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"Heaven is where: the police are British, the cooks are Italian, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French, and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where: the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, the police are German, and it is all organized by the Italians." -- T-shirt in Tortola, British Virgin Islands
|Episode 23: The Love Boat|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:19 PST
|cherie writes: July 2000|
You can't complain when you are stuck at the lowest level of a cruise ship--especially when you have been upgraded last minute because your "budget" cruise ship broke. The cruise would begin in Athens, 7 days, 6 hundred people over 65 years-old, 5 Greek Islands, 4 meals a day, 3 hours of sleep, 2 Turkish towns, 1 tiny cabin and 0 port holes.
We had three goals: Kristi--to spend the most money on massages, Carter--to find the man of her dreams (ok maybe it wasn't her goal, but she didn't argue when it happened), and mine--to have dinner at the Captain's table.
Kristi worked every day at her massage goal, Carter's goal fell into her lap, and my goal...well, rather than wait around for an invitation to the Captain's formal dinner, I just plain asked. "Never," the Captain later pulled me aside and whispered "in my 31 years on the Stella Solaris, has anyone requested to be at my table." Until me.
We were watching the silly cruise magic show when our Captain's Dinner invitations came. The four of us: Kristi, Carter, Nicole (room-mate) and I would be the guests at his formal dinner. We jumped up and down with teenage excitement and for a moment, I was Queen. Tragically, my rein would end at the hands of my room-mate Nicole. She one-upped me and became the ship's true Princess.
The Captain, in his official white uniform, gazed at Nicole with his sea-green eyes and asked "Do you want to drive my ship?" Had Nicole read through the lines, she would have realized what he was really asking: "Do you want to rock my boat?" She did, but only in the literal sense. I'm sure it was a coincidence (it had nothing to do with having Nicole at the helm) as hundreds of passengers were startled out of their sleep by the violent lurching of the ship. As our stomachs twisted themselves inside out, we smiled...that was our Nicole up there steering us through night.
Our first stop was Crete, where the creamy blue sea wrapped itself around the rolling folds of an island richly layered with history. The hills were braided with a patchwork of farms (Carter's observation); quilts of land handed down through the generations. Usually, when we dock in a port, we'd have a taxi driver pick us up. In Crete, we picked one up. Sure he drove us by the 3600 year-old palace (where the history of the labyrinth comes from) and by the medieval prison fort, but like a true gentleman he couldn't wait to take us by his father's house.
It was a cottage in the hills, where his father made home-made wine. That's what he called it as he drained it from a barrel for us to try. It tasted more like "moonshine", thick and sweet. A few minutes later we were glowing, finding excitement in the simpleness of island life. We couldn't wait to draw water from the well outside, eagerly taking turns pumping the crank. When it comes down to it, I guess we are just country girls at heart. (If only Kristi and Carter could convince me to listen to country music, they'd be happy.)
Caution:Your life will be richer if you avoid three things on all cruises.1. The midnight buffet. "I just want to see what it looks like."2. The dance performances. "But it sounded like a good show."3. The casino. "I'll just bet one more hand."If you don't heed my advice, you are likely to be fat, bored and broke.
I'll end this episode with a snap-shot of our Turkish bath, taken in Turkey of course. After you undress yourself, you wrap yourself in a hand-woven cloth. Then you are lead into a huge dome where you lie on a warm slab of marble. You inhale the rising steam and exhale all of your worries. Your body is beaded and moist from its own perspiration, and just when you begin to drift out of consciousness a naked fat Turkish lady begins to beat the crap out of you (they call it a massage). When the pain becomes unbearable she grabs this really stinky hard Loofah sponge (and you think, oh, that's what that horse-shit smell has been this whole time...other people's festering dead skin cells.) Her goal now becomes to scratch your skin off. Just when you've convinced yourself she could take down the Great Wall of China with a piece of sand paper, she starts to be nice again. She soaps up your body and cradles your head like an infant as she washes your hair and rinses it with warm water. In the end your legs are feeble, your skin is soft (probably because it has been scoured down to the first layer) and your eye-lids are heavy. Dazed, I wasn't sure if I wanted to never do it again, or do it everyday. And the cost, just over 9,500,000 per person. But since the Turkish Lira is 620,000 to one dollar, we still have enough saved to continue our journey.
Stay tuned to find out how our cruise turned into the "Love Boat" and how South African cuisine has suddenly become Carter's main dish.
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