Sunday, January 21, 2007


Things I Love About Cruising
Dressing up (dude, I know I'm obsessive, I can't help it)
Having the ocean around me/accessible all the time
My marvelous companions
How tasty the food is

Things That Frustrate Me About Cruising
How non-environmentally-conscientious the food is
The confusion of ports of call and really knowing a place
Realizing where global warming is at

I'm sorry; I'm an ungrateful bastard, and Mr. Fushigi has every right to kick me off this cruise. In many ways I am having a marvelous time, and I don't want anyone, especially my travelling companions, to think otherwise. But I'm getting so frustrated with the copious diamonds that women wear to dinner, the contemptuous looks we get when Meridith or I enter in a vintage dress, or when one of us is being silly with Tali (dude, jerks, at least four-year-olds know how to have fun), the relative uniformity or pimped pseudoculture of shops and restaurants near the ship at every port of call (this was particularly noticeable in Acapulco), of how doubtful it is that any of the revenue is reaching the poor of the local communities. As long as the food is luxurious and has premium titles ("Sterling Silver," chateaubriand and the like), no one, often including myself, is really thinking about where it comes from and what harm this kind of luxury does, in a larger social sense.

And yet I'm luxuriating in it and, a good half of the time or more, completely loving it. This is something I've got to think about.

This is all going to be most confusing for me, I think, when we hit Cape Town, where I lived for several months while in college and where I thought, and was required to think, most heavily about what tourism means and what its faults are. I'm dying to show my friends around it, of course—I imagine Sumara and Noel are feeling the same way about Sydney—and I'm dying just to be there again because it's the most beautiful and complicated city I've ever experienced in some ways, but I know I'll be annoyed with the showcasing of the most decadent parts of it that are actively harming poorer residents, with the reduction of the place's history and culture. I mean, I know balsalmic reduction tastes better than balsalmic itself, but sadly that's not a useful metaphor.

And I know we're close to the equator, but still, this weather's a little silly. And several of the other Americans, when I've mentioned this in casual conversation, have referred to it as "Al Gore weather." Oy.

Among our little circle (which I've widened to include Garrett and Malcolm, Mark and Nadine with whom Amber, Connor, Jess and I lunched yesterday, and Julie, whom I'll write about later), it's been a lovely, relaxing weekend aboard the boat. Tali, Meridith, Jess and I played a great game of tag around the Sun Deck (okay, in that case the other passengers might have been justified in their annoyance), I had a drink with Julie and we later ran into Clara and Meridith, I've written a ton and read a ton, I've been swimming pretty much every day (go me!) and I've had lovely passing conversations with any number of people I have not seen again. I'm sure the whole ensemble will know one another pretty well by the time these months come to a close, even though I'm confident that many of them will never like our crew.

I'm going to try to finish off All the King's Men and then get dressed for dinner. Sadly, frustration with the wider community makes me physically competitive. That's not an attractive quality. Oh well.


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