Friday, April 23, 2004

(Very Sore . . .)


Well, Wednesday marked two weeks here. It has been a bit overcast for the past couple of days, but hasn't rained much. This week has been pretty busy. I have gotten the printing, envelopes, and correlation of the key cards pretty much down, and did them on my own for the past week. We got paid on Monday, but they had forgotten my week in Miami, so I had to put that in and just got it. If you ever wanted to hit someplace for money, don't hit a bank. Hit a Carnival ship on payday. They pay over 1,000 people for two weeks of work (and the accrued vacation) in cash all at one time. It is right in the open, and in a passenger-accessible place too.

Wednesday I decided to go to the beach in Barbados. I went back to the Boat Yard, and pretty much spent the day there. It is really an ingenious place, perfectly set up for tourists. It is, of course, an outdoor restaurant, but they have done everything possible to try to keep people there. They charge admission during the day, but give you chips so that if you are going to buy anything, admission really doesn't cost anything. You get a bracelet, which means that you really don't have to pay for anything on the beach that you normally would. They have kayaks, a water climbing wall (shaped a bit like an iceberg), lawn chairs, beach lounge chairs, umbrellas, and a water trampoline. They have their own short pier (it doesn't have to be that long, the beach drops off pretty quickly), and the whole side over the beach is a metal framework that is made to be the same height as a vinyl banner. They stretch them over it, and it looks like one long wooden sign, but in sections so that they can change the advertising at will. They pretty much just advertise the local beer and rum at the moment. Under the bridge, they have the obligatory service of putting corn rows in people's hair (men and women). Then, of course, they have lots of pay services, like jet skis, paragliding, snorkel excursions, glass-bottom boats, SCUBA excursions, etc. It is also a night club with two bars, a stage, a DJ, a second "shot stage" (where they give out free shots to people around it and have competitions), and a raised platform that you have to climb a ladder to that is above the center of the bar for people to dance on. Of course, they have a gift shop that you have to pass through to get to it. Interestingly enough, though, they sell very little in it. I would think that they could make a fortune selling beach towels alone, since there isn't anyplace on that beach to get them. However, they just have a tiny shop with a few sarongs and women's pullovers. Not even suntan lotion.

I decided to rent a jet ski, as I hadn't used one in years and the water looked pretty rough out a ways. A side note to anyone who happens to go there (or anyplace that Carnival goes), if you say that you work on the ship, they have a pretty significant discount for nearly everything (20% off in this case). Walking up and down stairs now seems like a sit in a hot tub compared to what I felt like after this. I was jumping huge waves, going around twelve feet in the air, and clearing a couple of peaks before landing. Occasionally I would take off on the crest of a large wave, and land in the trough of another large one, which was a sizeable drop. I didn't realize how bad it was 'till I got to shore. You have to stand while in the air and use your legs as shock absorbers when you hit if you don't want to get hurt. I felt like I had gone to the gym and done a half hour of solid squats. My arms and legs are still really sore and I still can't use the stairs, and it has been two days. When I got off the jet ski, I could barely walk. It was a great way to cover ground, though. I drove a couple of miles back to the ship to see it from the ocean side (and the other ships around it), and then across the entire bay to the other end of the beach, and then back through a ton of anchored boats. That only took up 10 minutes of my half hour. I then slowly explored some of the inlets from the ocean (there was a sunken ship in a commercial area, with no obvious attempts to move it, I hope to get a picture when I am able to walk to it next time). I went out to some of the catamarans that were taking out cruises, and finally came back before my time was up.

When I finally did walk it, the beach is gorgeous. Since there is so much at the Boat Yard, everyone is there. Walking a hundred yards in either direction, there is no one. In this picture, you can see the club in the distance, and there aren't 20 people between me and it (this is the same spot as the previous picture, just zoomed out). I walked to one end of the beach, where old boat parts had actually washed up on shore and became part of the rocks. Even an old propeller from a very large ship. When I actually went swimming, I went way down the other direction by where I drove through all of the anchored boats, and had a huge section of the beach entirely to myself for the whole time I was there (with the exception of the couple who took my picture before I got to the boats).

I came back, barely able to walk, and decided it was time for dinner.  I figured that it would be a while before I recovered enough to walk any more, so I decided to eat. The one downside of the place is that they charge quite a bit for food. It is just mediocre, but most meals are around $20 not including a drink. My total (I ordered cheaply) was $20 for food and drink, which was still too much. It reminds me of Coconuts in Cocoa Beach (where I spent part of my last Saturday in FL), but the food is a bit more expensive, and not nearly as good. This pretty much describes my next two hours (not the drinking, as I only had the one, but the atmosphere). I just sat in the shade and watched the sun go down. I did watch one guy who was completely out of place, I don't know what the story was with him. When I could stand again, I went out on the pier for an hour, watching the last bit of the sunset. As is usually the case, there were too many clouds on the horizon for a really good one (since I had my camera with me and all). I then had another drink and headed back to the boat.

When I got back, I just crashed. It was only 9:30 and I was supposed to go to the Spanish class at 10, but I was dead and VERY sore. The thought of getting up at 5:00 for the appointment that Mihai had set up for me didn't thrill me either, since I hadn't had much sleep lately.

Yesterday (Thursday) was one of our two sea days. It was unusually busy, though. Some people had broken into our kid's area Mac lab, and trashed the place. We watch kids 'till 3 am, so it must have been pretty late. They had broken open stereo and gaming equipment, poured Coke everywhere, and even poured it into the brand-new iMacs. There were a couple of printer issues, some people who needed help with Word and PageMaker, usual stuff. Just more than normal for some reason. They managed to destroy two of the motherboards this way. I watched Friends; they are down to the last three episodes (now 2). For those who didn't see it, it was pretty good, and seems to be tying up some random ends. I then went to a party thrown by the head purser, as two of her people had birthdays on the same day, and one was in his last week here. I don't know most of them, but she invited all both of the IS managers, and I figured that it would be good to get to know people. I asked her (when she made a request for people to bring DVD's) how big her place was, as she had invited 20 people or so. She said that it was huge, and that there was plenty of room. I was a bit shocked, as most employee rooms aren't that big, even for people with decent positions. It turns out that she was exaggerating a bit. We were crowded into the room like sardines, there were people on top of each other. She even seemed to be surprised at how small it looked with all of us there. It was good, though. We ended up watching one of my DVD's, the only one that I have that I hadn't seen. I got it just before leaving, it was My Boss's Daughter. A bit predictable, but really pretty funny. I left there to go to another birthday party that I was invited to by the girl who it was for. She works in the children's area, wanted as many people at her party as possible, and only had a couple of weeks left here. Again, not knowing anyone, but a decent chance to meet people. We met in the crew bar, then went to the disco, where there are more TV screens than in the rest of the ship put together. Instead of walls, it is just solid TV screens that are all linked together to make either one large video or hundreds of small identical videos.

I finally got to bed at 3:30, and slept like a rock. For the first time since his mom has been here, Mark got in after me. I was SO tired, I didn't even wake when he came in (which is an incredible rarity, for those who know me). Up at 7 to shower and eat breakfast, and now I'm off to Aruba to post this.