Day One - San Franciso to BostonWalk to the BART, an invigorating tradition. A 1pm flight to the intoxicating presence of Boston. The MBTA to Cambridge, packed full of people on the way. Vigoda - such a buddy. The swattieness of this town. The Real Weather. I almost forget that I'm on vacation and not on assignment. I'm writing again. Mer is here, asleep. We crash for an hour and then on to the Islands.
Day Two - Boston to ArubaUp at 4am, cab to Boston. 6am: Logan is a zoo. Aruba is like some dream... wish I could sleep... people. Slight mechanical delay. Kids and their gameboys play. I and my Treo surf.
Arrive midday - humidity hits. La Cabana - $3 Internet, a segway. Reading and naps in the shade on white sand - a constant breeze keeps us cool. Mer gets a 'shadeburn'. Into our room, we collapse into a nap. Showers and cheese prepare us for a sumptuous meal and wine. Mer invents the 'iBird'.
Back in the room, it's literally too cool. So, we head out onto the balcony. An after-dinner workout: holding up books, guitar. "Yep, it's tough," we admit. A midnight dip in the carribean. The evolution of the Sagollas. Hottub, jets, more book-holding. Finally horizontal.
Day Three - ArubaSleep til noon, then DonutQuest. Massage on the mind, mending stress. Decisions, decisions - multiple reservations, then life on the beach, a daytime dip heals all. Floating, swimming. Another lifelong local cabbie tells tales on our way to an idyllic dinner setting: the Flying Fishbone.
Lights out on the block just after we got there. The surf, lapping at our feet. Our crab buddy. 23-year-old Dutch waiter adds ambiance. The meal is divine. A mini tour through the middle of the island, passing by Santa Cruz. Talks of a Burning Man-esqe Festivál and constant tourism. Returning to our place, a bit of guitar. Two newlyweds in love.
Day Four - ArubaSleeping in on purpose, check out and check into the beach. An afternoon of reading and dripcastles: Dripovia, which becomes Dripundia. Bus to the ship, into our hobbit-hold cabin (we like) and lots of food, good peeps. Constant tradewinds keep us breezy.
Day Five - Aruba to CuracaoLots of cool people at breakfast, a tasty feast. The captain's story time. A morning shopping, all that we need and a post to Flickr. Back on the ship in time for lunch and launch. Cast off to the strains of Amazing Grace. Stormy seas all afternoon and evening. Dinner abovedecks. The stars dance in unison and our surfing, partying skills come in handy.
Reggae delights through rough seas and high winds. The crew comes through. We retire belowdecks, where the rocking is less pronounced. It's cool.
Day Six - CuracaoAwake at the dock. A hearty breakfast with our buddies. Ashore for some killer snorkel. Through touch-resistent fauna: our own secluded private beach. Hours of pleasure on a desert isle... bloop.
Back in time for the dolphin swim. An encounter of a lifetime. Reversion to childhood. Snackage and stories of home until sunset. Barbeque ashore. 'Computer age' discussions across three generations. Our buddies on the beach nearby local music flavor, a running commentary. Back onboard: a gentle rocking. More dreams.
Day Seven - Curacao to BonairePancake breakcase at the dock prepared us for our first dive. A quick, serious lesson, and we're down 25 feet to the tug. The awesomeness! Double OKs. We earned our lunch: curry, burgers, stories and tales. We can't stay out of the water! Back in for snorkeling - with a shirt on.
Fuel delays cause an open bar. Everyone gets likker'd up for The games. Our team: Rum Swizzle My Nizzle, emerge the victor! The formula: Mer's sunburned bum, me in a skirt, and a one-foot, no-hop, CLOSED EYES balance on the high seas. The trick is to bend at the knee.
Then, our 'crew' gathers abovedesk for entertainment of our own: stories and original tunes. A mighnight approach to Bonaire is tricky. The current wants to push us out. "She does whatever she wants," comments Capt. Casey, during the second approach. Successful.
Day Eight - BonaireBONE-aire by day. A morning snorkel off of Klien Bonaire, a turtle sanctuary. The sun comes out and increases the definition of Mer's derriere tan lines. Way cute. Best snorkeling to date. Lots of little buddies. The current provides a lazy tour of turtle reef, and we are the last to board.
Returning, we get a revue of the international sail fleet: JEDI, the trimaran, the Triumphant Lady. Lunch on board and and then our own walking tour of Kralendijk produces ideas, gifts, and more solar radiation. Late afternoon finds us reading and enjoying the ship. Our success from last night has gained us a little notoriety.
At night, Rhett pronounces, "Well, this just doesn't suck at all."
Day Nine - Bonaire to ArubaUp and at em this morning: Diving at the Andrea dive site. Absolutely amazing! Saw a spotted eagle ray, some squid, and many many other buddies. Later on, Mer figures that this is the longest amount of time we've spent outdoors in years. A quick dash back to the ship before last gangway. Mer runs out for one last shop from our favorite island. Cast off, floating "as much sail as we dare" declares Captain Casey.
I break out the wedding stogie and make a spectacle of myself. Lots of sun. Steering the ship. Reading, kicking back, snack and swizzle time. The crew poses for pictures and video. I get a tour of the bridge. We meet the engineers and learn of their favorite spots: St. Kitts, St. Barts, St. Maarten, Trinidad. They tell me that 'Dominic' is a powerful name down here, what with the Republic and all. A hundred pictures of sunset. Stories, jokes, and the three couples. Again, Rhett: "This stopped sucking a long time ago!"
A very special dinner, joined by the Captain. His toast, "Here's to lying, cheating, stealing, and drinking: if you lie, lie only to keep a friend. If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, steal your lover's heart. If you drink, drink deeply the joys of life!"
Day Ten - Aruba to New YorkAfter nodding off abovedecks, we reture to our cabin in the early morning and snooze soundly until the breakfast bell. Awake to sadness that this is our last day in the Caribbean. Preparing for travel, we shop with our friends after lunch aboard ship, and I figure out Amazing Grace on guitar. Connecting with the crew. Brotherly handshakes. No one wants to leave. Remembrance of kindnesses, respect. I spend time drawing in the ship's book.
Extended walking tour of Orangestad nets us some gifts for friends and some more sun. We finally dine at Carlos 'N' Charlie's. Then, to the airport, where our country has an entire wing to itself. Double security at customs before we leave. The din of 'regulars' at the gate and the blare of TV is an ungentle reintroduction to high speed life. Reading and smiles on the return flight, and we're in New York - a million times as many lights on this island. Sour-faced culture shock: from One Happy Island to One Crazy City.
Day Eleven - New York to San FranciscoSleep for four hours and then we're back to JFK. Like some chapter from Dante or Gibson. Blues in the airport. Crammed in, back in the air, back to home, back to The City we love: San Francisco, CA, Earth.
Still drinking water from the Polynesia. A feeling of relief and accomplishment. Rest.
We fetch Macky. Hard to take him away from play with Jerry and company. Checking out the coast on the way home. Yes, home. Surf.