Coming home after 105 days on a cruise ship can be a bit traumatic. For starters, nobody does my laundry, makes my bed, picks up and folds my clothes, or cleans my room. Entertainment is limited to watching old movies and old TV series. My wife expects me to present her with a menu. There is a whole list of things to be fixed, and no engineering or accommodations supervisor to call.
But, on the other hand, I am home. I don’t have to smile, or shave or worry about noro-virus or alarms on the bridge going off above my head in the middle of the night. And I can, and do, sleep with the windows wide open and the fresh mountain breezes blowing through my room. I can eat very ordinary food sprawled on the couch with my wife beside me and my dogs at my feet. I can wear dirty jeans and my ratty old t-shirts, listen to the rain at night, watch beautiful flowers and colorful birds, and see the coffee cherries turning red.
The past week, as I’ve tried to keep up my 3-mile a day walking routine, instead of circling the promenade deck 9 times, I’ve been walking down the road by my house that leads past the tiny little cemetery and onto my neighbor’s dairy farm. The dogs love it, and I do too! The icing on the cake, so to speak, is that almost every morning I see at least one blue morpho butterfly with its iridescent blue wings fluttering across the road.
We’re well into the rainy season . . . which means glorious mornings with the sun shining brightly. Then the rain starting around 3 pm, raining until about 9 pm, then a clear, clean sky with millions of stars and the sounds of crickets and tree frogs and dogs across the valley. Since it’s September, add to that the sound of drums. It’s like this every year. November is the month of national holidays in Panama, a month-long “July 4th” celebration of patriotism and independence, first from Spain and then from Columbia. These patriotic festivities are celebrated with drum and bugle corps of children and endless, and I do mean endless, parades. The practicing never stops! How many notes can you play with a bugle? And it’s the same drum beat . . . over and over and over.
The garden hasn’t been severely trimmed since I left almost four months ago, and with all this rain there is a lot of work to do. Lots of “honey do” household projects and several projects on the farm, including finishing worker quarters that we started before I left. AND with another World Cruise coming up (2011 PACIFIC PRINCESS) about 20 new lectures to prepare and a lot of sail-in and sail-away commentaries to work on. And I need to finish up the copy for my new YOUR DAY IN THE PANAMA CANAL BOOK which hopefully will be available on Amazon before Christmas. There’s already a lot of interest in Panama Canal cruises and moving toward 2014 and the 100th Anniversary of the Canal, and 2015 and the opening of the new locks, there should be even more interest. So . . . home, vacation . . . and lots of work.
I know while I was on the ship that I was unable to respond to questions and comments, and I promise to get on the mail over the next few weeks.