Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Seas The Day?

Have you ever wished you could freeze a perfect moment in time? This summer at my Baba and Gido's 70th wedding anniversary, I glanced over at my Baba and Gido as my talented Aunties and cousin performed my Gido's favourite song. My Baba was smiling from ear to ear and my Gido's eyes had welled up with tears. He was obviously touched by their voices and all the family and friends who traveled far and wide to Meath Park, Saskatchewan, to show their love and support. I recall that moment vividly. The love in that room was palpable. I consciously made the effort to take a mental snapshot in my brain, as that moment in time felt so incredibly special. About 3 weeks later, My Gido was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. On October 20, just over 2 months after that special day, my Gido passed away at the age of 90 years.

My Gido loved to farm. He was a very dedicated, hard-working and successful farmer and land owner. Some of my favourite Gido memories include sitting in the combine with him, while he explained and demonstrated the function of the endless display of buttons and levers. Despite his ailing health, my Gido was still farming in mid-September. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I picture him now, in his heaven, wandering through the perfect canola field in his rubber boots. We will all miss him very much. My heart breaks for my Baba. She is a very strong, inspiring woman. She told me that she knows it's time to close that chapter of her book and begin a new one, but I can only imagine how difficult that must be after 70 years of marriage. Theirs was a true love story. 

Baba and Gido at our wedding in 2005

I experienced one of the hardest realities of living so far from home…I couldn't get back in time to be with my family for my Gido's funeral. It sucked. I spent an entire night awake, searching for flights that would get me to Saskatchewan within a few days. There were no flights under $3500 and less than 30 hours in length. The itineraries were ridiculous, with overnights in Cancun and Jamaica. I finally conceded that, given my present health (still dependent on that damn crutch), it just didn't make sense to spend 30 hours traveling each way for 2 days at home. I have never been so homesick in my life. I really wanted to be with my Dad, my Baba, my sister, and my extended family. I am so looking forward to going home for Christmas this year. 

A few months ago, I had booked a cruise for Evan and I during my half-term break. Knowing that getting back to Saskatchewan was off the table, and that the cruise was non-refundable, Evan and I decided to go on the 5 day cruise, hoping to relax and enjoy some quiet time away together. Plus, Evan and I have always wanted to visit Turks and Caicos and this was the only ship that included Turks in its itinerary during my school break. 

I'm not sure why I booked a cruise for us. To be perfectly honest, I find the cruise ship tourists to be quite annoying here on the island. I reasoned that perhaps I find cruise ship tourists annoying  because I am typically driving through them, attempting to get to work on time. Maybe if I was on holidays, I could thoroughly enjoy being an annoying cruise ship tourist as well. I mean, cruisers always look so carefree and oblivious when I almost hit them with my car. I wanted to be carefree and oblivious. I was wrong. I won't go as far  to say that the cruise was a mistake, but well, uh, it wasn't ideal.
I see land - we can make a jump for it!

Within an hour of arriving on the ship, still docked in Fort Lauderdale, I found myself seated in a buffet area, surrounded by intense volume. The people who stood and ate directly from the buffet table ate and spoke LOUDLY. The man who belched rudely from his table belched LOUDLY. The group of party animals who downed shot after shot whilst chanting, "USA! USA!" chanted LOUDLY. Wide-eyed and desperate, I looked across the table at Evan. Could we still get off the ship? We hadn't actually left our port just yet. I could still see the crew untying our ship from the dock. Could we jump? I could jump. Screw the knees! And right there, in the "country comfort buffet," barely 2 hours into our cruise, I began sobbing LOUDLY. 

"I don't want to be here. I want to be with my family. These people are too loud. This is awful!" I choked, chin trembling.

My always calm and cool husband took my hands in his and said, "Kirst. It's OK. This is where the knobs congregate. This is knobville. We will find the calm and quiet part of the ship and we will have a great time together."

He was right. We did find a quiet area of the ship and we did enjoy our time together. I would not; however, choose to go another cruise like that one again. Ever. 

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? 

For one, everyone on the ship had knee problems. Or so it seemed. One-crutching around the ship was impossible without being stopped by someone who eagerly wanted to share their knee surgery tale. Ugh. Evan joked that I was like one of those bitchy contestants on the Bachelor - I was NOT there to make friends. Instead of stopping when a fellow passenger began sharing his riveting knee surgery story, I would simply snap, "I've had 7 knee surgeries" and angrily one-crutch away. Evan even resorted to holding up 7 fingers mockingly upon my angry exits. Haha. Oh dear. As far as I was concerned, no one on that ship had knees as bad as mine. On one interaction, a LOUD woman bellowed, "Oh honey, I know exactly how you feel!" as I turned to bark back my "7" story, I noticed that her leg was amputated from above the knee. Oops. I smiled meekly. She won. I was officially a cruise ship BIATCH. 

Craving a quiet and relaxed holiday, I was repelled by the intensity that my fellow cruisers were holidaying. I get it, some people only get 5 days off work to party like it's 1999, and we are incredibly lucky to live in a vacation destination. Maybe I used to vacation like this? On the other hand, even when I had limited vacation time and lived in a frigid climate, I have never been rude to servers on holidays nor have I ever had such little consideration for the people around me. Evan and I watched from a safe distance as each day, for 4-5 hours, the same group of middle-aged partiers guzzled Budweiser, belly flopped into the pool, and chanted "Hell YA WHOOOHOOOO!"(Apparently the universal language for "I am having fun.") Mouths gaping open, Evan and I stared in disbelief. Ev commented, "It's like we're at the zoo…but we're in the cage with the monkeys." Yep. The icing on the cake was when, at 11am, one gregarious partier began yelling insistently at the bartender, "One More!" signalling for a shot. By 1pm, and more than a dozen shots later, her face had officially fallen off. She slurred something incoherent to her spouse from across the pool. When he turned to attend to her, she responded with a…ahem…umm I don't even know how to write this…oral sex gesture. (I'd like to take this moment to apologize to my Baba and Grandma and anyone who has to demonstrate what that gesture looks like to them). That actually happened. Gross. Me. Out. The sideways rain for 4 days straight, along with a good bout of seasickness (puke!) just about finished me off. The grand finale was when the ship, mere miles away from the Turks coastline, had to turn and head back to sea, forgoing the port, due to dangerous weather conditions ("Bye Turks!") 

I'm just going to turn my chair around and pretend that I never saw that

Now I know I've painted a dismal picture, but to be honest, it wasn't ALL bad. There were some wonderfully good moments. I thoroughly enjoyed my tea and fruit on my balcony every morning, peacefully listening to the waves crash against the ship. On an island in the Bahamas, I was able to find a tiny chapel on the beach and silently say a prayer for my Gido and my family. I just wanted to feel close to them and that quiet little chapel was the perfect place for me to seek solace amidst the chaos. Evan and I were also able to spend some much needed time together, bonding over this "unique" experience, people-watching and discussing the disarray around us. Finally, I was so impressed with the service on the ship and was able to meet some amazing people who worked for the cruise line. One waiter stood and talked to me about his life and family in Bali for over an hour. One sweet staff member confided that she had just recently discovered that she was pregnant with her Spanish boyfriend's baby. I listened and nodded as she explained how scared she was to tell her disapproving South African parents. One Dominican bartender, Pedro, had the most contagious smile that I had ever experienced. I have never met someone who appeared to be so genuinely happy, despite the demands he was facing from my fellow passengers. He was inspiring…and he made an amazing margarita. Overall, the crew was phenomenal. If I could have cruised with the crew, it would have been a much different experience.

Our quiet spot - far from "Knobville"

Dinners together were the perfect people-watching experience

Best. Margarita. Ever. Drink until I forget about that nasty gesture. Haha. 

island in the Bahamas - the one beautiful day of sunshine

Our fabulous waitstaff

Pedro, the happiest man in the world!

Our peaceful balcony

Oh well. I realize now that I was not in the right frame of mind for such a vacation. Lesson learned. It felt really nice to return to Cayman, cuddle our pets, and Skype with my family. Despite being back at work, my tranquil little casa on the sea feels like the right "holiday" for me right now. whooohooo (that's my serene version). 

Crutches in paradise

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