Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bahama Mama & Going Home
Down to the last leg of our cruise. We woke up, day 6, to see the tip end of an island, a strip of private beach on the Bahamas. I was a little nervous about how we'd get ashore. What I thought were lifeboats, hanging from the sides of our ship, were "tenders". Mini open-air, two level boats that would be swung out over the water and dropped in, and we'd step aboard. They moved quickly, and didn't make seem to make anyone sick. I was surprised how easily they got us all over there, and you could take a "tender" back to the ship at any time during the day. Like many things in life, I fretted unnecessarily.

When we arrived, there were huge tables of fruit sliced and waiting for us, drinks of all types, lawn chairs and umbrellas in abundance. We'd reserved a "cabana", a small blue front-opening pup-tent type of thing, to go over our chairs if we wanted to get out of the sun a bit. We showed our receipt, chose a tent, and set up beach camp for the day.

This man divides his time between carving fruit and ice sculptures. It was fun watching him - he was very quick with a knife.

We'd also reserved snorkeling equipment. We were given little fish identification cards, tubes of fish food, masks, breathing tubes and fins. About 7 years ago, we'd snorkeled out in the middle of the ocean in Cancun, but it still felt awkward, this time around. The last time, we couldn't touch bottom (by a long shot). This time, being able to stand up when we got scared or frustrated seemed to make it more difficult. Not sure of the devotional there, but likely there is one! We chose to snorkel right there in the bay, around the rocks jutting out of the water. After we figured out how to clear our masks, hold onto the card, let out some of the fish, and flip our feet, all at the same time, it was amazing what beautiful fish were very near the beach. We even saw a big lobster, lurking under the rocks. He was not interested in meeting us. I felt a little like "Sea Hunt" in my goggles and fins, splashing through the shallow water.

Most of our day was spent napping or reading books, lying on the beach. Somewhere around mid-day we went through food lines, loading up on all the barbeque we wanted. Likely the most practical barbeque I've ever attended - clothe everyone in swimsuits, let them eat away, then tell them all to go get in the ocean and swish off!

Princess Cruise splashes blue everywhere, chair liners, towels, cabanas. The view from the beach, sitting on this white sand, was truly gorgeous.

There were hair-braiders in abundance, and even though the beach was private, the people working there required cash for anything they sold. American cash. Many of the women either wanted their own hair braided, or their little girls. Watching that single comb, parting their hair gave me the hee-bee gee-bees. How many other scalps had been parted? H.E.A.D. L.I.C.E - it didn't seem to concern them at all, even though it's likely many of them would never touch a doorknob at any McDonald's restroom in the states. That the little girls seemed to be in pain, having the braids and beads put into their hair, didn't seem to phase most moms. Maybe we all have a deep seated desire to look like Bo Derek?

Our last evening on the ship was a mixture of melancholy, knowing we'd go to bed, and wake up back in the states, and realizing staying on "holiday" too long takes away the specialness of it all. You have to go home to leave it, later. We lingered over a nice, quiet dinner. Spent time in a lounge watching a few couples play The Newlywed Game. One couple had been married on the ship, another had been married over 50 years. We finished our evening on the top deck, watching the basketball playoffs under the stars, full moon, a night sky full of stars. Purchasing our "prom photos" from the photo shop, and one glass of wine together on the balcony, before we headed to bed.

A few miscellaneous thoughts - we never thought we were the "cruise type". Almost everyone is the cruise type, trust me. It was the most romantic, relaxing, restful vacation we've ever taken. We thought cruises were expensive. We spent more, three years ago, to spend a week in Maine. We went for a week, but cruises are offered for as little as three days, at under $500 per person. We met couples who had cruised over 30 times; one woman had been on 83 cruises, but she trains travel agents. Many were like us, their first time. We could be in a group when we wanted, alone when that sounded nice. We could eat anytime we wanted, dress up or down, stay dry or get wet. We met people from all over the world, groups of women who looked to be alone, and had chosen to travel together, and one solitary woman. She intrigued me. We met her on one of the island tours, this lovely late 3o's lady. She told us she was married, but he was a "wet blanket", and why would you travel with someone like that? She said she had friends who were planning to travel with her but couldn't swing it. So she went alone. I saw her later, here and there on the ship, always dressed up, looking like she was just hoping to find people to spend time with, but there was a loneliness about her. She told me she had a mini-suite and no one to share it with. I could not imagine what marriage would allow/cause someone to travel around the world alone. Her bright red lipstick, and curly blonde hair seemed to me to only be a disguise for her emptiness.

A week in a tropical place was such a nice respite from our cold, wet eastern weather. Still, as beautiful as this is, walking up the basement stairs, into our kitchen, greeting our dog, seeing our coffeepot, and knowing we'd sit together at the kitchen table the next morning, over coffee and the newspaper - that sounded wonderful too. What a wonderful time we had, but part of the blessing was going away, so we could come back and have a new appreciation for the comforts of home.

Looking back as the Bahamas slip farther and farther away.


  posted at 5:00 PM

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