Today we visited a small village on the Amazon called Boca De Valeria. Before I even got into the tender I saw a family in a canoe that paddled right up to the ship. The little girl was holding something in her arms that looked like a teddy bear but I swore I saw its arms move. As they came closer to my porthole I saw it was a baby sloth! She carried it like a sack of potatoes and never once flinched when its giant claws came near her face.
The tender dropped us at a tiny wooden dock where at least a hundred children waited to take our hands and show us around. They fought to be my escort through the village an even pushed each other out of the way to take my hands. Once I saw that I showed that my pockets were empty and I didn't have anything to give them. That wasn't entirely true of course I just didn't want them to hurt each other over it.
I walked along the red, muddy path and passed many different animals and huts along the way. Each adorable child held an equally adorable monkey, sloth or baby parrot. Some kids were dressed in feathers and head pieces. I took a few pictures and handed out a few dollars. I took this opportunity to unload all the finished needlepoint kits I had worked on for the entire contract. I also donated the clothes I hadn't really worn the whole time I was on the ship and knew I wouldn't miss them.
I don't imagine that all of those people lived in that one village but I was interesting to see that some did live in these huts set up on stilts in the water. We were there in the rainy season and the water level has risen so much since the fall when we were here last. I could hear a generator running in the background and I saw kids drinking right out of the brown river. It was definitely an enlightening 20 minutes, which is how long it took to see everything before I melted into a puddle and slid back onto the tender.
Chile is my 59th country (according to the list of countries I'm going by). Apparently there are different opinions on what qualifies as being a country. I haven't quite figured it all out yet but some of the things I look for are: Do they have their own currency? Do they have their own government? What language do they speak. I'm suspicious of countries in South America that speak Dutch. And sometimes even if they do fit the bill they aren't countries. But anyway, 59 (give or take a few) countries so far!
We are sailing very close to the coast of Chile as we go along. I can see the mountains pretty much all the time out my porthole which is really nice. I was surprised by the fact that a giant desert runs along the coast of almost all of Peru and Chile. There is nothing there! The last few ports have pretty much been piles of sand and dirt. Luckily, as we move south the scenery is starting to change. Also, it's summer down here in the Southern Hemisphere so the sun doesn't set until almost 9pm! It's a very strange feeling to eat dinner in the light in January. However, just because it's summer doesn't mean it's hot. At night it has been getting to be around 50 degrees and from what I hear I am in for some freezing cold weather. As we make our way south we will eventually sail through the Chilean Fjords. I'm so looking forward to this.
Country Count: 49
We have been cruising down the Amazon River for the past week and I cannot believe I'm really here. I don't think I ever imagined I would see this place other than on some PBS special. One of the stops we made was in Manaus and I got the chance to escort a tour on a jungle trek.
We took a boat onto this completely remote beach and no dock. There were a few wooden planks laid on the ground for us to walk over the water without getting wet. Then they marched us off into the jungle to teach us survival. We were there at the end of the dry season so the water level is so low. They have huts and houses there that are at least fifteen feet in the air on stilts and our guide said the water will rise all the way up to them. Basically we were walking on what is usually the river floor.
They brought us through the forest showing us which plants were edible and which ones would make better shelters. They showed us how to start a fire using a cellphone battery and some steel wool. I'm assuming this lesson was in case your plane crashed because I don't know what other scenario would involve having any steel wool. They showed us two perfect looking trees for tying up your hammock but then tapped on the first one to have
hundreds of bullet ants come crawling out. He said one bite is worse than a scorpion sting. Two bites will send you to the hospital and anymore will send you to the cemetery. The guide is just casually aggravating them this entire time so I kept my distance.
This is about the time the thunderstorm started. It was pretty amazing to be trekking through the jungle in the pouring rain as if I was actually trying to survive the elements. Unfortunately I couldn't take anymore pictures at that point because I didn't want to damage my camera. We stayed out in the rain to finish the tour and they showed us how to climb trees to reach the fruit by tying palms around your ankles.
When they brought us back to the shelter they had caipirinhas there for us to try. They are a local drink that I thought tasted a bit like a margarita only a bit sweeter. They also had those tiny bananas that I've had in Madagascar and Cambodia that are also like a regular
banana only sweeter. They had Brazil nuts there but I don't know how they sell more than one at a time because it took the guy five minutes just to crack it open and take the shell off with his machete. It was delicious although it could have used a bit of salt. There was also a little monkey there going around drinking everyone's leftover caipirinhas. He was probably pretty wasted by the time we left and unfortunately because I was completely drenched I couldn't snap a picture.
Today we stopped in Parintins and saw a local show called Boi Bumba. I have to be honest and say I still have no clue what it was about but I took a lot of pictures so I didn't have to try to explain.
Country Count: 46
Well, we survived or cruise during Hurricane Sandy. We changed our itinerary five times and almost had to disembark all the guests four days early but lucky for us she took a turn to the west and didn't end up raining on our parade. Unfortunately we didn't get to see Bermuda and it must not be in good shape because we aren't going to make it there this cruise either. The hurricane also gave everyone an opportunity to show their true colors in the face of an emergency. Now many guests were very nice and reasonable but then there was everyone else. I have now been called stupid, a liar and I'm pretty sure I heard a "useless" in there. Even when we weren't in any stressful situations people seemed upset to be on vacation. After a game of brain teasers I asked, "How do you all know this stuff?" To which one lovely gentleman replied, "Because we're not singers and dancers." I bit my tongue although I have to be honest my feelings were hurt. I got my revenge the next time by asking only Broadway trivia. Bite me.
This cruise was also our Halloween party where approximately 4 people dressed up and that would be the four entertainment staff. Very festive this group. We had fun anyway and Ethan even covered himself entirely in green paint (except for his butt which he showed us to prove it) to be The Hulk and he looked awesome!
Now we are on our way to the Caribbean and its just in time because as interesting as the Wal-mart in Cornerbrook is I have had just about enough. More to come from the jungle in the Amazon!
Country Count: 46
We are a little off track today in Halifax because we had to skip two ports due to bad weather. When we tender in a port the conditions have to be just right or it becomes too dangerous. We had swells up to 12 feet and gale force winds at 50 knots. All the guests on board were turning green. I took a little video of the rough conditions yesterday. I'm on deck 3 and the water shouldn't really ever been touching my window.
So today we are back in Halifax a day early. So far of all the Canadian ports I've really enjoyed Quebec City the most. I like the old town feel and how everything looked European. There was a lot of nice shopping and great food. The whole city is perched on a hill around a giant hotel and all the changing colored leaves.
They have a lot of shops there that sell furs and leather and I found a really pretty dream catcher that I liked. I hung it in my room in front of the window and fell asleep to the most terrifying dream I've ever had. I was sitting in front of a ticking bomb and the code to disarm it was the password from the internet at Starbucks earlier that day and I couldn't remember it exactly. I tried to run at the last minute but it exploded and I felt everything until I woke up in a huge gasping breath. I thought it might be a fluke until the next night when I fell fast asleep to a dream about a long lost twin sister who was trying to kill me and steal my identity. My dream catcher is broken.
Country Count: 46
I had two new experiences at sea today! Firstly, I saw WHALES!!! During all my time at sea I have never seen a whale on the ship. Today I was up in the gym staring out the windows like I always do trying desperately to see anything special. When you are that desperate every peak and break in the water looks like a fin or back and you start imagining things. Well luckily the spray of the whale's brain farts is unmistakable! And not only did I see a whale but I saw at least five different groups of whales at different
times while I was up there. Everywhere I looked I could see another one. Some of
them were even coming up out of the water to make a big splash. It was the most
entertaining the elliptical has ever been.
My second brand new experience at sea was getting “randomly” drug and alcohol tested this morning. Now they say it's random but somehow the people who had too much to drink the night before in the crew bar always seem to be on the list. I however, was not even in the crew bar but the circumstances lead me to believe that in my case it still wasn't random. Yesterday in Newport, RI I picked up a six pack of Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale for Margaret because she had to work all day and couldn't get off the ship. This is
totally allowed by the way but apparently they thought I took it all back to my room and drank it because at 8:30am I got a call to report for my random test. I guess it's not a big deal except I was kind of proud of the fact that in all the time out at sea no one ever thought it necessary to drug and alcohol test me. Well I went in and blew threw the stupid thing and felt a little smug when it came up 0.00. Then came the drug test. I've never take a drug test before so I went in the bathroom and shut the door. I guess this was not allowed because the nurse came back and opened the door. Then I must have taken too long because I got a, “Are you almost done? I need you to finish.” But I had just gone when I woke up so it wasn't exactly Niagra Falls. I managed to complete the test then I tried to flush the toilet and wash my hands. For future reference you are not allowed to do either of these things during a drug test. It was all quite humiliating actually and I was especially annoyed because the stupid beer wasn't even for me. I don't even drink beer. I guess tonight would be the night to get drunk and do all my drugs because they can't randomly test me two days in a row, right?
Country Count: 46
I hit my 46th country! We've been sailing around New England and Canada and it feels very strange. I keep wondering why people would pay thousands of dollars to see where I live but I guess it is pretty different from the rest of the country. The leaves are starting to change and if you've never seen something like that before it would probably be nice to see. My friend from Romania said he knew we were in North America because he had never seen cars that big in his life.
Yesterday we were in NYC and that felt really weird too because I was there with the ship. It felt like a completely different city. I didn't get to see much because I only had a few hours but I did get some of my favorite cheap Mexican food and see some good friends.
I know this isn't very nice but I had a pretty good laugh at someone else's expense yesterday. I was standing on the gangway greeting people as they ce aboard and directing them to security. They have to pass under a metal detector, which by the way is never on, and people are always worried because most of our guests have pacemakers. So a gentleman is about to pass under and he informs the guard about his pacemaker and the guard waves him through. He reluctantly starts to walk under and just as he does a taxi blows his horn and the guy just about jumps out of his skin. I couldn't help but laugh. These are the problems of most of our guests on board.
country count: 45
We've been in Spain the past few days and I still think out of everywhere
I've been that it is my favorite country. I love the architecture, the food, the
language and the beaches. This time around we stopped in Ibiza, Almeria and
Cadiz. I didn't get to do too much exploring because we are still on our first
cruise and we are rehearsing all of our shows while the production team is here.
But I do try to put my feet on the ground as often as possible. I wish we could
stay longer in the Mediterranean but since I've already done an entire contract
there I guess it's best to move on to something else. In our next cruise we are
crossing the Atlantic and heading back to the US! I will actually get to see my
family in some of these ports.
Today we are in Lisbon, Portugal and even though I've never been here I can't
count it as a new country because I have been to Funchal, Madeira and
technically, that's Portugal. However CANADA will be my first new country on
this cruise. I think it's funny that I've been to China but never Canada and
it's basically in my backyard.
COUNTRY COUNT: 45
I've made it to my new home on the Regatta! We flew overnight to Turkey on a ten hour flight last Monday. We went straight to the hotel because the ship wouldn't arrive until the next day. It was surprisingly a really nice hotel and the view from my window was the harbor. Unfortunately we didn't have anytime to spend wandering around Istanbul so I
didn't get to see too much of it. The second day we were meeting the ship but the cast on board wasn't disembarking until the next day. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:30am and found out another ship was pretty much parked in our parking space and didn't plan on leaving until 5pm that evening! The Regatta decided to drop anchor and tender the guests into shore. That's when they send the lifeboats out as shuttles so no one is stuck on board. They didn't begin this process until around 3pm. Meanwhile we had been cleared through security and handed over our passports to the port agent until it was time for us to board. We sat in the cruise terminal for four hours with nothing to do, nothing to eat and nowhere to go. Now, when I say terminal you may be thinking of a nice
airport or bus station but this was just an empty room with some chairs where we got to watch all the guests from the four other ships docked there coming and going. There was a duty free shop inside but if you've ever shopped there you know you need your passport or ID to purchase anything. I was starving for four hours while a Toblerone was staring me in the face the whole time. They finally told us we could jump in a tender heading back to the ship around 3:30pm. We walked outside but we didn't know where to go because all you could see on either side of the dock were giant cruise ships. Where could our tenders
possibly be docking? They pulled up directly underneath the Celebrity Equinox, a MASSIVE ship. We even passed beneath the ropes that kept them tied to the dock!
The Celebrity ship did not like that but we were not about to sit around wasting anymore time.
We finally made it to the Regatta and I immediately felt like I had been there before. It is an exact replica of the Nautica. They were built to be sister ships and they are completely identical. So even though I have never been on this ship before, I already know where
everything is! My room is in the same place and it even has the same number. The one big difference is on the Nautica, I had an office. On Regatta the place where my office used to be is a bathroom. I cannot tell you how many times have started walking into that bathroom since I've been on board. The next thing that came over me was the feeling that I had never left. My vacation went by so fast that it seemed like I had just jumped from one ship to the next.
Now we are on board getting settled into our new (old) home but we are rehearsing our shows everyday. This means we get to watch all the ports go by out the window but we can't actually get off the ship and see anything. I'm hoping in the next couple of days when we aren't tendering anymore I may actually be able to put my feet on the ground again. As soon as I actually go somewhere and see something I promise to tell you all about it!
I've been home on vacation for about a month now and since I left the ship I've been to:
New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA
Newport News, VA
I guess I'm not used to staying put anymore! Of all those places the only new one for me was LA, and I loved it! I hiked Runyon Canyon, shopped in West Hollywood and went into the hills to tour the rich and famous neighborhoods.
I only have one destination left before I head back to Nashville for rehearsals and that's Traverse City, MI for my third wedding of the summer! Soon to come are more blogs about my journey, this time around South America!
Sassy ginger from NH off traveling the world.