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Caribbean Cruise

FEBRUARY 12-23, 2006

SUNDAY, 2/12/06: Get to bed at 11PM Saturday, but don't sleep until after midnight. Look at the clock at 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6, then decide I have to jerk off and start about 6:30AM and do it quickly, lying and thinking that I have to leave a note in case something happens about how to get my files off my computer. It's snowing horrendously at 7:30, and I put on the TV to see we're having the storm of the decade, ending up at noon with 22.8 inches, second only to an 28-inch fall many years ago (but later, at 26.9 inches, it appears to have been the HEAVIEST one-day snowfall in New York history!). Decide I can't call Fred before 10AM, so I send pages to Tristan, fill up the pillbox, and do things around the apartment until I phone Carolyn at 9:10AM, only to get her machine: maybe she'd stayed in Jersey, and it turns out she did. Call Mildred just to have someone to talk to, and when we hang up Carolyn calls from Jersey. We talk about how she likes my website, and I tell her again how much I liked dinner on Friday night, saying, "I won't say the dirty word," and when she knows that it's "mushy," she says she just LOVES to be mushy, and reminds me that she'd actually asked me if I wanted to go overnight to Jersey this weekend, but I was going on the trip. She joked about us sleeping in the same bed but "You wouldn't touch this body." Yeah, I bet. Then I said I was leaving a sheet on the desk, alluding vaguely to a dream that I hadn't had (actually, I HAD a dream, but I've forgotten it completely at the moment), saying that John didn't want to take a percentage of my will to maintain my website, but she could do it with Tristan and there'd be MONEY in it for her, at which she perked up. So I added "Sheet for Carolyn" to my do-list. Finally had breakfast about 9:30, and washed dishes, and then Fred called at 9:50AM to say that he'd called NCL in Florida to find that the "ship had been delayed for two hours." I'd made a reservation for a Cadman car at 12:30PM, and he'd made a reservation for some other service at 11:45, so we both called and said it would be delayed. Fred said he should call back in two hours, or 11:50, and gave me his cell-phone number. I took out the garbage and heard the radio from Beverley's, so I told her to pick up my newspaper, which she said she would. Phoned Mildred and Carolyn again to tell them about the delay. Started a bit of Spider, but then began packing and it took much longer than I thought, and rather than putting the A&K bag in the blue bag, I filled both of them, weighing in at 16 pounds for the blue and 10 pounds for the A&K, even AFTER I added my blue jacket, in case I need something other than my hooded coat, and then found my PILLS on the floor that I almost forgot. Fred called again to say he didn't know how he could get out, since his street hadn't been plowed at all. I phoned NCL at 12:30 to be told that it had DOCKED, and boarding would be at 2PM. I expressed amazement, but she said that's what the schedule was. Phoned Fred on BOTH phones and could only leave a MESSAGE. Waited for him, putting the dishes away, and called the car service, who said the car would be right downstairs! Called Fred on both phones again, desperate, saying that I'd hoped there wasn't some miscommunication, but that I'd meet him at the ship! Car downstairs at 1:05 and I phoned him again on the Siberian driver's cell phone, still no answer. Easy going across the bridge and up the West Side, but a long wait for the turn at 55th Street, me worrying that Pier 95 would be NORTH of this. Turn off at 1:30PM to a slow-moving line, and pass Pier 94 to my despair, but then in a few minutes I see the top of the Norwegian Dawn and feel great relief. Off at the jammed entrance at exactly 2PM to a jam of people, saying everyone has to get OFF first, and the traffic is mostly OUTWARD with luggage, with the waiting area JAMMED with people, loud, too. I take a cup of soup off a passing tray, having started feeling hungry, and found a seat outside after getting a single piece of paper that she said would suffice for my name change! I hope so! She also said I would need my Bahamas card on check-in, so I found a seat and found the Bahamas card and got out the AlphaSmart and started typing, jammed with people all over, and finish with this at 2:32PM, waiting for Fred to find me, waiting for everyone to leave, earplugs in to stop the noise from the adjoining kids, and will put this away and start on the weekend Times puzzles. Sadly, this has switched OFF about five times while I was typing! Did all the puzzles while the line just stood there, but by the time it moved and everyone left by 4PM, I was told to go upstairs! Where I waited until 6PM, then on an ENDLESS line with a ridiculous non-system of processing, and got to the room to find Fred there, early, and we went to the Venetian Room at 7:30 to eat and then to the show with his two friends from 9:32 to 10:17 while the ship sails out ONE mile for the seven-hour refueling, and "change of itinerary to come." Unpack and type this to 11:09, exhausted to bed at 11:25PM. Don't sleep easily, though the temperature is pretty good: Fred said that he set it "Two notches above the coldest," and it felt OK to me, but I thought later to say that if he wanted to change it one notch higher, it would be OK with me.

MONDAY, 2/13/06: 7AM: Trouble going to sleep, but no impulse to cough, thank goodness, though my tissue was filled with blood when I blew my nose. Got up at 6:05AM to pee, finding that I'd inadvertently provided us with a night-light when I turned the light in the closet on and then forgot to turn it off. Lay awake, thinking that I'd forgotten my deodorant, but I could buy it; I could also buy a paperback if I needed more to read after finishing the New Yorker that Fred expressed interest in, that I could also buy sunscreen if needed, and new batteries for the AlphaSmart if it kept turning off (none yet so far this morning, but it keeps skipping letters that I don't remember it skipping so easily before), and felt good about not worrying about money that I had previously worried about: even thought of the goodness of changing all my will's percents for Carolyn and Tristan's 10%, which would be at least $50,000, which would surely make them happy (with the attendant thought that my $50,000 to Village Playwrights could FINANCE the production of my plays, which would launch their popularity that would in the end more than pay for themselves). Thought of the luxury of these two days at sea before starting any tours, which would leave me the chance to visit the Latitudes desk for my neckpiece when it opens at 9AM, reserve my Shore Excursions before they sell out, tour the ship to see where all the areas are (though I suspect from the stability of the floor that we're not even moving after the refueling, unless the ship has extraordinary ballast, and just now I hear some internal noises that may mean we're just getting underway), and buy anything I may need. Only 7:08AM, and I got out of bed just before 7 to put on my underwear and find my glasses and typewriter to have Fred blearily ask, "What time is it?" and I say 7AM and he says he's still very tired and exhausted from yesterday, when his back was sore from standing and waiting, and his feet were very sore, and he sounds in worse shape than I'm in, though I'm grateful that my cold is VERY over, coughed a few times yesterday and kept having a postnasal drip, but coughed only once last night, though I was sniffing, hoping I wasn't disturbing Fred, and I told him I'd be typing in the bathroom and he could knock if he needed it, and he thanked me. Room is somewhat bigger than on the Norwegian Sun last time, and though there's a mattress as if for another bed taking up the space beneath my bed, Fred's bed has all the room underneath for his stuff and for my blue bag, which I told him has my New Yorker on top that he can read when he wants. He unpacked before I got in, but he took only the top of three drawers, and the bottom two accommodate all my usable stuff with ease; his half of the closet is full of plastic-covered shirts and pants and jacket---and he says he brought five ties---and I complained I'd never seen a closet with TOO MANY hangers---about a dozen each, many more than anyone would need. Put A&K bag at the top of the closet, where he puts one of his bags, and there are TWO desks in the room, the one on his side, where the phone is, is large but covered with his stuff, with the TV above it, while on my side is a smaller one with a real chair that I used for a few minutes to put my stuff on it, and the room has two small tables by the beds, which are handy. Now at 7:15AM I can hear him moving around inside and I can't think of anything more to say, except that I counted again through my FIVE upcoming trips this year: Caribbean, Morocco, Germany, Kenya, and Chicago---and marveled, pleased that I don't have indexing to worry about any longer and can add even MORE trips. He's loud outside and I stop now at 7:16AM, first to comb my hair. Fred says he bumped against the bathroom light to turn it on when he peed last night, and it actually didn't wake me! He was amused with my inadvertent closet night-light left on. He knocks at the bathroom door JUST as I finish, and catch up now to 7:20AM, ready to dress and go out while he does his "Twenty minutes every morning of stretching, rather than going to the gym." I look through his gambling magazine that he picked up last night in the Casino, which he went into after I tried to stop him when he said, "Promise me you won't let me go into the Casino at all," and then told me he was going anyway, where he picked up some more free food, "Being Fred," as he called it. Continued "unpacking" by getting a white bag for "done papers" and a black bag for "dirty clothes" from the blue bag and putting them into my bottom drawer with my $25.32 Visa charge for the good Merlot with dinner last night (Fred said we'd alternate, though the $22 merlot was the cheapest on the list) and my ticket booklet, from which I removed the Free Raffle slip, the two "Spin to Win" free tickets, and the itinerary, which I hope doesn't change much. He showers as I catch up to 7:30AM. Dress and go up to request two program-sheets for cabin 5577 (which they never DO give, despite two more requests), find that there will be a TV schedule, get out my camera for the GREAT view over the NYC harbor, circle that we're getting $100 refund for not leaving NYC within 12 hours, which is a QUARTER OF A MILLION for 2,500 people, and get out my camera for pictures. Lots of stuff to HANDLE still. Go upstairs at 8:10AM. Take Roll 1 photos #2-7 of NY Harbor and ship Deck 13 at 8:15AM. To Venetian Room breakfast 8:30. #8 of Brooklyn skyline at 9:40. #9 Manhattan at 9:45. #10 fueling ship at 9:48. Buck Fuddy T-shirt passes with an epicene blond as companion, overseeing two kids: what IS going on there? We have 2400 passengers, Stardust Theater seats 1040: information from ship tour. Warhol's flowers on stairways far forward; Marilyn Monroe in MIDDLE, and sunsets aft. To Library at 10:30, read book of Oceans. Ship tour 11:03-11:50. Tepanyaki samples (and banana and pineapple smoothie samples) to 12. Then to Spinnaker 12:10, get drinks of rum and fruit and sit in window at 12:13. 12:28AM: start leaving! Talk to cute gay from Long Island City with his dour partner (both silver wedding rings) on cell phone. Take #11-#12 at 12:31. #13 at 12:34. #14 Staten Island ferry and Bayonne (?) Bridge at 12:37. Have one orange, one green, one yellow rum, all same. #15 Verrazano at 12:44. #16 12:47 and #17 12:49, #18-20 to 12:51. #21 Blackwell (?) Island at 12:59. Down to Venetian. Fred said I should have met him in room at 5 of, but then he leaves a NOTE telling me that, which I never got. Meet Michael and Margaret O. from Yangtze River cruise, who remembered ME and "your friend the Brooklyn retired schoolteacher," who I said is on the trip now. Yack away at lunch with them and their two friends until 2:45, and I'm tired and slightly nauseous, but sit in a window seat and watch towers from the Jersey shore in the distance, and to cabin to shower to 3:45, to Cinema to see The March of the Penguins 4-5:20. Sunset at 5:29, down for camera to miss it, but nothing after to #22 ship after sunset at 5:42. Food and wine trivia 6:15-6:40, winners get all 20, we get 16. Then to Star for "Friends of Dorothy" for Kir Royale for $5+ and 12 gay people to 7:30, dinner at Impressions to cabin for tour films, feeling nauseous, to 10:20 and write note to 10:52, AlphaSmart not working, and up to take pills and pee and back to bed at 11, with facemask, Fred still out at "New Year's Eve" party.

TUESDAY: 2/14/06: Dream to File 8 [DREAMS:2/14/06]. Pee at 2:05AM. 5:30 try computer for note, still off. Pee and note dream. Fred left pee in toilet. I have headache and snotty nose, but lately not so bloody. Write to 5:40, bed and up at 8:45 with Fred putting my flashlight on. TV is on all wrong, to breakfast at table 1 at 9:05 to 10:10, cold chocolate, slow service, then 10 (winners get 13) in trivia with two others, now groups only 2-4, to 10:50, then line for Shore Excursions opened at 9AM, on line 10:53-11:50, stopping to shit and fill out form. 55° out and cloudy. Making 24 knots, or 28 mph. Shop for camera $19.95, deodorant $5.50, 4 AA batteries $5.99, sun-block $8.50, for $39.94 total to 11:24. Smuts does tour up to Fred's name first; I go to cabin at 11:54 to find batteries work. Type to 12:35 in SWEAT and nausea, Fred writing. Finish this gratefully and go LIE DOWN. He goes out to lunch and I just lie there, sweat evaporating, and then it gets cold, so I raise the heat one slot, and decide to pee and look at TV about 4PM, Fred back about 4:30, and decide to join him for the Latitudes champagne reception at 5PM in Dazzles, where I'm suckered into giving $500 for "Gold" level treatment this trip with Tender boarding and disembarkation, and needing to take another trip (with Fred) in the next 2.5 years, when I'll get a $550 credit to add to the $50 credit I get on this trip. Hope to go to South Caribbean with Grenada and other islands, THREE days sail from NYC, with three new ships joining, maybe with a new pier in Red Hook. Meeting goes to 5:30 and private talk with Brock and Rusty goes to 6, by which time we've missed the sunset. Back to room at 6:04 and lay watching the end of Speed to 6:50, dress for Valentine's dinner to meet Gregory (the sweet one) and Michael (the taller, slimmer, more difficult one, but he does seem to be warming to me) in back of a long line for Venetian at 7PM, so they go to check out the 25-minute wait at Impressions while we get down the stairs talking with a cute couple from Connecticut who look rather startled to see the two tall Blacks join us when we said this line was moving quickly. Get a great table for 4 at the total stern about 7:14 and Fred has lobster AND Chateaubriand, and the Merlot is $2 more expensive, and I'm still feeling poor enough to just have consommé, lobster, and less than half the wine, and trifle for dessert, and back to room at 9:15 to undress, start watching The Mask, and type this to 9:35, ready for bed, hoping one MORE night's sleep will get me accustomed to the ship's motion so I won't break into a cold sweat when I read or write too much. Bed 10:05PM. Wake at 11:52PM to pee, but Fred just got in, so I wait for a bit and ask how the comedian was, and we start chatting. He gets into bed and turns the light off and I pee, then we chat about meeting Sherman in 1964 when he was 19 (and Fred 28) when he lived with a fellow teacher near Columbus and 109th, whose apartment he then got and shared with Sherman. Briefly described his first lover of a year, a sexy Italian whom he ditched when the Italian sucked off others on their trip to Europe.

WEDNESDAY, 2/15/06: 3:05AM: Chat more and turn on my flash to see it's 12:17AM when we stop talking, me answering that I usually do NOT get up to shit at 3AM after eating a large meal, then find I DID get up very close to 3AM to shit! Record dream [DREAMS:2/15/08]. Up to pee and record dream at 5:05AM, having peed THREE times this night! Then up at 7:15 and shit a bit and decide to shower to 7:40, then change clothes for the first time and get out my short-sleeved shirt and type this to 7:55AM, Fred in the shower, ready for an early breakfast, as we'll need to be even earlier for some of our Shore Excursions over the next five days. Feel less nauseous this morning, and hope it lasts. Start using my deodorant. TV navigation channel says it's 69° out, but is the wind REALLY 7, near gale?? Speed down to 20 knots; I calculated that at 24 knots, making the 1400 miles between NYC and Ocho Rios would take 70 hours, almost exactly noon departure Monday to 8AM arrival Thursday, and the map shows we'll be sailing through the Bahamas late today, then skirting the edge of Cuba, but we probably won't be able to see anything from our distance from the coast. Now 8AM and Fred comes out singing, "It's a new day, lollipop," after giving a rendition of "I'm happy, so happy," from The Producers, with the accountants in a row working like drones. Decide to still wear jeans, leaving my blue sweatpants for tours. Most things away, sheet for 1:15PM Latitudes meeting in my pocket, with "free spin" and auction slips. I take down notes prior to picking up my daily program: 9AM Spin and win, 10:30 trivia, 3 Auction (first and third to get rid of slips in my pocket), 4 trivia, 6:15 trivia, 7 liquor tasting, 8 Le Bistro dinner with jacket. To no line at Venetian Room at 8, good table 104 for four, eggs Benedict with scant sauce, I avoided pineapple juice, and Fred ordered toast and marmalade, good. My pot of hot chocolate finished. Breakfast to 9 and leave while baby at next table starts screaming. Go with Fred to cabin to get spin slips and type this to 9:12AM while he brushes his teeth. 70° outside, but it's cloudy, dull, and slight feeling of rain on the skin brings us inside quickly. Fred says "Two minutes" to make-up-room lady, and she says "Three minutes." I find dial outside door allows for "welcome, make up room, turn down room, do not disturb." Type to 9:15 and leave for Casino on 6 forward. 24 mph is 20 knots, ship's top speed is 25 knots. Wallet and cabin card required for shore tours. Sit in bar and chat to 10:20 and to trivia. We SHARE win with 8 correct! Get an address book that I give to Michael. Chat in Blue Lagoon to 11:40 and Fred has wonton soup and I have chicken wings (awful) for "lunch." To Latitudes at 12:10 and find that there's only ONE special per cabin---so I CANCEL mine, since Fred refuses to go without HIS award unless I go once without MY reward. Out to rail at 12:20. Sit to 12:27, when I see the first bird! Smoker's request drives me in at 12:45, up to Spinnaker at 12:50, WAY early, cloudy, look out over sea, and 1:05 "is too early for drinks." MANY drinks, prizes, and I'm DRUNK with last gin and tonic. Cute couple talks to Michael about their kids' love of the kids' group. To Stardust 2:15 for digital tour, GREAT presentation from Captain, to 3:25. To cabin 3:27-3:51. To Cinema 3:53. Fun movie trivia clips with Clay, cute gray-haired guy, his wife (Bonnie?) and Fred and another couple. To room at 4:45, tired again, and rest, exhausted, then up at 5:45 to type, and it keeps going OFF!!! Fred starts to leave for 6:15 evening trivia at 5:50, and I remind him it's 6:15, as he reminded ME, and he starts watching TV and this goes into a spate of being-on, and I finish up to date at 5:53, hoping this lasts to the end of the trip---and then what NEXT?? To LOUD Pearly Kings at 6:05 after seeing LIGHTS from maybe one of the Bahamas. Trivia to 6:40, our five getting only 12 right to the winning 2 getting 14 right. Down to the Galleria to see the drinking samples, look around, and they start serving Amarula and Coffee Liqueur with Cream on top at 6:50, and we meet Andrew and Darryl, and then Gregory and Michael appear and we get all-six pictures taken by cute smiley salesman. Back to room at 7:15 and type to 7:20, boat rocking considerably: is this going to be a bumpy night? Lie for a while and then dress in my last clean shirt (the blue one) and black pants and get up to Le Bistro to find Andrew and Darryl there already with Michael, Gregory having gone for a camera battery. We get seated about 8:15PM and order multiple courses of everything, the first of which is served about 8:50PM: my Cream of Forest Mushroom served in a roll, very tasty if small in quantity, and then everyone's having TWO appetizers, so I add some asparagus, good, and then the filet comes out very much overdone, but still tasty, and what I thought was a sliced mushroom on top turned out to be the added foie gras. Lovely rösti potatoes under spinach, and then after everyone had their multiple steak-lobster-tuna-salmon courses, I get the Cherries Jubilee, very good, and Michael shares his chocolate fondue with bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and grapes, and then Fred orders MORE cherries, so I have to have some more, and end up quite full, paying the $26 for the Napa Pinot Noir, $15 for the bistro cover, and "autogratuity" (I say how much the Catholic Church would condemn such a word) of $3.90, Fred suggests we add $5 more, so the total is $44.90 for a "free" dinner. Agree to meet Michael at the Venetian Room for breakfast at 9AM, and Fred goes upstairs to some program, and I come down at 10:45 to pee and type this till 10:55, full and feeling fairly good, and decide to turn on TV and clean my teeth. Watch Something about Mary, brush my teeth, and catch up with this by 11:35PM. Bed.

THURSDAY, 2/16/06: 8:01AM: Woke at 3:05 to pee, then again to pee and THINK that my watch said 3:55AM, so I lock the door to shit, and there are vibrations from the ship and then the PHONE rings and Fred answers it, saying later, "We don't have a window," and I look again at my watch and it's SEVEN fifty-five, and we've docked, "surrounded by three cruise ships," and they want to breakfast at 8:30 rather than 9, so we say OK and I raise the heat one notch so the contrast between our room's 66° and outside's 85° will seem less striking. Fred starts his shower at 8:04 as I finish typing now, ready for first REAL cruise day with my floppy blue pants. Announcment comes: excursion holders do NOT need tender tickets. Tenders are being lowered and we'll be cleared as soon as we can. 77° outside and cloudy. Ship's DIGITAL time is now two minutes faster than my watch, but the ANALOG clock is just like mine still. Fred stops shower at 8:08AM. Last tender leaves Ocho Rios at 5:30, and the tender-time is only FIVE minutes to the dock. 1455 miles from NYC to Ocho Rios. Finish washing face, taking pills into container, peeing again, taking cabin card out of lavaliere, putting wallet and excursion ticket in my pocket, and getting ready to change from short-sleeved shirt to T-shirt for the afternoon itself, in case it rains I can just get wet. Get hat out, too. To breakfast at 8:25, getting table for SIX for the four of us, and sending for a CLOSED yogurt to take for "later," since I said my stomach was full about halfway through, but I was eating lunch then. Enjoyable breakfast of omelet and hot chocolate and toast and marmalade, and take a roll in a napkin until I can transfer it to a plastic bag, and pick up four spoons at Blue Lagoon for the yogurt. Get to room at 9:25, having picked up blue tender-ticket 701-704 for us, agreeing to meet in the front-right tender boarding if there are in fact four on deck 4. Lots of people sitting in stairways waiting for tenders, but they say there's a swell that is delaying tender transfers. Ready to switch to a T-shirt when I sit to transcribe this to 9:35, Fred saying he'd be perfectly happy not to go ashore for an hour, and I said he probably didn't have a thing to worry about. Start packing up my little computer case, hoping it's waterproof enough. Decide to take my umbrella, which fits in my bag, which fits into my "Patient's belongings bag" from Medline, I guess from Yellowstone. Fred goes and comes back with "good news: everyone's toilet isn't working," and he put in huge wads of paper to cover his shit, and then the satisfying sound of flushing comes from the john. They announce to NOT sit on the stairways, and they apologize for not being docked, since that makes the boarding of tenders slower. We'll be lucky to get out of here for the tour! Now 9:50 and I'll continue with packing, stomach stuffed from breakfast. Pack a food bag: yogurt, roll, spoon; rain-gear: raincoat, umbrella, waterproof bag for outer bag; camera bag: camera, extra film; hat, spare bag, map, puzzle for downtime, notepad in front with papers; wallet and earplugs in pocket, and it's now 10:05 with NO announcement of ANY boarding of tenders. Decide to go up on deck. 10:20AM: Fred reminds me that THIS was the ship that had a wave hit out of Florida in a storm that took out one of the crew's Jacuzzis at the front of the ship and 50-60 cabins on two decks. Rained a bit on deck: half the passengers already ashore, slow tendering, only up to 80 of blue tickets of which we have numbers 700s. Now 10:25 and Fred's lying in bed: coffee in the morning makes him sleep, in the evening doesn't make him tired at all. Fred says he feels like he's at a lodge in the Catskills and squirrels are running across the roof (my typing clicks). I laugh. No more announcements from the TV. Stop at 10:27, reminding Fred of his 9:35 saying he didn't mind staying for an hour. 10:30: JUST as I say, "Maybe they'd take us on the next tender because we have a shore excursion," and Fred says, "Call them," the phone rings and it's Michael; I make my suggestion, so we say, "Let's meet at the tender station midships on deck 4 and see if we can go now!" They say OK and Fred and I pee and leave at 10:35. Board jammed tender at 10:40, leaving at 10:43. Dock at 10:50. #23 Norwegian Dawn at 10:53. #24 Ocho Rios. #25 11:10 monkey boner. Ask cop for "Ruins" at 11:15. #26 11:21 "The Falls." #27 11:23 carp. #28 11:28 falls head-on. #29 ships at 11:40. Security guard "Just a picture?" #30 parasail, Ocho Rios, traffic jam, from Crane Ridge Resort at 11:43. Coffee taste in Island Village in Rum, Roast & Royales leads me to Fred, who asks to return to coffee, to my tasting the coffee with Jamaican Rum Cream leads me to buying a liter for $13 that they say will be delivered to our room to be picked up the last evening of the trip. Fred gets second bottle so I don't have to carry mine, both will be delivered in box. He goes to look for guys, doesn't find them, we leave at 12:15 for tour. Pee in unisex john, chasing woman out, board jeep at 12:34 and wait for last two from tender, off at 12:44. #31 at 1:25 at Murphy's hilltop stop. #32 Hotel Riu, now largest, at 1:27. Leave stop at 1:40 for bauxite-red road rutted with water and treacherous curves. The big yellow hotel at the beach was the largest hotel before Riu overtook it. #33 back at road at 1:53. It rained ALL day yesterday, and we should have BEEN here yesterday, so things DO work out! 2:05 jeep behind turns a wheel and engine can't start. They dispose those eight passengers among the other five cars, we getting two in the front seat. #34 at 2:14 of abandoning jeep. #35 interior of island at 2:35 with African tulip tree. #36 ruin at 2:37. #37 tulip tree at 2:39. Roll #2. 3:40 to Dunn's Falls. To pee at 3:50. #1-8 of Dunn's River Falls to 4:20, hoping the flash works or the light works when I turn the flash off. Leave 4:40, waiting for Fred and Gregory to return from shopping for Fred to get disgusted the same way I did: "Hello, what's your name, don't disrespect me, shake my hand, here's a free statue, let me carve your name, give me a little something for it." And I shove it back to him saying, "I'll give you THIS for it, since I don't want it." Fred actually gave him $5 for it. #10 ship at 4:56. #11 tender raised at 5:06. #12 Dawn at 5:17, left dock at 5:15. #13 tender loading at 5:20. To cabin to throw everything on bed and get to rail to watch sunset at 5:35, pulling out a chair and startling the woman by saying, "That's a good idea," and then moving to watch them stowing away the penultimate tender, watching a sexy-chested guy with an older white-haired woman, and then #14 Ocho Rios after sunset at 5:42. #15 fancy hill condos at 5:48. #16 tenders at 5:56. 6:10 ship moves, and I go in to check awful musicians in Pearly Kings at 6:20 and return later to Mark and his mother (?) and her husband the guy with the open notebook from the next table for Trivia which two people at the bar win with 19 while we only manage to get 15, missing tigers killing over a million people in the last 4 centuries, salmonella causing typhoid fever and stomach upset, hatchling as a baby alligator, putting down insulin shock instead of hypo(or hyper)glycemia, which I suggested, and baboon liver transplant rather than pig. 6:40 the ship is moving away from Ocho Rios. Trivia over at 6:48 and I chatted with George on the aft-rail, who said we'd left Ocho Rios but wasn't certain that the larger community to the west was Montego Bay, which it was, and I got back inside and I meet Fred on the way to Venetian Room at 6:58, he being pissed because I said I'd be back in 20 minutes at 5:35. He'd left messages with the two who haven't returned his call, he feared he'd have to eat alone, and we get into almost-empty room at 7:05, he pleased with Reynaldo from Colombia as our waiter, pleased that the waiter from Goa who waited on us last night in Le Bistro RECOGNIZED us and wished us a pleasant dinner, and waitresses were pleasant, a boy-faced girl from Mumbai, and we have Bordeaux for $24 that mixed up well when stirred enough: I have chicken soup that isn't great, the fruit compote while Fred has his usual Caesar salad, and my red-currant-glazed pork chop is tough but tasty and he loves his rare salmon, and we have desserts and leave at 8:50 to Casino to try free spin for naught, and I come back to room after chatting with 1/4 Indian woman and VERY sexy Jamey with blonded hair spikily combed and a blousy shirt and I compliment him on it. His arm is muscular and veined as he shows how his tanned forearm pales to ivory on his upper arm; I cream. Fred goes to various shows, I return to room at 8:58 to retrieve my stuff from his desk, find that my first tour, parasailing, leaves at 9AM from Stardust Theater, and my second tour, Stingray City Observatory and Island Tour, leaves at 11:45 from the pier ashore, which I hope we dock at though we're a day late into Georgetown Grand Cayman. Start typing at 9:10 and go straight through to 9:40 without the machine shutting off once, but with lots of backspacing for missed letters. Can't figure the thing out. Now I have to get rid of the green mark on the back of my right hand from Dunn's Falls, wash my face, and put my things away and prepare for my day tomorrow, having AGAIN to complain that they don't leave two programs for 5577 as we'd like. Finish this at 9:42, tired, but not nauseous, thank goodness. Take first picture of cabin with my one-use camera which says NOTHING about how to get the film DEVELOPED! Shit a grand shit, wash my hands and face and discover that it's best to RUB off the green from the mark onto the white towel, leaving the hand back pure pink. Get out pills and bathing suit and all I can think to prepare for my 9AM parasailing. Bed at 10:15PM. To sleep quickly, but I happen to be awake when I hear that Fred's returned. I ask him what time it is, and he says "11:45." He tells me how great the comedian and the Second City Improvisation shows were and that he has to meet for his island tour at 8AM.

FRIDAY, 2/17/06: 12:20AM: get up to pee and write my dream [DREAMS:2/17/06]. Finish typing it at 12:23AM. Pee. 4:13AM: Incredible dream typed. Pee. Fred's phone rings about five times at 6:45AM, and I get up at 7:05 and pee and turn on TV. Put on my bathing suit and sit watching TV with tenders starting, and Fred comes in at 7:35 saying the buffet was awful. I dress and go to Venetian at 7:40, feeling somewhat numb for the day. Feel very lonely eating breakfast in the Venetian Room by myself: at least 6 people stop by to make sure I'm OK, and waitress even asks if I'm traveling alone, if I have a tour, if everything's OK. Back on deck to stare out over people boarding, the local open-deck tenders standing idle as people descend into the dank holds of OUR tenders. Tour leaves at 9:01 from the Stardust Theater, where all three tours gather, and no one will tell me anything about the parasailing: they'll tell you at the start of the tour. Get towel rental. 12 parasailing (but actually 11 show up). Board tender 9:07, tender goes 9:11-9:19. Off at 9:25. Ticket-taker takes ticket at 9:28, but then pauses because gate to beach is locked. I get on first and take off shoes, and we ferry out to parasail boat, where he thankfully explains that we take off dry and land dry. First goes up for about 10 minutes at 10AM, and I begin to worry about getting back for what I thought was the 11:30 (actually 11:45) tour. Ask, "What about a single?" and he frigidly replies, "We can't send up a single: you'd be too light, we couldn't get you down, and you'd end up in Cuba." "But I really wanted to go up!" "We'll get someone to go up with you." Why the hell didn't you say that in the first place? Hot in sun but I'm thoroughly sun-screened. Finally cute blond appoints mother to go up with me, and she HAD paid for three tickets, but her elder son refused to go at the last minute, so she's happy to get two trips. She talks the whole way through: takeoff was gentle, airborne effortless, though there were a few hard dips, and landing was perfectly easy: in fact the whole thing was rather a bore, only showing me how elaborate the waterways around Grand Cayman were. Down in time, last two women go up, and down about 11, but we're almost back at the ferry boat and shuttle at 11:08, put my shoes back on, but can't get back in time to get my regular camera: WHY didn't I just BRING it along? Pee and have a drink from the water fountain (how civilized!), slightly nauseous at the end. Leave pier at 11:45 to walk same beach way to bus at 11:50, others waiting in sun for second bus, and leave pier at 12. 12:22 old house in West Bay. 12:26 to Hell, which is only tsingis that I don't photo, but go to post office for $7.50 for stamps of $5.95 Cayman, which with 45 cents change is $6.40 Cayman, which at 80 American cents is exactly my $8, which driver got change for my $20 for. On bus at 12:45 and to pier for Stingray Observatory and wait for second bus to 1:08, but they say it was his first day on the job and took the people to the wrong place! Ferry to double-hulled submarine viewing, down stairs to sit nearest stairs and look out on fish, rays, snapper, and barracuda to 1:50 and back to bus by 2. To the Shores palaces for two HUGE iguanas. Turtle farm 2:25-2:56. Videos of Hurricane Ivan 9/11-12/2004. Off bus 3:24, onto tender at 3:29. Tender leaves (last was supposed to leave at 3:30!) at 3:34 and there's a LONG wait (while I read New Yorker) and to cabin at 3:53. #17 Georgetown at 4:01. STARVED to Blue Lagoon for burger and cheese and onions and fries and relish and creamed iced tea. Found note from Fred that he would be at the auction at 4:45, so I go there about 4:25 and obey him by signing up for a paddle and giving in my free Auction raffle ticket, and then paying $9.20 for a Rum Runner in a big glass, though I couldn't taste much rum even though she filled up the top which she hadn't filled with ice with rum, which gave me ten MORE tickets, chatting with a stoned guy who walked away without his wine (what whythm: walked away without his wine!) and we sit through what might even be a TOTALLY staged affair, with the fast-talking auctioneer the possible lover of the assistant who merely stands around looking handsome, while two Philippine lackeys tote the works of "art" on and off the easels. Each bid is SUSPICIOUSLY fast, and it's NEVER taken beyond the FIRST bid, and it's LUDICROUSLY low when compared to the "fair estimate," and many are bought and many are passed. Mystery buys are even stranger: he rattles off a half-dozen or more paddle numbers for, say, $975, BEFORE turning over a Picasso lithograph, "only one of a thousand," or in a double effort for maybe $1700 a Picasso AND a Chagall, both of dubious authorship, though Fred seems to say he has to be checked SOMEHOW. Michael says he saw us, though we didn't see him. Leave at 5:30 for, maybe, the Casino for another free roll for nothing, then back to the room, where he talks with Greg and Michael for a LONG time, calling Cagney's and Trattoria and others for reservations far into the future, checking to see that the Captain's dinner is the night BEFORE the night before we leave, since that last night is spent packing and claiming liquor, according to Fred. I rest, feeling exhausted again, hardly even able to reply to Fred's "7:30?" "Tuesday?" "Trattoria?" and whatever else, and then it's time to wash my face and take my pills out and get to the never-before-tried Aqua at 6:45 to get a table right in the corner (where the two late-joiners can't see a thing except the Matisse "Dancers" behind me and Fred) where I have the quiche, which is so good Fred orders one after HIS appetizer AND his salad, and I have the chunky Cream of Cauliflower and the leg of lamb, with the mint jelly that Fred turns up his nose at. We get the same mediocre wine we got last night, which I pay for this time, and I manage to get through to my Strawberry Cake without passing out at the table, but they keep on talking, then get to what they're going to do the rest of this evening, and I plead exhaustion and leave the dining room alone at 8:17, actually turning my watch back the required hour to SEVEN:17, panicked when my watch went ENTIRELY out for about 45 seconds after I pushed the wrong button after setting my time correction. Had no trouble at all falling asleep. 9:55 pee and take my evening pills, which I'd forgotten.

SATURDAY, 2/18/06: 12:05AM: Pee number two (ha!), Fred back. We chat a bit and I go back to sleep again. 4:08AM: pee number three. Want to record something when I wake again, so I went to file 3, knowing I wouldn't need all this space on this trip. 6:08AM: Lie awake thinking a lot. Type dream to 6:12AM and debate getting up to see what the sea is like, and go to the Buffet for breakfast, as I'll have to do the next two mornings. Think to shower, but it would be silly this morning, since I'm snorkeling this afternoon and will have to shower after that. Just use deodorant. Shit a tiny bit. Up to the Buffet after looking out and seeing dark clouds over some island (turned out to be another of the Bay Islands, of which Roatán is the largest), and go to floor 12 and find the New York Deli (closed, of course) at 6:10 and people are drinking juice and coffee and carrying trays already, one line only seems to be open. The mother of the Trivia trio comes through and she also doesn't know what island we're passing (which turns out to be Guaraja, the other to the south is Utila), but she starts talking about how ill Mark was when he was a child, so that she couldn't have more than two, whereas both children have five or six of their own. Leave at 6:55 and Fred's up and we go to breakfast with the other two from 7:30-8:30. Type to 8:58 with the TV on (Fred said he's doing NOTHING today) and hear that we've docked and everyone can get off. I'm out at 9:04, packed well for the day in my A&K bag (including a rental towel), but we're still missing 30 so I take the opportunity to come back and get an extra roll of film, just in case, which in fact I didn't need, but it was nice to know I didn't have to skimp at any time. Back at 9:10 and still wait, so I take #19---a picture of the costumed musicians. Put sunscreen on everywhere and listen to the guide talk of the island of 40,000, very nonracist, and finally off pier at 9:28, on school bus at 9:31 that leaves pier at 9:37 with woman SCREAMING for next bus to move and her husband screaming back at her to RELAX! Through traffic-ful town and suburbs and country and jungle to catamaran at 9:55AM. As we get on, me in the VERY center seat for LEAST wave-action and MOST rain-cover, it starts raining, so for most of the trip we're huddled around me, though those on the sides STILL get wet from the roof overflow. Captain talks all the way. Dolphins appear at a distance, maybe a dozen of them, and one guy gets a great digital shot. Off at 10:10. #20 ship DOCKED at Roatán as we pass at 10:34. #21 rich and poor houses on coast at 10:37. HEAVY rain 10:40-11:05. Still sun-shower at 11:16 as we stop. My watch comes off at 11:26, get good-fitting size 9-10 flippers, shock of getting into the coldish water quickly goes, and nothing much below until we all swim into shallower water (me with lifejacket on for buoyancy, which makes me lower my head so water flows evenly over my eyepieces), and there's not much in the line of fish, some small schools of yellow, a few smaller parrot fish, other larger silvers, tried taking a few pictures, and take a long time trying to photograph an azure lozenge of a fish with DIAMONDS on his back, but I don't think I ever got it. Black assistant took my last 5-6 shots to try to get it and hidden lobsters. I swim back and forth, blowing out lots, encountering other snorkelers, not seeing much, getting TIRED, so I figure to go back early, last few yards a strain, and REAL TROUBLE pulling off my fins and taking off my mask and climbing the stairs to sit down with nausea-fatigue almost making me vomit. I go into the john to change out of bathing trunks into pants, wipe my feet and put on socks and shoes, again almost losing it, and rest, then get some awful chicken and eat it as we start back with rain AGAIN piling people up around me, me fighting the two big guys and their wives on either side. Watch on at 12:19, dressed by 12:30, nausea! Off boat at 1PM, sit, and I write: I am operating AT THE EDGE---AWFUL!! #22 catamaran departing at 1:10. #23-24 rain at 1:14. 1:22 group LEAVES me behind to go to shops, so I dash to follow them, then across bridge to bird sanctuary. #26 Roatán in Coxon's Cave at 1:38. Birds and monkeys, all over everyone, chasing boy, eating nuts out of kids' hair, grabbing a ChapStick (when I thought the Chinese said "chopstick") and climbing high into the trees, and leave sated at 2:15. Rappellers skim past too fast to photo. #33 agouti at 2:22. To bus, tired, at 2:31. #35 I hoist camera into air and try to get a good shot of a lush valley down to the ocean at 2:54. To ship at 3:09, to cabin at 3:25, lay everything out to dry, deciding to empty camera with #36 cabin and #37 long, empty hallway at 3:28 and put in roll #3. Leave at 3:31 to town (have to be back by 6:30) and #1 house on water at 3:38. #2-5 of town to turn back at 4:05, not really that much to see, but vaguely colorful and NO-touristy anyway, post office and other places closed on Saturday, shops have no stamps except for a souvenir shop that wants $1.95 for ONE post-card stamp, and it IS marked +25L and it's supposedly 18L to $1. Decide I don't need it: anyway, it had questionable gum and was in poor condition. Turn back at 4:05 with a view over the airport, and to ship at 4:35, hot and tired. THOROUGH shower to 5:03 and start typing. Fred returns and we chat. He goes in to shower as I finish typing at 6:21, tired, but ready for dinner when the guys call. IF they call. They do, and we'll meet at Impressions 6:45, and I dress and affix Fred's beads (he's moaning because he's finished his pint of gin already) and I wear my pink shirt and black pants and SHOES! And we leave at 6:40, pitch black out, as I finish this up to date! Get to Impressions to find we'll have to wait 15 minutes. Gregory comes down immediately without Michael, who he says is sleeping. We get in about 7PM, I get a good mushroom crepe with minuscule hollandaise sauce, mediocre beef consommé, great entrecote done perfectly medium for me, with lots of faux truffles on Fred's, and he consents to a Pieseporter, actually believing that it won't be sweet, which of course it is, so much so that Greg says he can't possibly have any more. Potatoes Macaire taste, as usual, better with more butter. I get vanilla ice cream with DOUBLE butterscotch, which manages to be pretty good, but it'll never replace hot fudge. Lovely lunch with Michael's oddballity, with me remarking about the two blondes behind Gregory with terminal bad hair, and then the monk-bald-spot guy keeps staring at me between fey Fred and feminine Greg, and at the end Andrew, with a short-sleeved white shirt showing off his powerful upper arms, is much more happy to see us than the formal-happy Darryl is, and Fred even accosts them at the end of the meal with his card. I wait for them in the hall and get down to the room at 8:30 to feel that everything wet is still very wet: my short-sleeved shirt, my undershirt, my bathing suit in the shower, and my pants, which I hang up anyway, prepared to wear them all tomorrow regardless of their state, because the trip in to Xunantunich will be the hardest of the trip---unless the trip to Tulum is. Finish typing at 8:47, coming to the end of the sixth day (so the TV says) of the trip, but actually the seventh, MORE than halfway over, only two grand, waterless, tours left before the two-day sea voyage back home. Greg kept insisting that he should call us (he says he ALWAYS wakes up early, partly because their window is never opaqued against the light) at 5:30, but I hope he listened to me and calls at 5:45, since Fred says he needs a half hour before our 6:15 breakfast in the Blue Lagoon, which he says is only croissants and juice, though I somehow hope it will be MORE than the meatless cabin-offered breakfasts. Finish typing this at 8:55. Fred drops in, goes back out. I take night pills, get morning pills out, clean a new pair of earplugs---the last HAD been getting quite dirty and sound-transparent---and get things ready for tomorrow. If I get to sleep by 9:30 and up at 5:30, there's 8 hours right there, so it can only be more. Stop this and get to bed at 9:13PM. Then get up when I remember to include umbrella, raincoat, and a spare roll of film in my A&K bag. Fanatically add a SECOND spare roll of film and two Band-Aids for my camera at 9:23PM. NOW to sleep?

SUNDAY, 2/19/06: 12:55AM: Pee and type dream [DREAMS:2/19/06]. Pee and type dream at 4:04AM. Greg rings at 5:40, then says the buffet isn't open until 6:30. I shit and add a washcloth to my bag and wash my face and put out my still-damp undershirt to still-dry, all by 6:06AM, ready for anything now. Fred's writing in his diary, which I thought he said, last trip, he wasn't keeping anymore, but he just asks me what his appetizer last night was. Now at 6:11 we sort of decide to take all our stuff to buffet since it takes so much time to return to our cabin. Anyway, it's just one package, and I'll have my shoes on for an extra 45 minutes. Trip has been just OK so far, even though two countries, Cayman Islands and Belize, have been added to my list. NOT that thrilled about all the wasted time on cruises, but I surely would NOT have wanted to spend more time on Cayman or Roatán, and Cozumel will be a revisit, though I guess I wish I had time to snorkel in Belize. Hope the day is bright enough for Xunantunich. Now 6:14 and music came on channel 14 suddenly. Beginning to count the meals (13) till NYC, as well as the days, five, counting today AND the hopefully short final Thursday. Will LOVE to get away from this easy-jazz or moderate-island MUSIC. Up to (wrong end of) 12, get those cardboard-chemical-tasting scrambled eggs, have to put my French-toast syrup in a cup, and it takes four creamers to cool the hot-water cocoa down to drinkable. All four of us eat, and chat nicely with a spectacular clouded sunrise, and leave at 6:52 to get to cabin at 6:56, Fred fusses, I type this to 6:58, ready for penultimate big day. Fred dawdles in the bathroom until 7:03! I forget to take earplugs! Go to get them and we're still gathering at 7:08. Scuba-diving leaves to boat directly, and we leave Stardust at 7:27, then wait in hallway, when FRED returns to the cabin for something. Xunantunich = Maiden of the Rock, and Lamanai = Submerged Alligator in Mayan. Leave ship at 7:35 and STILL wait (something was wrong with the loading dock). 31 on today's tour, and 100 tomorrow, but Smuts assures me we'll be broken into smaller groups and taken around with individual guides, so it won't be crowded, he says. We board and at 7:45 Chinese kids sit across from us, but they turn out to be VERY well behaved, and the one time one of them kicks Greg, the mother apologizes with a smile. Boat leaves at 7:47; we're so far from the town because a sandbar surrounds the islands to miles out---how convenient that they can leave the Casino open all day! #6 Belize City at 8:01, glass building is a Radisson Hotel. #7 colors on piers at 8:02. Dock at 8:04. Mike borrows my pen, and I write in NCL, but when he asks for it again I say he can keep the NCL pen. On bus at 8:10, right in front in a single seat, and Fred sits behind, and all the others file to the back without one condemning look. Mike, sitting next to Greg, sleeps practically the whole time out. Bus leaves at 8:15. Raul an excellent guide: Belize City has 78,000 people, Belize country has 280,000; 81 miles east to west, 180 miles north to south. Tikal, which housed 90,000 at its max, is now surpassed by Caracol, recently discovered 4 hours south of Belize City, which held 120,000. Raul talks steadily to 9:15, halfway there, as the mangrove gives way to grassland, which is replaced by pine forests, which rise into hills and jungle, which ends in the rainforest, which, he repeats after me, will have no rain today. Clouds earlier clear up to bright sun for most of the morning, but it rains heavily between 1:30-2:15 on the way back, luckily. Belize is 12% Mayan in three groups, one of which is Mopan, of which he is one, and from which the name of the moved capital, Belmopan, which is designed like a Mayan city, around a central plaza, comes. Off bus at 10:04 in a souvenir area, but we move immediately to the river for the ferry across. #8 river at 10:07. #9 two men in river and blue heron on tree at 10:09. Ride in cars the mile to the offices at 10:16, thank goodness, it would have been a tedious walk. Take photos to #17 in plaza 2. Plaza 1 was residential, WITH royal tombs with people who were taller than the five-foot peasants discovered elsewhere who didn't eat as well and who worked harder than the royals. Most of the relics found in the excavations, a jade plaque recently, are in Belmopan museum, though a National Museum is being planned. Plaza 2 dates from 500-600AD, plaza 1 before that by maybe a thousand years. DAMNED annoying roar of a leaf-blower through most of Raul's talk while I sit on a ruin, but thankfully it shuts off soon. Cell-phone screamer stops after too-long a time, also, and other loud talkers, maybe amplified by the plaza temples, soon fade into the background, maybe as I get more and more tired. Plaza 3 dates from 650-750AD, and 9th plaza, which was to the other side, goes to 1000AD. This complex is Southern Maya Lowland culture that aligned by the Milky Way on a north-south axis that is off by 9°, but that's because it's made to align with a 12/24/2012 cross of the Milky Way with what he calls the "galactic," but I think he means the "ecliptic" because he calls it "the highway of the planets." Their first year is datable to a specific day in 3114BC, and their last day is 12/24/2012, which science agrees will be an extraordinary "cross" in the history of the universe. There were two million Mayans at maximum, which means they suffered from overpopulation; topsoil was only a foot deep and they didn't know about crop rotation and it would take a generation to replenish the soil, so they slashed and burned until they had no new soil left by 850. #18 edge of plaza 1. Drought in 900AD pushed them to the edge, and physical deformities began to be recorded, and they declined substantially even before the Spanish entered the picture. #19 of Castillo at 10:51, which is 135 feet high. Always the tallest pyramids are 13 stories, with 13 rooms at the top, obviously significant. Each smaller pyramid had a house at the top and interior stairways to a central chamber. As it deteriorated after about a hundred years, they filled in the inner chambers with rubble, collapsed the top chamber, and built another pyramid atop it with inner stairways, as found in Chichen Itza. At the end, the whole thing fell into ruin, with erosion filling in mounds, many of which still haven't been excavated. This was abandoned in 900AD, so they couldn't wait the additional 1112 years for their "final day." Original name was found on the jade tablet to be "Magic Mountain," which gives me a jolt in connecting Mann to Hesse. He tells us how to climb up, pointing out the friezes at both ends, saying that mainly we climb TOURIST stairs, not the ceremonial stairs that were climbed so often in some Mexican sites that the pyramids were destroyed. Climb, take pictures, pictures taken of me, and I take lots, rapt in the location, the sky, the vistas in the distance like #33 over to Guatemala at 11:16, a panorama of St. Ignacio, people coming up and going down from various angles, and I so like the shot of Fred that I ask him to do #35 of me the same. Finish the roll at the top and change to Roll #4. Down with more pictures, and get told we've got to get back to the bus by 11:45. Around to the back and discover a ball court that wasn't even mentioned, tell some people about it, take #7 of it at 11:26. #13 plaza 1 at 11:32. To #17 from Temple 1, which I perilously climb the steep back of when there's no access from the first side, but find stairs down the other side, to 11:36, and #18 top of temple 1 at 11:38. To #20 of Castillo to 11:40, and to #25 of stelae in shack and photos on wall of friezes and plan, and another of the whole of Mondo Maya. To car at 11:47, thinking I'm last, but Mike is in the third car coming after our 2. Cross river to 11:54, #26 of souvenirs at 11:57, and onto cool bus at 11:59. The yellow-flowering tree is Poui, there's a purple-flowering crepe, and lots of morning glories. Stop for lunch 12:19-1:05, tough sirloin tips, good beans and rice and plantain, and lovely lemonade endlessly filled. I take photo of marimba players and give them $1. Bus leaves at 1:10, I doze in rain. Butch, the driver, finally gets out within Belize City to jump-start his stalled windshield wipers, and #30 of city building will have to suffice, at 2:46. #31 toilet-foot sign at 2:55. I don't care for shopping, which is the only thing there is, and lose them at once in various shops, including a porn one, and I'm on tender at 3:05, which leaves at 3:06, windy ride with woman next to me clutching her hair the whole way, hit ship at 3:24, to cabin at 3:26 and find note in door and "Do Not Disturb" on wall, room not made, so I call reception at 3:30, type to 4:03, when the steward comes with towels, go up to deck 7 at 4:06 and finish to date at 4:25, ready to return to cabin to meet Fred, assuming it's made up already. Room lovely at 4:27, Fred not in yet, apparently. Wash my hands and face, lemon-spray my shoes, get my pills ready, put things away, and go through various papers getting ready for Fred to return to see what we're doing about dinner, now at 4:40PM. Catch up with absolutely everything by 5:04PM, Fred still a no-show, and nothing scheduled until the 6:15 Trivia, which might be pre-empted by some restaurant reservation, I THINK it's Gatsby's tonight, maybe as early as 6:30. Maybe just lie down now at 5:06PM. Turn on TV and go through the channels and see The Graduate on just as Fred comes in about 5:20. We have reservations at Trattoria at 6:30, and Greg calls to verify that. Keep watching it as he talks on the phone, and showers, and I get dressed and we leave about 6:22, getting a good waiter, and Fred orders the Pinot Noir, and lots of appetizers, so I have the mozzarella, carpaccio, and a pizza that isn't very good despite the pepperoni, ham, black olives, and mushrooms, but the dessert is pretty good. Finish up and get back to room at 8:15 and sort through the channels again to find a boxing match on ESPN that I watch to the end at 8:42PM. Then get ready for bed, stealing a glass from Fred again, who insists on having BOTH, and take night pills and pee and shut lights off and get to bed by 9PM, ready to get up at 6 for breakfast before leaving "again" at 7AM from Stardust Theater. Wake once and Fred is back, so I take off my facemask, but don't bother to get up to pee.

MONDAY, 2/20/06: 1:06AM: Up to pee, trying to remember a life-like dream. Can't. Back to bed 1:10. 4:02AM: Fred comes out of bathroom and simply opens door wide, so my eyes are flooded with white light. Pissed. Get up to pee and type dream [DREAMS:2/20/06]. Then shit to 4:12. 5:54AM: Start Actualism, but don't get very far in thinking about other things: my website, only four more days back to NYC, will I fall asleep for more than two hours and miss the most expensive tour of the trip? Look at my watch at 4:40 under the blanket with my flashlight, and again at 5:10, amazed that I MUST have dozed because I wasn't awake and thinking for half an hour, and then think it must be another half hour and it's only 5:34, which was even after Greg said we should both wake up for the other 7AM gathering, and look again at 5:44, which was after we ACTUALLY started getting ready, though it was Fred who needed the half hour for his shower and other duties, and I don't need nearly that much time, but finally thinking is exhausting and maybe I can watch the sunrise before breakfast and get out of bed and refrain from looking at my watch until I get into the bathroom with my shorts and my AlphaSmart and it's 5:54, which is good enough, and I type through to 6AM, ready to wash my face: my right eye feels slightly irritated and it occurs to me that I didn't even wash my arms and neck from the sunscreen from yesterday's trip to Xunantunich, which turned out to be accented on the SECOND syllable, and the last two weren't as in "tunic" but as in "toonish," which I pronounced as I heard it from Smuts to Raul, who was impressed that I knew. Now to get into the day at 6:01AM. My right eye is red, but then it's USUALLY red, and doesn't ache any more than usual. Do I feel I want to shit AGAIN at 6:06AM? Water all over the floor, as it usually drips from my elbows when I use that awful liquid soap. Fred, who started out with TWO hand towels to my one, now has NO hand towels while I have TWO, which he obviously put there for some obscure "serving me" reason, and he's using his somehow for sleep---no, his hand towel is on the door and he's using his BATH towel for sleep. And my current shit is softer than otherwise before, and smells, as did his fart this morning before I got out of bed. Trouble coming? AND I don't see the SHOWER mat anywhere, but maybe his bath towel, or another bath towel, is on the RACK above the toilet. Mysteries for the idle mind! Spray his citrus as I leave bathroom at 6:13. #32 Dawn-light and ship (Carnival Triumph?) 6:20AM. #33 (Aida?) at 6:23. #34 6:35 starting breakfast. #35 busy Cozumel at 6:39, 3 MORE ships. #37 people running atop Aida at 6:50, as I end breakfast in the buffet at a nice window. Down to brush teeth, put in roll #5 at 6:59. To Stardust at 7:04, no one's left yet. 7:23: tour leaves for Xcaret. 7:25 Tourists to Tulum pick up 3-pound lunch box and get on line. Board 7:30 tender, huge; tender leaves at 7:37. VERY rocky crossing. #1 landing at 8:03. #2 Playa del Carmen at 8:08. 8:10 walk to bus. #3 street at 8:15. Board bus 8:23: TOURIST-TRAP walk. Bus full, HUGE guy sits next to me, but then moves to back to sit with his wife, and then a smaller crewman sits next to me and doesn't take nearly as much room. Bus leaves at 8:32. #4 airport 8:35. 43 on bus! Humberto on bus (selling all the while), Mario in Tulum, old man. 41 miles to Tulum. Mexico City has 24 million, Mexico 120 million. 8:54 to Lapis, where guys waiting for men's room complain about the ship: "Worst ship I've ever been on; always asking for money." Twenty-minute stop leaves at 9:20 (26 minutes). To Tulum (we leave at 12:45) at 9:50. 9:57 pay $2 for tram. Wait in HOT sun for tram 10-10:09, #5 of tram. To entry at 10:50. #7 LONG entryway at 10:22. Chac-Ha tree, like African moringa with peeling copper bark, yielded varnish. Finally IN grounds at 10:35. #10-11 beach at 10:39. #12 during talk one at 10:43. #14 central no-go area at 10:53. #17 three pelicans over Tulum at 11AM. #23 two iguanas right and left at 11:09. #24-25 descending gods at 11:11. Tulum at 1000AD, last of Maya. #26 CLOSED path behind at 11:19. #31 far beach at 11:25. #35 lifeguard stand without lifeguard at 11:28. #37 two hunks at 11:32. Roll #6 #3 parasail, pelican, and tower at 11:40. #4 southern boundary at 11:43. #7 painting close-up at 11:50. #9 colorLESS face of Death; previous, red-eyed, was LIFE. #12(?) buildings AND map, guy helps me off ground. #14-17 panorama south to north 11:58. #18-20 iguana. Buy $6.50 book at 12:13. To #33 "angels" to 12:39. To bus and lovely cold Coke at 12:40 and lunch of tuna sandwich, chickpea and corn salad, Dole fruit cup, cup of peanuts, 4 crackers, 2 cookies with M&Ms. Bus leaves 12:50, hot. Off bus 1:35, tender leaves 2:50. To pier at 1:45, CAN'T go earlier. Sit for an hour and watch passersby: sexy fireman, sadly having his first kid at 35, cruising kids, sexy teenage travelers, old fart and beautiful young Spaniard who obviously likes him, people from ship, lots of tourists, not really that attractive. #34 photo of photo of serpent down Chichen Itza at 1:51. Playa del Carmen has become Playacar! #35 leaving last shot of beach 2:46. Board 2:49. Fascinated by guy who picked me up in love with his wife, who looks VERY like Susan M.. WAIT for last, until 3:16! Andy Warhol's name on ship! AT ship at 3:56, but LONG delay to docking at free "hole." SURE I saw the three of them on Deck 11 balcony, but Fred says no. Brat SCREAMED and parents did NOTHING to stop it! Dock at 4:05, to cabin at 4:09. Shower to 4:35 and to deck 7 at 4:40 to watch Cozumel and the four ships slip from sight: #36 of ships at 4:49. To room at 5:13 and type, chatting with Fred, and then back to Promenade to watch nothing sunset at 5:49PM, erroneously said to be SIX:49 on TV. #37 Cancun FAR away at 5:52 at maximum close-up, probably not even in focus. Dim clouds is all. Back down to room to Fred's late shower and I finish up to date at 6:24, Fred insisting we get to table first to get best seats, "Or we'll end up facing the kitchen." "I can see you're already dressed for dinner," he grunts as he puts on his shoes. He tells me of his phallic food-dream. End again at 6:25. We're up to Gatsby's with a horde of 2-3 SCREAMING kids, and Fred whispers that we want to be FAR from them, and we end up IN the far room, which unfortunately is understaffed with only two for about a dozen tables, but the shrimp cocktail has a wonderful sauce and unfrozen shrimp; the onion soup is only passable, and the filet mignon is perfectly cooked with overcooked asparagus, great bearnaise sauce, and good sautéed mushrooms. Lively conversation overlooking the Star Bar and Dorothy's friends on one side and a Ben Cross lookalike with his arms constantly over his head on the other. Slow service from our 6:30 reservation gets me back to the room at 9:07, and the room attendant has a towel shaped into an elaborate elephant to match the cute ferret, or whatever the creature was, yesterday. Hope Fred at least SEES them with the lights off when he gets in after his multiple shows. Water off tonight between 1-5, so I fill a glass of water and hope it stays. Watch TV until 9:46PM and remember I have to set my watch ahead one hour---and AGAIN it goes completely blank! Type this, hoping it will come back, having traced two movies to see on Wednesday on my TV schedule. Die Hard on TV. Watch comes back on and I push the upper left AGAIN, and it goes out again, but it has to be done, since the first off-putting click changed the blinking numeral from the seconds to the minutes. So now it'll be on the hour. Watch finally stabilizes at 11:16PM and I go to bed!

TUESDAY, 2/21/06: 4:48AM: Woke earlier to find Fred returned, so take facemask off. Woke again to find note on my AlphaSmart, and in bathroom find he's AGAIN put my pills where they block the raising of the toilet lid AND put my water in the MIDDLE of the top shelf, as if it's OURS rather than MINE. We're getting to be like squabbling married couple. Type dream [DREAMS:2/21/06]. My nose runs as I type. Urine still smells of asparagus. Finish typing at 4:59AM, so water should be back on anyway, so I drink whole glassful. 7:58AM: Phone rings and Fred answers and commits us to breakfast in the Venetian Room at 8:30. He showers as I type dream. Finish dream at 8:03 and am relieved to see that FINALLY the ship's CLOCK and the ship's DIGITAL time on channel 14 AGREE: they'd been two minutes apart ever since the trip started. As now, I hope, the sunrise and sunset times are accurate. Have to pee, but I guess I can wait until Fred vacates the john. Cloudy out, and today will be the last day with people in the pool. 8:23: washed face, told Fred of my movie-day tomorrow, filled roll #7 in my camera for ships' pictures, and Fred is still exercising, not dressed yet, leaving the possibility of the other two choosing the seating at the table. I load up my pockets, wearing the only short-sleeved shirt I have, which admittedly smells a bit, and I hope no one TELLS me (if they notice and don't tell me, tough on them) so I'd have to change into one of my dress shirts. Now 8:25 and Fred's looking at the schedule. To Venetian Room at 8:30 and Michael's already on line, and we have a good table and lots of extra eggs Benedict sauce. Eat until 9:50 and I go to Pearly Kings Lounge for Trivia at 10:15, which we get in second at 14 with winners at 15, and I give my Frisbee to Fred, so I still have no Trivia gifts from two "wins." Pick up cruise booklet and get back to room for TV and fill out Immigration form with passport number, Fred saying departure will be easy enough with his scheduling, and we have to leave together to get communal taxi to Brooklyn of the jammed dock. Watch CNN for lack of anything better to do, typing this at 11:23. Fred is talking about LUNCH already! Only six meals left! Check charges of $665 through yesterday to 11:40AM. Fill out evaluation form and leave for photos at 11:57AM. Roll #7: #1 from deck 13 to pool at 12:05. #4 top: golf below, basketball above, from deck 14. #5 deck 14: 2 villas' outdoor garden painting-top. #6: 2 villas behind glass. The islands of Guanaja and Utila surround Roatán. Wander top decks and sit in amazement looking at all tanners and Jacuzziers, Andrew and Darryl much less appealing in swimtrunks, Andrew's potty pot taking away from his appeal. Decide to look for the NY Deli, and finally find it at 1 and take a hamburger bun and get 1) prosciutto, 2) salami rather like what I used to like as Lebanon bologna, 3) pastrami, 4) ham, 5) Swiss cheese, put ketchup and mustard and relish on my bun, 6) sautéed onions, chopped black olives, 7) apple juice from a dispenser. Eat till 1:30, watching people go by, fat girls from Tulum yet again, REALLY not very many attractive men aboard AT ALL. Debate taking a picture of the NY Deli line, with all its fat ladies and Jewish men, but then decide that there are TEN restaurants, and what's the point of taking just ONE? #7 Varnish waiting to finish sign. Back to cabin to type to 1:45, decide to obey Fred and shit in a public john, and leave for the Chocaholic Buffet at 2PM in the Venetian Restaurant. Fred left a note that "Lunch is 1:05 at Venetian. F". Glad I didn't go with them. ON line for the Chocolate Buffet at 2, #8 entrance at 2:06. Fred and Michael arrive at 2:30 and we eat a bit more, the best the dip and two cakes. To sit on Deck 7 at 3, then Library and National Geographic World book from 3:30-4:25, then back to room to lie down until Fred comes in at 6, complaining about Greg's 6:30 suggestion for Impressions and making it 6:45, so I wash my face and at 6:13 decide to go up and watch the sunset scheduled for 6:21. Nothing at all: sit in a comfortable chair at the rail and see upper clouds pink, but lower clouds uniformly gray, and as it passes 6:22 there's a rain squall obscuring where any lingering colors would appear. I return via Impressions at 6:27PM and ask for a table for 4, which she says will be 15 minutes and "You'll be waiting outside?" I say yes and get down to change, and Fred calls the guys to say that I've made the reservation, but Greg is still in the shower. I get back up and get seated at 6:43, order the wine, and finally about 6:50 Fred is sent to the far corner on the other side and finally returns to me, and the wine comes and he tries it and it's almost 7PM before Michael, with a rather ugly blue tie against a pink shirt, and Gregory, resplendent in a white dinner jacket and tuxedo-white shirt and black pants show up. They spend endless time taking pictures of each other, Greg always blacking out above his dazzle of white below, and at last we order, and the wonton with hoisin sauce has VERY little hoisin in it, and the wonton is just a crisp, tasteless flake. The beef carpaccio is somewhat better, but the arugula on the menu turns into spinach on the plate, still good. The entrecote is VERY tough, and I turn back my baked potato because it's cold, and the hot one is good with lots of butter, and I give Michael my water but have to get another glass to take my pills. None of the desserts appeal (though the soufflé looked good with its raspberry sauce, but when I tried the sauce it was weak and chemically), I get the cheese plate, which everyone laughs at when it arrives with a tiny, hard piece of brie, and slight slivers of muenster, Swiss, American, and cheddar, with grapes and three cracker-wafers. I get the wine to even us up at five-all, and then Fred and Michael insist I come to the show at 9:30 tonight, and when Michael jokes that "If you don't come I'll come to your room and castrate you," I agree and Fred reacts with amusing intensity, but not as reactive as I was when he told the "enormous vagina" joke of the woman who went to the gynecologist, who examined her and said, "You have an enormous vagina. You have an enormous vagina." She replied, "Well, you didn't have to say it twice," to which he responded, "But I only said it once." I BURST into laughter. There are loud people at a table behind Greg, and a group of Russians behind me that no one had ever seen before (including two attractive men in green shirts who were photographed early in their dinner with their champagne glasses intertwined, and finally I noticed the gold earring in one's ear). Fred insisted we try for a free pull in the Casino, so we followed him in to the short line and we three pulled to no effect and Fred steps up and pulls three hotel-icons, entitling him to two free dinners! He whispers that this was his second time tonight, with a different attendant before. He gets a form filled out, insists that the other two join us, and we go to Le Bistro to find that they only have space at 9:30, which we all agree is too late, but they call Cagney's, which has a cover charge of $20 as opposed to the $15 cover charge for Le Bistro, and find they have a 5:30 space for four, which we all agree to since Fred can step out at 6PM to see if he's won the drawing for a free cruise for two. They say they're going to their room to change, and I say I'm going back to the cabin to get rid of my jacket, which I took off when Fred took his off, saying the place was too warm (as he had our heat lowered FOUR, the MAXIMUM, places last night, and it's lowered THREE right now---he drinks so much I think his metabolism is fucked), and he says, "I know you don't like to do me favors, but would you do me a favor?" "What?" "Carry my camera back and put it on my table?" "OK." "You don't mind?" "No." "You REALLY don't mind?" "No!" "You'd tell me if you minded?" And I retort "No" just to emphasize how silly I thought all this was, but I'm sure he took me seriously. Get back to the room to find a towel-ape hanging from the ceiling, successor to the elephant last night and the other creature the night before, and take #12 of it at 9:29 because it's so great, and decide to take off to the show because clearly Fred isn't going to come back here from the Casino. Go forward and get to the doorway as the introduction to Bollywood is being proclaimed, and it starts rather tackily when the "boys" can barely dance and the lead "girl" is smarmily smiling and twisting her booty. But then the girl on pointe and the guy who lifts her with one arm despite his rail-thin body are impressive considering this is all accomplished on a rocking SHIP that destroys their balance each second, and then the jumping jack in black leather with the crowded crotch is impressive over the audience, and my sixth-row seat turns out to be perfect for him and for the chest and shoulders of the black percussionist on my side of the auditorium. Then the chiseled body of the web-arm tumbler is exciting, and his black eye-mask is perfectly sexy and simple to match his simple muscles over a black-leather-clad bottom. Then the jumping jack is back with a similar act, except that his straps are less forgiving and he SPINS like a sonovabitch. Some of the music and singing is actually good, and then at about 10:15 the mediocre master of ceremonies comes on for the finale of introducing everyone from the serving staff, the maintenance crew, the cooks, the house managers, the waiters, even the captain, and confetti streams from the sides and snow falls from the center and everyone's singing and clapping and the audience is actually on its feet in appreciation, and it's a wonderful climax and at 10:30 as I start up the aisle Fred comes in from behind, and he hasn't seen the other two either, but I'm so glad I was persuaded to come, and Fred says he's seen this a dozen times, but they didn't do it on the Sun, and the Discovery had only the staff doing the Philippine dances on the last night, and I don't remember a similar finale on the two(?)(Greek islands and South America were all?) Stella Solaris trips, either. Fred's going to stay up, and he assumes I'll be going to the cabin, and the stairway on 5 confuses me until I remember I'm at the FORWARD stairway, which does NOT lead to my corridor by my turning right at the foot of the stairs, but goes from FORWARD toward the rear the long way to the center of the ship and my cabin, where I pee and put my short-sleeved shirt away for good and type this until 10:47, having looked again at the TV schedule to see if there's ANYTHING on, but there isn't, so I just get ready for bed. Searching for my second pants-clip hanger I saw the empty hook and thought FRED must have taken it, but I looked through his side and didn't find it, and then it occurred to me to look at the hanging monkey-towel, and IT was the second pants-hanger!---as well as the missing second BATH towel! Fred comes in as I'm paging through to see that the outside temperature is 71°, but high humidity, and we're still only opposite Jacksonville, Florida, but tomorrow will be long-sleeved shirt time. He tries five or six times to photo the hanging monkey, but it just doesn't turn out. He says he'll be up for a while, so I finish this at 11:12PM and get into bed with earplugs and facemask.

WEDNESDAY, 2/22/06: 2:17AM: Wake to pee and type VERY elaborate dream, first of trip [DREAMS:2/22/06]. Up at 6:12AM to pee. Can't think of many details. Last clandestine typing on this penultimate day of the trip, only 30 hours and four meals (and three movies) left. Finish this at 6:20AM, peeing very sporadically, hot though Fred's turned down the coolth to only TWO degrees of coldness. Wake at 7:45AM when Fred turns on the light, and I put my shorts on and turn on TV to find we're about opposite South Carolina and the outside temperature is 66°. Type a dream about 8AM and wait for Fred to exit from his shower so I can take another pee. Pee, dress, Fred comments about my winter shirt just before whapping me in the ear with the end of his belt, inadvertently, of course. 8:20 I tell him I'm ready for breakfast, preparing for my 10AM movie marathon, hoping they HOLD for their schedule. VERY cold weather scheduled for NYC by Saturday or Sunday. Fred says they're not ready for breakfast yet, so we go to Venetian Room alone and have eggs Sardou, which isn't very good with the sour cream and spinach, and one of the eggs is overcooked, but it's the penultimate breakfast and it's over. Fred notes that I'm watching The Constant Gardener at 10AM and goes off to find a john for his shit after we try one last free pull in the Casino. Get back to the room at 9:30 and they're just finishing: woman in bathroom, guy vacuuming, and they leave as I type on the bed to 9:35AM, ready for a shit myself. Do that, and watch the end of In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz making up with her sister (who marries a sexy guy, thanks to Diaz's admission) with a poem by e e cummings and dances off with the last frames. It's over and the screen's blank at 10AM when Fred comes in and pulls over the chair, intending to write. I ask him to shut off the overhead light and he says it's not a problem and I say, "So you like flying saucers on the screen," referring to the two bright light reflections on it. Somewhat later he shuts the overhead lights off, but leaves on his bed-light, with which he writes through the film, taking his attention away from some of the most important moments, and then he chuckles through some of the most horrible scenes of the henchmen devastating the village, and asks silly questions, and I just wish he wasn't HERE. I'd SAID I wanted to watch the film, but finally The Constant Gardener ends and I'm waiting in the few minutes before noon to see if they actually filmed in the Sudan, since the neckpieces seemed more Masai from Tanzania than not, but they cut off the credits after the first few, and when I furiously dialed reception to complain, I was put on an infinite waitlist and Proof started to come on and I had to pee, so I slammed the phone down and peed and Fred intoned, "They're starting the film," which was really not what I wanted to hear. He didn't watch the credits and then during an intricate sequence he asked, "Is that the guy who played the gay cowboy?" and I waved to him to be quiet and he gets pissed and says, "You can't even answer a simple yes-or-no question?" and I bite out "Yes" and then he shortly leaves, much to my relief. Shut out his bed-light at last and watch Proof in peace, and I'd forgotten (though I remember I thought the play was a masterpiece) many of the twists: The "I wrote it," for the notebook, the intrusiveness of the sister, though I thought she was more sympathetic in the play and a mere monster in the movie, and the opening out to the airport, the back garden, the university, helped, I thought. Didn't remember the resolution that much of the proof relied on MODERN mathematics that the father couldn't have known, and also forgot that Dobbs showed it to other professors, who said that they couldn't find fault with it, though that didn't prove that it was totally correct, which made good mathematical sense. His coming to her on campus wasn't nearly as convincing as I remember the play ending on the porch with them going through the proof, NOR do I remember her READING her father's nonsensical "proof" about the four months of cold and the infinite number of books in the bookstore in September when the students came in to buy them, and maybe that had been in the original and cut for the stage, or, of course, I could just have forgotten it. Gwyneth Paltrow wasn't quite as convincing as a BRAIN (though more convincing as a supportive daughter) as Anne Heche was, but Gyllenhall was better than whoever did it on Broadway. Loved the fact that it ended positively, for the proof and for the two of them, in both the play and the movie. Now Fred's definitely pissed at me, thinking it's all MY fault that I was short with him when he asked a simple question, having no concept of how pissed with him I was when I kept telling him he had to concentrate on the movie, and it may even have been that he kept taking notes, rearranging things on his bed, getting up and sitting down, just to prove that he could watch the film and get as much out of it as I got with my "one-pointed concentration." But he DID miss the mutilated body of the black doctor, seemed to have missed much of the poignancy of the hero's death at the place of the murder of his wife, and then the brilliance of the Rome-sent letter being read at his funeral (hm, BOTH films had crucial funeral scenes: Constant Gardener with the actual reading of the letter condemning big pharma for the deaths in Africa at the hero's funeral, and the daughter's (Katherine in the movie, was she NOT named in the play??) description of her devotion to her demented father during his last five years, and her summing up "You're too LATE" to her sister and essentially to the funeral crowd, from the "Where WERE you in the last five years?" Second movie over at 1:40 and I've now typed to 2:03, having gone to the john twice, and having to be back at 3:30 for Cinderella Man, after I have some lunch, I guess a burger in the Blue Lagoon. AND have to check whether I'd SAID to pay by credit card or have to get in line for it. At 2:10PM I was told that I WAS paying by credit card, so I had no reason to come by the desk for that. Then go past Blue Lagoon for a hamburger, but it's JAMMED with screaming people, so I go up to 12 for the Garden Cafe, and get Shepherd's Pie and marinated chicken, both pretty good, and go to an uninhabited section of the cafe and sit looking out over the gray skies and gray ocean to get a taste of New York February winter tomorrow. Type this to 2:47 and decide to sort out my papers to see if I added any OTHER tips to my wine-pay list, since Fred's addition is LESS than mine, and there's no good reason why it should be---though tonight's wine will have to be paid by ONE of us! Sort through the papers and find that I'd left TWO tips, and our wine charges aren't that far apart. He comes in at 3, thinking the movie starts then, and TAKES my chair and sits at HIS desk with HIS papers. I type this at 3:12, prepared to do the puzzle I'd gotten a number of days ago. Finish the puzzle easily, but Cinderella Man starts quite late, very low-key, and Fred leaves early. I watch through to the end at 6PM, but it wasn't that much of a movie. Greg calls Fred for a martini at 6:45, so I leave him and a note and go up to 12 to claim my bottle, but they say if it's delivered to the ship, it'll be delivered to the room. Back to the room and find a delivery for FRED in the room, but not our two bottles from the company NOT on the NCL-approved map, but Fred returns at 6:35 and assures me we WILL be getting our bottles. Also told of poor Jamey and wife only getting back 25% of their $175 lost-tour cost, and they're refusing to pay their $10/day tip to the personnel, while Fred reports that talking to THREE of the service staff revealed they get VERY LITTLE from that tipping scheme. So when will NCL go out of business from customer disapproval DESPITE their constant building of new ships and selling of future excursions? Fred said he didn't want a martini and I have nothing to do at 6:50PM but wait, since I'm dressed for dinner already. Watch TV and talk with Fred and get up to Gatsby's at 7:30 and have long waits for each course, and then I have to send my filet mignon back TWICE to get it properly medium rare, and at one point I got up and slammed the dining-room doors on some screaming kids outside, much to the appreciation of my tablemates. Long waits and camera shots and talks led to my leaving at 10PM and STILL not finding the two bottles from Ocho Rios, so I went up to Reception to be told my last chance was at Java Café 8:30-9:30. Back to the room to start packing, and get mostly done by 10:30 when Fred comes in and gives me a yellow baggage tag, since I'm leaving my bag out with his. Bag out into the vacant hallway wearing only my shorts, and get all into my A&K bag except for my dop kit and my computer by 10:45PM and collapse into bed with earplugs and eyemask. Fred does who knows what, because the light is still on at 11:15PM. A bit later the light is off and I take off my eyemask.

THURSDAY, 2/23/06: 12:27AM: Wake and pee, last day at last! Captain said the Gulf Stream was so helpful we'd be outside the harbor at 6AM and dock by 8AM. Let's hope so. Ocean roughest yet, ship rocking back and forth. Type this to 12:30AM. 3:15AM: SWEAR I hear three quick knocks at the door, but no one's there. Pee. 5AM: Pee and type dream to 5:10AM [DREAMS:2/23/06], probably the last of the trip. 6:45(!) the phone rings, and they want to go to the buffet, which Fred doesn't want to do, so he goes into the shower and I turn on TV to see that we've traveled 3945 miles and have 8 miles to go to Pier 88, it's cloudy and 38°. They're calling this day 11, so they can't charge more than $110 for tips at $10/day. I'm intending to take a shower, and Fred said he was in a panic about taking things out of the safe. Sunrise was at 6:39AM and sunset will be at 5:39PM. I type to 7AM, rather tired, but just one meal left and, say, five hours at the MAXIMUM before we're HOME! TV shows very foggy ships ahead at 7:01AM. Shower to 7:22. Put EVERYTHING but dop kit on my bed at 7:30. Fred wants to go to Venetian Room and I bet it's practically empty, and it's only a BIT fuller than I thought it would be. We look out to the coast of New Jersey parallel to us, still moving up the river as we're seated looking out the back. No specials of any kind, not even any omelets, so I order two eggs over easy and the melon, which isn't very good, and the hot chocolate is self-made with YARDS of semen-like milk skim that makes Fred almost cum. At 7:40 we begin nosing into the pier. We have a wonderful leisurely breakfast, actually making basic plans to go to India: he hasn't been to Jodhpur, Jaisalmir, Mount Abu, and would accept my going to Ajanta and Ellora, but he wouldn't want the altitude of Siliguri and Darjeeling, and surely not Sikkim or Bhutan. But it's a start! Finished at 8:22 and I'd not brought my receipts for the bottles, but go to Java Café anyway, heartened to see SOME bottles with room numbers on the floor, and I ask but they don't have that room number, but then I see a box from Rum, Roast and Royals, and it's OURS! I let out a yelped "Yes!" of pleasure and get back to the cabin at 8:30 to crow to Fred, who wants me to carry his sixth bottle. Sure! He returns at 8:42 crowing that he only has to pay $12.50 for his extra five bottles. Almost worth it. I pee and they've made up the room: I almost feel like trashing it and leaving a note saying, "We TOLD you Do Not Disturb!" Now at 8:44 decide to brush my teeth. Watch CNN all the way, something I'd NEVER do at home. Fred reminds me of his locking himself out for about 20 minutes last night when he took his bag out in shirt, shorts, and towel, and knocking didn't get through my earplugs. Announce express departure about 9AM, but I'm with Fred. Close up my dop kit and do my last bit of packing by 9:10AM. Last announcement for express departures, everything into my A&K bag except this keyboard. Leave cabin at 9:15. Sit in Casino at 9:20, lined up with others waiting for the deck 6 aft unboarding. 9:30 announcement for NON-US citizens departing, from 7 mid, and yellow from 6 aft! 9:32 OFF SHIP! Very few in front of us, two lines off. Onto pier and one section of yellow bags: search for mine and it's not there! Look and look, and finally someone says there are TWO sections of yellow bags. Still not mine. Report to baggage claim, describe my bag, and he starts looking for me. They suggest I look in the other sections, so I go row by row, endless rows, and find the bag at 9:50 in the LAST section, mixed in with the greens, with the yellow tag buried underneath the upside-down bag. Tell them I found it, join Fred, who's paid his tax, and we get a taxi number ending in 31 where they're taking 21, and there are lots of taxis! Wonderful! Onto cab at 10AM and immediately both the driver AND Fred are on their cell phones. Driver insists on going around the point rather than "all the lights and traffic on Chambers Street," and he keeps arguing but I say, "Well, you got your way, so it's OK." Make instant speed (except for traffic at two lights on the West Side Highway south of Chambers Street) onto the bridge, onto Cadman Plaza, and stop at 101 Clark at 10:19AM, less than 20 minutes from the pier! Give Fred $25 to make our wine bills even, and the taxi was about $18.25 when I got off, so he can't pay MUCH more than $25. Into lobby and Ron says "Welcome back" and hands me a neat packet of mail and I get up to my very hot rooms to see that I have notes from door, and 11 phone messages, and finish this in my bedroom (having put the curtain back up) at 10:32, officially back from the trip! Then send this and my dreams from the AlphaSmart to WordPerfect and clear the AlphaSmart. Phone most of the messages (which were 1) Fred, 2) Postal service for my visa number, 3) Hadn't paid my Visa bill, which Raymond (on the phone) takes my check for, waiving my late fee AND my check-pay fee of $17.50, 4) Beard confirmation for tonight, 5) Ken that I got his messages (3 of them), and rest of 11 duplicates or junk). Call Arnold about 11:15, he recommends RFK, which I intend to share with Sherryl if she wants to, and talk to him until 12:08PM. Clear off the Spiders (2 left on) by 12:53 and handle 52 e-mails to 1:25, including calling Beard for Monday's frequent-diner bargain. Look at my website to 1:37, talk to Carolyn to 1:47, leave word with Shelley and Sherryl and Charles, talk to Mildred to 2:05, Tristan to 2:17, then have lunch while looking at the single New York magazine which came in the first stack of mail, am doing the puzzle when Paul calls from Paris and I say I'll be away the first part of April, when he wanted to come to NYC, and we leave it at his possible coming in July or August. Look through the mail to 4PM, feel tired and nauseous from "boat motion," and lie down for a bit, but think I'd feel better doing Taipei, which I do until 6:25, when I get ready for the Beard, getting there at 7 to find Ken already there, give him his check for $2437 for the Morocco trip, and have a mediocre dinner with Dorothy leaving and chatting with Doctor Jack and consulting with Doctor Clem that the first Beard president's name was Peter Kump. Leave about 10:30 and get back to another stack of mail from my box, which I leave for tomorrow and get to bed at 11:12PM, still rocking from the boat.

FRIDAY, 2/24/06: Wake at 7:12, cum from 7:30-8AM, do a Zone-number calculation to 8:45AM, and catch up with dreams and this journal by 9:15AM, having made an 11-item do-list for today: 1) Unpack, 2) Edit CARIBCR and DREAMS, 3) Send slides, 4) Send camera, 5) Set up Tibet slides, 6) See Bodies show, 7) Sherryl/RFK?, 8) Shelley WCB?, 9) Call John, 10) Call Fred/money?, 11) Read Times. Add 7 items through the day as I need them: 12) E-mail Susie re Tuesday, 13) Call Charles about Tuesday and Saturday dance, 14) Feb 27 New York magazine? 15) New mail, 16) Breakfast, 17) Sun puzzles, 18) Pork done. Do 9) Call John to 9:50AM, 13) Call Charles LW 9:52, 16) Breakfast to 10:05, 15) New mail to 10:40, 11) Read 2/12 Times by 11:20, 17) Sun puzzle by 12:36, 7) Sherryl/RFK? wasn't on, but I got for a dance program at the Joyce at 2, which I'm currently slightly late for, 18) pork done by 2:40, eating reading magazines, 14) New York magazine Arnold didn't get, either, 11) finish 2/19 Times and puzzles by 6:20, then RFK.

SATURDAY, 2/25/06: Wake at 7:30, doing Actualism, then 3 Times puzzles and part of Times to 11:30, then talk to Charles and Arnold and put some things away, calculating how much money I spent on trip ($113), and now at 12:45PM get ready to meet Spartacus at 1:05 for Joyce dance with Sherryl. Danzahoy poor, we get to 5 Ninth for lunch menu, back to watch Olympics tape to 7, slow subway to City Center for Dance Kings with Charles and late fish and chips at Connolly's.

SUNDAY, 2/26/06: Do stuff and MAN makes me VERY drunk and bed at 8:30PM!!

MONDAY, 2/27/06: Watch Olympics and Volcano in NY and finish this to 4:15PM.


SUN,2/12/06: Snows to 26.9 inches. Taxi 1-2PM to pier, long wait, to cabin at 7:15PM & dine in Venetian Room with Fred, & to show with Fred & Greg & Michael to 10:17 while ship sails out one mile and anchors for refueling. Bed 11:35.

MON,2/13/06: Venetian Room breakfast, ship tour 11:03-11:50. Spinnaker Lounge for Latitudes drinks and sign up for next trip. Library to skim Oceans. Sail under Verrazano Bridge at 12:44PM. Lunch with Fred and O.s from Yangtze River cruise in Venetian Room, slightly nauseous. See March of the Penguins in the Cinema. Trivia, "Friends of Dorothy," and dinner in Impressions.

TUE,2/14/06: Trivia, sign up for 6 Shore Excursions, buy stuff in Galleria, nauseous. No lunch, Latitudes champagne, watch end of Speed on TV, dinner in Venetian Room, still feeling poorly. Watch part of The Mask and bed at 10:05.

WED,2/15/06: Breakfast in Venetian Room, Casino free spin, share Trivia win with 8 correct. Blue Lagoon snack. Spinnaker for more drinks & Latitude presentations. Stardust Theater for digital ship tour, then to Cinema for movie-trivia clips. Rest, still exhausted. Trivia, Galleria for drinks, Le Bistro dinner 8:15-10:45 with loads of food, then bit of There's Something About Mary.

THU,2/16/06: Ocho Rios, Jamaica: walk to "Ruins" and Crane Ridge Resort, and buy Rum Cream at Rum, Roast & Royales. 4x4 jeep tour with Fred and Greg and Michael and sexy Jamey and his wife, and another couple. Red-mud road, scenic views, fruit-lunch stop on top, then to Dunn's River Falls and shopping. Trivia and dinner with Fred in Venetian Room. Pack for tour tomorrow.

FRI,2/17/06: Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island: lonely breakfast in Venetian Room, then tender to Parasailing shuttle-boat, to boat where we take off and land dry, me going up with mother who'd gone up before. No time to get camera before leaving for Stingray Observatory and Grand Cayman tour. Buy stamps. Second bus gets lost. Rays and diver and barracuda, Shores palaces and two iguanas, then rain, then turtle farm and videos of Hurricane Ivan from 9/11/04. Long tender-ride back. Blue Lagoon burger lunch at 4PM. Auction and Rum Runner with Fred. Aqua for dinner and bed about 7:30 after turning watch back an hour.

SAT,2/18/06: Buffet breakfast before Roatán, Honduras, tour out to Catamaran through town and suburbs and country and jungle to rainy trip to snorkeling area, escorted by dolphins, where I get severely tired and nauseous and almost vomit. Chicken snack for lunch and lots of rain, land for bus to Coxon's Cave display of history, then bird sanctuary with monkeys and rappellers skimming past over river. Good tour of mountaintops of island off coast. Walk main street of town but no stamps selling on Saturday. Dinner at Impressions.

SUN,2/19/06: Belize City: long boat ride to bus for 2-hour drive to Xunantunich with good guide-talk. Great site, ferry across river, then van up to ruins at 10:15. I dash taking pictures, hearing that 12/24/2012 is the "last day" with a cosmic alignment. Back to bus at 11:45 (there less time than it took us to GET there!) and ride to St. Ignacio lunch. Two quiet hours back in rain, then watch part of The Graduate, then dinner at Trattoria 6:30-8:15. Watch boxing.

MON,2/20/06: Cozumel for trip to Tulum: breakfast alone in buffet, box lunch for Tulum. Enormous transfer-ship to Playa del Carmen, walk to bus, stop at Lapis for shopping, Tulum a crowded disaster with beach and restrictions. Lots of photos, good box lunch on bus with Pepsi after "Angels" flyingly descend from pole, to which I donated $1 and took collector's picture. Sit in Playacar for an hour waiting for only transfer-ship back to Norwegian Dawn. Good filet mignon at Gatsby's for dinner. Watch bit of Die Hard on TV. Change watch back.

TUE,2/21/06: Breakfast in Venetian Room, win Frisbee in Trivia, which I give to Fred, take pictures all over ship, lunch alone in NY Deli, and get to Chocolate Buffet at 2-3. Library and National Geographic World photo book. Dinner at Impressions and Fred wins free meal for 2 in Casino. Good hour Bollywood show.

WED,2/22/06: In Her Shoes end, The Constant Gardener, Proof, lunch alone in Garden Cafe, Cinderella Man on TV. Gatsby's dinner and packing.

THU,2/23/06: Get bottle in Java Café, cab home 10-10:19AM, many phones; Beard Nite.

FRI,2/24/06: Do lots, make do-list, read Times and do puzzles, then see RFK.