En route to Belize

Trip Start Apr 03, 2004
Trip End Apr 10, 2004

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Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Day two? Three? I've been blissfully unaware of time since we got on the boat, to the point where I quite honestly didn't know what day it was till I logged in on the computer. And so much to report... where to start?

At the moment I'm enjoying the very stereotype of what one imagines when thinking of a cruise in the Caribbean. I'm up on the top deck of the ship with loads of sunbathers, donning a swimsuit and gauzy beach shirt, soaking in the sun with a cool breeze through my hair, sipping on the ship's "drink of the day" - something involving Blue Curacao - complete with orange slice, cherry and little umbrella. My hair is windswept, my nose is freckly, my shoulders a tiny bit burned, I smell like salt and sunblock, and my belly is full from the ever-present all-you-can-eat buffet (which I'm pleased to report is just now beginning to lose its novelty.)

The women are everywhere - the people watching is unbeatable. It's hard to imagine that a boat full of lesbians would be a terribly diverse group, but indeed, every age, race, size, shape, and personality is represented. I've already met some really great people who I imagine I'll stay in touch with after the trip.

Today I've been enjoying being on my own. We're at sea today, on our way to Belize where we'll be at port early tomorrow morning in Belize City. So I've just spent a lazy day ignoring the two-page schedule of activities they put together for us and have enjoyed downloading music and making vacation mixes for the mp3 player, napping often and staying quiet, contemplative and in awe of being surrounded by water as far as the eye can see.

The past couple days have been more exciting. Of particular note was my (if I may be so bold as to say) downright heroic bravery yesterday on my very first snorkeling expedition. Now for one who is consumed (even on land) by an overwhelming, albeit illogical, fear of sharks, this was something of a feat. I realize for one who does not share this fear, the "adventure" would certainly have been pretty benign, but my chest is puffed up nonetheless. We (about 40 women and I) hopped on a large Catamaran in Key West and sailed south for about an hour to a spot along the 3rd longest reef in the world. A popular snorkel site (there were about five or six other boats moored out there as well), the water was between 3 and 30 feet deep. We got a 30-second "snorkeling for dummies" lesson, a five minute sermon on the no-no's of touching the reef for fear of irreparably damaging the ecosystem and thereby one's own karma for the next six lifetimes, then slipped on our flippers and hopped overboard. I politely let everyone else go first, and when the shark-food ratio was comfortably high, I too jumped in and had (even for me) a surprisingly panicky few moments before Rachael convinced me to actually look in the water with my face mask, at which point I said (through the muffle of a snorkel) "Hey look! Fishies!" and my anxiety vanished. The Great Unknown was suddenly a hospitable and exciting place, and after a moment of holding hands with R, I was off exploring on my own for the better part of an hour.

I could have stayed much longer had the water temperature been a few degrees higher and the mask less pinchy. I found a school of yellow snapper to be particularly gracious hosts, and a larger silver and blue fish became my personal tour guide. I was a little disappointed to not see any sea turtles as we'd heard the morning group had seen in abundance, but was otherwise awestruck and completely moved - a highly content, quiet witness to their world. The experience won't be soon forgotten - and I'm almost tempted to look for another opportunity tomorrow (at the 2nd longest reef in the world) off the coast of Belize. The only drawback was a horrific chill that set in upon getting on the sailboat, which didn't subside for nearly an hour when we docked back at Key West. That, and I did learn (most gratefully after I was safely back aboard) that the waters were, in-fact, shark-infested and that several of my fellow snorkelers saw at least one when they were out. I chose to come down with a sudden case of deafness upon hearing the beginning of a few accounts and am still choosing to believe that what they saw was simply a benign little nurse shark at the bottom somewhere. Rachael smiled kindly and patted my knee when I told her this, which means it wasn't, but that's ok.

Not to be outdone by our little excursion, the Key West cruise plans had us in the intimate little on-board theater shortly after reboarding the ship where we saw an hour and a half of the Indigo Girls from the front row. Now I've seen these ladies in concert dozens of times in the past 10 years, but to sit there in such a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by an audience full of appreciative women and sitting less than 8 feet from them was quite a treat. I soaked the whole thing in feeling mooky and blessed.

What else... Oh I should mention that Rachael and I met a woman who stayed at our B&B in Ft. Lauderdale who is also on the cruise who we've spent most of our time with thus far. Tuaca (yes, like the liqueur) is a recently heartbroken single woman who was a little skeptical about the whole trip at first, so Rachael and I have officially taken her under our wing, where I'm pleased to say, she has blossomed to be perhaps the most well-known "solo" (as the call them at Olivia - they get a dog tag and everything) on board. She's hard to describe - consumed with a voracious love of life, she will try anything and so far I don't think she's slept. It has seemed a bit like kismet, in that she stayed one room away from us at the little Florida B&B and then we got on board to realize our room numbers and dining room tables are again only one number apart. She has been pledging her gratitude profusely for our friendship during a difficult time of her life, so it seems to have worked out well. Our mission has been to get her a date, although I think she's doing fine on her own.

For instance, our first night on board we participated in a raucous evening of karaoke that went late into the night. Turns out we have a host of talent aboard the ship - who knew? Tuaca sings in a country band in LA, so she led the group in a lovely rendition of the Dixie Chick's "Earl's Gotta Die". Toofer (our official nickname for her now, to which she cringes), sang a host of additional songs through the evening, into which she managed to insert her room number each time. Rachael and I ended up doing a little ditty too, and ever the activist, I insisted that karaoke was inherently discriminatory of accapella music, so we did "Blue Skies" without the benefit of back-up or lyrics. Turned out well actually, considering neither of us had sung it for at least a year and never as a duet.

Last night then was the first round of karaoke "Olivia Idol". I was exhausted and went to bed early so I missed the whole thing, but apparently Rachael brought down the house with her version of "Get Here if You Can" and Toofer with a back-by-popular-demand rendition of "Earl". They of course both made it to the next round tonight where we'll see if either of their on-stage personalities will be tolerable enough to hang out with.

Tonight is "formal night", so I had best be off to get myself all gussied up and attempt to guide my hair through a lesson in handling humidity.

More after Belize!
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