Happy Travelersary!

March 16th, 2019

This morning I got off the ship in Singapore on the first anniversary of My Year of Living Travelly. Now officially I have to make that plural, since I am booked pretty solid for the next twelve months.

On March 16 2018, I set out from San Diego to the  Amazon with my friend Jane Halsey to start my adventure.  Here we are, ready to go!

And here I am, exactly one year later, with friends, Dayle and Larry, who by coincidence are in Singapore waiting to get on the ship I left this morning. I met them on that first voyage, from Manaus, Brazil to Monte Carlo, so they are in a sense the bookends to the year.

Looking back through the photos of this amazing year—visiting nearly 30 countries and every continent but Antarctica—I found this photo of me sporting my favorite slogan, “Home is Where the Anchor Drops.

Note the two-fisted champagne.  I was holding  the photographer’s as well as my own, though some who have traveled with me may doubt that explanation, and with good cause.

That tee shirt got me thinking, because I am not sure I agree anymore.

Home is where my suitcases are. Even when I am back in San Diego, I live out of suitcases, because my condo is rented out. I really don’t have a home now.

Home is my wallet.  Money and credit cards make everything okay.

Home is crawling into bed, wherever that might be.  Right now it is a hotel bed in Singapore I am snuggled into as I write this.

Home  is seeing and touching my passport as I travel.  Yes, I compulsively worry about that,  and giving it a little pat is strong reassurance that I am okay.

Home is wherever  I put my toothbrush.  Much of the time as I move around I can’t remember exactly what pocket of which bag it is in  (example: right now), but it’s another thing it is very grounding to locate.

Home is having local currency.  Many places take dollars, but I still feel better knowing I have money for the taxi or the food hawker. Makes me feel at least marginally more local.

Home is FaceTime with Dan.  It is so nice to know he’s there, and that he’s got my back.

Home is clothes that still fit.  All’s right in the world when  I can zip up my pants and button my shirt. Add to that, home is when the laundry is newly done, and I have a choice of anything I want to wear.

Home is email and Facebook. Because home is friends, even many time zones away.

Home is pulling out a room key that (miraculously) I have not managed to lose.  Home is the absence of such annoyances.

Home is taking my shoes off after a loooong tour day.

Home is knowing I have a posse of friends on board.  I know so many crew and usually find a few lovely passengers fairly quickly. On this last cruise, when my hard drive crashed, I knew there were so many people who would help in any way they could.

Home is the latest hurdle surmounted, whatever it is.

Home for me is not an address anymore.  It isn’t a strucure with a roof and walls.  Home is where I am.  More than that, home is me being who I am. Home is saying “I got this”about whatever comes up. Home is simply feeling grounded and adequately in control. No anchor needs to drop. I carry all the home I need with me.




March 11th, 2019

This cruise has marked a first for me.  I have to admit that, despite having a lot of fun with the guests and crew,  I am eager to get off the ship in Singapore in a few days.  There are a couple of reasons for this, the most compelling of which is that the meltdown of my hard drive has affected my comfort zone.

I am glad to have a good backup plan—and I am so relieved I do—but I don’t like having to rely on it. There’s a drone of worry that my slides won’t pull up from my flash drive onto the laptop in the show lounge, and even when they do, the formatting and some of the builds vanished in the exporting from Mac to PC, and things aren’t exactly the way I want them. So far so good, with two lectures to go, but it hasn’t been good for the peace of mind I usually have in abundance.

The second is that, as far as I can recall, this is the first back-to-back cruise I have done with the identical itinerary in reverse.  Some of the ports are good for one day but a bit thin for two (and in a few cases, three), so my eagerness to go ashore has been depleted, especially when the weather is as hot and humid as it has been. I am usually fine with “been there, done that,” kinds of ports because at the very least, it’s a different day, different people, different possibilities for serendipity.  Still,  I am a bit tired, and not really as up for that as I might be. Better get used to repetition  because this summer i will be going around and around in the Baltic for two months!

Third, this has been a long assignment for me.  I left home in early December, beginning in Bali, and not ending until Athens in May—five months total, and I am now into the fourth month.  I have been on and off ships, but mostly on.  It’s so long without a break,  because Australia and Asia are so far away that going home and coming back was too gruesome to consider when I set up my schedule.  Getting my life essentially for free while onboard was a huge part of the equation in pulling together My Year of Living Travelly, and paying the bills for land expenses can get pretty steep for a community college pensioner, so I set it up to have as much of the former and as little of the latter as possible— at most about nine or ten days on land at a time.

Still, this is the life for me.  I look forward to getting my laptop problem fixed, and expect that will put some bounce in my step.  And then—Bucket List!—I am off to the Maldives, a cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, on an itinerary that will work its way back to Singapore,  with most stops, including Sri Lanka, in places I have never been, or am eager to see again.  I can’t wait!  But first a little recovery time, for my laptop, and me.


Happy Gene, Happy Feet

March 7th, 2019

Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s a very British thing to say, and I had reason to remember it the day before yesterday when the hard drive on my laptop suddenly died.  I immediately plummeted into the lowest level of computer hell, because I use that laptop for my lectures and all of my files are stored there.

This could have been (and actually still might be) catastrophic, since without the slide shows and notes, I can’t fulfill my duties on this and other assignments before my scheduled return to San Diego in May.

Backups—don’t leave home without them and indeed I didn’t, having backed up everything (I hope) in the Cloud and on flash drives.  But as I quickly learned, it’s not always that simple.  The ship has lent me a PC, but my files are in Keynote and Pages, the Macquivalent of PowerPoint and Word, and they can’t be opened on a PC.  I can’t access my files in the Cloud because I have to get to them via my Mac.  To make things worse, the extra big and powerful external drive that has the most complete master copy of all my lectures has suddenly decided to be Read Only, so it won’t let me do the simplest tasks with the files, including editing or even moving them.

So I was seriously stuck ( and still am). But I have developed a coping strategy in life to relax as a reaction to stress, and this enables me to bypass panic and terror until such time as I have been able to determine what all the options are. Then, if no good option exists, panic and terror are called for, but not right off the bat. After a few deep breaths and reminders not to freak out, I weighed the situation and figured out my options.

The first question I came up with was, “who are my resources?”, and I came up with quite a few, from the cruise director to the IT officer on board,  to fellow passengers, to techies in our next port (Danang), and even all the way back to Dan in San Diego, because my desktop where I developed all the lectures is in his study, holding its treasure trove of work. The Hail Mary Pass was going to be to copy them all on a flash drive and overnight Fedex it to me,

Sure enough, just with the people on board, I was able (after a lot of time and frustration), to find ways, using the cruise director’s  Mac and the Bridge instructor’s PC, to  reformat in Powerpoint the rest of the slide shows for this cruise  so I can use the ship’s laptops.  My  lecture today went off without a hitch, and I am ready for the others.

That will get me through this cruise, but what about the time at sea after this until I fly home in May? I have somewhere between 15 and 20 lectures I need that are trapped inside the failed hard drive.  Cobbling  together fixes for each one sounds just way, way too stressful and scarily inadequate.

I had two possible ideas for a solution.  First, I could try to replace the hard drive, but there was really no place I could do this in our remaining ports , and I was only going to be in Singapore long enough to get to the airport to fly to Siem Riep to visit Angkor Wat.  Them it is on to the Maldives, and day stops at ports in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and the like.  No good opportunities seemed to exist for a quick fix.

Plan B seemed good. The Singapore airport duty free Apple Store has a really good price for a new one, so I thought I might pick one up and take it on my trip to Angkor Wat and work in the evenings on getting it running. But how would that work, if I am having trouble transferring files?

Worry kept me awake last night, and bingo—all os a sudden what to do came to me.  If I didn’t go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, that would be too bad, and I would lose a lot of money on non-refundable flights and tours, but it would give me five days in Singapore, one of the best places in the world to solve problems like this.  I wrote to a certified Apple repair business in the city, and I have an appointment the day we dock, and they have already reserved the drive I need.  Besides, hanging out in Singapore while my laptop is in the hospital isn’t half bad!

My immediate problems are resolved, and a a flurry of cancellations and rebookings has set Plan B (or is it C or D?) in motion.  I am going to be okay.

But what does all this have to do with happy feet and happy genes?  I think I am just plain lucky not to be a worrier, and if I catastrophize for a while it is mostly to remind myself to dial it back because the worst possible outcome is usually highly unlikely.

The happy gene also causes me to count my blessings, and there are plenty here.  If this had happened after this cruise, my chances of being able to get it fixed, or even buy another, would have been pretty close to non-existent.  The happy gene also  helps me to be confident that I will get the help I need on the ship.  It’s a very nice gene to have, even if it doesn’t really exist.

And happy feet?  Well, yesterday morning, when there was really nothing I could do about any of it until people on the ship were available to help me, I took the shuttle into Danang and treated myself to a one-hour foot massage.  Maybe that poster saying “keep calm and carry on” should hav a foot instead of a crown.  Let the problems wait a while, I told myself.  I’m busy relaxing. Read the rest of this entry »