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Monday, December 5, 2011


Voyager of the Seas
Jan. 2002

Squeaky, squeaky, squeaky. I could hear this noise as someone behind me moved across the wet fiberglass deck. I turned to see Fidel, a small middle-aged man walking like bozo the clown but wearing flippers. I stared in amazement as he sauntered past be without a care in the world, arms swinging like a kid as he headed to the swim deck on the back of the 40 ft. 2-deck high tour boat. He was wearing bright red, extra long trunks with a Mickey Mouse pattern. He was also wearing a wet t-shirt that allowed his belly to peek out and he already had donned his mask and snorkel. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING FIDEL?” I said to him. He spoke through his snorkel, “In the water brother. In the water”. I couldn't help it. I wanted to strangle him but I couldn't because I was was cradling my left arm in my other hand to stop the pain from becoming too intense. The Tylenol hadn't kicked in yet. So I planned my attack for later. But, Let me back up a minute so that you might understand the rest of the story.

Before we left for our trip, Candy, his blonde wife, called Christine to make her final payment. Christine asked for her credit card number and she said that she had lost it and wanted Christine to come help her find it! Christine told her that she could not come over to help her, but asked if her bag had spilled. She said, “Oh yeah, yesterday in the car”. Candy went to the car, as Christine directed her to, and found it under the seat.

When we got to the airport in San Diego Christine told everyone in our large group to take out their travel documents and hand them to her. Now Fidel is from another country and has two different names on his documents, so Christine reminded him to let her handle it. He couldn't restrain himself. He was up at the counter saying all sorts of crazy things. Christine instructed me to bring the group of 70 or so to the gate. As we walked away I heard Fidel say, “Why does everyone always think I'm a terrorist? Do they think I have a bomb or something?” As he said this he reached into the air and said loudly, “BOOM!” It was a short time after the terror attacks of 9/11! I don't know how they managed, but Christine and Fidel joined us at the gate about an hour later just as we were boarding.

We landed in New Orleans and spent a couple of days there before boarding the Voyager of the Seas. We checked in and were heading up to get on the ship. We were having that moment that we all get. You know that moment when you realize that you are on vacation. You can smell the sea air and you can almost taste your first meal in the Windjammer Cafe. Fidel came running back down the crowded gangway yelling, “Seester! Seester! They took everything! My passport my license...everything. You need to get them back for me!” Christine was quick to say, “Well Fidel, since my face is not on the documents they are not going to give them to me. You need to go get them.” (Later someone in our group told us that after he checked in he accidentally dropped his documents on the ground, looked down at them, and walked away.)

That evening after dinner I whispered to Christine that I needed a little family time. We agreed that we would wait until just moments before the show started and slip in and sit in the back and then leave early. As we sat down I could see that the the group was on the lower level near the stage. We were in the far back on the upper level. Ah, peace and quiet. “Oh there you are. We have been looking all over for you!” Fidel and Candy were directly in front of us! Candy said with her best Betty Boop voice, as she sat turned around in her seat facing us
“What if something happens to us while we are on the ship?”
“Did something happen to you?” I said barely able to fake my concern.
“Well yes. Something happened to our luggage.”
“Did your luggage get lost?”
“Did your luggage get damaged?”
“U huh”
“ Who damaged it?”
“The airline”
“The airline?”
“U huh”
“That was two days ago! We've been in New Orleans for two days” She looked confused.
I continued, “How did you get your luggage from the airport to the bus, to the hotel, to the bus, to the ship without noticing the damage?”
By this time she really looked confused. She turned to Fidel and they exchanged heated words in a whisper because the lights had dimmed and the show was about to begin. She quickly turned back around and said, “The cruise line did it!” I told her that when you travel sometimes luggage can get damaged a little and there isn't much that can be done but that she could make a claim if she wanted to.

I went to the front of the boat and took two Tylenol and sat down alone to rest. That's when I heard, squeaky, squeaky, squeaky.
“Where are you going Fidel?”
“In the water brother. In the water”
“I thought you had a bad knee!”
“It's better now.” he said as he jumped into to the water.

Late that night as I lay in bed trying to get in a better position because of my aching body I heard Christine come in. As she slid in bed next to me I knew that she and her friends had a good time dancing because she was still sweaty. She asked me if I was awake. Without opening my eyes I told her that I was. She said, “Guess who was dancing like the Village People on the dance floor tonight?” I opened my eyes wide and said through my clenched teeth, “FIDEL?” “Yep! I guess his knee is all better,” She said. When I woke the next morning my fists were still clenched.

Christine said, as she rubbed my shoulders, that she always feels a whole lot better about this kind of situation if she can laugh about it. I wasn't to that point yet.

After the buses dropped us off at our house after the cruise the group unloaded all of their luggage on to our driveway. One by one everyone got picked up and the rows of luggage slowly dwindled down to two pieces. Fidel and Candy were out by the street waiting for their ride. Christine motioned toward their luggage. We walked over to get a closer look. Two giant pieces of luggage that looked like they had gone through a meat grinder! One piece laid on it's side half twisted and could no longer stand. There was a little Mickey Mouse strapped to a handle, filthy from head to toe. He looked up at us with his sad eyes as if to say sheepishly, “Help.”

Their ride came and we said goodbye. We walked inside. Neither of us said a word. We both looked out the front blinds and then at each other. We haven't laughed that hard in years.
* Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
Travel Tip: When things aren't going so well, just find the humor in it, it may end up being your favorite story to tell and you'll laugh about it for years.

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