Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Last night- yes I’m going back to yesterday because this is just too cool- I was watching a movie in the crew lounge with some friends/fellow crew. The phone rang, I thought it was on the movie but it was our ship phone which meant someone from another part of the ship was calling. Clayton picked up the receiver and when he placed it back down again he had a message from the bridge- ‘Dolphins on the bow’. Now we generally get happy about dolphins on the bow in the daytime, but at night? We ran up the stairs. As I ran down the outside 200 companionway the daily routineness of the boat that I’ve lived on for the past five and a half months dissolved and the whole moment took on a romantic quality, even the familiar walkway. Daisey must have felt this too because later she said “I’m in love, I’m just in love! Not with anything, just in love!” It no longer felt like the boat but a ship, and had that excitement that the people who vacation here must feel.
I was amazed at how quietly we ran. I was already taking this in, feeling myself run past guest cabins soundlessly and then I realized that Daisey too was running behind me. I hadn’t noticed because of her equally silent pace. As we reached the bow I touched the railing and felt fine salt that had blown in and built up. I knew that if I could see it it would be sparkling. But we couldn’t see much making our way to the bow, it was very dark. We did make our way, Daisey clutching my arm because we couldn’t see anything. Finding the bow we leaned over the railing into the dark water.
Dolphns leapt ahead of our boat, visible because of Baja’s magical bioluminescence, their bodies outlined glowingly. Sometimes you’d see a jet of light come in from the side and join in. We could see them jump out of the water, hear them take in oxygen. The night was dark, moonless as she had disappeared sometime ago, only the stars were bright. And many.
I don’t even know who was on the bow experiencing this with us. Leah was there on my right, Daisey on my left, all of us leaning on the bow, our heads poking over. I just know there were lots of giggles and exclamations at the wonder of it. I know it was lovely. And it was lovely afterwards to look up and see the stars. Daisey and I stayed after the dolphins and the other humans had gone. She told me that when she was a deckhand she was doing a bridge watch at night in Baja and she spotted something. It looked like a sailboat, one they were about to run into. They couldn’t figure out where it had come from, it wasn’t on the radar, and they were a little nervous. And then they realized that it was a bioluminescent whale, moving around in the water.
I went to bed thinking about the dolphins, about what we saw, about the idyllic feel of the moment. I woke up thinking about it too.
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This morning before guest breakfast Leah leaped through the dining room doors excited and happy, and ran through the back to the fantail. I wondered what on earth was going on to get this reaction and went up to the lido after asking Tom and realizing we were seeing whales. I didn’t see them while I was out and went back down to setup. Leah came back into the dining room and freaked out looking out the window. There were humpbacks and they were breaching. And when I say breaching I mean dancing, and leaping, and spinning out of the water. It was incredible. I haven’t seen them do this yet, we just changed our Baja route and apparently we’ll see it often now. Raz told me that last year they were having apps on deck and saw a hundred breaches. I have a bookmark that a past crew member bought me in Alaska of humpbacks dancing and this was it. I didn’t know I would see it. My goodness.
It reminded me of Psalms that talk about all the earth rejoicing, all the earth, the sea and everything in it praising the Lord. I learned today while cleaning rooms that all the humpbacks in the ocean, in different parts, far apart, sing the same song and that from when they leave the breeding areas like Baja and go to the feeding places like Alaska, when they return to the breeding areas the song has changed, gone on, but they’re all still singing the change. How does this happen? they ask. Because our God is so good, so mysterious and wonderful. That’s how.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I felt so much better today after all the rest I got yesterday! Hurrah for the cold being on the way out the door. Plus I decided to have another go at no sugar (harder than ever in my life on this boat surrounded by very yummy desserts) and healthy eating to try and say adieu to some boat weight before my contract is over. I woke up with time to spare before work which was nice.
Was supposed to book my travel today but got stalled. That’s okay though because I do know now that I AM going to Florida! I’ve become a winter wimp and don’t know that I’m ready for what Mom says is 5 degree weather. Hmmm. No. I have family there that I would like to see and I’m very excited to get to go.
Post contract Baby tour USA looks like
La Paz to LA- nothing to do with babies, I just want to check out the city because I’ve been curious for a long time. Hoping to see John Kirby’s studio and check out a couple of other actor specific things.
LA to St.Louis - to meet my nephew, Abel! Kaelen’s beautiful baby boy. I haven’t seen Kae since the wedding over a year ago and I’m so glad that I’ll get to stay with her for about a week.
St. Louis to Florida - where hopefully my cousin hasn’t already set off for New Zealand because I want to meet her beautiful baby girl.
And eventually home to see my darling twin cousins and niece Cora.
*note-niece and nephew terms here are aunthood by friendship. Though they feel like sisters*
And of course to see their respective parents and my own. There’s a little boy on board right now, his name is Luka and he’s adorable. He makes me think of my brothers - though they aren’t that little anymore- and of my cousin Tyler.
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Today we were at Los Islotes in the morning. Los Islotes is like a large aquatic puppy kennel. Perhaps I have written about this before. It’s the home and mating ground of a LOT of noisy, fighting, playful, funny, smelly sea lions. Also pelicans, blue and brown footed boobys, yellow footed gulls and jellyfishlike stinging pink rainbow things. When we get to Los Islotes you can hear it and smell it. The sea lions bark and bark, at each other and for no reason in particular too I’m sure. They lay on the rocks, some lazily actually sleeping. Some of these are lovely to see. Some of them are blonde and look truly golden. Some lay with their babies on top of them and they are just adorable. Then there are the noisy fighting ones- mostly males with large ugly shelves for foreheads. They are pretty funny to see. Then there are the babies. A few weeks ago I took a zodiac tour around the island with our naturalist William and some guests. A baby sea lion came up to our boat playfully. He was so close I could have kissed him. I wanted to.
The highlight of Los Islotes is swimming with the sea lions. I have only done this once, on New years eve, which was a fabulous day that I’ve yet to write about. It was a very neat experience. They brush by you, swimming so gracefully. I’ve heard of them becoming curious, of them nipping at flippers, and skin, but I didn’t have any come that close. They did swim in close proximity though and I squealed quite often. In delight, wonder and amusement, not fear. It was really cool but once you take off that snorkel mask and get a whiff of the rocks you’re ready to get back in the snorkel boat. J And you try not to think too much about WHAT you’re swimming in. Particularly because this is where we joke about the ‘Christmas Miracle’ of snow covered rocks that are actually Pelican poo. Lots and lots of pelican poo.
Even watching the sea lions from the Sea Bird is fun though. They are so curious and funny.
Day off. Hallelujah, I need it. I went to bed fairly early last night so as to sleep this bug off. I had some weird dreams, which has been a staple lately but was also partly due to the five minutes of Underworld that I promised Daisey and Ian I would sit through. It was actually more like three and a half but I had their blessing for sitting through the intro. I woke up earlier than I would have liked because of drills. We have weekly drills for abandon ship and fire. It’s a tad distressing when this winds up on your day off, but that’s just boat life. I’d been a bit bitter about it but really if I hadn’t had to wake up for drills I also wouldn’t have woken up to see…
Blue WhaleS! Note the plural here. On this beautiful, sunshiney, still water morning we saw not one, not two but THREE blue whales at the same time! Magnificent. Now you can’t see them in the sense of a children’s book layout where the whole animal is visible before you, but rather bits of their large bodies as they come up out of the water. Just knowing that you’re seeing the most enormous creature that lives is amazing. Seeing three at once, hearing them blow, watching their gigantic footprints as they go back under the water…it’s wonderful. A couple of weeks ago we were asking about why it’s the largest creature that ever lived, wondering about dinosaurs that we had thought must certainly have been larger. Over the intercom this week I heard one of our naturalists, Carlos, explain that it is the largest animal in mass- as some of the bigness of dino’s was due to long necks or other such thin lengthy appendages
Three at once. Just amazing.
Turn day. Turn day’s are when one group of guests leaves in the morning and we get the whole boat ‘turned’ (cleaned, scrubbed, ready) for the next round of guests who will get on a few short hours later in the afternoon. Turn days are long days and I used to abhor them with tears and tiredness. I’m still not particularly fond of them but I’ve accepted that my work takes me as long as it does and now I get a kick out of the adrenaline rush.
This was a fifteen hour turn day- which happens often for me but today it was all of us stews. I woke up feeling groggy from this cold, my ears and throat hurting. I asked Daisey if when she was sick it was her ears and throat. She said it wasn’t and so I suddenly became worried. She suggested I talk to the Dr. He told me it was a cold and I was relieved to hear it.
So during this crazy, working, hectic day with a nightmarish moment of opening the stack (where we keep the clean linens) which I thought was to be my job to clean up, found it packed quite literally to the brim. My senior stew, Kathy Miller, wanted to organize it today though. Thank heavens for that. Instead I got to be bossy, which I’m really good at, and play senior stew at dinner. It was kind of fun.
But the highlight moment of this, day 27 in a thirty day countdown, was the huge coconut that my dear roommate Daisey brought to me from La Paz. I stuck a straw in it in between dressed and ready and inro’s. I was so thirsty from cabin cleaning and the cool coconut water was soothing on my sore throat. Mmmmmm. Thank you Daisey.
Oh! And we got good coffee today too which is also a happy thing. Seattle’s Best baby! And Henry’s blend! Which made me think of my Mama. J Who I will get to see soon. Yay!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thirty day countdown
One month until my six month contract is over!
30~ January 19
Today we saw bottlenose dolphins. It has been a while since we’ve seen dolphins and we’re glad for the visit. As I’m cleaning cabins I stop and lean over the railing on the 200 level. The water is so clear that I can see their sleek bodies deep under the water and tell when they’re going to surface.
Watching them today is different than usual. It has a slower quality. There aren’t as many of them and they’re swimming slowly, softly, smoothly and in the same direction. Often we are in the midst of a dolphin party where they swim every which way and jump out of the water like crazy people, It’s fun and amazing to see but I really enjoy this moment of the boat and dolphins moving slowly slowly beside one another. It is lulling and I take it in happily.
Day 29 - January 20
More dolphins today and this time the partying kind. They were going wild and there were grown ups & babies. I sat up on the lido deck, the topmost deck which is where we store zodiacs and kayaks. It’s crew access only and moments like these, when we have this all around view and no guests about, make us very glad for this perk. With me is our chief mate Lucy, senior deckhand Ian (who told us about the view from the lido), deckhand Amelia, bosun Carter (Jordan’s older brother), and senior stew Kathy Miller who no matter how many times she sees a dolphin or whale will never cease to freak out delightedly and yell. It is fantastic to watch dolphins with Kathy Miller. “Shut. Up! Stop it! Just stop being so cute! I just wanna HOLD you.” Watching dolphins with Kathy Miller is just a whole other experience.
Tonight was beach barbeque and even though I’m feeling a little down with this cold coming on Jackie persuaded me to go to the fire after we were done with chores. Jackie and I have both been in the nap trap of late and the combinations of her being the one to push me off the boat, her leaving soon, and wanting to make the most of my last month here, I decided to go. We packed up the smores stuff and a few of us went over. Surprisingly there were still guests over there. They usually clear out by the time we get back. It was good to see them lingering by the fire though. Someone mentioned smores as in “wouldn’t now be a good time for some”. Ian poked me and looked at me with meaningful arched eyebrows which I took to mean “We have smores stuff, won’t they be glad to know.” I was incorrect in my translation though and after I made the announcement to the group Ian explained that he meant “Smores is our secret”. He said he’ll be more specific with his eyebrow language next time.
When most guests had gone Jackie brought out her guitar and sang for us. I love to listen to Jackie sing. She sang us a lullaby about the sea written for her nephews first birthday. The fire was warm, the waves lapped against the beach of Puerto Gato with it’s strange red rocks that I like so much. The moon was full but often hiding behind night clouds. Jordan and I talked in an old familiar way that was nice. It was a good evening and worth staying up for.
*You can find Jackie’s music on Itunes. I would love to see her get a big boost of purchases on her songs this month if everyone who reads this would go and download one from I-tunes. I think it’s a whole dollar and it would bless her. Go to Itunes and look for Jackie Daum.
Day 28 - January 21
Today this cold caught up with me more. I was so tired so all I did today was work and sleep and mostly work. I’d like to go hang out upstairs, unwind a little, but I needs me some sleep so I write this from my top bunk after taking some Nyquil and hoping to feel better tomorrow. I have a day off after turn day that I am so looking forward to. I feel like something more interesting than this certainly happened today but I’m afraid it isn’t coming to my mind. So goodnight.