I needed this time away a lot more than I realized. Which I’m sure is a surprise to absolutely no one, not even myself in hindsight. While I find myself thrust back into the craziness of life and required to use my best words other places right now, let me at least share some relatively unedited pictures and tales, disjoined as they may be, from the eleven days I spent footloose and fancy free.
Our adventures the first day were without incident and with only minor turbulence. Happily, all of our seven (!!!) bags consisting of three large suitcases, two carry on suitcases, and two backpacks made it just fine, although my new bubble lens may possibly be considered a threat to national security with the fervor with which they examined our camera bag. While I joked that the kitchen sink might perhaps be in one of them, half of the space is dedicated to diving and photography and video gear so I only felt moderately ridiculous about it.
The inaugural vacation day’s highlights included reading, a nap, two games of cards with the ‘rents (though losing both games was not), and a trip to the deli of all delis for the Publix sub of which I’ve been dreaming for two years.
The next morning began with a sunny and steamy Florida 5k run. The procession from shore to ship was quite smooth and pleasant, and we spent our first moments on the ship exploring all the inside decks with our cameras. This was our inaugural voyage on Celebrity Silhouette, and I found myself wayyyyy too preoccupied in the time leading up to do recon, so everything was new and shiny. It was actually rather novel to discover all the nooks and crannies (and all the nifty art) firsthand over the first few days!
I don’t often get an opportunity to see the sunrise, so when I found myself up fifteen minutes before our expedition to Grand Cayman to shore dive, I trekked up to the top deck. I intended to take just a few pictures but I ended up spending almost half an hour watching it grow even more and more brilliant.
I finished Siddhartha the day before. Loosely quoted from the book, “I can do three things. I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” I had been a little thin on patience lately, it’s a good reminder to practice that a little more. Patience to fully appreciate the sunrise. Patience to get that perfect shot of that wily fish that wants to turn just when you click the shutter. Patience in all things.
It was great to clear my brain in preparation for our descent.
In Grand Cayman, I met an octopus named Trevor, caused my husband to have to answer the question, “did you get a divorce at sea”, got myself the first inkling of a sunburn (first and last time all trip), and remembered how much I love shore diving with just Zliten instead of with a big group.
It was nice to have a chance to dress up every evening. I got a chance to wear some new, and new old clothes that haven’t fit me in a while. It was also nice to get some compliments on them. I’m so new about actually kind of caring about my appearance again, it’s nice to know I’m doin’ it right when I get out the makeup and do something with my hair.
Besides my octopus, I met plenty of octogenarians (and plenty of younger folks as well, though at forty we were definitely on the younger side of the average age of this ship’s passenger manifest), frolicked in my pajamas on the dance floor while most of the ship was asleep, and viewed a sunrise and sunset on the same day from different sections of the same deck.
During sea days, I feel like I sunk into a relaxed mode fairly quickly. I lost and recovered an hour more times than a reasonable human should, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes not. I found a routine involving entirely too much food (though somehow I still find myself a few lbs down at the moment – magic!), some activity, gym-like or not, cards, and jockeying for the primo spot to read my book on the pool deck. I felt the tangles in my soul unwind themselves, which was a relief to me and very possibly everyone else in my life.
The last few days have found a routine involving entirely too much food, some activity, gym-like or not, cards, and jockeying for the primo spot to read my book on the pool deck. I feel like the tangles in my soul have unwound themselves, which is a relief to me and very possibly everyone else in my life.
Diving the ABC islands was excellent, for the most part. I kicked off three sequential days of diving in Aruba, the scene of my first blue water dive, six years ago to the month.
Sadly, Aruba’s visibility was poor, but we had the opportunity to dive two wrecks, the Antilles and the Perdinalles, which was unique. We saw TWO frogfish, a ray, and quite a few other gorgeous sea creatures. Did not love diving with the group. I’ve become a bougie diver. Ah well.
Curacao was the diving situation of dreams. We embarked from a sleepy, chill dive shop with a house reef steps away that I could dive for a week repeatedly. This was the nicest introduction to a new island yet! The staff was friendly, they had a resident parrot that screamed, sang, mooed, meowed, and said hello as the mood struck. They also drove us back to the docks for free instead of calling us a cab, as requested. The Atlantis Dive Shop will hold fond memories for me.
Bonaire, and returning to Dive Friends, was well worth the mile-each-way hike carrying about 35 lbs of gear on our backs. My dedication to weight training has definitely helped me – even last year I think I would have been miserable ruck sacking all my gear around – and this year it was totally no big deal. While I definitely have a little crush on Curacao after our first encounter, Bonaire is the island that’s stolen my heart. I’m fairly certain I’ll own a little piece of it someday. The dives were spectacular as expected and I can’t wait to return for two weeks in December.
We surpassed over eleven hours underwater in the four days of diving, and then we boarded our vessel once more for the long sail north.
After our last dive in Bonaire, we became acquainted with a large group of Canadians that singlehandedly ran the ship out of Bud Light. The next day, I figured, eff it, why not wear my smallest bikini exposing all my jellyfish stings and diving bloat? Then, because I am an unreasonable and illogical human, I consumed not one, not two, but THREE plates of lobster at dinner. We frolicked for an hour at our first silent disco, and it will not be our last. That was wayyyy too fun.
The last thing I did before bed the last night was sing Black Velvet with a backup band in front of about 100 people. Let me tell you, folks, Bandaoke, as the call it, was a higher degree of difficulty (no lyrics that highlight as the music plays) and for some reason, it was like twenty times more intimidating. Nothing much makes my legs quake these days and that did, although my husband said I hid it well. Feeling that level of (totally irrational) fear was odd for me, and now I need to go sing more because, dang, I could do way better and man, I felt really ALIVE after performing!
It was nice to be, not having to be something, for eleven days. I’m all for growth, but part of growth is rest and recovery. This was a pleasant interlude.
I figured I’d have more deep thoughts this trip, but honestly, the only thing that kept coming to mind was “don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good”. In my pursuit of excellence in things, sometimes it’s grand (and utterly necessary, for sanity’s sake), to take a glance in the rear view mirror to appreciate progress already gained. Cruising on a ship as the youngins reminded me how much more life I still have, even if hitting a certain milestone lately MAY have kicked some ambitions into overdrive. I’ve got time. As Billy Joel says, Vienna waits for me.
I honestly ended this trip excited to get back to it. To return to the crazy of work, eating like a human being that doesn’t need four plates of food at dinner, training for my upcoming race (t-minus 5 days!), and achieving things and being better. It’s in my blood. I just need to remember to be ENOUGH sometimes even when I’m pursuing MORE.