February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m a world traveler to some. I’ve barely scratched the surface compared to others. Either way you slice it, I’ve sort of seen my self as someone who loves travel. I mean, who doesn’t? Let’s deconstruct travel for a moment. What it is is seeing beautiful places. Eating strange things. Meeting new people. Having unique experiences. Maybe, if we’re lucky, changing the way we see the world. After all, when we travel, we get to see the world through another lens. Sort of. You see, we can never escape ourselves, to paraphrase R.W. Emerson. I’m not trying to glass-half-empty about travel, just trying to give it an honest look. And to continue to ask a valuable question that was asked of me nearly three years ago: why do I do what I do?
Last week I went on a cruise. I thought I’d never go on a cruise. I judged cruise people and thought: that’s not real travel. No, I prefer to grab my backpack, get lost in a foreign city and fail at communication. Right? I was not in denial about the “theme park” style vacation. I said to myself: I am going on this cruise to lay on a beach chair, read a book with a margarita in my hand and get a tan. But here’s what really happened.
My friend and I boarded the Monarch of the Seas and wandered around, investigated the early 90’s decorated ship, climbed every stair and toured all the floors and wondered out loud: “What happens on deck one?” We rode elevators with strange strangers, including, but not limited to, people who say, “Come on fucker, there’s more room in this bitch.” (Bitch was in reference to the elevator). And a man with his styrofoam big gulp (that was mostly likely filled with vodka from his cabin and the cruise’s free lemonade) who mumbled an apology for having us stop on deck 10 when the final destination was deck 11. Or how about the man who, instead of facing the door, turns around to face me and said, “During a class in college to learn interpersonal skills, we had to ride elevators like this. How are you doing today?” Our dining experiences were no less interesting. We supped with a couple from New York via Bombay, brunched with a classics student and prison guard couple from Florida, sat next to a sit-com worthy Argentine family, and breakfasted with a Pentecostal preacher couple who seemed slightly disappointed that we didn’t love love our first cruise experience. We could have created a T.V. show based on the characters we met.
Yes, I did get to sit in a lounge chair for many hours. I read three Harry Potter books, got a tan, and sucked down a Coco Loco while on the Royal Caribbean owned island of CocoCay. I relaxed. I ate a lot of free food. I spent time with an old friend. I even saw a dolphin.
So it seems that my cruise was a lot like my other travel experiences. Some unforgettable moments and some boring moments. That’s all part of life. Will I go on a cruise again? I don’t know. Today, I’d probably say no, but the future is full of surprises. Right now I’m pretty content to sit and home and read a book, make music with my dear, spend time with my friends, and play fetch with my cat.