11:33 am: Today's packing day, farewell day, and a quiet sea day. We didn't get up until we wanted to, had a pretty good breakfast, and then wandered a little before going back to the cabin to do our customs declarations, read and write a little, and watch Harry Potter, the first movie, on the TV.
One exciting thing was that we heard the announcement bell ring, and then the voice of our captain that went on and on, so we turned on the TV, found his broadcast and heard him talking about this poor island that, after the sugarcane rush, didn't have much economy and since they had no protected port they couldn't really make it into the tourist economy that the other neighboring islands had. On top of that they had an active volcano that kept wiping out various parts of the island, and ended up, twenty years ago, wiping out the capitol of the island completely between a lava flow and the ash and fall out. So there was nothing left. While he was talking, John opened the curtains to our balcony and there was the island the captain had been droning on and on about!!
It was right outside our window! We could see the lava flow to the water and through the skeleton of a fair sized city. Wow. It was quite different to see the evidence of the destruction compared to simply hearing about it. The volcano dominated the island's shape and the cone was filling the air with smoke. We were sailing right by it, and the captain even turned the ship around so that the passengers on the other side could get a good look. That was quite a way to start the day.
We'll have to pack sometime, and at 2 I'm supposed to go do the rock wall with Joan, and there's the bar tender from yesterday that John wanted me to meet. He seems to be a good guy, we'll likely drink a bit there before tonight.
Right now, though, John's just reading his book, I'm catching up on my journal using an upside-down ice and glass tray for a support, and the remains of the towel monkey for a lap pillow. Hee. The wide open ocean is our view, and I really am enjoying our balcony. I'm very glad we got the free upgrade from the interior room. I would not have enjoyed doing this from inside the cabin nearly as much.
A nice, quiet, restful day after all these days of pure activity.
Okay, so the latter part of the day wasn't early as restful as the early part of the day.
When we were all done with our packing and writing and stuff, we headed out. The first place we went was back to the Solarium and met up with Anthony, the brain-teaser bartender. There were all kinds of broken bar straws on the bar, in all kinds of configurations. That, alone, was pretty cool. He got John his Corona, blended up a BBC for me, and they started explaining the puzzles to me. One was a fish in straws that would be made to swim in the opposite direction by moving only three straws. Another was an equation that was wrong and had to be made right. That was one that I got that John hadn't. There was a number of squares where moving a few of the straws would end up with fewer, even squares. There was an egg in a shot glass that had to be moved to another shot glass without either glass or the egg being touched. Hee. That one John got that I didn't, and that one had made Anthony think John was some ringer that another of the tenders had sent over to mess with his head. Hee. And John had a
John handed Anthony my brag book, and between filling out orders for folks, he cheerfully commented on Jet's merits in the pictures. That was fun.
When Anthony left for his break, we went and got lunch. I found some lamb stew, and had a serving spoonful of that with a spoonful of plain rice. I ate it with iced tea, and ended up with a bit of bread and butter pudding and vanilla sauce.
We found Joan and Janet being jockeys for the horse race by the pool. Joan won the first two races and was on the finish line for the third, but lost. She bet on herself for the second race and won quite a lot of money! That was pretty cool.
When the racing was all done, she, Rob and I went to the climbing wall with our spouses, and the three of us got the harnesses on and climbed the climbing wall. Rob was first, and just headed on up, all business. I was next. As we were standing there we realized that the belayers were all dancers and singers from the shows. The guy that gave me my shoes, and ended up belaying me, though, wasn't one of the visible dancers or singers. He was a very quiet, slender black man. The girl that had been doing that line had been very vocal about where to place hands or feet, and I'd kind of been looking forward to that kind of coaching.
This guy said nothing. Which actually was less distracting, I think. Instead of relying on him, I decided to do it myself. I looked at holds and foot rests, and found myself planning moves up. I even shifted handholds when I wanted to go in a different direction. I liked that. I managed to plan my way up and up until the last four holds, I was doing well because there were easy foot placements.
The next two holds took a bit of arm effort to help me get up them, and I was growling, grunting, and ooofing my way up them. The last two just stumped me. I had my legs all wrong, as one was cocked too high up and the other was too far down, and my arms were not enough to pull me up bodily, of course. I started saying that I couldn't do it, and I got no acknowledgement from the guy. Finally, I lunged for the last hold, and missed it. I let go after that, but the guy held on and just held me level.
That's when it really hit me that I wasn't going to fall. I wasn't going anywhere. Period. So I might as well try and get a different foot hold with this support and see where I could go from there. I got my left foot up, got it on a good hold, and pushed with that leg and got myself up where I hadn't thought I could go.
I hit the top, looked down and out over the whole of the ship, the ocean, and the sky. Wow. That was really nice. And then I finally heard the voice of my guy saying, "Put both hands on the rope, and walk on down."
So I did. I walked down the wall, and forgot to drop to the ground at the bottom, with my feet, that is. I ended up sitting on my butt on the mat at the bottom of the climbing wall. I laughed like a loon. That was pretty cool. Joan was laughing, too, and just down from her climb. She'd heard me saying that I couldn't do it, but she'd powered through. It was hard work in that heat! All three of us were covered in sweat by the time all of us were sitting in the Windjammer for a drink and a snack. I just drank iced tea and added a bit of lemonade.
It was something of a workout. I'm not sure I can do much of it, though, as my hands and wrists were as stiff as boards after that. My wrists actually scared me for a bit until they finally loosened up. The heat here doesn't help my hands at all. The ice in my drink, however, did help significantly.
I was glad of that.
From there we headed back to the cabin, and I took a shower and got clean. We then met everyone at the Aurora theater for, of all things, Bingo. There was a four thousand dollar jackpot. It was really funny when John just bought the minimalist card for the major jackpot and didn't buy cards for the smaller jackpots or the huge card for the major jackpot. There were folks in the group that said that they didn't understand why he did that, but I guess I did. You just need a chance to win, and multiplying a tiny chance by two or three doesn't actually make it significantly bigger, though they like to have you think that it's a huge increase when you spend another twenty dollars. So I got it.
We watched. It was interesting to watch. We didn't win anything, but then neither did anyone else in the group. So that was kind of cool to see, in some ways, that the theoretical grasp we had on it was valid.
A rather sad day, all together. Coming back from bingo, there was luggage all through the hallways. Just all the proof that we were leaving all this tomorrow, right when we'd kind of gotten into the swing of things. We managed to get all our bags out there, too. The passageway into the interior of the ship was open, so we thought it was the right time to get the bags out and hopefully they'd be taken away quickly, so that they weren't just sitting in the hallway for anyone to mess with.
So we put all our luggage out there. We ran into our cabin attendant and got him his envelope. We actually added a bit more to his, as he always managed to leave us alone when we didn't want to be disturbed and he always managed to neaten up the cabin when we weren't around. I really love that in clean up crew and I've been to enough hotels to know how rare it is that someone can do what seems such a simple thing. He thanked us very nicely.
Then headed off to a rather uninspired, comfort foods dinner. Roast turkey, simple steaks, and food that's just plain, old American foods that were mildly boring. It was, however, Sathish's birthday and while we were all in Barbados, Janet and Joan were good enough to pitch in on a rum cake that we gave the Sathish for his birthday. He was mildly overwhelmed by that. It really did affect him that we actually gave him something.
That was pretty cool. He got everyone all the desserts they could eat, and that was our good-bye, in some ways. It was also tip day, and we handed out envelopes to all the wait staff, though we honestly didn't think that the matre'd of our area really earned his twenty-five cents a day from us.
The rest of the gang headed off for one last fling in the casino while John and I toured around the boat one more time. We spent quite some time on the bow, just listening to the ocean and the passage of the ship, seeing the moon and sky above, feeling the mild motion of the ship. I really liked that. It's so huge. We got our last cup of tea at the Seaview, and saw bits of the last act in the theater. There were kids in the kids pool, which I don't think were actually supposed to be there, having a blast.
We even dropped by the cabin to get something or do something and noticed that our luggage had disappeared in just the time it had taken to eat dinner. So we had guessed correctly.
The cabin's pretty empty, now, with all the stuff already gone. It was interesting to choose what we had to get and what we had to pack and what we really needed for tonight. Tomorrow is going to be kind of interesting, as the morning is going to be pretty busy. There are folks that are going to have to greet customs at 6 in the morning. I'm glad that our tags don't really come up until 8. Everyone's going to try and meet for breakfast and kind of coordinate getting off the ship. We'll see how well that actually works.
It was nice having everything just at sea, today. Nothing to see, nothing to have to get to. Lots of stuff to just do around here. John and I even went to the shops, now that everything's on sale. Things looked kind of forlorn and picked over. We picked a couple of Kona Coffee geckos, as we've been there, and they were pretty cool as the shirts, themselves are dyed with coffee and smell mildly of rich Kona coffee grounds. There were pictures from the whole week, there was memorabilia from the ship, and there were postcards and all kinds of things. It wasn't really all that appealing, but it was something else to do that we hadn't done.
I'm ready to go home. It was fun, and it was educational. I now know more about cruise ship culture than I did before, and I realized that it's not really our culture, yet