Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cruising the Caribbean, Part 1

I'm going to take up the subject of the Caribbean again, if only to close it (also because I was picking up steam before I started yacking about Avatar). This time I will speak about my experience as I visited all the local islands. I reasoned that being in the Caribbean wasn’t going to happen to me that often throughout my life, so I might as well see all the islands I could while I was at it. So one day I walk up with one of my fellow students, a guy called Calum, to a ship which tours the islands, and we get a cabin for a week.

On the day I set off, the man comes over with a neatly trimmed beard, Ray-Ban sunglasses and ironed clothes. I for a change am hungover, and the truth is impressed upon me that spending time with Calum is going to be something very different from living with Jack. The Welsh bastard has turned me into something of a slob (not that I was a disciple of Mary Poppins before that, but I didn’t live in the bogs either), while Calum looks like a cross between Clark Kent and the gingerbread man. We are given a cabin the size of a sardine tin which has been thrown under a steamroller, but given the prices we are paying, we can’t complain.

Couple drinks too many on the night before departing, maybe. Whoever drew those moustaches on me, if you're reading this, you can go fuck yourself

‘Please put that light out,’ he tells me on the first night, while I’m trying to read. It turns out that he has sleeping trouble – he can’t doze off if there’s a fly dying in Mexico or something. Grand. At least he should be organised as to the journey.

On the first day, we disembark on an island (I hate to be generic, but if anyone can go through five of those islands in five days and remember their specific names four years later, then they deserve the Legion of Honour as far as I’m concerned). We walk into the village, and it takes twelve seconds before we end up in the market and are assaulted by twenty merchants trying to sell us fruit. There, we negotiate with a ferocity which we never would have expected to possess on the price of a sack of pineapples, spending forty minutes in the act of bartering and shouting for our rights, only to get swindled ten minutes later by an old lady selling us pizzas. As the afternoon deepens, my interests and Calum’s display some divergence, so we part ways. I decide to walk on my own to see the sights out of the village, without really taking care of my direction, and I get lost. I turn back and start walking towards the sea in the hopes of finding the boat, and soon I am scrambling with a herd of goats which surfaced out of nowhere and appears to be going in my general direction. I suddenly understand why goats follow their shepherd (or ‘goatherd,’ or whatever the fuck he’s called) so intently. There is something so unspeakably inspirational about him. He looks like someone who really knows where he’s going, strutting about with that satisfied gait of his. Eventually he turns and sees me amid his goats. An exchange follows as to the whereabouts of the port, one of no great wit, in truth – for all of his military poise, the man is disappointingly dim.

On the second day, as we dock into new land, the sun is glorious. We wake up and look at it through the glass, and Calum looks particularly jolly.

The best way of spending your time in the Caribbean, by a mile and a half. Click on photo to see it fully.

‘What do you say that we take a dive?’ he suggests, and I respond with enthusiasm. Then I start rummaging in my backpack, and it turns out that of all the things I could forget, it was the swimming suit which earned the privilege this time. My friend takes it philosophically.

‘You fucking dickhead!’ he yells. ‘You go on a five-day cruise through all the beaches on the Caribbean and you can’t think to bring a rotten swimming suit? What are you going to do, swim in bollocks?’

So I have to go to the village before I can dive, and there I get assaulted by the men of the local market to sell me fruit, because obviously I can’t live without it. That night, Calum has gone to bed early, while I am on deck, chatting with some English girls who are also taking the cruise. They’re the kind of girls who require about twenty years in prison before they start looking attractive, and seeing how I’ve never been behind bars, this limits my interest considerably. After a few drinks together, I take my stuff and go back to bed.

The next day, Calum is flustered. ‘If you come back in the dead of night from your escapades,’ he informs me, ‘can you at least not do so like you’re banging together a pair of drums in the process.’

‘Calum,’ I inform him softly, ‘to begin with, it was more an encounter of the third kind than an escapade. Secondly, the only thing I did before going to sleep was brushing my teeth. If that equates to bongos, then you want to get some sleeping pills, mate.’ The man does not agree, and a small discussion is had on the right of a human being to sleep without being disturbed.

This is getting too long. I'll post part 2 tomorrow or the day after.

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