Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remember when we skipped Winter and sailed around the world?

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. - Freya Stark

This morning I pulled up the shade, looked out the window expecting to be surrounded by blue ocean and instead the view out of my cabin is Espana! After 8 days at sea (which doesn't include the four days of training on board outside Miami), I was ready for some solid ground. And what beautiful ground it is! There are parakeets and date trees and cheerful buildings made out of oyster shells. Pale pastel colors with breezy windows adorned with balconies and window box gardens. Laundry swaying gently in the 60 degree Spanish air, lazily drying as if it had all the time in the world to do so. The air has an aroma of the salty sea and swaying palms.

Our staff started out on "Passport Distribution Duty". My job has so many strange new roles, and I think I love every single one. One doesn't have to carry a passport in Spain, but if you're flying somewhere or staying in a hotel, you need it. Here I am, bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 0830 (which is basically like the middle of the night NYC time) . That's Ben on my left and Shirl on my right:

So after we distributed 300-some passports (that's my guess), our staff BOLTED for the gangway. We found a great spot that served cafe' con leche and crusty bread with salty butter and jam and olives (the olives were mutually exclusive from the crusty bread/salty butter/jam).

Oh my lord. Yummy- doesn't do it justice. Delicious? Nah, that doesn't quite cut it. My buddy Jason and I decided the best way to describe cafe' con leche is "orgasm of the mouth". Now you've got to know- this is coming from a girl who only drinks black coffee. To put some azucar and leche in there is like putting ketchup on steak to me. But when in Rome....

Here are Brad, Jason, me, and Janetta enjoying our cafe' con leche. I dig it:
There are actually two Jasons, and the Jason who is half-pictured here is getting off the ship in Morocco. He works for the Home Office of Semester at Sea (Institute for Shipboard Education), but we have scheduled a cafe' con leche date before he parts waysand flies back to the US. I think the other Jason was the one taking this photo.

I think I'm a magnet for fun-loving, hilarious people. And I also think I've met my new best friends. (But you at home, don't you fret.....I love each and everyone of you mucho....just sayin' before anyone gets bent outa shape.....) Janetta describes me as being "all business" in our staff meetings, but then I pull some "zingers" as she calls them. I found out they all thought I was so serious and organized and no-nonsense and "the duty schedule nazi" when they met me but then out of nowhere I have these responses to what they say. Touche' they call it.

Here's an example (bordering inappropriate, but I'll tell you anyhow because that's how I roll.) So we were talking about the very hot topic of Semester @ Sea alcohol smuggling. As staff we are permitted to purchase alcohol at port, but students are not. They are permitted a limited amount of beer or wine sold at the bar on the ship, but that's it. Students try everything in their power to get alcohol on board. Shampoo bottles full of vodka, mini gin bottles hidden in hats, whiskey tucked under their armpits, you name it. The Ship's Security actually open bottles and smell them and inspect every single one. Kate, who has sailed before said that one girl had this inflatable bra filled with alcohol and some sort of straw attached to it. So her chest got smaller and smaller throughout the day. "Adds new meaning the breast feeding'" was my response. And Janetta cracks up. I am totally keeping her around.

So all morning we sat and we laughed and we drank cafe' con leche. In addition to cafe' con leche there was sangria and these greasy potato chips. So we sat and drank our sangria and one of the Jasons brought over these big long sweet fried breadsticks dipped in this thick yummy chocolate. (Help me out here somone, I forget what these are called. Churos?) Another "orgasm of the mouth" if there ever were such a thing!

Then some of us were taking the Cadiz City Orientation tour. I hadn't signed up for that tour, but they all pulled me down the gangway to try to get a ticket. I had to wait until everyone else loaded to see if there were any no-shows, and at the very end and I was able to secure a ticket. We had about 5 busloads of people on this tour. I got on the bus and all of my new best friends clapped and cheered. I felt like I had accomplished some huge feat!

Cadiz is beautiful. Narrow alleyways. And parts of it used to be walled. It reminds me a little bit of San Juan Puerto Rico in some ways. Cadiz is also starting to get ready for Carnivale, so there were all these crazy clown things hanging all over the city.
We went to a museum and to a huge cathedral and to town hall, which had all these gorgeous rooms with crystal chandeliers and such. Later on we went back to the ship, changed and got ready for the Flamenco show. Our guide taught us that the trick of how to move your hands in Flamenco is to pick an apple high in the tree, take a bite, and throw it down. She didn't tell us how to move our feet though. Students were served sangria sans alcohol and they still acted tipsy. An interesting placebo! They also were served non-alcoholic champagne the day of Obama's inauguration and the same placebo took place. They thought they were tipsy! I may have to save that post and the rest of the Flamenco post for another day though, because it takes forever and a day to upload the pictures as we have low bandwidth on the ship. But even if I hadn't had the flamenco show, my day in Cadiz couldn't be beat.

This might have been like the best day of my life.


Dara said...

I would like to point out that you would never ever ever ever have drank coffe, espresso, or any other coffee beverage or coffee food stuff with any kind of milk product before stepping on the ground of Espana.
I'm shocked and appalled.
Ok, maybe not appalled, but completely shocked.

LJ said...

Totally churros. Yummmm!!! Take it you won't get to see La Alhambra in Granada?

mary said...

idk why laurie, but your last sentence about this being the best day of your life, literally brought tears to my eyes. i'm so happy and proud of you. :)mary