Meridith's Convalescence & 25th Birthday
Now that we've been on the cruise for a full month, the novelty has pretty much worn off and the Gothic Funk crew are seasoned travelers. I'm pretty much in my flip flops most of the time now, and I've noticed that several other passengers are taking similar liberties with their attire (as long as the liberties taken are subtle, most folks are willing to look the other way). Spending the last couple of weeks in an exquisite climate in the middle of winter has really just made everyone much more relaxed than when we started out; some passengers are still sick with the norovirus, but for the most part, we've been a pretty happy lot.
After missing out on Honolulu, I was determined to go ashore in Lahaina. We all pretty much broke off into our own groups (Gemma really is spending a lot of time with that Julie * ;-) *), and I stumbled upon a small fish market. It was only the second such market that I've ever seen (the first was Seattle's Pike Place), and was simply amazing. I wasn't sure what the place was at first, and then when I saw all of the fish, I wondered why it didn't smell, well...fishy. A young man who was handling a load of Ahi tuna smiled at me, and so I took the opportunity to be friendly and learn about what was going on (it's much easier for me to make friends when I'm sure that I'll only know them for less than a day; something that resulted in some more adventures later on in the day). First, I learned about Ahi tuna. Then, I learned that fish markets only smell fishy when the catch gets old; basically, Lahaina's fish market didn't smell because everything was too damn fresh. Also, because Fish Market Man didn't often enjoy the attentions of young female tourists, he was very willing to tell me all about the market and offered me a tour. I think I'll remember the rows of beautiful fish, octopi, and squid for a good long time to come.
When the evening drew near, I wandered back towards the direction of the ship, and ran across Malcolm & Garrett on the way. They were looking for a place to have a couple of drinks and invited me to tag along. Soon enough, we found a small bar that was filled with dancing. I was the odd one out, but a couple of drinks and the knowledge that I would never meet any of these people again proved the cure for my usual asocial tendencies. Sadly, none of my dance partners were keepers. I did form a crush that night, though, but it was on a song, not a person. While I was dancing with a youngish tourist, a familiar beat started playing and immediately burrowed into my brain, for good or ill. Later, on the way back to the Queen, I asked M & G if they knew the song. I don't remember what they said to me, but the next morning Malcolm dropped off a CD with that very same song on it on his way to breakfast. Since then, I've been playing it at every opportunity. I should probably put a cap on it if I don't want to drive my cabin mates batty, but for me, at least, it has become part of the soundtrack of this trip. Lucky for everyone reading this blog, I found a way to post the song here:
I took it easy for a while after we left Maui, and spent the next three days sitting on deck with a couple of novels. Gemma joined me for part of that time, and we shared the companionable silence of reading in the sun (she chose a volume by Margaret Atwood, while I spent most of my time reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger). I spent the last few hours of reading that novel crying off and on; I'm sure that I looked pretty strange to passersby, but I couldn't help it. Gemma is more prepared for novel reading, apparently, because she had some tissues on hand that I made use of.
I did recover in enough time, however, to fully enjoy my birthday in Tahiti. I love the look of those words:
I spent my birthday in Tahiti.
Turning 25 was GREAT. Connor, Jessica, and Gemma really went out of their way to make the day special, and that, coupled with the gifts they brought to me from Honolulu (btw, I love the Hawaiian music, guys!) really eased the transition from my early twenties to my mid-twenties. They even rounded up some Tahitian sweet bread and stuck a few matches in it to serve as a cake! My wish, which was to smell sulfur, was granted, and so we broke the bread in celebration. ;-)
The next day, in Moorea, I continued the birthday celebration with Sumara, which continued on into the evening complete with the Hawaiian drink ingredients brought aboard by our companions from Honolulu. We shared lots of stories, as girls with drinks often do, and gave up only when the sky started to show signs of sunlight. I slept like the dead that night, which was a welcome relief from my usual habit of waking up two or three times in a night for no reason. It seems to have kept, too; I've slept the night through ever since. Thank you, Sumara! I definitely owe you.
A few more days on the ocean stood between Moorea and Nuku'alofa, which, to my peace of mind, was more like the calm before the storm. I need to write about that later, though; dinner is drawing near and I need to shower and dress (see how I buy time to collect my thoughts with a clever diversion?). Per Connor's suggestion (but a little delayed on my part), I'm going to have some Mahi Mahi this evening; a little bird told me that the chef picked up a load of fresh fish today and is adding Kokoda to the menu tonight!