Two years later ~
On my first cruise, in 2016, I failed abysmally to refrain from conversation with others. As one who not only talks to strangers wherever I go, but also to trees, plants, birds/animals, and even walls and furniture when I bump into them, I find it a challenge to not speak. That said, being far away from home, where I am alone and silent most of the time, I am craving some solitude after 4 months of being a guest in many different homes and Airbnbs. I desperately need some time alone in nature! I realize, of course, that boarding a cruise ship with over 2000 other people is kind of the opposite of that; however, I am going to give it a shot once again. The coming week visiting the Greek Isles will hopefully afford me some time in nature, if not in port then at least watching the water as we chug along. Thursday was our only sea day.
Some people do crazy things when they’re drunk. I do crazy things when I am “punch drunk” with fatigue. Back in the summer, I was having a terrible time sleeping. Anyone who has experienced chronic fatigue knows what a frustration it is to be exhausted all of the time yet not able to sleep. In my case, it leaves me extremely raw (—emotions I don’t tend to share on social media). After spending most of my daughter’s birthday crying—partly because of missing her so much, partly because I am so proud of the woman she has become and the career of service she is heading into as a h.s. teacher, and partly from wondering if we’ll ever live in the same place again, or if we will forever be too far apart for too long periods of time. That particular day happened to be Labor Day and I happened to be checking email just before bed. A cruise offer promising “today only” discounts caught my eye. So, at midnight U.K. time, 4pm U.S. time, I decided that I would attempt to comfort myself with some travel retail therapy by booking a cruise. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Lol…
Little did I know how AMAZING South Africa and her people would be and that I would have saved myself a bundle by not interrupting that portion of my journey to return to Italy for the cruise. As the temperatures are quickly dipping throughout Europe, I must face the fact that my body cannot handle cold weather anymore. I had planned to finish out the year in the U.K. once my 90 days in the E.U. were up, but it was getting too chilly for me there already in Aug./Sept. Whereas stateside snow birds head to Florida for the winter, I find myself wanting to return to Cape Town to ride out the winter months. That is, at least for as long as my house is rented.
I continue to hope that I will have greater success on this year’s cruise, making these nine days a silent retreat of sorts. I am still required to speak to the ship’s staff, of course, but I will keep to myself the rest of the time to the best of my ability. It is a very interesting practice to be silent amidst a sea of activity and interactions. It’s a good time to reflect on how I want to show up in this world, as I am bombarded from all sides by the loud voices of others. (Is it my imagination, or are Americans really louder than other nationalities? Since my youth in Germany, I have always been very conscious of not being a loud American, but, thus far on this ship, my fellow countrymen are by far the loudest, audible in the dining room even from 3 tables away, as if we were at the same table. Aussies too, as it turns out.)
As I wrote this last Friday, we were crossing the Ionian Sea to the Aegean Sea. Mykonos was our first stop, then Piraeus/Athens, Rhodes, Santorini, and Crete. After that, I will finally get to visit a few new locations—Valetta, Malta and Messina, Sicily. Sicily was the very first place I ever visited in Italy, when I was just 11 years old. My dad was the pilot on our flight there. He had told me about Mount Etna, the first volcano I had ever been near. I was so convinced it was going to erupt while we were there, I couldn’t sleep.
(Today/Sunday) Three days in, I would say I’ve had a 90-95% success rate with remaining silent. I had a few interactions with shopkeepers and restaurateurs on Mykonos yesterday just to be polite. It would be pointless to travel if I weren’t going to have any exchanges with locals.
I know I still have a lot of reporting to do—from Italy last June-August, to a few sight-seeing days in the U.K., to my grand adventures in S. Africa and Zimbabwe in Sept./October. At this point, I may write chronologically backwards. As always, I will share pics on Facebook, then attempt to link the albums to the blog.
Love, hugs, and blessings to all ~ OxOxO
Postscript: The reason this blog entry is titled “Take 3” is that the wonderfully fun friends made on the ship two years ago (the Norwegian Spirit’s eastern Mediterranean cruise) met up for a reprise last November on a Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans (Take 2). This year though we are all traveling separately again.