~~~The last 11 days have been wonderful beyond compare and miserable beyond imagining. Why? Because I was "home" but I wasn't able to stay.
"Home" is ship life as you probably already know. I love it. I miss it. The constant travel. The constant change. The constant hello and goodbye. The constant feeling of being home and only going to land for vacation. To me, the constant change is my stability.
It was a temptation of love.
To walk across that gangway.
To walk the halls.
Feel the familiarity.
Make the new friends and reacquaint with the old.
Stare at the stars at night and feel how grateful you are to be you and to be alive.
Struggle to stay awake as others struggle to keep down lunch due to the waves; waves that lull you to sleep and others to sickness.
It was in my hand and in my heart for a short 11 days. How badly it hurt to walk down those hallways one last time, hear the familiar beep as my key card was scanned indicating I was disembarking, suitcase in hand, and walk down that gangway with no knowledge I'll ever return. My heart was torn even though I had come knowing it was just a temptation and wouldn't last. Like letting someone smell their favorite food, and get just a taste, but not eat the whole meal.
Still, I truly enjoyed the time I spent this cruise and I'll share the fun with all of you!
The cruise started with a couple of sea days. I love sea days. They're the only time to catch up on all the sleep you've been missing in life and on port days. Of course, what usually happens is I find so much to keep me occupied that I don't get much extra but the thought is there :)
Cliff brought Boggle so he attempted to beat me again. Let's just say I haven't lost my Boggle touch :)
He made up for it though by consistently beating me at ping pong. With less than a game a year these days, my skill level has decreased dramatically. Still, it was lots of fun to get in some good practice.
Cliff also brought the entire series of Harry Potter movies after having heard I hadn't seen them all. So we watched the first two over the course of the cruise. That was a nice way to relax and yet be entertained when there was nothing either of us were interested in on board.
|Enjoying drinks at the first sail away.|
|Leaving port and watching the sunset. Not a bad way to spend part of my day.|
|Posing on my Segway.|
|While others were taking pictures of the waves, I found a small tree to climb :)|
The segway tour was so much fun. If I could have gone faster it would have been even more fun. Next time the race will be on!!
|Getting ready to start the day.|
|Fresh juice was a refreshing sustenance for our day. Drinking it beach side didn't hurt the ambiance :)|
|Saw a plane come in for landing at the famous beach. We were driving so we couldn't stop to watch the whole thing but we were also safe from the jets.|
|Getting ready to parasail for the first time. I can now say I've been there, done that.|
|I would venture to say that hiking up the mountain and running back down is more fun than parasailing in front of it. But that's probably just me :)|
Sunday everything was closed, but Cliff, a mutual friend and me found an open restaurant for lunch and enjoyed a short walk around town before sail away.
|Restaurant was half inside, half outside. It also had lots of character.|
|The decor behind me (I'm seated at our table) was beautiful and also functional. At one point, the waiter had to excuse himself to reach for something behind me.|
|The only other thing we found open was the library. It was beautiful, inside and out!|
|Inside the library.|
|The favorite of the public rooms that I saw at the resort. So much color and texture and eccentricity. In love!|
|It was so peaceful and tranquil everywhere. Surrounded by beautiful greenery and idyllic locations.|
|Here I'm posing in the archway from two of the main public areas. The footpaths lead all around the gardens. You could be happily lost for hours.|
|The beach was windy that day but the sand was nice and the water was refreshing.|
|The hiking mountain. While we were hanging out on the beach, a young girl came down from hiking to take a dip in the water. What an awesome day that could be for me!|
St. Lucia was the longest of all the days. I ended up napping a bit (as much as was possible in my situation) trying to make it the whole day.
|This was the feeling of the bus ride all day. Napping was not that successful.|
|This was our first get out and walk around stop on the tour, a wood working art studio. It was incredible all the sculptures this guys could carve.|
|This was my favorite of them all. The howling or calling elephant. It's so beautiful.|
|Next we went to a gorgeous look out point. It was windy, but the water was so blue it was breathtaking.|
|Then we went up to the highest point on the island. It was incredible. The view as much as all the bus drivers skills of getting into and out of such as small space.|
|I'm glad the bus drivers were good because there wasn't much room for error.|
|There was a quick stop at a merchants area right on the beach. The flowers and trees were so pretty, I took pictures instead of shopping.|
|Next we stopped at a working plantation. The lady in green was out tour guide around the property. I set out on my own for most of it taking pictures and exploring at will :)|
|There were many stepping stones but I thought this one was inspiring so I captured it in monochrome for its artistic beauty.|
|There were several small ponds, most with lily pads, but this one with the small dock was my favorite.|
|An old water wheel on the property. I love the tree in this photo.|
|Next we traveled to a cocoa plantation. This was my favorite part where there were so many natural herbs.|
|The local lunch at the cocoa plantation. There was no chocolate for dessert :(|
|The cocoa bean. You can suck on the outside flesh that's sweet and spit out the raw cocoa seed that is very bitter.|
|Our last stop was a sulphur springs inside a split mountain.|
|While we waited for the tender to pick us up we saw this beautiful sailing vessel.|
|Watching the ship come in lol|
|We got to watch a beautiful sunset while we waited for the tender (on the right) with the sailing vessel in sight on the left.|
The craziest thing I did on the cruise was my Sea Trek walk. It was the excursion in St. Thomas. It's another thing I can say I've been there and done that.
|Sea Trek selfie|
|Fish and the ladder to the underwater walking path.|
|The fish were colorful and fun to see.|
|Barely caught this one in the frame. Those little things are quick!|
|Handling some of the wildlife.|
|Trying not to squeeze the sea sponge too hard and still not drop it lol!|
It was truly an adventure. One I'm glad I embarked upon and one I'll never forget. Wish I'd taken the time to put it together for you sooner. But to explain my long posting absence and tell you what has been happening since the cruise (which occurred over New Years Day), I've mostly spent my time glued in front of the computer.
Since the last contract I had that ended in September, I've been continually searching for musicians. It only took me a month to find musicians outside the USA, interested in or that had already worked on cruise ships. I pulled together all the information necessary and sent out countless emails to agents and companies with our group info (of which 3/4 had already worked on ships). There were very few replies and the few we received simply asked for a video of us together. (I had sent videos of each of us and most of the videos were actually on ships in the ensembles requested). After six months of scouring for more agents, more ship company emails, going through LinkedIn searches, Facebook searches, Google searches, translating foreign language websites from companies and agents and advertisements, I finally found three other people in the USA to do a video recording.
In the mean time, I've slid by on my old college habits of picking up orchestra gigs throughout Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana and sleeping on couches to make ends meet. This is not a career and I'm tired of the college routine I did while also writing a thesis and preparing for a master's recital. The hours and days and weeks I've devoted to searching on the computer, printing the music, filing the music, cataloging the music, practicing the music, and in general, never moving, have taken its toll. I'm back at the heaviest weight I've ever been (despite clean and healthy eating habits), injured to the point of nothing extraneous beyond walking, unable to wear any of the three sizes of clothes in my closet that aren't made of spandex and lycra, and instantly depressed if I look in a mirror. Recently I've taken more steps to try to counteract the downfall but I don't see the results which is frustrating.
The two things giving me hope at the moment is that I finally found three people in the USA to record and this week we are putting it together....and....if that doesn't work, I have a free ticket to Europe to start over. Check back (sooner than later lol) to see which path I follow of the two or if I follow a different one altogether!