Vacation Journal Day 2
The day started much earlier than I had hoped for, I was woken up before sunrise by the energizer bunny. She reminded me of how I had said we would watch the sunrise on the first morning, although it was ok if I wanted to go back to sleep. I begrudgingly acquiesced and in return had the immense pleasure of watching an incredibly beautiful sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico. I took a lot of photos, which was my intention when planning on this (when I was less tired). The best part though was getting to share the experience with my daughter. Watching the sky turn from pale blue, to orange, to bright blue, seeing the clouds fight, fail & then fade away. It was a mesmerizing start to the day.
Unfortunately the early start meant we either had to wait a few hours for breakfast in the formal dining room onboard or brave the buffet on the lido deck (deck 10, apparently lido refers to an outdoor pool and surrounding facilities). The buffet was not the best of ideas with hindsight, it was so incredibly crowded when we got there, my grumpiness immediately returned. The food was meh at best (technical culinary) & the line for the coffee was infuriating. Fortunately the coffee was worth the wait, 2 cups of coffee later and life was beginning to feel better.
After breakfast we explored the ship a little, allowing the days initial gorging to settle, we discovered the outdoor promenade on deck 5, the aptly named Promenade deck. This wooden floored piece of awesomeness allows you to walk around the entire ship on the exterior. My personal favorite part was to stand at the very front & feel the ocean breeze.
Next up I began the challenge of balancing relaxation and attentive parenting. This was tough initially, my wife had gone to the gym & I was in no mood to play in the frigid swimming pool, I wanted to sit in the glorious sunshine & read my book. So my daughter went to splash in the pool as I read my book, the energizer bunny went to splash, returning every 90 seconds or so to request company. I swiftly capitulated and joined her in the very cold pool. (Un)fortunately her penchant for open mouthed swimming, in the sea salt pool, made it a brief initial venture. A mouthful of water cured her discomfort and we enjoyed the sun for a while. Faith in a towel burrito warming up and me enjoying David Foster Wallace’s account of his tennis playing youth. My wife joined us on deck as we were swimming again, more voluntarily this time after an hour baking in the Caribbean sun.
Next up it was time for Jr & I to hit the water park, yes the boat is so big it has a water park, the twisting yellow tunnel thrilling her to no end. I on the other hand am a remarkably slow water slider, I’m not sure how, but I never build up speed. The unfortunate side effect of this slowness is that I can feel every joint in the tube, rather acutely, but it was fun anyway. A quick go on the 3ft kids slide and we climbed back up to try the orange slide. Standing wet on the stairs, fully exposed to the ocean wind was bracing to say the least. The excitement of my daughter made it more than worthwhile though. The ride resembled, what I imaging, being flushed down the toilet is like. A slow initial twisting faze followed by a fast drop into an open bowl that you span around. The steep drop was enough to remove my propensity for pedestrian water sliding, making it thoroughly entertaining.
After my turn in the waterslide we switched parental entertainment duties and I returned to the sun and my book. I held a brief conversation with a nice young man from Indiana (his name escapes me), however my small talk skills are still atrocious. It is my intention to practice the FORM method at some point on this trip (Family, Occupation, Recreation & Misc – it is a framework to help the conversationally challenged come up with things to start & carry on a conversation with complete strangers).
After cooling off in briefly the pool I laid face down, felt the sun massage my back and enjoyed the dance hall reggae. This music is like soul food to me, it takes me home, no matter where home is, it is still comforting. It may seem strange that a caucasian guy from norther England is reminded of home by reggae. However I grew up close to an afro-caribbean community & reggae was part of my life from middle school on. I really should listen to it more often, I have a woeful collection of maybe 2 cds.
Once the DJ switched from reggae to 70s disco & other assorted dance music, it was no longer relaxing, so onto lunch. Lido dining is a chaotic zoo, a little much for me, but I had pizza & curry (off combo), plus double desert so I made it through. I am going to need to spend a lot of time in the gym on return from vacation!
Our venture to the 2nd pool area was cut short by strange biting gnats, at sea! Really? Only we could find that, lol. So we retired to the shady side of the ship and an hour in the hot tub. Now I am writing on the balcony waiting for the shower to free up. Next up Photos & exploring.
Tonight was the first “formal” dinner. It is where you get to dress up in your fancy clothes, enjoy dinner & a musical / theatrical show & have your photo taken so many times you either feel famous or jaded. After dinner we walked around having our photo taken, then we found an elderly lady who was dancing by herself. My wife & daughter decided to join her, she taught them the shuffle(?) & they did the Macarena together. Unfortunately I was still unable to get over myself & leave my position on the side of the dance floor. I did get video of it, although I don’t have permission to share it. The lady was fantastic, an absolute inspiration causing me to look deep within to try & figure out why i wasn’t dancing. It was a fun evening, we left the show early though because the little one was tired, retiring early to the room allowed for a special treat though.
I went out onto our balcony to enjoy the fresh air & vast dark nothingness. In the distance I saw a white bird flying alongside the ship, at night in the middle of the ocean. The bird looked to be struggling in the wind, but was putting up a good fight. He then swooped over the ship, back out to sea & took off into the distance, no longer struggling but flying free, laughing in the face of the giant boat.
We were a long way from land, I don’t know if the bird had been riding on the ship or if it was just a long distance flier. Parts of me was hoping it was some life changing spiritual moment, but alas, it was (I think) just a bird at sea. Still I had this thought & maybe this small though was spiritual enough: Fly free like that bird. Follow the Lord’s path for you. Beautiful white bird at night, looked for all the world to be struggling, but really was just playing to his audience (me). For the struggles of this world will never overcome the power of the Lord to save, heal & redeem.