The fifth of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise.
Brring, brring. It’s oh-six-hundred and something-or-other. The automated wake-up phone call startles me awake, as it has every morning since we sailed. We always seem to be (over)eating at sunset, so I have added the sunrise patrol to my daily routine, just before my walk. When we were heading south, our port cabin offered a convenient picture-taking vantage point, but now we’ve turned west. Throwing on my exercise clothes and grabbing my camera, I trudge up the stairs to Deck 15 for its aft view.
As early as it seems to me, I’m not the first to arrive. Hair whipping around my face, I lean into the wind to steady my point-and-shoot. Bigger, badder cameras click around me, but we are all capturing a sunrise virtually indistinguishable from the previous day’s, or the day before that, for that matter. As I meander over to the stairs to the deck below, I wonder if this is one of those ‘journey, not the destination’ things. The pictures are worth nothing, really, yet the taking of them is somehow priceless.
Clump, clump. As I reach the exercise track, my hiking shoes contribute their mite to the early-morning symphony on Deck 14. Squelch, squelch. A jogger moves up behind me, the superior grips on his proper running shoes connecting with, and releasing more aggressively from, the still-wet, swabbed-down deck. Swoosh. As the track curves inside the sensor’s range, successive walkers trigger the automagic sliding doors, providing a welcome blast of air-conditioned air that feels positively cold in contrast to the hot and humid pressure out here on the deck. Swish. It’s just past sunrise, but the power-hose guys are already at it, cleaning every surface on the pool deck below. Shhh. Under it all, the steady susurration of the wind that never stops.
Clump, clump; squelch, squelch; swoosh, swish, shh.
This multi-modal symphony is also multi-sensory: even outdoors, hearing isn’t the only sense being exercised. Sour sweat makes my nose wrinkle as a drenched runner laps me for the sixth time. Drat that guy. Couldn’t he find a way to stay downwind? But in a moment, as the sliding doors open again — Swoosh — his odor is overtaken by the sweet aroma of hot waffles from the breakfast buffet.
Clump, clump. As I keep on track, as it were, I wonder whether I’m only imagining that I can also smell that three-litre steel bowl of whipped cream waiting patiently for me to finish my self-assigned distance.
Note: The structure of the first seven of these eight observations was inspired by Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar.