in the thermal spa, have some tea, watch a movie, get dressed for dinner, meet new people, and loiter our way through the shops on the way to bed.
Thought you might enjoy a picture of some of the exotic treats available at the McDonalds in New Caledonia. Alabama chicken balls.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Bucky writes April 24th
Bucky writes April 24, 2013
Roxie spent a whole day in the cabin after she hurt her foot. Ice packs and TV were her constant companions. And me of course. We watched Black Swan, Live and Let Die, The Hobit, The Two Towers, a program on amolite jewelery, a lecture on the early Polynesian explorers and the Cruise News with highlights of the day’s events.
We knit. Kyle waited on us hand and foot, bringing us meals and treats. (A big bowl of chocolate frozen yogurt. A plate of sushi. A plate of fruit to snack on.) We are in a sort of dead spot in satellite reception, so we didn’t spend much time trying to facebook or blog, because the connection kept dropping, but we get charged for the time between log on and log off even if the connection isn’t there.
As you may guess, it was a really boring day, and we got thoroughly shack-nasty, so on the 23rd, Roxie determined to get Out of The Room! With many a grimace and wince, she got her shoes on and found that they helped her mobility and stability quite a lot. Those abused tendons and cracked bones appreciate all the support they can get. She put on other clothes as well, not wanting to offend the world. Then, with Kyle’s aid and assistance, she hobbled down the hall to the elevator and out onto the promenade deck where they commandeered deck chairs for a day at sea.
I had a great deal of fun waving at the walkers and cheering them on! One Australian man took me for a walk around deck and taught me to pick my nose and flick it over the side. He taught me to swear as well, but I won’t tell what we said. I had a bleating good time!
Then an Australian woman came along and told me that I didn’t look like a proper sheep because I didn’t have black feet and face. Ha! Thinks she’s so smart! There are LOTS of sheep that don’t have black faces and feet. I’m just as proper as any of them! I’m a colored merino from the Transcendent Love and Peace Herb Farm and Pottery Commune in Mulino and my brother Bobby and I are colored like this because mom got into the herbs while she was carrying us. I’m a VERY proper sheep. I VERY politely didn’t bite her or kick over her cup of coffee or poop on her sandals. I might have picked my nose and flicked it at her, but I didn’t have any nose berries left.
Kyle really earned his husband of the year award, bringing cold drinks and food, and carrying away the empties. And he reminded us that the crossing the equator ceremony was at 2:30 so we should go stake out a spot in the shade about 12:30. He is so wise! It was already getting crowded. A very kind couple took pity on us (the walker may have helped. Roxie is really clumsy with it.) and shared their table and chairs. Turns out that they’re from Portland as well! We had a nice, prolonged chat.
At last, the ceremonies began. The pool on the aft deck had been roped off, a throne for Neptune and his queen had been set up, a judge appeared, and all the crew and staff “pollywogs” were assembled. Two by two they were brought forth by “Shellbacks” dressed as pirates, and charged, in terrible rhyme, with various crimes. (she spends more time flirting with Nick than with working her schtick. She should be selling jewels, but she’s admiring his tools. ) They are then forced to “Kiss the fish.” There were three tunas, each about 40 inches long, packed in ice and decorated with vegetables and parsley. The pollywogs each had to kiss a tuna on the mouth. Then they were doused with brightly colored slimey blue and yellow foam. Finally they were shoved into the pool. There was lots of laughter and horseplay. At the very last, the “Pollywogs” were proclaimed “Loyal Shellbacks,” and forgiven their crimes.
Since I had never crossed the equator by ship before, I decided I had better kiss the fish as well.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Roxie writes: April 21 the 2nd time
Roxie Writes: April 21st the second time.
We crossed the International Datline from West to East just about midnight, so we get two Sundays this week. When we crossed it from East to west, we completely lost a whole day. One 14 hour red eye flight took us three days. It’s bewildering, but I think we got a good deal. Two days in Samoa!
There was a marketplace set up at the cruise dock (as there is at most of the ports. ) We had an afternoon tour scheduled, so we wandered the marketplace in the morning. Kyle absolutely blew my mind when he purchased and wore a lavalava! He’s got the legs for it, and when he found out that they have pockets, he jumped for it. Lots of people from the ship commented with approval, and he may have sold a few guys on wearing them. “It’s got pockets!” seems to be the convincing factor. I look forward to seeing lavalavas on board. He may even wear it at home on the way to and from the hot tub or during barbecues.
So we set out for a short walk through the town. Kyle doesn’t suffer from the humidity the way I do. I sweat so heavily that I dehydrate in no time. We stopped at a small store to grab some water. And , oh bliss, it had bolts and bolts of fabric stacked up to the ceiling! I found a bolts of 20 yards of 35” wide “shirting fabric” for $9.99 for the whole bolt. I bought purple. It’s from the Chinese “Laughing Fish” fabric company.
The bottle of chilled water we also got was wonderful, but didn’t last me long. Luckily we found the National Park of Western Samoa with an air-conditioned visitor’s center. Visit them on facebook @National Park of American Samoa and check out their blog @PacificIslandParks.com. They also have a Twitter feed @PacificNPS. The more people that visit and like their pages, the more likely they are to get further funding in the straightened economy. The dear young man on duty was delighted to see Kyle in a Lavalava and remarked that Kyle was the first tourist he had ever seen to wear one.
We stopped at a McDonalds on the way back, and the ladies there all complimented Kyle! Me, they gave several thick wads of paper napkins to mop up the sweat I was dripping all over. I sucked down a bottle of chilled water and a large iced coke in record time. Kyle had a coke and a hamburger. We got back to the ship with 20 minutes to spare before our afternoon tour, so we made a quick swing past the buffet line and I grabbed a sandwich to eat on the run. And on the way down the stairs, I caught the toe of my shoe on the carpet, tripped, threw my weight back, and came down on my foot to the sound of multiplel cracks and pops.
Why is it, when we do a thing like that, we apologize and say, “I’m fine. I’m sorry. I’m fine. I’m sorry!” The doctor assured me that it is completely normal, but neither of us can figure out why we do it. (I also said, “OH shit! Oh shit!”” amidst the “I’m fine.” And “I’m sorry.”) The kind young man doing housekeeping service on the next floor immediately ran and got a wheelchair. A kind couple from Canada who came up the stairs a moment later helped me down the remaining steps, While Kyle dealt with our multiple bags and knapsacks.. The nice lady even picked up the sandwich I had flung all down the stairs, and took it back to the buffet trash bin Noble Kyle shoved my heavy self in the wheelchair into the elevator and took me down to the infirmary. We met many interesting people then. There was a young man doing a residency and serving as medic, nurse, x-ray tech, and supplies dispenser. The regular ship’s doctor was a kindly, competent guy with very strong, confident hands. “Does this hurt? Does this hurt? “ By my yelps and gasps he diagnosed either broken bones or torn tendons. The x-rays didn’t show anything egregious, but the bones are so layerd and complicated in the foot that I could have a break that doesn’t show. Anyhow, I have a very sore foot that won’t bear my weight, and a walker to help me get around. I’m pretty much confined to the room for the next few days. Luckily the next five days are sea days, so I won’t miss too much Island time. We did miss the tour in American Samoa, though. Kyle waits on me hand and foot, and the only time I need to leave the bed is to go to the bathroom. Ow, ow! Wince, whine, whimper. I’m ok as long as I keep my foot up.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Roxie writes: April 21st the first time
Roxie writes April 21 for the first time
There is Western Samoa and there is American Samoa. Today we visited Western Samoa. This is a third world country with nothing but beauty, heat, and beautiful brown people. Samoans are easy-going because it’s too hot to get upset over little things. Many families live in houses with no walls – just a raised concrete platform with pillars around it supporting a roof. As we rode by in the bus I could see grandmas with one or two babies lying on thin mattresses, taking naps while the rest of the family went to church. Samoans are very spiritual people, and most of the island closes down for Sunday. The ladies wear white dresses and fancy hats to church. The men wear white shirts with neckties, and lavalavas – dark, wrap-around calf-length skirts. The children dress like their parents. And smiles – oh the glorious smiles.
The families live in extended groups, 12 to 15 members together. Grandparents, aunts, cousins, unmarried uncles, parents and children. Husbands usually move in with the wife’s family. And they keep the relatives close even after they die. Almost every family has tombs in the front or side yard. Some simple cement pads, some are elaborate stepped pyramids set with round stones and tastefully painted.
And the colors of the houses! Imagine any vivid combination of colors for platform, pillars and curtains, and they have it. It’s just a feast for the eyes!
Most of the homes are roofed with aluminum or corrugated steel, but the older homes are roofed with coconut frond thatch. So picturesque, but a breeding ground for bugs and rodents.
The garbage is left in bags on raised platforms alongside the road. There is regular pick-up funded by the government.
We took a bus tour around the island with a stop at a small village where they shared a Sunday dinner with us. Suckling pig roasted over hot stones, coconut cream mixed with mashed taro, fresh baby coconut meat. It was delicious. We also enjoyed the company of a cat and a kitten, a friendly dog, and any number of busy chickens. The Samoan men do the cooking because it takes strength to haul those suckling pigs around and to wring the coconut cream out of the grated coconut. After wringing the juice out of grated coconut, they sprinkled the dry coconut on the ground, and the cats and chickens munched it down. Then they began to disassemble the pig. Oh bliss! Oh yum! Oh juicy, crispy delight. The cats sat underfoot and cried. The dog sat patiently and waited. The chickens continued to feast on coconut. Those were nice fat chickens.
Then we carried on to a National park with a beach that was the epitome of the South Pacific. Turquoise water, shady palm trees, balmy breezes. It was bliss! The water was so warm – I have been in cooler hot tubs.
The little sheds in the background are houses that you can rent for $10 a night including mosquito nets. There is a restroom on the grounds, and several showers. You can buy fruit, barbecues and roast taro from the family that maintains the grounds. If you want a cheap tropical vacation and you don’t mind going native, Western Samoa is paradise
Friday, April 19, 2013
Bucky writes - Dravuni Island
Bucky writes April 19, 2013
Although he felt fine, Kyle was restricted to the cabin for the whole day. You can’t blame the medics for being cautious. There are a LOT of frail old people on board, and some of these stomach viruses will sweep through a ship like a brush fire. So, even though Kyle and I are sure it was just a touch of food poisoning, he spent the day in the room. Roxie didn’t feel much like adventuring without her hero at her side, so she and I spent the day lounging around the ship. And in the evening, I made a new friend!
This is DestinationDave, a well traveled hound who has seen the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, and most of Australia. It was so wonderful to meet a fellow traveler who appreciates the challenges of a small animal abroad. Dave even has his own facebook page. Search for destinationdave.
Today, April 19th, we visited Dravuni Island where I made lots more new friends. Dravuni is a small island in the Fiji Islands. It has a beautiful beach, a small village (population 85), a hill with a view, and not much else. We want to move there. A few solar cells to power up the laptops, and some canned chili for a change from the fish, and we would be good to go. We spread a sarong on the sand in the shade, splashed in the warm water, bought a coconut for $2 and drank the water inside. And it was warm and serene, and the people were friendly and happy. The island has no industry or agriculture. The people live from the sea, keep some pigs and cultivate some garden patches. And every so often, a crusie ship will anchor off shore, and disgorge a thousand tourists to share the splendid beaches, buy the local handicrafts, pay for massage or a trip around the island in a fishing boat. It brings a big dose of income. I fervently hope it doesn’t pollute their culture. The children have the clearest, most innocent eyes!
We did most of our souvenier shopping here. The lady who was manning the stall couldn’t make change, so Kyle told her to keep the money for the school. It was lunch time, and the children had come out in their green school uniforms to have lunch with their families. Mommas and poppas and tutus (grannies and aunts) all together. Kyle looked at one of the youngsters and said, “They are your treasure.”
I also tried a drink of coconut water and quite liked it, but Kyle told me that it can have loosening effects on the bowels, and the last thing we need is sheep shit all over, so I let Kyle and Roxie finish it off. Dravuni Island is my favorite place this side of the equator!