Monday, December 12, 2011

A Day at Sea

I awoke in my top bunk and stared at the ceiling for a while.

What the hell am I doing, I thought. 15 days in a dorm, stuck in a shallow top bunk with no privacy retreat on the whole ship! I live alone. What made me think I could do this? I didn't even want to go to breakfast. There would be other people at breakfast, all crowding around the buffet table for dibs on salami, weak coffee, and cheese.


Eventually, my body rebelled against lying prone in the top bunk—I'd taken my Kindle to bed early last night, coincidentally reading the first of Jack London's South Sea Tales the night we'd gone to Fakarava, setting for his hurricane and pearl story, and there's only so much time you can lie down in a confined space—and made me scrunch my way to the bottom of the bed where the ladder lives.

I peeked out of the curtain, waiting for a moment when I wouldn't stick my foot in someone's face in the aisle.

There, now's my chance.

I stuck one foot on the ladder. My other foot was curled up underneath me and wasn't going to be able to swing around to get on the ladder. I couldn't lift my body to move my head due to being hindered by something immoveable above me. I pushed it—oh, the ceiling. I needed a new plan.

Pulling my foot back in, I tried again, this time catching on to leverage my weight against my locker to lift my body out of the bunk and onto the ladder.

At least I'd stayed in bed long enough that the other dorm inhabitants had already gotten up and left. I showered, changed clothes quickly while others were out, left my laundry bag on the bed for collection for free laundry day ("We don't do socks or underwear") and headed late to breakfast.

Almost all the food was gone, which was good as I had to improvise. Ah, we had yogurt, granola, fruit, and bowls! I had this with a few schooners of the weak coffee and headed down to Polynesian drumming school.

Four tourists were banging on drums in the video room. Six more watched. The drummers made a loud, pounding racket, smiling with delight as they thumped the drums.

Now I was in a much better mood. Happy drummers had the side effect of making the at-sea day that stretched out ahead of me more appealing.

At 9:30, the instructor announced it was time to go upstairs and make hats. We dutifully followed him up to poolside, though no one was quite sure what he had in mind.

Hats made of leaves was what he had in mind. He showed the group how to weave reeds into matted hats. People who just happened by also stopped in, curious about weaving a hat out of reeds.

"Marie, did you see how he did that?" One of the women who had been staying at Fare-Suisse in Tahiti was struggling.

"Over under over," I said. This was like a Looper-Loom, like making a hot pad on a toy loom in fourth grade.

Then it was time for our first lecture on the history of the Marquesas. The woman who had struggled brought along her hat, dismantled it and started over, ending up with a perfectly acceptable plant-hat.

After lunch, we had a bridge tour followed by a lecture on tomorrow's activities. I wanted to nap after, but dreaded the thought of climbing back into my top berth.

But I was in a better mood now. The Aranui crew had done a great job of filling up our first sea day. I was still apprehensive, but today had worked out well and I hadn't lost it over the dorm yet.

This morning, I'd woken up knowing I didn't want to sit in a dorm on a ship for two weeks. But today, after the staff activities, I thought that maybe I could pull this off.

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