As I make some new routines, undergo withdrawal from a too-constant feast of political news and move to the too-constant feast of endless food and drink, I think this is going to be a fascinating journey, both to a different part of the world and to a different part of my soul.
We both woke this past Friday morning thinking, “What HAVE WE DONE?” A long time ago, my husband and I booked a cruise that will take us from Miami deep into the Amazon River, back out and returning to Miami. It’s long, 24 days, lots of time just on the water, no way to get off the boat.
Suddenly the “what if’s” caught up with both of us. Along with the “and just exactly WHY do you want to leave your nice routine here?” question.
And that’s when the answer popped into my head: one of the more important side-effects of travel is exactly that: the disruption of the normal. With different routines come different ways of looking at and perceiving the world around us.
The inevitable frustrations of travel also teach me to look hard at myself, at how I handle them, and how they affect the dynamic between my husband and me. Add to that the joy of discovery–of expanding my mind and my understanding of the world, and, ultimately, the universe. It’s worth it.
Water, water everywhere . . .
And then there is the ocean. As I write now, having survived the cold feet, the flight to Florida, the frustration of hotel room where apparently a clueless man designed the bathroom (don’t get me started here), the “hurry up and wait” of getting the bus to the port and then the lines for passport control and check-in, the unpacking and findings places to put everything in much smaller spaces than usual, I look out and see nothing but water.
The first two days of this trip (and the last two, along with four others), all we do is is plow through the ocean waters. Right now, we head southeast to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, for our first stop. There we will enjoy a semi-sub experience to get a better idea of life under the water, and then some shopping. But right now, until Wednesday morning, it’s . . .
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink; Water,
water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
And of course, the last part of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is anything but true. There is PLENTY to drink. Everywhere. Attentive waitstaff ask for our orders the moment we sit down in any public area. Not to mention that we decided to upgrade our service level because of the length of this cruise and thus have the many attentions of Bish, our frock-coated butler.
Anything we want, at any time, is available from Bish with the push of a button. I do start to wonder just how on earth this ship manages to store all the bottles of liquor that are on board. Mostly, I want bottles of sparkling water, which I drink all day long, and which Bish has promised me will always be available on the mini-bar in our room. But the occasional glass of prosecco . . . hmmmmm.
As for the food: I have made a decision. To keep from gaining massive amounts of weight, I will eat ONLY when I am hungry. No tummy growling, no placing tasty morsels in my mouth.
But the headwaiter in one of the main restaurants already knows of my gluten-free/lactose-intolerant body, and I can see that he is planning to tempt me with various otherwise-not-thought-before of food options. And then there is Bish, of course, who has promised to lavish us with canapes and drinks each evening at 5:00 pm to get us primed for dinner.
I have spent much of the first 24 hours observing our fellow passengers. We are old–seriously old. Let’s face it: who else can take this much time away this time of the year? I have seen perhaps two couples in their 50’s. But the rest of us???
However, as my husband and I took a mile walk along the deck this morning, we were accompanied by a multitude of others. We saw a gym was full of cyclists, stair-climbers and walkers. Not that one needs to gym to climb stairs: there are plenty of them and an easy way to get some good movement. And, because a fair number of this older set of passengers are somewhat infirm, much faster than elevators to get up and down.
I’m also betting there is not one novice cruiser on board. Again, who in their right mind would book a cruise like this if they have never tried one before? They’d be nuts. What if they get seasick? I for one stay grateful for my magical wrist-thingie that continually sends a small electrical charge through my arm and keeps me feeling fine. We’re definitely rocking and rolling out here.
The Damage of Civilization And Christianity
As for being nuts, however, I suspect, we were to book this. And yet, I am going to see something I’ve never even dreamed of seeing before: at least a snippet of the Amazon River Basin.
And so I’ve been reading, reading, reading. I read about what “civilization” and the ever-corrupt drive for power and money, all coupled with the idea that the Christian church must evangelize the world no matter who they have to get into bed with and how much damage they may cause.
The confluence of these forces has led to widespread destruction of both the indigenous people of the area Amazonian rainforest and the growing ecological devastation to that rainforest, known as the “lungs of the world.” The more I read, the more I am appalled. Disease, destruction, the ruination of native ways, killing, torturing, enslaving, and more killing. And those early missionaries were sure they were “saving souls” as many helped wipe out entire tribes.
What the early colonists did to the native Americans pales in comparison. I am barely able to finish the book. Now, Brazilians have just elected as their new president a man who has stated unequivocally: I don’t care about the environment, and I don’t care about the indigenous people.”
So, I make some new routines, undergo withdrawal from a too-constant feast of political news and move to the too-constant feast of endless food and drink. I also think this is going to be a fascinating journey, both to a different part of the world and to a different part of my soul.
I will keep you posted . . .
Photos by Christy Thomas