BILL WHITE'S JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD: Part Two – Ship's Plumbing and the San Blas Islands

We continue now our postings of Bill White’s Caribbean reflections, as he steams south from Florida first to Panama and then onward to Peru to meet, at last, Kel, his fiancé.

The movie on the second night was “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which I enjoyed but the ship was rocking so much that I started feeling a bit sick and left early, intending to watch the rest of it on television. Tomorrow they show “The Avengers,” which I will leave before the ending to Skype at midnight with Kel.  We had such a nice long talk last night.  Talking with and seeing my darling ponyo gives me something to look forward to all day, and the days are pretty dull, waking the decks, taking pictures of the same ocean.  Yesterday I borrowed a couple books from the library; a biography of Pablo Neruda and a memoir from Roger Ebert.  But even though there is a dullness about the journey there is also the undercurrent of excitement that prevents me from relaxing enough to concentrate on a book. Whatever I do, I am always looking for something else to do at the same time.

On the third day of the voyage, I am apprehensive about entering the shower, as yesterday I was unable to shut off the water and I had to call for help.  The first person to arrive could not fix it.  He thought the unit was loose and tightened it, but to no avail.  The second to arrive simply shut it off and said there was nothing wrong with it. I had tried several times to turn the knob in the direction he showed me, but was not successful in any of those attempts.  What will happen today when I try to turn off the water?

This is what happened during this morning’s abbreviated shower.  I turned the water on carefully and maintained a low-pressure flow, turning it off altogether a few times while washing my hair and face.  No problems.  Then, for no apparent reason, the water pressure increased to its maximum and when I tried to turn the water off, it would not stop.  So I got out of the shower, placed the shower hose in the sink so the water would not overflow from the shallow shower basin, and spent ten minutes or so aimlessly turning knobs back and forth.  Then, for no apparent reason, the water turned off.  I told one of the stewards that the situation with the water was erratic, and the shower needed to be inspected by a plumber to make sure the same disaster would not occur tomorrow.  I don’t know if he understood a word I said. We shall see tomorrow.

I ran into one of the trivia team players today and we talked a bit about computers, as he had just come from a lecture on Windows 7. I told him I had been using an IMac and now was using the Toshiba laptop, and asked if he knew a good program for editing audio.  He told me he used Audacity.  This is the program I used to transfer my audio tapes to digital files, and I didn’t realize it was a garage-band style recording system, with editing functions as well as an importing function, so I will be able to both record the Skype interviews with Paul and edit them on it.

After we took second place in the trivia game, the ship experienced a severe roll that turned the upper deck pool into mini tsunami and shattered dishware throughout the ship. I barely noticed it, as I was taking a picture of a plant at the time, and were it not for the noise of breaking dishes might well have remained ignorant of the occurrence, for which the captain offered profuse apologies and feeble explanations.  I only had a brief call with Kel before going to bed and falling asleep while listening to Donovan’s album, “Fairy Tale,” having discovered that the DVD player also plays CD’s.

I woke early to catch the sunrise, and became engaged in a prolonged conversation with an Australian couple, who informed me that their stateroom was right across from mine. The guy also had a Lumix Camera, a newer model than mine, and I checked out some of its functions, such as the macro zoom.  Returning to the cabin, I received a call from Harvey, who wanted to come to my cabin and get in a little practice on the guitar.   Harvey was a rock and roller from the early sixties who now played some country and national ballads, of which he demonstrated a few.  They sounded much like our own frontier ballads such as Red River Valley and Home on the Range. We left the cabin to find that the ship had already arrived at the San Blas Islands, and I felt a real thrill at seeing land after a couple days on the high seas.  I didn’t want to go ashore, however, because the stop was primarily to ferry passengers to a tourist bazaar where they could buy some of the products of the Cuna Indians.  I had no interest in being shipped around as a source of income, preferring to stay on the boat photographing the Indians who had surrounded our ship in their canoes.  Had I gone ashore, I would have been forced to pay a dollar to every Indian I photographed.  I am beginning to notice that I am too often taking too many pictures of the exact same thing. I spent a long time circling each of the decks, taking pictures and soaking up the sun before returning to the cabin to doze through the most recent Twilight episode, which I had only seen once before and had such a vague memory of that I wondered at times if I had seen it at all.

In other trivial news, someone apparently came in and fixed the shower, as the water is now dispensed through a clockwise, rather than a counter-clockwise, turn, Still, I was apprehensive and kept it turned down low, switching it to off to soap myself and on to rinse, thus making sure everything continued to operate properly, with no water gathering for an overflow.

And now we lift anchor and leave the San Blas Islands, expecting to reach the Panama Canal at 5am and to enter it at 6:30.   In the meantime, I look forward to talking with Kel, playing some trivia, possibly going to the German film, “The Harmonists,” and maybe checking out a comedian in the Showroom at Sea.  There is a certain ennui, however, that overtakes one, trumping all plans and sending the poor soul to bed where even sleep drags by slowly.

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