Day 41

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Dec 25, 2007

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Ashley and I went out this morning looking for a post office for me and a FedEx or DHL for her to mail her boyfriend's birthday present. Dr. Pratt and Chris Gordon, an environmental science professor from Ghana, came with us. There was all sorts of confusion about the shuttle, first we had a bus instead of a van and then it dropped us off at the wrong park. We had arranged for some people to meet us later at the shuttle stop, but we didn't know whether the shuttle would stop at the original location or the new one. The good news was it dropped us only a few blocks from the post office, and Chris knew where the DHL was. We split up once we got to the Post Office, I bought stamps and wrote out my postcards and then Ashley and I went looking for Chris's DHL office.

On the way at one point a young man started walking beside us, looking at Ashley. Finally, at an intersection, he stopped, said hello, and started to speak in Spanish but soon realized we didn't understand. He looked worried for a moment, then embarrassed by his broken English, but he said "You are the lady most beauty in this world." Ashley smiled and I thanked him, and then he looked at me and said, "You too." It was pretty awkward, but then he gave Ashley a shy smile and walked away. He wasn't the only person to say something; at least three or four other men made a point to come up to us. It was mostly for Ashley but sometimes it was for me too and none of them wanted anything more than to tell us they thought we were pretty. It was very nice actually and I never felt threatened. Ashley commented that usually she was with friends that get whistles but it's never her, which I can't imagine because she's gorgeous, but she mentioned how cool it was to be the pretty one and get stares and I said I couldn't really relate. Somehow it wasn't weird or awkward at all to talk about that. Ashley's awesome. We finally found the DHL and managed to explain to the operator what we needed, but because of the weight of her package and the fact that DHL only ships priority, it was going to cost over a hundred dollars to send it. We ended up not doing it of course but the operator gave us chocolate and just like that we were off again.

We went back to the park where the shuttle dropped us off and the shuttle did come back, but it was empty and the driver said no one had ridden it out. We decided to just go to the mall without them, since our original plan had been to meet them and go to the mall, and hope they came too. We hailed a taxi, which is almost too easy in this country, and I talked to him in Spanish, telling him we needed to go to the Mall del Sol. Fare was $3. I made a point to get out the map and point to where we were going; Ashley had told a taxi driver the day before to take her to the Mall del Sol and she'd ended up at the Mall del Sur, which was not the same thing and actually was a pretty lame mall so we wanted to make sure we didn't end up there again. I showed the driver the map and pointed to the Mall del Sol, and he reached across to get his glasses out of the glove compartment so that he could look at my map, and I explained (in Spanish, but probably badly) that yesterday we'd been taken to the Mall del Sur but today we needed the Mall del Sol. He understood and put his glasses away, indicating that he knew and understood the first time what we needed. We were at the mall in no time and we paid the driver and left. Once again I felt the necessity of learning more Spanish, this time I really had used up all my words and couldn't think of anything to say to the driver. Of course it was only afterward that I thought of things like "what's your name" and "thanks for the ride."

We weren't five minutes in the mall when Stephanie and Ashley (a different Ashley) and Davis and Tristan and Kyra (the 8-year-old daughter of the director of onboard life) turned up. Stephanie said when they showed up for the shuttle there wasn't one, so they had to call a taxi. I think that's probably because the bus was running instead of the van and they got confused, but it worked out because they would have had to take a taxi anyway to get to the mall. We shopped for a while and I mostly just followed Ashley around the mall because I'm not a very good shopper and I'm hopeless at trying things on. We went to a grocery store and stocked up on snacky things for the long ride to Tahiti and then met back up with Ashley and Stephanie to get a taxi back. It ended up being just Stephanie and Ashley (that I spent the day with) and me. Stephanie has a lot of Spanish and called the taxi, so I assumed she was taking care of things, but then she backed away and Ashley talked to the driver. This was fine except for the fact that Ashley has absolutely no Spanish, and I didn't take the initiative to talk to the driver because I thought Stephanie was going to do it. Taxi fare back to the port was $8. At that point it was too late for me to really say anything, and I didn't have the words to tell him that we'd gotten out here for only $3. So we paid the $8 and it was clear that when you ask in Spanish they have less grounds to try to squeeze a couple extra bucks out of you because you come a cross as more savvy travelers. It was a good lesson in taking the initiative, that's for sure.

That was the end of exciting things for that day; the taxi driver took us all the way to the port and essentially right to the ship and considering we split the taxi it was no big deal to pay a couple bucks more, but I was still a little irked that the one of us that could step up and take care of things was the one with no Spanish. Whatever. It definitely made an impact on me though, because I've gotten better at making those decisions a little faster and taking control of situations. I seem to have lost a little of that.
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