Surprise, real life travels with you even on a cruise

We just spent two weeks floating around the sunny Caribbean on a Celebrity cruise ship exploring new places, meeting new people, reveling in the luxury of having someone else make the bed and cook, reading one book after another and writing.  The truth would be I was writing, not 'we' were writing.  You would think that in that perfect setting life would unfold without hitches.  One wouldn't forget important dates, couples would get along, you would never get lost, and the music would always be melodious.  It turned out that the cruise was real life relocated to a floating venue.

Not only did I forget Greg's birthday, I failed to clue in to direct prompting on his part. His prompts began about 7 a.m. on February 24th as the ship was sailing into Aruba. He downloaded the Edmonton Journal and took a peak at my Facebook page while I was on the balcony taking photos of the morning mist over the island as we approached the dock. When I went back into the cabin he said, "Joy did you know yesterday was Sarah's birthday?"
"Yes I saw that."
Then he dropped the hint, "I wonder who else's birthday it is."
"I have no idea."

I was busy on my own little mental island, completely preoccupied with something although I have no recollection now of what that was.  I figured he was just being his weird self again.  Sorry, Sarah, who cared whose birthday it was?  We were on vacation.  Several hours later overcome with remorse, I came to the realization it was Greg's birthday.  Maybe being overcome with remorse was an exaggeration, but there was some serious guilt. Greg was much more gracious about my shortcoming, than one of the couples we overheard scrapping at dinner.  Their conversation and disappointment erupted into,  "Maybe your next husband will be better."  Even in the midst of all the beautiful people and the lovely service, there was pain and hurt.

Sunday, February 28th we sailed into Barbados and went looking for a dose of grace.  We walked into Bridgetown, stopping in at St. Michael's Anglican Church cemetery to wander amongst the graves that dated back to the 1600's.  Then we were drawn to steal a look into the cathedral because we could hear the congregation singing.  A kind woman quickly welcomed us, "Come on in sweetie and worship with us. You don't have to stay for the whole time, you just stay as long as you want." We slid into a pew at the back and stayed for a while and then we wandered out again.  There were a few more historic sights to see before the day was over.  After orienting ourselves we set out to visit a park that was on the list of sights.

Somehow along the way we got sidetracked again and found ourselves in First Baptist Church listening to one of the best sermons I have heard in years.  It was the music that drew us in and we ended upstaying until the service ended about two hours later. The music made me cry, the sermon made me cry, the prayers made me cry.  Sorry Celebrity Cruises, but the highlight of my trip was that service.  There were only four white people in the place and two of them were us.  It was so blazing hot that sweat beads ran down my spine even though all I was doing was sitting, listening, and singing.  Oh yeah and crying now and then.

When we left we were feeling pretty confident that we knew our way back to the docks.  It turned out we were wrong.  Very wrong.  We got lost and ended up in an area we shouldn't have been in.  Greg finally asked a man who was passing us on the sidewalk.  He was so helpful.  He told us to be careful and not to walk where we didn't feel safe.  Too late for that advice!  "Stick to the main roads" he said.  He pointed us in the right direction with such kindness and concern that it was touching. Slight heat stroke aside, we made it back in one piece.

On Tuesday we woke up in Antigua and disembarked to a band that I totally loved.  They were playing unconventional percussion instruments. It was enthralling for the first hour or so.  I was surprised to find them still on the pier playing when we returned from our walking tour to town.  They kept playing through out the afternoon, just below our balcony.  By the time we were ready to sail, my warehouse mouth was in full gear as I wished they'd quit already.  I was ready for some peace and quiet!

We saw some beautiful places, met some wonderful people, and navigated a few of the rocky waters that real life brings even on a cruise.  Grateful for the chance to have gone, glad to be home!