Thursday, May 01, 2008

The First Dream - Greetings From the Gulf of Mexico!

Originally mailed November 10, 2005.

Hey y'all!

Welp, looks like this is it... Nearly seven months have gone by since I've been on this ship (eight if you count the three weeks spent in Ft. Lauderdale). We ask each other (the JARs) if we're ready to go, or if we would like to stay a bit longer... For most of us, it's time to go... getting a dose of senior-idis. For a couple of folks who are extending (for better or worse) they'll stay on until April. For me, the bottom line is although I have had a seven month cruise vacation with a sprinkle of work thrown in for good measure, I miss being at home. Personally I feel like this job no longer presents a challenge, so its time to find something else... In any case, what a trip it's been! Where else can you do what you love, get paid for it, and see the world all at the same time? Answer: The Navy.

So, what have I been up to since the last E mail? Welp, we had a Halloween party... two actually. On Halloween night I attended the Pax party, held up in the Observatory lounge (Deck 12 forward). I didn't really have a costume, so I made so scars with my scar wax, which I've had in my makeup kit since I bought most of it in 1995... Must say it works pretty good!

And yes, I made it from scratch... See, you do learn things in college... Anyway, went to the pax party, which was okay. Then the next night I went out to aft deck 9 for the crew Halloween party!

From left to right are my buddies Michael Ramey, Charles Peachuk (Juggler, and a damn fine one at that) and Erik Lillenthal. There was plenty to drink, Halloween Peeps, and a costume contest, all accompanied by some cool nighttime ocean breeze.

After the party, I took a walk around the ship. It was around three in the morning, and all the Pax had staggered off to bed (Caribbean cruises tend to be booze oriented). Took some pictures of the ship at night...

This was taken on Deck 13, looking down onto the middle forward section of Deck 12 (That light at the top is fixed onto the stacks at the rear of the ship).

What else... Well, I am also officially through with ports... Yesterday we were in Belize, and the day before that was Roatan, Honduras. Roatan was nice... just went out and found a beach. Swam, sunned. nothing extraordinary. Still, it was nice to get away, and to be someplace new.

Here is Roatan as we were getting ready to sail...

The next day, Belize, was a little more eventful. Uri and I scored some shore ex tickets and went cave tubing, and yes it is just as cool as it sounds.

In order to get to the river, we took a bus ride that took over an hour. When we got close it started to rain... hard. Now, we had the option upon arrival to buy aqua socks for the river, otherwise they recommended that we use our tennis shoes. This isn't because of jagged rocks in the river, but because of the mile hike from the place where we get our tubes to the starting point in the river. Uri and I decided to leave our dry clothes in the bus, and went out in our bathing suits and shoes. Well, the walk to the place to get our tubes was over a small hill, and by the time we got there, we were soaked from the rain, and saw no point of getting aqua socks when our shoes were drenched! So, we got our tubes and walked through the jungle to the starting point. The interesting thing was that where we got our tubes was at the finish of the river (or I should say, our tubing trip). We walked around a U section (give or take) to the starting point. So, we got to cross the river (in it), then walk a mile, then get back in the river! Once we got there, you could wade in the river from the rocky shore, or jump in from about 8 or 10 feet. Uri did like two flips and I just flailed.

From there we went through two caves. One had a flat ceiling about 12 feet above, the other was cavernous, had stalactites, and was much more dramatic. Oh, and did I mention that we each got miner lights on a headband? Yep, since there was no electric light in the caves, and they were long enough that there was no natural light, we had to use those. At one point we all turned off our lights... It was dark... big surprise but very cool! After the second cave we got out and sloshed to the place where we got our tubes, turned them in and had lunch. They gave us grilled chicken with rice and beans and some homemade habenaro salsa (turns out hot sauces are Belize's number one export).

Also, after the bus ride back to the city (Read: Nap) we ran into Victor and Christy. They were the original gymnast and singer when we got here in April. They are interning as Art auctioneer assistants on a Royal Caribbean ship for a bit before doing it for real on another ship. Uri and Victor were teammates in the Olympics, and its because of Victor that Uri is here, so they had some catching up to do. We met up with Lyle, Denise, Michael, Eric, and Natalie and Bruno (they were just leaving the Dream when I got here in April) at a local bar. Kind of a cathartic experience, having complete bookends of our contract here in one place, at our last port. In any case...

So that's about it for ports... Tonight we have our last show (Sea Legs at Sea) and then tomorrow its packing and waiting for Saturday! There's not really a whole lot left to say... So, in lieu of waxing poetic, I think I'll just share some of my favorite pictures from the past seven months...

Michael and I's idea of drydock (before getting to Alabama)

Drydock... after getting to Alabama (and it doesn't seem to matter much. We still have engine troubles).

Four cruise ships off the coast of Grand Cayman. (the 4th is kinda hidden)

Mickey, Katie, Denise, Lyle and I at the beach in Acapulco

Hot tubbin at the Hubbard Glacier

A lot of us hangin' out at the Viking in Juneau

Deer Mountain in Ketchikan.

High atop the mountains in Seward (In June...)

And the glacier in Whittier...

Katie and Mickey rehearsing...

Lyle and I sporting our end of show costumes for Sea Legs at Sea... ah... sequins

Save a horse... Ride a cowboy.

That's it! See y'all later!

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

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