Thursday, May 13, 2004

(Stuck On The Ship In Barbados)

Since I had spent two days playing, it was now my time to take the pager for a couple of days. On one hand, it is a bit of a waste, as Mihai doesn't tend to go ashore anyways. On the other, I wouldn't want him to have to do all the work. He also gets to rest some, even if he isn't going ashore. I still have to page him from time to time with questions, so unfortunately I couldn't completely leave him alone. :(

So, yesterday was a Barbados day, but I was on the ship the whole day. I have been trying to make it a habit more and more lately to relax at times of the day. For instance, I tend to use most of an hour for breakfast, where I get to watch a bit of world news on the BBC news channel. I like it, and like the format. The one thing that I DON'T like, though, are the "teasers." On a U.S. news show, they show teasers right before the break of upcoming news stories. On the BBC news channel, it doesn't work this way. They show about 10 5-second clips, seemingly at random. They are often the same for several days, and they never have anything to do with any story that they are going to play that day. Sometimes they even cut off mid-sentence, and occasionally they are just a fact about something that happened that day in history, typed out on the screen at a rate nearly too fast for me (and most people know how fast I read). They are stories that they are going to play sometime over the next ten days, but they don't tell when and I obviously don't watch the news 24/7. They give a really good mix of news from around the world, rather than focusing on British news. Some of the stories are incredibly in-depth. They had one story where they tracked two high-school soccer players for THREE YEARS in South Africa. They were both very good, and hoping to go pro, one was white and one was black. It was supposed to be a story about whether or not the black people in South Africa now had the same opportunities in soccer as the white players, but it would be hard to be definitive with just two players. They studied every aspect of the two boy's lives, the sacrifices the poor child's parents had to make to get him to advance in soccer, etc.

I then take an hour at lunch, and another hour at dinner. I try to spend between 5 and 6 (when dinner starts) sitting out on deck to read. I often wait to go to dinner until around 6:30 or 7 so that I can watch the sun set. Last night's was a really good one, here are five pictures of it: 1  2  3  4  5. There was a sailboat that (from a distance) I thought was similar to mine coming in at dusk, but it turned out to be a catamaran. At both breakfast and dinner I get a decaf cappuccino. I'd probably drink decaf coffee at breakfast, but they only have regular. I would think that more people would drink decaf coffee than decaf cappuccino, but I have given up trying to analyze their motives. Heck, you can have all the milk (in the tiny, pre-packaged containers) and juice that you want, but you have to buy Coke. In fact, they don't have Coke fountains on the boat anywhere, they even use cans of Coke to mix drinks in the bars. If you buy the syrup by the box, coke is about ten times cheaper than milk, even more so yet with the pint cardboard milk that they give us. It works out fine for me, though, since I don't drink Coke anymore but drink lots of milk.

I was really tired Tuesday night, both from the swimming of Tuesday and the kayaking of the day before. I still am not sleeping well, but I was so tired at dinner that I figured that I would finally sleep. Even though there was a crew disco, I decided to skip it and go to bed at 10. I knew that last night I'd be going to see the crew movie, which doesn't even start until 11:30. I, of course, never fell asleep, and finally got up at 7 to shower for breakfast. Somewhere the little guy sitting at the control desk in the middle of my brain is laughing hysterically.

Even though I was tired last night, I dragged myself to see "The Recruit." It was entertaining and decent. It had some actors that I really like (Al Pachino and Colin Farrel) and moved along pretty well. I think that they were working too hard for the surprise ending and weren't subtle enough with the hints, so it was a bit predictable. It was worth watching, however. As long as I am entertained, I'm happy like going to see a movie. I am impressed with one thing, they actually resisted the incredible temptation to drive the wrong way down a one-way street in the car chase. I think that it is the first car chase I have ever seen without it, in fact I actually found myself waiting for it. There are a number of movies that are out right now that I want to see. I may try to see one of them in Aruba tomorrow night. There is a beach party at Mancheebo Beach also, which I am going to attend after uploading this.

Something that I have been meaning to tell you about is the impressive way that they cleaning gets carried out here. Obviously they do the routine cleaning of bathrooms and dining room tables and rooms. However, there are literally millions of surfaces here. There are shelves, baseboards, door and window trim, balcony glass, and thousands of odd-shaped nooks and crannies (since, obviously, the ship isn't a rectangle). Every public passenger area is walled in corrugated copper, which collects dust like crazy. Outside of the normal cleaning crews, there is a small army of people to maintain all of this. They have a rotating schedule of cleaning what I deem "odd places." They work on the baseboards of the employee hallways every "x" number of days, they take a small brush and clean every single curve in the corrugated copper and where it terminates in the wall every "x" number of days, they clean the railings and glass on the stairways. They scrub all of the wood, inside and outside, and every "x" number of times the steward cleans a room he/she also has an extra set of duties. You could run your finger on any surface on the ship whatsoever with a white glove and come up clean. They even have four or five guys who do absolutely nothing but paint full-time. Every inch of employee hallway, all of the outside walls, the elevator shafts, and all of the pipes and wiring gets painted every "x" number of weeks. They even made us take everything out of each of our storage areas, they painted the floors, and had us put everything back. It is a VERY fast-drying paint, and they hand-paint all of it (no power sprayers). It is like watching a bunch of worker ants cleaning and/or painting every square inch of the boat. I can't imagine making up the schedules for that stuff, nor can I imagine being one of the poor people who has to constantly be working at odd angles or on their hands and knees cleaning the "odd places." It is really amazing to see. Of course, it all has to be done in the presence of guests, as there are guests on board the ship 24/7/365.

Well, it is now just after 2, and I have slept even less this week than I have in the past several. So I am off to bed, and will wish you Buenos Noches (even though my Spanish teacher is leaving for six weeks and we aren't sure if the girl who said that she'd teach it in the meantime is actually going to follow through). Hopefully between the drill and the beach I'll get this out tomorrow (today) . . .