Monday, May 28, 2007

Wednesday, May 9th

The famous “Crossing” cruise is officially over. I’m actually going to miss these people. They finally know their way around the ship, Rascal Scooters zipping around hallways and the like. And Steve and I grew attached to a lot of these folks. Interestingly enough, 180 guests are staying on for the next cruise, which is a mere 12 days long, and includes a little trip to a little country called EGYPT!!!

We docked at the port city of Piraeus, wished the debarkers well, and walked for about 15 minutes to the train station. We popped a few Euros into a ticket machine, hopped a train and shortly
thereafter found ourselves on the streets of Athens.

I cannot stress enough how lucky we are that we go to the majority of these ports at least two or three times during our 4-month contract. We get to do some re-con. We get to wander around without the This-is-Our-Only-Time-to-See-This-Place-Pressure that the guests on the cruise have. Simply put, we get to do some guilt-free farting around.

Today our little group didn’t feel like seeing the Acropolis. Yeah, I said it. We didn’t feel like dealing with the steep, often treacherous tour. We just didn’t feel like seeing another ancient part of a city. We weren’t in the mood. And that’s okay. We’re going back to Athens three more times.

Instead, we shopped and ate our faces off.

We wandered around the shopping areas, stopped for coffee, wandered some more, stopped for a snack, wandered some more, and then went crazy in a couple of stores including ZARA, my new favorite H&M-type place. Jennine and Amanda, one of the youth counselors, accompanied me as we ransacked the main shopping area in Athens. Steve and Dave were having Greek coffee and reading newspapers in a lovely square, very far away from their shoe-salivating partners.

We eventually all met up, including our musical director, Dave, and Kris (dancer) and Tony (wardrobe supervisor), and proceeded to be pummeled with one of the best meals we had all ever had. We just sat down at this big table, ordered a few things, and the food just kept coming. "Lamb Kabobs....for you, for you," our server said. "Yogurt and honey...for you, for you," another server said.

And when we got the bill, the stuff we didn't order and even some of the stuff we did order, was nowhere to be found, charge-wise. We chalked it up to the Greek Hospitality, but then figured that we were a big group at a restaurant on a main street and the more food they put out the more passersby leered. It worked. By the time we left, the entire restaurant was full.

Then it was wander time. Get sort of lost time. We went through parks and public squares, saw lots of tired dogs (don't worry - I had saved some of the chicken from our big feast and made sure to dole it out to the pups), had a drink, and watched others do the same. You know, life.

It was a great day in a fantastic city. And we're going back very, very soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Monday, May 7th

Escort work again.

Today it was time to take the guests to Olympia. Olympia is the birthplace of the Greek Tradition of Arbitrary Plate Smashing. Kidding. It is, of course, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

I freaking love the Olympics. I cry when people win, and cry when people lose. I love watching human beings perform things that seem impossible – watching people do things I could never dream of accomplishing. I had butterflies in my stomach on the way there. The place where the Olympics were born!
The ruins of the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! The complete frustration when I realized that I probably shouldn’t have escorted a tour that I wanted to take myself!

Yep, such is the rub. You go on the experience for free, but you pay dearly with a lack of really experiencing the place that you go. I tried so hard to listen to Nota, our lovely tour guide, and take pictures and enjoy the fact that I was walking through the arch that so many athletes, worshiped as Gods, passed through so many years ago.
But that wasn’t what I was primarily there to do. I was primarily there to make sure the guy in the Fredericksburg, Virginia shirt didn’t get lost.

Things I was able to glean from Nota:
*”Hitting the showers” meant jumping in a filthy river behind the gymnasium.
*Everyone on the grounds was a nudie. This was to make sure that no women were in the area. A bunch of naked, severely athletic guys running and jumping and ... hoo boy.
*As you entered the stadium itself, there were various statues of Zeus lining the pathway to the entrance. A criminal paid for each of these statues to be made.
The criminal’s name was displayed prominently upon it. It was considered to be an extremely severe punishment to have to commission one of those statues, as everyone would mock your name as they entered the stadium.

And…that’s about it.

I’m going to take a break from escorting for a bit. We get 20% off the excursions anyway. Jennine, Steve, and Dave, who also went to Olympia today as escorts, feel the same way. It’s worth the $50 or so to have someone else be the Mama Duck. Quack.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sunday, May 6th

Katie here, your friendly Shore Excursion Escort. Since we last spoke I have graduated from zipping around on a bus with disabled folk to actually doing walking tours. Of ruins. In Greece.

The first place I went to was the ruins of the Palace of Knossos. "Palace," in 2,000 BC meant, "A big place where people hang out." Sort of like a mall.

The Palace of Knossos is also considered the home of the mythical Minotaur, a half-human, half-bull creature that lived in the Labyrinth.

Anyway, Katerina was our tour guide. She had never given a tour in English - only Italian. She also was a low-talker. Hence, all the guests hated her instantly and I spent most of the tour trying to get them to relax. Instead of relaxing, most of the guests just replied, "You should give the tour - you're loud enough."

These holes in the ground are speculated to be "sacrificial wells," which is a nice way of saying, "We found a bunch of dead, rotting bones in them. The bones of young girls"

A rich white guy named Sir Evans is the one who uncovered the palace complex, and he seemed to think that the area I'm standing in was a theater space. So, I got to stand in a real Greek Theater. The guest who is taking my picture made me recite a few lines from the show so I could say that I had actually performed in such an ancient place.

I wonder if, in 2,000 years, people will be perusing the ruins of The Mall of America, marveling over the remnants of the giant Snoopy balloon. And an aspiring actress like myself will stand on the ruins of a mall stage that once hosted not-so-prolific acts such as "A Salute to Flag Day," or one of the American Idol contestants from Season Four who got voted out in the first round. And standing there will mean much, much more to her than it actually did to anyone way back then.

A Bit From Steve Re: Egypt

I would just like to point out that this is not a joke. This really happened as we were leaving the site where the Step Pyramid is. Here's Steve:

Steve: "Egyptian street merchants don't like to take no for an answer.

We were warned about it, but it was much more intense than I expected. They want to sell their wares and they are willing to haggle, small-talk, barter, walk with you for miles, whatever it takes. You can't afford to show any interest or make eye-contact because you will likely invite ten-minutes of conversation consisting mostly of you saying the words "No, thank you."

They've learned to take advantage of Westerners' mostly polite way of dealing with strangers. They know we won't just ignore them, so they stay in our faces until we buy something just to get some peace. And I'm sure it works.

As we were leaving one of the pyramid sites, I got an interesting offer on what someone perceived as my wares. An Egyptian merchant spotted Katie and yelled at her, "Shakira! Shakira, I love you! I want to marry you!"

He then proceeded to follow me asking, "How much for the girl? How much? I give you fifty-thousand chickens! Fifty thousand chickens, sir! Good chickens!"

Fifty thousand chickens? What am I going to do with fifty thousand chickens? How would I get them home?

"Sorry," I said, "She's not for sale." I felt very authoritative.

As we boarded our bus he plaintively yelled, "Sir! Sir, I promise, sir! I will send you twenty camels every year for her! Every year twenty camels!"

Katie and I sat down on the bus. I turned to her and said, "That's crazy. How would I even track this guy down when all of sudden, after a couple of years, the camels stop coming?"

She didn't think it was funny."

It wasn't funny. I got low-balled.
Anyway, we'll talk a lot more about Egypt soon.

50,000 chickens. Sheesh. I'm worth at least 60,000...(Katie keeps muttering to herself, even though this blog entry is over...)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday, May 4th

Perk number 7,234 about our job with Norwegian - we can sign up to escort tours and shore excursions and therefore get to take the trip ourselves for free. Well, not totally free - we have to make sure no one gets left behind, answer some pretty inane questions, and write up a small report about the day. So, it's basically free.

For our 1st day in Naples, Steve and I decided to sign up for some of the tours. We can't be on the same tour, so Steve picked the excursion to Pompeii that included a very intense hike up the volcanic rocks.

I chose a bus tour for disabled people.

Walkers, wheelchairs, leg casts, you name it. After all we did in Rome the day before, it was just my speed. The tour consisted of an air-conditioned bus tour around Naples, with a stop at the top of the hill to take photos and another stop at a cafe to have an ice cream, which was included.

Our tour guide was Umberto, who had to be all of 22 and all of 5'4". He was fantastic. Tour guides provide for some wonderful psychoanalyzing. When a person is talking that consistently for that long, you learn a lot about their subject, but even more about them if you listen closely. I loved how Umberto would throw in little bits about soccer anytime he could and how he flipped out about how boring all the buildings built during the Fascist Regime were.

These lovely ladies were the biggest pains in the ass. They were sweet and eager but they were always about 75 feet behind the group and would buy ANYTHING from ANYONE. I mean it.
They bought absolute crap for ridiculous prices - like a postcard for 2 Euros or a ball that could stick to a wall for 5 Euro. Nothing says Naples like a cheap Koosh Ball that can stick to a surface for 30 seconds.

This bus tour was popular not only with people who weren't really into walking but also with people who were scared of big cities. Naples isn't the nicest city in Italy in the sense that it is unafraid to hide the fact that it is a big city, with crime and poverty and graffiti and loitering. You know, life. The way people acted when they saw a pack of kids outside a building with a shoddy facade and spray paint on it you would have thought they were looking at militants in Anwar Province.

We weren't let out of the bus until we got to an area where the buildings looked like this:
and none of the balconies had laundry hanging from them.

Openly drying laundry seems to be the international sign for "I'm going to get jacked in this part of town." Laundry hanging out to dry, however, is also a very popular photo subject, as people went nuts with their cameras every time they saw it.

We were also let out for ice cream at a cafe called Gambrinus. Sorry, Gelato.
Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing. Of course we weren't allowed to get a beer. Ice cream is safer.

It was definitely more of an anthropological study than a study of the city. But, I enjoyed my safe little tour. We're coming back to Naples very, very soon. I'm looking forward to exploring it on foot and taking pictures without a bus window in front of me, as taking pictures of something through the window of a bus is kind of like watching fireworks on TV.

I just know when I see clothes-pinned garments to grab my purse a little tighter.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday, May 17th

You get what you give. The love you take is equal to the love you make. You need input for output.

I’m not talking about the gastro-instestinal issues again. I’m talking about how, as a creative-type, you have to always get stuff into your mind so the stuff that comes out is richer and more vibrant than just your own junk that’s been knocking around up there.

As of right now, my mind is drunk on input. In the last week I have seen the Palace of the Minotaur, the site of the first Olympic games, and the freaking cities of Athens and Cairo, not to mention our little jaunt to Italy.

I will write about it all soon, but right now my mind has the spins and needs to sober up. It was a lot to take in and I find myself going a little crazy.

When I need to mentally sober up I usually channel surf. We have six channels on our TV, so it doesn’t really work and I usually end up having to settle on FOX News.

Here is a sampling of five minutes from today’s edition of "FOX and Friends," which is like Romper Room for Right Wingers:

*The exploration of the question “Are Trees Contributing to Global Warming?” followed by comparing trees in warm climates to trees in colder climates by using the word, “ironic” inappropriately.
*This was followed by a discourse on why the black chick was voted off American Idol.
*Keep in mind this was all facilitated by my least-favorite FOX News Anchor Trollop, Megyn Kelly. Your first name is spelled wrong, you flat-ironed haired skank.

Now I feel like I'm on acid. And it’s a bad batch, man.

Please forgive me if I nurse my Amazing Sights and Adventures hangover for a couple of days. With the television off, of course.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday, May 14th

The first grey hair on the head of a twenty-something woman. A slight shaking on the streets of a major city above a fault line. A long dormant volcano emitting a wisp of hot smoke. These are bad signs, heralding something really awful. The cruise ship equivalent of a grey hair or minor tremor is a passenger or crew member reporting to the Medical Center stating, “It’s coming out. Both ways. And it won’t stop.”

The alarms sound. We have a “Code Brown” - the first sign of a gastro-intestinal disorder, or simply, “G.I.”

G.I. is a nightmare for a ship. We are in a very enclosed environment, breathing the same air, touching the same food, sharing the same over-priced cocktails. It is very difficult to contain, and for the past couple of days we have been getting used to our utensils being handed to us by a rubber-glove wearing crew member, our hands sprayed with sanitizer every time we enter a new room, and our ears perking up every time we hear the words, “I’m not sure I feel so well.”

Today was supposed to be the debut of the Second City, our first public appearance as performers on this 12-day cruise.
We were scheduled for rehearsal at 11:00 AM today, but Jennine was doubled over in the medical center waiting to hear the inevitable – You. Have. G.I. So, the four of us (and our musical director) began working out a way to do a four-person show – we’d done it before (Blog trivia! Why did the cast have to do a four-person show in the past? Answer at the end of the entry!).

Then we got a call that Jennine would be fine, but would have to be quarantined – a standard procedure on ships – for at least 24 hours.

And, so would her husband and roommate and vital cast member, Dave. Even though Dave felt fine, this ship isn’t taking its chances.

Hence, no show tonight, and a lot of DVD watching, room service, and trying to stay sane for Dave and Jennine.

The show has been rescheduled for Wednesday. Our Cruise Director made the announcement several times today that our show had been changed due to a, “Misprint in the Freestyle Daily” which is the ship’s newsletter.

I’m a little nervous that people are going to think this is a scam. The Second City cast finally has to work after being paid to traipse around in exotic lands and suddenly they are “quarantined?!” Well, here’s a bill for not holding up your very, very miniscule end of the bargain – it is labeled, “You aren’t going to hoodwink us, you free-loading hippie actors. Nice try.”
(Trivia Answer: Our very first show on the Jewel was a four-person show because Steve went to L.A. to become famous.)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Thursday, May 3rd

Professor Greg Gilbert turned me into an Art History Nerd. His art history survey course was by far my favorite class in all the seven years it took me to finish college.

So, it comes as no surprise that I was uber geeked-out to go to Rome,
the Eternal City where all the folks with slightly better than average art knowledge love to get together and pray for their tour guide to say something a bit incorrect so they can raise a hand and set the record straight.

We will be in Rome 4 more times on this adventure, so Day 1 was spent almost entirely in the walls of Vatican City.

As of the end of 2005, there were 558 people with Vatican citizenship, of whom 246 are dual-citizens of other countries (the majority being Italian).
Here is a breakdown of the peeps that live there:
The Pope;
58 cardinals;
293 members of the clergy who serve as diplomatic envoys abroad;
62 lesser-ranking clergy members who work in the Vatican;
101 officers, NCOs, and men of the Papal Swiss Guard; and
43 lay persons.

I guess this study forgot to mention the 75 million people that are visiting the Vatican at any given time. Like the 200,000 people that were shoved into one body-odor reeking room that I think was the Sistine Chapel, but I couldn't be sure because they were able to get more tourists in there by letting them walk on the ceiling.

The study also forgot to mention the 50,000 that visited the Tomb of the Popes with us. The people who couldn't listen to the countless announcements in every language that say, and I may be paraphrasing here, "This is a sacred place. Please observe silence and refrain from taking photographs. Wow. You people really can't shut up for more than 3 seconds, can you? Hey, Buddy, do your vacation photos really need to include a picture of the tomb of Pope Felix IV?"

I know I was in the middle of tourist central, I know. I know I shouldn't have been surprised that every other person in St. Peter's Square was on his or her laptop.

And I love that so many people want to see these amazing feats of art and craftsmanship. And I'm not going to kid myself that people are flocking to the Vatican in droves to pay homage to the Catholic God. But, I just thought that if anything could make people pause, make people feel something that wasn't palpable, something that couldn't be bought from a street vendor for 5 Euros, it would be this place. In fact, at the time of their creation, these beautiful works were sort of akin to the CGI/fireworks/car crash spectacles that leave us breathless today. They were commissioned to combat the loss of Catholics due to the Reformation. Art was the old school special effect.

These works, like the Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and Bernini's Baldacchino on the alter of St. Peter's, are concrete proof that if God exists, Man is one of his most amazing creations. The fact that Man could create such works, using the tools and materials of the Earth itself, is testament to the awesome power of Mankind. They left me in awe.

And the rude, pushy, photo-happy fanny-packers and their fat, screaming children left me in awe as well.

It sounds like I didn't enjoy myself in Rome, which would be a terrible impression to leave.
Even waiting in line after line (here's me waiting in line to use the restroom in St. Peter's...God's Restroom!) was a bit more magical when doing it near the tomb of St. Peter.

I had waited so long to see so much of these works in person, and I guess I neglected to realize that I would be seeing these works "in person" so much as "with persons-" loads and loads of them.

My favorite things about the day were the rooms in the Vatican Museum besides the Sistine Chapel. We saw ancient sculptures from Greece and Rome. Unlike the Baldacchino, which was roped off and seemed so very far away and so out of reach, these sculptures were right out there, to be interacted with. I got to stare into the eyes of Medusa and not get turned into stone. Steve got to put his arm around Caesar.

And there is a garden outside the Sistine Chapel where you can breathe. You can watch little interactions between God's own funny and fantastic creations - Men, Women, and Children. It is quiet, and there is sun and sky.

In the end, it cannot be denied that Bernini achieved what he set out to do when he created the plans for St. Peter's Basilica. The colonnades that extend from either side of the church's facade were meant to symbolize the arms of the church, welcoming the faithful, embracing them and leading them into the church's walls. It worked then, and it still works now.

Even if not everybody is impressed by it.

Wednesday, May 2nd

I don't know if it is God. I don't know if it is a coincidence. I don't know if it is nothing. But, yesterday I had a bad day. And today I saw dolphins.

I was working out (in the health club that is free to me, I know I know) at my favorite elliptical machine. It is my favorite because it has a television with a working remote and it is right in front of huge glass windows that fabulously let you sweat as you watch the ocean go by.

I was dreamily looking at the water, wishing that I could jump in for a quick cool down, when I saw a brown and grey dolphin jump out of the sea. Followed by another one. And another one. And one more. Just playing along side the boat on their way to find fish or whatever. You know, life.

I screeched, "Dolphins! Real dolphins!" and pointed and waved my lanky arms in the direction of the creatures. But, it was a bit too late. I don't think any one else saw them. That's okay. I needed them pretty badly for myself.

That night, we saw Africa. Real Africa. We stayed up until 1:00 AM to watch as we passed through the Strait of Gibraltar. We couldn't get the best of pictures as it was very dark, but these are the lights of Morocco off the starboard side of the ship.

If you crossed through the ship to the port side, you would see Spain. We ran back and forth, looking at Spain, then Morocco, Europe then Africa.

We also passed the Rock of Gibraltar, but again, the darkness didn't lend itself to good snapshots. The rock is a symbol of strength, of invincibility. The British were so protective of this rock, that they planned on burying 6 soldiers alive within it to attack during WWII if the Germans tried to conquer it.

And with the passing of the treasured rock, we officially left the Atlantic Ocean and entered the Mediterranean. And, we had officially survived the crossing, harbor seals be damned!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tuesday, May 1st

Today was a bad day.

Actually, it was quite a nice day. We had a lovely dinner at Tsar's Palace, saw a fun comedy show from one of the ex-writers from Benny Hill, we laughed, we all chatted...on paper it was a very nice day.

But today, it all hit me. Like the beer-bellied old man with goggles on getting whacked in the stomach with a cannonball, it hit me.

I live on a ship. I am very far from home. I haven't been able to call my family in almost a week. I am always behind someone riding one of these:

I am never, ever alone. I always have to watch what I say. I always have to be friendly.

I cannot go grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping. In fact, I use PeaPod. But the fact that I can't go grocery shopping made me upset.

It's been two months, and it is bound to hit, and today is when it hit. And please don't give me the, "Children are starving in China" speech. I know my life is fantastic. I know I'm going to Rome on Thursday. I know I'm getting paid to perform and travel around the world.

But, I still think I might feel better if I go into one of the lounges and yell "Bingo!" and run away.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Not Even Posed. No Joke.

Here is a neat picture from Funchal. We were making our way back to the harbor.

If this cast ever has a traveling band, this would be our album cover. I guess we’d have to call the record, “Jennine is the One Taking the Picture.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sunday, April 29th

Having this blog really pissed me off today as we explored Funchal, the capital city of the Madeira Islands.

Before I explain to you why I got so peeved, let me first explain to you where and what the Madeira Islands are. Because I didn’t know. And if you did, let me be the first to point at you and say, “Nerd!”

The Madeira Islands are controlled by Portugal, and are located about 360 miles off the coast of Africa and about 535 off the coast of Lisbon. Funchal is located on the island of Madeira itself, and is a large city known for its wine (glass of port, please) and boasts the Guinness World Record for biggest fireworks show – which happens on New Year’s Eve. It is also known for it’s beautiful flowers and trees and overall flora-type stuff.

There. I saved you some Google time.

Funchal was so beautiful and so fulfilling that I became angry. I was annoyed that I had to write about it in this blog because I knew I would never be able to accurately sum up our day on the island.

But, I’ll try. If only because it was the first inkling of land we had seen in six days and deserves a bit of pomp for that fact alone.

Funchal looks like an amphitheatre, as the city begins at the harbor and rises up, about five miles high. Cozy. The first thing we did was pay 10 Euros a piece (or about $780 American – just kidding. It’s about 14 bucks) to hop in a tram that would take us to the top of Funchal. Remember Paradise Point in St. Thomas? Try higher off the ground, higher up into the sky, and various hard, concrete highway and homes below you, not soft, possibly life-saving shrubbery.

It was terrifying, but I did it and survived. (Hey, are you noticing a pattern of risk taking, subsequent fear-conquering, and personal growth? Me too!)

The view was breath taking, even for those without anxiety problems. There are purple trees in Funchal. Not CGI, not made of silk, not an illusion. Real trees full of real purple leaves.

When we got to the top, we began walking around and exploring the gardens, the paths, and a beautiful church that was at the top of a hill. It was dedicated to Emperor Charles of Hungary who had died in Funchal and had a nice little shrine dedicated to him, his coffin included. Then, we too got “Hungary” (boom!!) and decided we wanted to go back down.

The best method of getting down the mountain island of Funchal is by bobsled.

Portuguese men, often dressed like Venetian Gondola drivers, pull you down the sides of the island on bobsleds (for 25 Euros per couple), flying you down the cobblestone paths of Funchal. We were all up for doing it, as it is the definition of, “When will I ever get a chance to do this again?” But, alas, the line was too long and the bobsled men we quite tired and the main bobsled man informed us that they were closed, but he could easily get us a taxi down the hill for 45 Euros.

We declined. But the bobsled man persisted, concern peering through his obvious sales pitch.

“It is a…very, very, steep you know. (Points at Dave, who is wearing flip-flops). You not wearing shoes for this. Very, very steep. You - I give you taxi for 40 Euros.”

We replied, and I may be paraphrasing here, “No, thanks. We’d rather walk five miles down at a 45 degree angle because we are obviously huge jerks.”

And for the next hour, we scaled an island. On foot. Downhill, of course.

On the way down we got to see all the homes on the island, as they are built into the hill. Every home has a fantastic garden, a beautiful patio, and at least one dog, sunning itself lazily. It was a Sunday afternoon, so we got to see folks hanging out their laundry, playing cards, tending to their gardens – you know, life.

Our legs still ache, but it was definitely one of the most fantastic thing all of us had ever done.

When we got to the bottom, it was time to eat, and we had a lovely meal in the town’s main square.
The town has fantastic cobblestone streets with mosaic patterns woven into them, little, European-style alleyways, the cleanest air imaginable, and trees and flowers and flowers and trees.

I am willing to bet that the majority of the people reading this will probably never visit Funchal, because it really is sort of off the map. Like Steve said earlier about the middle of the Atlantic being somewhat uncharted territory for visitors, the Madeira Islands are the same way. It seems like the way things are going in the world more and more places are becoming dirty tourist traps and, worse yet, more and more places are becoming off-limits, even to the most adventurous of travelers. We have the means to go anywhere we want, but are becoming less and less welcome, especially as Americans.

It was something amazing to visit a place that felt like our footsteps weren’t sinking into the footsteps of millions of backpackers and tour guides and warriors and families and joyful hearts and broken ones that had already completed the journey we were beginning countless times before us. It felt pure. And I think we all walked away a little lighter, feeling like our steps had fallen a bit heavier than normal.

Friday. April 27th

I write this in a state of shock.

We almost lost Steve last night to a rogue harbor seal that forced its way onto our vessel.

Steve has been doing his calisthenics as of late, watching his Jack LaLane video reels diligently, so he was able to put up quite the fight.
Now in the ship’s infirmary, his wounds are being treated with the most advanced of medical resources – leaches and the like.

Sweet Lord, may this crossing be over soon! I cannot bear the torment!

Thursday, April 26th

Here you can see the cast before our first show of the Atlantic crossing.

Nonetheless, these shows were, by far, the best ones of the entire trip. The audiences were fantastic. Old people know how to party.

Tuesday, April 24th

Dear Loved Ones,

I hope you can read these words that I wearily type. It is only the third day of our crossing and I am clearly mad.

The Garden CafĂ© has closed down the Kid’s Corner, as the youngest person on this ship besides us is 57. Hence, I am in the middle of the ocean with no dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
I stared at Steve last night, fearing I may have to result to eating him. I then realized I would probably find more meat on my own body, and abandoned the plan.

Here is a picture of the sea. We haven’t seen land in days, and all the television stations have long disappeared. Damn you North American satellite cable! Our only connection to the land we have left is Fox News. Bill O’Reilly, Neil Cavuto and the gang are following us wherever we go. I fear I may be under the spell of Mitt Romney, with his Mormon, fund-raising smile, as I find his policies quite rational. I find myself thinking John McCain is in his right mind, and that the "Bomb Iran" song was cute.

I hope this is still coherent. I miss and love you all.


Catherine Rich

P.S. Send salt.

Steve Waltien Presents: The Crossing

Steve: "We are in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The real middle. We have a channel on our TV which shows information about the boat. It gives us the temperature outside, number of miles traveled, etc.
It also gives us a GPS representation of our position. If you were to look at a map of the Atlantic ocean and try to put your finger in the exact middle of the thing, that's where we are.

We're also pretty much in the middle of our contract. Looking at the vast ocean behind us and in front of us is an interesting visual representation of it.

What's weird is that of all the places we are going to go on this journey, this is the one I am most amazed by. Maybe it's because when you go to Rome or Barcelona, you are standing in a place billions of people before you have stood (there's actually something uniquely wonderful about that too), but here, in the middle of the ocean, is a place relatively few people have been.

We haven't seen land in almost five days. The horizons are endless.

While walking on deck 7 today I saw another ship in the distance. While this was very common in the Caribbean, I haven't seen anything but water since we began the cross. I was so excited I ran for the camera only to find the ship too far out of view by the time I got back. What was that ship's story? It didn't look like another cruise-liner.

Yesterday I saw a flying fish pop out of the water and hover for a few moments like a hummingbird and then pop back down in.

Nothing around us and more than we can imagine underneath."