Raiatea, Tahiti – Day 2
After falling asleep very late last night I have to share that the overnight experience was sketchy at best. Because the ship hit rough waters, I could feel every surge and dip and drift. It was a rough night thanks to rough waters. I woke many times, wondering what time it was (I have no clock in my room) only to realize no light was peeking through the curtains. This led to many weird but real dreams about me getting up and finding the ship in sand, jumping into the water as if the Pacific Ocean were a swimming pool, and the worst of all were the dreams that I was deathly sea sick. Thankfully, when I did finally get up at 8:00 this morning and opened my curtains we were just beginning our final march into the port at Raiatea. And I was not throwing up thankfully. I stood on my balcony, awestruck at first until we sailed right into a huge weather system on the island. It has been like a monsoon today – the rain pouring in non-stop, very high winds and absolutely NO sun. Yet I was enjoying getting to know the ship, my shipmates and was hopeful the day’s weather would change….
After a weak workout (let’s just say the fitness center on board needs a little fitness work!) and a very good breakfast we had the mandatory Lifeboat Drill. Standing in the rain on Deck 5 was not our idea of fun, but it is law and good to know where those ugly life vests are if you ever need them. I spent a bit of time in my stateroom, watching the sun peek out and hoping, hoping the clouds would part and our activities would take place. I was scheduled for a kayak trip up a river into the middle of the island. But, unfortunately, the weather has only worsened and my excursion was cancelled. In fact, the combination of the extreme winds and the waves hitting the back of the ship cause the ship to rumble and shudder and shake. The good news is it has given all of us strangers something to talk about, so many friends were made today.
I had lunch and met a very nice couple from San Diego – Gabby and Roger. We shared a couple glasses of wine and conversation – after a French buffet. The food here has been fantastic, but not overbearing. You have the chance to get just enough of what you like. And I like that every seating has healthy, lighter fare so the temptation to go too crazy is curbed just a bit! After a long and relaxing conversation with my new California friends, I managed to make the daily tour of the ship’s bridge. Very interesting! Wow – talk about a room with a view! I also met the Staff Captain – and I have been invited to have dinner with him and other passengers at his table tonight. Everyone on the executive crew is from Croatia it seems, with the exception of Freddy who is from Austria – and their accents are awesome. The lifestyle they lead is really quite amazing. Officers spend three months on duty, three months off. Others will do a tour of six months then spend six months on vacation. They live on the ship, have their own restaurants and bars and seem to love being able to live in this part of the world. I think it’s gorgeous – I will have to confirm that when the clouds part and we actually see the sun! The good news is the forecast calls for sunny, warm days ahead. I sure hope so!!
Dinner with Staff Captain Nenad Mogic was awesome! I met wonderful people, including a now amazing dear friend Melanie from Sacramento. She is traveling with her father, who is 79 and simply is a stitch and an incredible man. He has been a travel agent for nearly 50 years and has been everywhere in the world – his stories and experiences left me drop-jawed and in awe. I sat between him and the Captain and between the two I had quite the education in both world travels and history. The Captain speaks five languages, and has literally been to every part of the globe. He is also a history buff – and between he and Milton I was completely enthralled with the conversation. Melanie a pure delight – she is currently going through a divorce after 26 years, so we have had some very similar and shared experiences. The other couple was a cardiologist, Dr. Carl, also from Northern California and his love, the beautiful Lindsay. It was one of those dinners you will never forget. Carl brought on board several bottles of his favorite wine from Napa which he shared with the table. It was a perfectly lovely evening. I of course believe I was there because of the name – as the Captain, who is Croatian, was quite interested in the name Ratkovich. He about lost it when I correctly said the Yugoslavian words for “belly button” and “behind.” I must have said them very well because he laughed very hard then complimented me on my pronunciation! After dinner, Melanie and a I met Freddy, my new buddy, and some other fun (and much younger) friends in the “disco” later that night. All I can say is there was a lot of champagne, tequila, wine and Lord only knows what else being served. On this ship, everything is included, so we could have whatever we wanted. Needless to say Mel and I stayed out way late, had a ball and I no longer feel like a solo traveler!