Now who’s the Rodweirdo?

In the “What’s with the Flamingo” tab on this blog, I explain how I got my lawn flamingo, Rodrigo. I speak about how I always wanted one and how after being freaked out by a Mexican scuba-diving instructor with crazy blue eyes who came on a little too strong at an oceanside bar with a name I can’t pronounce in Cozumel Mexico five years ago, I left in a hurry back to the ship (I was working for a different cruise line at the time) and I left my SPF 50 behind. I then went out in our home port in, yes, Mobile, Alabama to replace my sunscreen and found the plastic bird in the discount section of Target.  $2.50 later he was mine. He needed a name so I went with the guy who inspired my shopping trip. Since I was already far away from home I started taking him out in port to photograph him (which was kinda awkward at first - but 25 countries later I’m a lot bolder about the whole thing). I also mention how after showing him more of the world, I planned to take him back to the bar with the name I can’t pronounce to find the Mexican scuba-diving instructor with crazy blue eyes, let him drive us around the island on his scooter (as he had offered) and remind him that we had met once before. - There, now you don’t have to read that page. In fact, the same story was the topic of an article I wrote for Go Magazine SA back in Sept 2012. When I ended up on the Sun and Cozumel was in our itinerary, I felt convicted to follow through on my word and go in search of Rodrigo. Man, I can’t believe I’m this ethical! 

On my second last Cozumel, before the ship started repositioning, I set off for the bar. Now, the place was a fair distance from the port where my previous cruise line used to dock and quite a bit further from the downtown pier where my current cruise line docks, but I made the walk. - You can’t exactly take a taxi if you can’t pronounce the place you’re headed. I packed my SPF 50. Again. 

I found the place. I recognised it. It had been rebranded but it had the same name. I went in and was seated at a table. I scanned the place. There were a couple of scuba-divers around from the neighbouring dive shop: none with crazy blue eyes. Now, I wanted to know what had become of the other Rodrigo, but how the heck do you broach the subject? “Hi my name is Sharon, I came here five years ago and named this plastic bird of mine after a guy I met once who worked here and hit on me and I have been travelling the world with it ever since. I was hoping to say hi. Is he still creepy?”  I didn’t say that. I said something to the effect of, “It’s so good to be back here. I used to come here all the time back in the day. Hey, does that Rodrigo guy still work here? And I’ll have the quesadillas and a coke, please?” He said “sure, I’ll bring you that, and no, he doesn’t work here anymore. Why?”  “…ugh, just wondering?” I replied.

Rodrigo at the place with the name I can't pronounce, Cozumel, Mexico

I had my lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere. It really was good to be back. I took some pictures of Rodrigo (the bird) and jumped off the same pier. This time I was alone in the water. No random bodies appeared to offer me unwanted snorkelling advice. After a nice swim, it was time to head back, simultaneously relieved and disappointed that I had not found Rodrigo. 

As I gathered my things, another man approached me. “Nice flamingo,” he said. I explained that I take him on all my travels. He asked me its name and when I said  “Rodrigo” he asked how he got the name. All I could think about was that if I thought Rodrigo was creepy for coming on too strong, how crazy must I sound for coming back to find him after all this time? I told him that I named him after someone who used to work there and tried to steer the conversation away from the bird. He asked me if he had a Facebook page. - Usually, I volunteer that information. He told me he would follow him and that I should tag the place in my pictures. He also offered to take me scuba-diving if ever I was back there again. (That sounds way better than a scooter ride, silly Rodrigo.) His name was Carlos. And just like five years before, I went to the very same bathroom a little freaked out. Not because he was creepy, but because I was. I’m too scared to check whether or not he’s followed Rodrigo yet, but his reaction to this blog would definitely be interesting. Almost as interesting as Rodrigo’s himself. I changed my clothes and left in a hurry, but this time I made sure I had my SPF 50.  

There’s been a change of plans:

When life hands you the opposite of lemons 
(There really needs to be an expression for that!)

I had a lot of plans for this contract: 

I wanted to go back to Fins and Flippers on the Island of Roatan in Honduras. I didn’t get there. I wanted to go sledding with Huskies. And I will …but maybe on the beach in Cape Town when I get home. I wanted to try to find the other Rodrigo in Cozumel. - And I did try. I thought I’d go to the west coast of Mexico, I won’t. I also won’t be seeing my friend Molly in LA, I won’t be riding a bicycle over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco with Vish and Bei, I won’t be going for gay breakfast with Simon and the team in Vancouver, or straight breakfast with Austin. And that all sucks a little bit. 

But I also thought I would never get to see Europe with this company. I thought because I don’t speak any European languages other than English that I wasn’t eligible to even request a Europe-based ship, but in a strange and completely unexpected turn of events, I will. It’s like winning the UK lottery when you didn’t buy a ticket and you don’t even have to transfer money into a Nigerian bank account to get it. Maybe the people at the office read my blog and were impressed by my fluency in useless Spanish? And the best part is I had no choice in the matter. I hate making decisions!

This week we started our 19-day repositioning cruise to Alaska/Vancouver and it is pretty weird not being able to finish it. When the Sun gets to Costa Rica I will be flying to Miami to join another Star (that’s the name of the other ship - plenty more opportunities for lame puns), where I will be transatlanticing (Yes, I’m still using the worst made-up word ever, sorry) to Dover and then it’s on to Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. We also go to Azores which is apparently a country (I’m going to have to google that one?) and Amsterdam but only once. And that’s pretty cool. I was going to add five more countries to the list of 23 countries Rodrigo’s visited by the time this contract was over. Now, we might be losing Canada but by the time we get home I think it’ll be more like 11 (I think - I don’t believe in maths.) I don’t usually expect life to be so randomly kind but I do appreciate it.

My roomie Bei showing off her mad flatiron skills on my head
I’m really sad to say goodbye to my amazing team. I will miss Bei, her amazing abilities with a flatiron, drinking tea with her, eating cookies with her and our conversations - both those that were deep and meaningful, and those that were sung. I will miss the always positive, always helpful Vish even though being the first ever fellow-South African Cruise Staff I have worked with, he was the one thing preventing me from being a minority. I will miss Gabi and her hugs, her rants, her passion for life and generally just her passion. I will miss show tunes with Matt and ice-cream with Carlos (the Argentinian broadcast tech not creepy Rodrigo’s Mexican friend). And I will miss a whole lot of other peeps from this ship that I could try to name but won't for fear of forgetting one.

And I still want to see a whale. I just do. And maybe I will. Sometimes life hands you unicorns like that. (What do you think?) 

In other news

The tea situation has turned dire
My contact who had a contact who was going to organise me a shipment of Five Roses failed and I haven’t even thrown them overboard yet. I’m nice like that, …but no key-ring light thingies for you!! I’m holding on to the fact that if I can just make it across the Atlantic I’m sure we’ll have a lot more British guests on board and they won't stand for this three-teabags-to-make-a-weak-cup-of-craptastic-American-brand-“organic”—tea nonsense!  Aagh!

We rescued some Cubans
When I said that thing on Facebook to the effect of “welcome aboard to our nine new Cuban guests, we trust you’ll find our brig more comfortable than your raft” I wasn’t kidding. When I worked for my previous cruise line, we kept stopping when we saw rafts or little boats floating around in the middle of the ocean. The Captain said we had to to make sure there were no people stranded on them. Of course, once he had found a nice boat that he could use to go fishing on in Free Port we stopped picking them up. We’d just check them out, confirm the lack of occupants and then “notify the coast guard of their location”. This time I was having a nap and we heard the Cruise Directors announcements to explain what was going on. We had rescued nine of them. And that’s why the Captain was late for formal night. Little ships are definitely not equal to less drama. At least they got a free cruise before being handed over to the authorities.

Evan more Belizean adventures
I hung out with Evan again. Our ships were both anchored in together and we wondered the dodgy backstreets of Belize where we spent a wonderful afternoon together buying shoes, eating lunch and narrowly avoiding getting mugged. 

Rodrigo in Belize

I went to the gym
True story! It’s actually the second time I’ve done that on this ship! The first time I went I walked in, looked around and walked out. On the Sky I went to the gym all the time …to use the water fountain. This time I actually worked out. Half the reason I don’t go is that I don’t know what to do and I feel stupid. This time I went with friends who showed me what to do and then laughed at me when I didn’t do it right and looked stupid (thanks, Vish!). The other half of the reason is that I’m unfit and another half the reason (like I said, I don’t believe in maths) is because I’m really clumsy. I stayed for an hour almost and I didn’t even die. 

I got bitten by a fish. 
Who needs a Thai fish spa when you can go swimming in Roatan. On two occasions these big grey things came up and nipped me on the back of my calves - ‘nipped’ is kind of a strong word for something that has no teeth but the little bastards tried to give me calf-hiccies. There were kids swimming nearby who kept feeding the fish fruit loops and I think they mistook me for one. Now, if it was Evan I’d understand, but me?

And that’s about it. My life rocks!

8 and 3/19th of a cruise down, yeah, I don’t know…
Cubans rescued since last blog: 9

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