Friday, February 23, 2007

Once on the Blue Pacific

Sorry I've been in absentia for a while, folks. I've gotta get onshore and see me some koalas in a little while (who can't wait for the Great Barrier Reef on Monday? MEEEEE!), but I thought I'd check in.

I turned 25 two days after we left Fiji, day before we hit New Zealand. I'd been in kind of a funk in the days before my birthday, not quite able to enjoy Tonga or Fiji as I wanted to, though them flying foxes were pretty nifty. Fortunately, Meridith, Connor and Jess have all seen me in a state like this before, and were able to keep me in decent spirits, with Meridith and Jess dragging me to the necessary rote tourist attractions rather than living me on the ship. Hanging out with Bea and Tali helped a lot too. The night we left Fiji I stayed with the girls so that Noel and Sumara could have a date night (Noel, sadly, has now abandoned ship in his hometown), and I was reminded so much more of how centering and relaxing it is for me to be with kids. Okay, it's not always relaxing, as Sumara understood when she returned to her stateroom and found her compact broken, the aftermath or a raucous refusal to go to bed on Tali's part. (It was an accident, though, and she left her mum about the sweetest apology note ever.) But it always makes me feel more focused, more on top of myself. I probably won't feel that way when I have my own kids, but for the moment it's useful.

Anyway, this lovely crew managed to surprise me on my birthday morning. I'm usually the first one up (even before the children and parents!), but they managed to get up before me and surprised me with breakfast in bed, complete with Bloody Marys (and cranberry juice for the girls). Which was lovely, though of course after that everyone went back to bed. I didn't mind wandering the deck alone, though, writing a little, checking Emails from my family filled with regret that they couldn't send me birthday presents. I'll be so disoriented when we're done with this adventure, though, that I think I'll be glad for presents at home. Garrett and Malcolm insisted on organizing a "pool party" for me, and so we wiled away the afternoon on the pool deck. Connor begged off that event because he wanted to get some writing done, but the party continued into the night at the Crystal Bar and he rejoined us there, though we all turned in fairly early in the hope of being awake and un-hung-over in Auckland.

Which was good, because Julie and I ended up on a long hike through the volcanoes surrounding the city. I'm trying more and more to do escapist onshore activities, purely because I'm ever more frustrated with the tourist traps that surround the ports and, in general, with cities. (Though our adventures in Sydney were enough to turn me back on a bit—I'll get to that in another post). We brought a picnic of the previous day's dinner leftovers and a lot of fruit from our suite's fruit bowl (James rocks), and I came back with a line of mild sunburn across my back.

In Christchurch, Sumara, Noel, Susan, David, the kids and I went to the Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House (what can I say, I often like to do the kid things). That was a good time; I dressed as a kiwi bird for Halloween when I was seven, and enjoyed seeing the birds in real life.

It's almost all been nature these days. After celebrating Noel's birthday shipboard, we hit Hobart, where I was tremendously disappointed that we had no opportunity to see a Tasmanian devil. Sigh. Next time.

Anyway, I really bloody well better get ashore. We had some astounding adventures in Sydney, but either I'll tell you about them later or everybody else will!


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