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March 13, 2003
a year ago
five years ago

Tired in Barbados

Today was Barbados, and I'm pretty tired, as was everyone else. The guide on St. Lucia said that Barbados was just like his island, but flat as a pancake. He was right.

Everyone got up at 8, had breakfast and looked really tired. John remembered my brag book, so Janet got to oooh and aaah over Jet's pictures, as he's Joan's other little boy. The Blocks got to look at him as well, and I was happy that they asked, though I was mildly surprised that Kevin was the one that looked at him the most. I liked that. I really miss Jet. I'm sure he's just fine, but I miss him a lot. I'm sure he'll be quite different when we get home, but it'll just be good to be with him.

After breakfast we all went out shopping in the big city. It certainly seemed more affluent than the other islands, and the business section of the city was far less maze like. It had proper streets, and it extended for more than just the main fairway. We were assaulted, as usual, but taxi drivers, but managed to get our way through by saying that we'd be back later for a tour. Then we just wandered around and looked at things in various shops.

There was a Woman's Self-Help shop that was filled with stuff that was made by woman who wanted to make money. It was a way for those women to do something for themselves. I liked that. Sadly, there was very little in there that I wanted to buy, though I was tempted by a jar of mango jam.

We hit jewelry shops, t-shirt shops, and even a department store. It was funny seeing how different everyone's shopping style was. Which people looked at what stuff, and how. We finally went back to the terminal, bought a ton of Calypso rum cakes from the woman that makes them and owns the business, and then headed back to the ship to drop things off, have some lunch and get ready to go out on our own expedition to Harrison's Cave.

The ship's expedition had filled up completely, and there were ominous rumblings about if you can't get a ticket there, there's nothing to do. But we took our shuttle to the terminal stop, and found guys asking for $30 a piece to get out to Harrison's Cave, and when we were completely outraged (okay, so one of our members' original estimate of $3 a piece was waaay out of line), they sent us to a guy who asked for $15 and then $10 a piece. Then a smooth voiced coordinator of taxis said, quiet plainly, "You're not going to get any better than $10 a person. Think about it, it's a half hour drive there, a half hour back, and then he has to wait for you there for another half an hour. Can you get a taxi in the U.S. to do that for only $5 each way?"

That got through to everyone, and we took the $10 and someone asked the driver if he was going to tell us about his island, and he said, "No." and someone joked, "Not for ten dollars he wouldn't." and he laughed and then showed us why he probably doesn't get the tour type fees as he started talking about his island and I couldn't understand most of what he said. He was good-natured and tried, though, and when we got to the Caves and found that it was an hour's wait just to get in, he just stayed there, with us. So I was pretty sure I was going to at least tip him enough for some of *that* time.

We walked around the "Scenic Walk" and got to see hanging vines, orchids, bat caves, various plants of all types, and the jungle-like trees, lushness, and lots of coconuts. There was shade and a breeze, and it was fun to just be with everyone and doing something. At the end of the walk it ended up in people's backyards, so we stopped, and went back. There were two young men selling green coconuts, and I asked for one for the usual buck. They cut it open, but only cut a triangular hole instead of giving folks a straw, so I just drank it out of that.

Joan hates coconuts, but she was willing to take a sip and declared it 'just water'. I enjoyed it more than the mineral tastes of the bottled waters, it's just a little smoother, sweeter, and tastier, to my mind. I enjoyed it as I was thirsty.

We lounged around, talked and had fun while we waited. It turns out that there's a video they show to kill time, and when it was time for our tour, they dispensed with that pleasantry and we just hopped onto a tram and got towed into the caves.

The first thing that struck me, as we went down into the caves, was that it was *warm* in there. Turns out that caves reflect the average temperature of the local climate, so it was 78 in there, nearly 80, which I consider warm. It's unusual for me because nearly all the caves I've ever visited were in the U.S., and the average temperature is somewhere in the 50's or 60's rather than upper 70's, so I expect caves to be cold.

This one, too, had been very much developed. There was the pathway for the electric tram, openings into the main chambers, lighting all along the way to 'highlight' features, and even colored lighting for some of the pools. It was kind of sad to see that where some of the lights had been setup, the stone had dried out, so they weren't going to be 'growing' any more. The water was diverted, also, away from the tram paths, sometimes even down man-made culverts to other portions of the cave, so I kind of wonder what that'll do in the long term.

It was pretty enough. There were caverns, mirrored pools, lots of stalactites and stalagmites, plenty of flow stone, pools lined in white calcium deposits, and beautiful jelly-fish like growths of stone. There was an underground waterfall pouring from a wall. There were deep pools of water where it always seemed to be raining as water dripped from the ceilings. We got a lot of mineral water on us as we went through. The constant drip bothered Kelly, it actually calmed me for the first time in a long time. I miss the rain.

It was worth doing. We'd gone over 300 feet underground, saw a lot of cool stuff, and saw it before it's been destroyed by the seeing. All the ventilation is 'natural', but with the new shafts I'm sure there's more air coming through than usual, and I've got to wonder what all the condensation, heat, and CO2 from all the people will do. There's already some contact damage beyond even all the digging they did to make things accessible to the trams, but the trams do minimize what random touches can do. That I'm glad of. So they took care of what they could.

Everyone was so tired from the rest of the week that we all just went back to the ship. John and I managed to get postage for our post cards, so we wrote them all while we were getting to and waiting for Harrison's Cave. Then we mailed them all on the way back. Not unexpectedly, the postage was more than the cards themselves. So I really wanted to mail them from here. I even got Rick a postcard with the Barbados postmark for his birthday. I think it might reach in time, we'll see.

At the very last minute I found a cheap, long-sleeved, grey dress shirt at the shop right nearest to the pier. They had exactly my size, so I just bought it for the suit. I didn't have one before now, that would go with the purple tie, and I really wanted one. I'll admit, though, that I was nervous about being *too* male with the suit tonight, as I'm 'supposed' to wear a cocktail dress.

From there we went back to the ship. We swam, did the hot tub thing, and I went back to the cabin, showered, pumped, and went to sleep. John had an adventure, instead of his usual nap. He sat down with the bartender in the Solarium, and they did swizzlestick puzzles for hours and hours. John even taught the bar tender one of his. *grin* They had a great time.

At 7:30, he came back to the cabin, found me awake and watching a movie on TV. He lay down on the bed to watch it with me and the next thing I knew, he was snoring loudly enough to rattle me. So I pushed him over onto his side, got the pillows under his head, and managed to get him to snore a little less while I just read and watched TV.

About fifteen minutes before dinner, I woke him up, and started getting myself into my Zoot Suit. I decided, at the last minute, that I wouldn't use the dress shirt, tie, or suspenders. Instead, I put on a black, short sleeved turtleneck, the diamond-like earrings, and borrowed John's 'extra' belt, as I'd completely forgotten to pack a belt.

It worked far better, I think, than the tie would have worked. The turtleneck helped feminize it a bit, and I really thought it looked better on me. The makeup really helped as well as the earrings, and I felt better about wearing the suit. It was even better getting compliments on it from Kevin, Joan, and lots from John. I needed that, too, for courage. I might as well wear it like I meant it, so I did. I had the chain, the shoes, and the silver and purple handkerchief. I liked that.

It was funny, getting down to the diningroom, as I realized that a lot of people were looking at me like they'd been looking at John. Not with a smirk or a shrug, but sometimes with a look of, "Wow that's neat." or even that sidelong look of, "I wish I could wear that."

I have to admit, now, that I sometimes think of my build as a detriment, but in this case, being able to carry this suit off, was something I knew that I could do and that was all the difference. Even Sathish and Gobot had a smile and a nod to me, for all that it's their job, it was helpful.

Dinner, itself, was an extravagance. I couldn't decide between the pork Wellington and the lobster, so I asked for a lobster tail on the side of the Wellington. The Wellington turned out to be a dud. The pastry was soggy, the duexelle was spongy and so thickly applied it dominated, and the pork was dry. I tasted it, though, to be sure, and then dug into my lobster tail, which was perfect. It was crisp, succulent, and perfectly cooked.

Sathish said that they were Florida lobster, smaller, sweeter, and thinner shelled. I imagine that the tails were cleaned and flash frozen for the ships, and then thawed and cooked on the day. He said that the kitchen had prepared 5000 of them today! Woohoo! That was a lot of lobster, and I ate two of them.

All the guys but Ray had at least two, Kevin had three. Janet and Joan had steak!! Janet was mad a woman had a second one, but since the other woman did, I decided to have another, too. They were small. *grin*. And, as Joan said, the cruise ends after tomorrow. I won't get another chance at this kind of seafood for quite some time. So I did. It was great.

Everyone was so full by the time dessert came around that Sathish nearly had a heart attack when two of our folks asked for no dessert. He managed to persuade them into one, but the whole table only had one dessert a person! Hee. They weren't as appealing as on the other days, admittedly, and the only one I was interested in was the flourless chocolate cake. I'll have to try the rum raisin ice cream, sometime. I'll hope that they're serving it tomorrow. I'll have to see, but tonight it was just too much.

Especially with a midnight buffet coming up in only two hours. He said it would be beautiful, the Gala Buffet, with ice sculptures and everything.

To use the time between, we all went to the Comedy show, with an impressionist that did a great job of all the old greats of TV, music, and movies. I really enjoyed him, and John was laughing so hard he couldn't' breath. Hee.

Before the show, all the ladies went to the restroom, and I saw a old woman with a very strong sense of her own fashion. It was very cool to see her confidence. She had a lavender sheath of metallic cloth that was complimented by shoes, bag, and lipstick all of the same hue. It was a beautiful gown, and she wore it well. She smiled at me there, but we met outside, again, and she said that she really liked my cute little outfit, that it was very stylish. I thanked her. That really did make my day.

She'd obviously gone her own way and enjoyed being herself. I could do no better than that, and I was very glad of the example and the encouragement. Yay!

From the show we all headed out in different directions. John and I changed and then went to look at the buffet viewing. It was gorgeous. Ice sculptures bearing caviar, fish cut from watermelon rind, a whole salmon scaled in cucumber, sushi platters, meat, cheese, and pate trays, and a mountain of desserts. Janet met us in the line, and we all got to ooo and ahh at it together.

It was a lot of fun to look at. We then went back to get a little of it for ourselves, and Joan, this time, came with us, as she wanted to see it for the first time and was too late for the viewing. She got there early enough to see it mostly intact, and got a good picture of it from up the stairs leading down to it.

I didn't get much. Just a couple spoonfuls of caviar, a single slice of lox, a piece of bread to go with all the fishy stuff, a sliver of pate, a chunk of blue cheese with walnuts, a giant chocolate covered strawberry, and one, tiny, half-inch square chocolate petit four. It was a wonderful snack, though I had absolutely no need for any more food.

When we sat down with Joan, there were people at the table who had entire plates filled with food and completely filled from the dessert table. That astonished me, and they were manfully shoving all of it down. Yow.

I nibbled my snack and we were on our way. Joan went to her room to drop off the camera, and was on her way to the Casino with her 'donation'. Hee. We went along with, and I spent a dollar, and decided that slots really don't have any appeal for me. I watched a video game for a while, and decided I'd probably die just as quickly playing that, but then Joan was ahead by a good deal. A little while later, she was back down to nothing, and we all went our separate ways again.

We just went back to the stateroom, as it was nearly 2am, and decided it was time to go to sleep. Tired, even after my hour and a half nap, so it's good to get some sleep. I seem to be beating back this cold every time I sleep, so I might as well keep at it.

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