Monday, April 18, 2011

Heading for the Continental Divide

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sea Day, Carnival Night

It was a typically lazy sea day interrupted only by a losing Trivia effort and a long nap. The night was different, though.

This was the fifth[?] formal night of the cruise. There will be nine eventually, an average of one per week. Tonight’s was special because it was also a theme night. Passengers were encouraged to get masks in the Venetian style as if we were celebrating Carnival. Many wore or brought their masks to dinner and several were in costume in the MDR. We got into the spirit of the evening in our limited fashion.

When we were in Venice, we made a point of purchasing masks. We did not want anything too expensive since this is a one-shot usage and eventually bought masks at a kiosk in a string of similar establishments on the promenade facing Grand Canal near San Marco. MA wanted a full-face mask on a stick so she could hold it up without actually putting it on; she wanted a red mask to match her outfit for dinner. We found one for only 10€ which we thought was reasonable. D’s was also a full-face mask but it tied on rather than being mounted on a stick. His was a jester’s mask complete with bells on the cap [for the love of God, Montressor!]. His mask being blue, he coordinated his tux by wearing a bright blue bow tie and cummerbund. We were indeed a lovely couple.

The problem with D’s mask was that if he tied the mask on, he could barely breathe and could neither eat nor drink. The mask kept slipping so he could hardly see even though it did fit over his glasses. Perhaps without the glasses the mask would have fit better but then he would not have been able to see either. As a result, the mask sat on a chair at the next table during dinner and was held in place in the Ocean Bar during cocktail time.

After dinner we surprised ourselves by going to the International Ball. Most of the attendees had masks of some sort, even the officers. Indeed, the Captain had a lovely Phantom-of-the-Opera type of mask he wore throughout the evening’s festivities. There were “officers’ dances” during which the officers of both genders danced with passengers; after each dance, one lucky passenger won a prize. When one lady one a prize after dancing with the captain, she was unable to identify him – she didn’t know with whom she was dancing!

Between dances there were raffle questions. Names were drawn from slips submitted by the guests and if their names were called, they won prizes if they could answer questions about international destinations. Alas, our names were not called so we received no cheap ship’s champagne. What a relief!

There was also a parade of costumes during which those passengers who wanted to could walk through the showroom and show off their masks or costumes. We chose not to but did enjoy looking at the creativity and/or courage of those who did. Some should have known better, but it was all in good fun. The winners got more cheap ship stuff but no free drinks. Overall, Thom worked hard to get everyone excited but it reminded us of a Mary Richards party – the heroine of the old Mary Tyler Moore show never had a party which wasn’t a dud.

We left after about an hour, eager to escape the heat of the showroom. Tomorrow looks to be a busy day and we wanted to get to bed.

Tomorrow – a busy sea day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Even Paul Revere Could Not Have Kept Up With Us

“Listen my children and you shall hear/of the midnight ride of Paul Revere/ On the 18th of April in ‘75/ hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year.”

Yes, today is the anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride through the Boston countryside. We were racing around, too, and he would have been hard pressed to catch us.

We had an early breakfast because we had a Cruise Critic meet-and-greet scheduled for 10:00. As unofficial group leaders, we feel an obligation to arrive early. Even so, when D entered the Crow’s Nest at 9:20, Bob & Judy [who had made the name tags] were already there. MA wasn’t far behind and people straggled in even after we began the unorganized [as compared to disorganized] meeting. By the time everyone showed up, we probably had upwards of 60 people, but that’s just a guess. The cookies, pastries, fruit and vegetables were put out just in case there were people who hadn’t gotten enough to eat yet on the ship. Actually, some people find 10:00 to early on a sea day, so we were really providing them with breakfast.

D began with a few announcements about trips and signing in which most people politely ignored. After that, they broke into their own groups to finalize plans for shore excursions or just to schmooze. Some folks announced openings in their tours and others pointed out that they had no more room. At least one tour leader’s husband was loud and abrasive in his dealings with the group which did not endear him to anyone. Overall, we get along quite well despite some good-natured kidding [Who else other than D would belly-bump with Ken?]

The meeting dwindled down to a precious few and we proceeded to schlep the leftovers down to the Ocean Bar to share with the Trivials. We placed everything including plates and napkins on the bar and let anyone who was interested help themselves. Many did. Kevin even announced the presence of the food and its origins and was met with resounding silence broken only by the sounds of people eating. By the end of Trivia, most of the food was gone; we took some fruit and pastries back to room for breakfast tomorrow, our way of avoiding an early arrival of the room service tray.

Trivia was another losing effort. Maybe we need to wear our team hats backwards. Samples –

-- Who wrote The Inferno?
-- Which US Supreme Court Justice once belonged to the KKK?

-- What was the one animal which was allowed into Roman temples?

-- To the nearest pound, how much is 9 kg?

-- Name the actor who played Napoleon Solo on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

MA had a 2:00 nail appointment, so we ate lunch earlier than usual. So far we have raced from breakfast to Cruise Critic to Trivia to Lunch to the Salon. Whew! We finally got a bit of rest between 3 and 4:30 when we had to get dressed for this evening’s Seder service which began at 5:30. Busy! Busy! Busy!

When we arrived at the Lido restaurant at 5:25, we fund that there were almost no seats left. Luckily, Ed and Roxanne had come earlier and had claimed a table for four. We were so far away from the center of the action that we could barely see the rabbi. We had no trouble hearing, however, since one of the seats was less than a foot from a loudspeaker. Ed and Roxanne said the place was packed when they got there at 5:15 [for the 5:30 Seder] and presumed that people began arriving well before 5:00.

The rabbi, Arthur Starr, traveled with us to Rabat a while back, so we know him and his wife. They eat dinner at eh table next to ours and Arthur now plays Trivia with Ken and Lois’s team. We are not strangers, in other words. Still, D was surprised when Arthur asked him to read a portion of the service aloud. Perhaps a half-dozen participants had been chosen to read aloud. We could barely hear the ones from the other end of the Lido and we are sure that they had trouble hearing D. It’s been a long time since he had to speak loudly in a cafeteria.

The service moved smoothly. Arthur explained things as he went along because a number of those in attendance had never been to a Seder before. Even the captain and Lesley were there along with Thom and Tina. The Protestant minister and Roman Catholic priest were also there along with a number of non-Jews including our friend Louise Flanagan. It is a holiday in which Jews are encouraged to include gentiles, so this was a definite success.

Considering the unexpectedly large crowd, the kitchen staff did well. We had [commercial] gefilte fish, salty matzoh ball soup and roast chicken. There was fresh fruit for dessert and some tables had macaroons but ours was left out. Poor us!

We were finished by 8:00 and many folks rushed out to see the comedian. We returned to the cabin to pack for our overnight in Cairo. It struck everyone including Arthur as ironic that we were celebrating the Exodus from Egypt on the night before we entered Egypt. We are all hoping for a safe deliverance on Wednesday so we can then enter Israel. When the service included the line, “Next year in Jerusalem,” we all changed it to “Thursday in Jerusalem.”

Tomorrow – Wandering for Forty Hours in the Desert, More or Less

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