Friday 29th April – Sea Day 4 of 5

Stayed in bed. All day.

Made it upright in time to meet up and say goodbye to the Friday night crowd. Quite weak and wobbly and sweating/feverish, so definitely in no fit state for kisses and hugs!

Then dinner. Still feverish off and on. Managed to eat, but felt pretty dodgy afterwards.

Back to cabin. Back to bed.

The cough and rib pain are new, though. Maybe that counts as progress? Less sneezy, at least.

That was Friday, that was.

5AM UPDATE: Couldn’t sleep. Felt queasy, which is new. The ship isn’t moving about much, so it must be something to do with this monster lurgy thing that has taken up residence inside me, and shows no signs of moving out. Ribs still hurt too, which makes the, granted now fairly rare, coughs and sneezes all the more enjoyable.

I’ve really had enough of this now.

Did some packing, to pass the time. Dad is starting to fret, so I’m going to need to leave time to go and help them with theirs, as well as doing my own, so a head start is no bad idea. Amazingly tricky to pack stuff away, logistically. I’m seeing some people the night I get back, so I have to make sure I don’t pack their presents in the wrong place, by accident, and drive them back to my flat without delivering them. That would be most annoying. Although I’m sure I’ll forget something, in my current, somewhat befuddled, state (whilst typing this I have realised that I have, indeed, put at least one item in the wrong case, already).

The head rush that comes with trying to get the cases out from under the bed, whilst bunged up with cold and unable to breathe properly, was quite an interesting upside to the whole procedure, especially as, when done, they all had to go back under again! Who needs illegal narcotics?! Hah!

Which reminds me. I have a philosophy essay to write. Woohoo. No way this can go badly, oh no.


Thursday 28th April 2016 – Sea Day 3 of 5

Took a sleeping tablet (herbal, not prescription) and slept from 11 pm to 4.30 am. Woke up shaking with hunger and had to call room service. On the plus side, my fever may now have completely broken. On the negative side, it’s not easy to order from the already somewhat restricted overnight cold food menu during Passover. But on the plus side, at this hour, you don’t half get served quick.

For some reason, our BBC News channel visuals are now six full seconds out of sync with the sound. It’s very distracting.

Slept til 11.30. Mika rang to ask if she could change our dinner date tonight to lunch. She woke me up from such a deep sleep, I remember commenting on the phone ringing in my dream, before it woke me. But at least the awakening meant I got to watch Singin’ in the Rain on the telly, which I would otherwise have missed. There is an upside to almost everything.

Met parents for fruit and a chat. Then went and met Mika. We sat out by Aquarius pool and chatted. I didn’t eat – my fever returned – so I just watched her eat and then smoke, and we had a drink. It was very relaxing, just hanging out. The captain came over to say hi, and ask how my dad is. He commented on the irony of me now being the one who is ill. When he had gone, Mika was white as a sheet. She works on Reception and no one had told her that the Captain’s plans had changed. She thought he had disembarked at Aruba! I knew the communication on this ship was rubbish, but fancy not telling the Reception staff who their current captain is?! Shocking, really, if you think about it.

I went back to my cabin and had a rest before dinner. At dinner, dad ate properly for the first time in possibly more than a week. He had soup and steak and chips and he ate it all. He said he felt hungry for the first time in ages, it was all delicious, and the steak was the best he had ever tasted. It was quite a relief. I wasn’t so worried about parting company after that.

I am getting very cross with my grey hairs. Until now, they have only grown in my fringe, where they are the most prominent and obvious they could possibly be. Or so I thought. Turns out I was wrong. There is somewhere more prominent and obvious. My EYELASHES are now going grey. For goodness’ sake. Eyelashes?! Seriously?!

<Pause for sneezing fit> That’s it. I’m done. Time for bed.

26th and 27th

Tuesday 26th April 2016 – Sea Day – 1 of 5

Didn’t sleep well. Well, I did have a fairly stressful day yesterday! Very achy when I got up – even my hair hurt – so met parents for fruit and drinks and a chat and then went back to bed. Slept til nearly 5pm. Not quite the achievement it sounds, because we did lose an hour today at lunchtime, but still pretty impressive, I think. We are now only four hours adrift from the UK. I think the rotten pair of them have given me their cold – I am pretty sure I have a roaring fever. Still feel pretty rotten, to be honest. Unfortunately, I have an OU essay due that I haven’t even started yet, so I can’t just curl up and go back to bed. Boo. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m in no fit state to study. Gnite.

Wednesday 27th April 2016 – Sea Day 2 of 5

Slept til 2pm, which was 3pm, because the flipping clocks changed again. Then dad rang to see if I was okay, and then turned up with a bowl of fruit. I still have a roaring fever, which is probably why I didn’t sleep much during the night.  But I slept today, oh boy. At 5, I had a shower and put on some clean clothes, which felt good. Went to dinner and ate something and drank LOADS. Then back to the cabin for more medication and rest. Still sneezing like crazy. Still feverish. Dunno where I caught this, but it’s a corker.

Stephen Hawking talking about the Wow signal. If the governments of the world are covering up alien contact, they are doing much better at it than they do pretty much anything else. If not, where is everyone? 6EQUJS. It is a puzzle. The human race discovered the atom bomb quite quickly. If the other civilisation did too, over 200 light years away, they might have destroyed themselves before our answer could get there. Maybe they destroyed themselves as soon as they discovered that E=mc2. Or maybe they are already colonising the universe. If aliens ever visit us, it will be like when Christopher Columbus found America. Which did not go well for the Native Americans. He’s quite witty, is Hawking. And probably not wrong, either. We can either listen or talk. If we talk, what should we say? We get some quite thought-provoking stuff on our in-cabin tellies, you know.

Monday 25th April 2016 – St Maarten

Very annoyed. This morning’s arrival announcement – we’re here, you can go ashore, the weather for today is…the gangways are located… be back by… – came through the cabins on the Emergency Channel. Just when I think we have explained it clearly enough for them to understand that not everyone on board wants to be woken at 08:25. They may not want to go ashore. They may not be feeling well. They may have been quite looking forward to a lie-in. The bridge crew on this ship simply cannot get it into their thick heads that the pillow speakers are for EMERGENCIES, when we absolutely HAVE to hear what is being said, because our lives depend on it. They are designed to wake us up. That’s the whole point. Using them to tell us the effing weather forecast is NOT  acceptable. *Sigh* ANOTHER letter to write to the Captain.

Signal jamming. No internet today. No news, either. Just repeats of Sherlock Holmes, some nature thing and An Inspector Calls.

This island is literally in two halves – half run by the Dutch and half by the French. They hate each other, apparently. The French half has road markings, like white lines and road signs, but the Dutch side does not. It’s very obvious when you move between the two! The capital of the Dutch side is Philipsburg and the capital of the French side is Marigot.

Went ashore without problem. All fab. Took a taxi to Marigot.  Beautifully warm and sunny – perhaps a bit on the over-fierce side. The taxi dropped us by the market. We went to a little shopping mall, called the West Indies Mall, first, for a bit of air con and some VERY nice loos (one dollar). A rather unpleasant French man threw me out of his little nameless café in the centre of the mall. Apparently, old ladies are allowed to sit down to wait for their husband to come back, but not the people with them. When I offered to buy a drink, to thank him for letting us sit for a few minutes, he said we would have to move to a different table to order a drink and if we stayed where we were, we would either have to order food, or he would call security. Stupid boy. Lost a sale, and quite possibly more, because it was gone noon, and we needed food, as well as drink. Nasty little man. There are some lovely shops in that mall, but steer WELL CLEAR of the little café in the middle, whatever you do.

Dad has had a cold for a few days, and not much appetite, and now has a rather wheezy cough. So he and mum sat in the shade on a bandstand wall while I browsed a few stalls. When I went back over, he said he felt dizzy and should probably have a drink. So I went and bought three. I gave mum hers, and then opened his. He tried to put the straw in his mouth and missed. Then he took one gulp, dropped the can on my foot and keeled over. I was terrified. I thought he was having a stroke. I ran to a stall and asked for an ambulance. The bloke said he didn’t know the number. Like, seriously?! Then I ran back and he was lying back on the floor of the bandstand. I tried to wake him, but he wasn’t coherent, just making noises.  When I tried to move him, he fell sideways onto the ground, and hit his head on the concrete with a crack the like of which I hope I never hear again. By now some people were coming and helping, and we rolled him into the recovery position and he started responding to my shouting at him. I put my bag under his head and someone put a cold bottle of water against his neck, which he said was lovely. I made him stick his tongue out, which reassured me he wasn’t having a stroke. Then the ambulance people came. They took his blood pressure, which was very low, which confirmed to me that he had fainted, and his details from me, and then loaded us up into the ambulance. By which time, dad was using whole sentences again and apologising for all the fuss.

We drove to the hospital and I had to give his details all over again. Then we went through and sat with him while they did a 12-wire ECG  – normal, blood pressure, a bit low, pulse fine, oxygen sats 95, a bit low. Then they basically left us for over an hour. I think they were figuring that if he had damaged his head when he fell, he would exhibit some symptoms, but after an hour of me trying to get drinks out of a machine that only took one dollar bills, he was pretty much back to normal. He ate two Mars bars, which seemed to perk him up considerably. The doctor said he fainted – a mixture of dehydration, low oxygen saturation because of the liquid in his lungs, the heat and not having eaten a proper breakfast before taking his meds and going out in the Tropics. He told dad he could go, but when dad stood up to tuck his shirt in, he went a bit pale and said he was dizzy, so they laid him down again and put him on a saline drip for an hour. THEN we went back to the ship.

I think there was also caffeine or something in the drip, because dad was more perky and chatty during that taxi ride that I’ve seen him in days. The whole escapade cost fifty quid – including the ambulance, the ECG, the drip, and having a private room despite the fact that two women were treated in the corridor on trolleys –both having drips and one having a bandage applied and a conversation with a surgeon. It will probably come to less than the excess on the insurance policy! (FYI here, at least, EHICs are only relevant if you are admitted as an inpatient – they are not valid for outpatient care). Dad had a rest and then came to dinner as normal, looking just fine, although he used mum’s Luggie to get there, because he had damaged his (already bad) knee when he fell.

Scary afternoon but problem solved.

After dinner, I went back out – we weren’t leaving til 9pm – to see if I could find some postcards, but everything was shut, despite the whopping great cruise ship still sat in the port. Rather short-sighted, because lots of people were still milling around looking for stuff to do or buy. But their loss.

Sea Day 1 of 1

Not enough sea day for my liking. One, pah. That’s rubbish. Bring on the multiples, I need a rest.

Woken by the noon announcement. Warm but cloudy today. Lovely, actually – very pleasant. Sunday roast barbecue out on deck, too, which was nice. Went up to find mum and dad fast asleep. They both now have coughs and colds, which may be why yesterday was such hard work for all of us. Tomorrow will be fun…

The sea is quite purple today – cobalt blue in the sunlight, but definitely purple in the shade. Reminds that my painting teacher said that shadows are always purple.  And I’ve painted them that way ever since, and it never looks wrong, so she must be on to something. Maybe it’s like water actually being blue in colour? Maybe the air is too? Maybe we don’t just make it blue when we swear; maybe it’s always like that?

Had another massage today, while gazing out at the said blue stuff – sky and sea alike. I always think of the Caribbean as being quite narrow, but there is nothing but sea in any direction. Just us and a few bits of algae/seaweed – hard to tell the difference from fifty feet up; a brown strand of something is a brown strand of something. No more birds. Only had those between Huatulco and Aruba. I suppose we are too far away from land at the moment. Or possibly there’s just not much worth eating around here?!

Internet signal is a bit patchy here, which is odd. We’ve done quite well so far on this cruise. A couple of patchy signals at night, which presumably coincided with the entire United States logging on after work, but this is the first daytime problem I can recall (other than the in port jammings, of course). Oh well, I’ll just have to read a book or something. *sigh*

Saturday 23 April 2016 – Aruba

Happy St George’s Day. And Shakespeare’s birthday and deathday (allegedly).

And welcome to Aruba. Or, as my phone has just told me, welcome to Jamaica… ?! Erm…

I have had three text messages today so far. One from one of my credit cards, saying my credit limit has been increased. The next saying, oops, no it hasn’t, sorry. And then one from my other credit card saying your statement is available for account ending ****. That’s not my card number. What’s going on?! Has the entire UK credit card system gone haywire? If so, quick, buy stuff now, they’ll never know.

Hot, sticky, sunny, stupid weather. 30 in the shade and air so moist you can almost drink it. Draining people like leeches. Apparently, so many people collapsed due to dehydration in the Canal that the Medical Centre could not cope.

We pootled along the front, with mum in her Luggie and us trying to find dipped kerbs for her to use – rather few and far between, thanks very much, Oranjestad – via the new purpose-built terminal, that sadly has replaced the lovely stalls we went past last time. We stopped for a drink in The Paddock, the bar that Mac and I drank in last time we were here – it still has a cow and a tyrannosaurus rex on the roof, and a lovely view of the marina. But now the music is so loud the waiting staff cannot hear you, even when you ask them to turn the music down, which caused much amusement all round. “Please could you turn the music down”. “Sorry?” “EXACTLY. Please could you turn the music down!”. They didn’t, so we left. Shame, because if they had, we might have stayed longer, spent more money and we even dallied with the concept of eating there. Well, it’s their own stupid fault.

We asked the World’s Most Unhelpful Person In A Tourist Information Booth (and believe me there is competition for this award) where the nearest hotels were. He (eventually) said fifteen minutes away in a taxi. Then we asked if the building opposite his booth was the Renaissance Hotel. Yes. WTF?! I know you are very put out at being interrupted in the middle of a text message, but really, is that your best attempt at doing your job?!

In fact, we all noticed that people here are not very welcoming and not very helpful, and they are all uniformly OBSESSED with their phones. You have to beg them to look up long enough to take your money. It’s bizarre. I think they have become so blasé at the amount of money they take very time a ship comes in  – probably several a day at high season – that it’s just routine to them now. They really, truly don’t even bother to look up any more. Very sad. I hope the Americans are more forgiving than we are, because we were very put out. If I want to be ignored, I don’t need to travel halfway around the world for that – I can get it much nearer home for much less expenditure, thank you very much. Don’t think we’ll bother coming to Aruba any more. Mind you, if you’re a massage therapist or a chiropractor, looking to branch out, I recommend moving here. Because their necks are going to really start to hurt soon, and their posture is going to go to pieces. Mucho dinero in someone’s future, methinks.

We went into the Renaissance Hotel for lunch, in their excellent buffet, in their blessedly enthusiastic air conditioning. Our matzahs had survived the journey relatively unscathed, so mum had cheese sandwiches. I had a salad. Dad just had a drink. There was something on offer called tempura sushi. It looks, essentially, like they made perfectly good sushi, dipped it in batter and fried it. It looks horrible. I cannot vouch for the taste, obviously, but it doesn’t sound good either, does it? The ordinary sushi looked good, but no rice for me this week. *sigh*

Then we used the fairly good hotel signal to Skype home.

Back on board by 3pm. We all needed a rest. The humidity is very hard to deal with, if you’re not used to it.

Wore the new white top, that I bought in Korea, to dinner, and promptly splashed brown salad dressing on it. Marvellous. Then helped Dad fill in the World Cruise Event survey. Then washed the white top. Then an early night.

Sea Day 4 of 4

Seder night. Very little happened today that wasn’t preparation for the dinner in the evening. Except I had my ceremonial Last Bowl of Pasta – quite an emotional moment.

We had 14 at the table, including the captain and his wife. I think it ended up 50:50 Jews and non-Jews. We did it mostly in English, so that everyone could participate and understand, and we explained bits as we went.

Dinner took three hours from start to finish – although we did cut some bits from the service, in order to make it a little shorter. Not really sure that the non-Jews at the table were particularly interested in the petty word games and arguments between medieval rabbis!

The catering staff were amazingly helpful, and our Seder plate looked very good indeed. We used the wine, grape juice, haroseth, matzah and gluten-free matzah that we bought in San Francisco. And they stuck a lamb shank bone from the night before last’s dinner and an egg under a special grill they call a Salamander, which makes things very hot very fast, so that was impressively perfect.

After the egg and salt water, we had vegetable soup, poached salmon with new potatoes and broccoli, and sliced fruit platters for dessert. Everyone ate and everyone seemed happy. Turns out the captain’s wife is allergic to eggs! The captain said that, in over 40 years at sea, he had never been invited to a Seder.

We ate by the Neptune Pool, with the roof partly open – enough for a breeze, but not enough to let the rain in. Very pleasant, but not quite as private as we might have liked, and definitely a bit too warm. Very odd, having people walk past in their swimsuits while we were eating!

During dinner, I asked some of the Jews what they felt about the change in the kitniot rules last November. They had never heard of a change. So being told that, officially, corn, hummus, rice and several other yummy things, are no longer considered chametz was revelatory to them. I don’t think anyone is planning on changing their habits, mind you.

The oddest thing was that, an article I read recently said that there are only actually five chametz products in the texts: wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. Which, as a coeliac, made me laugh out loud. Because we can’t eat: wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt.  What puzzled me was that there was no mention whatsoever of yeast. Whether you allow pulses or rice or corn is one thing, but yeast only exists to make things rise, doesn’t it (marmite aside)?! So surely that would be forbidden? As usual, with any clarification in Jewish law, I am now more confused than I was before. Anyone care to clarify this for me?