Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Boat update - ok times on the cruise

Noticed on my boat story that I didn’t mention too many of the enjoyable moments during the vacation.

First on the list has to been gaining a new son. Those of you with daughters know that after the wedding you haven’t lost a daughter you’ve gained a son-in-law. If you marry off a son you will soon find them lost to the girl’s family (yes, our oldest son is now lost forever, or at least a little while). And gaining some Italian relatives.

You can see below in the middle photo our daughter in her wedding dress. This was hand made by her great grandmother years ago for my wife. Minor adjustments (made a little wider, don’t say anything) but it still looked OK. Her husband is a Canadian, from Hamilton, Ontario – up near Buffalo NY. They met in Barcelona, Spain, but that’s her long story to tell. His parents are both Italian, mother from Canada, but sent to Italy to get married. Sounds like an arranged marriage, but haven’t heard the whole story there. Father is Italian moved to Canada after their wedding. I think Fab was even born in Italy. That’s Fabrizzio, called Fab, but I like to call him Spike. He needed a tough nickname and I’m a Buffy fan.

Even though she tried her best to avoid a big function at the wedding she found out that you can’t avoid the Italians. The wedding was in December, and the following June required a trip to Canada for the wedding party. We went, never having been to a real event like this. One of the popular ‘shows’ here in Vegas at the Rio is Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. It’s a dinner show, and the show really takes place around you instead of on a stage, pretending that you are guests at an Italian wedding.

Again, made a small vacation of it. My wife has never been to upstate New York or Canada, so we went early. I attended Rochester Institute of Technology up in Rochester NY, and wanted to show off what I talked about. Weather was nice – that year all of the snow had melted by the time we went in June. (local joke, but at least we didn’t do one of those 20f below zero weeks in February). It was an open house weekend, so we got to walk all around campus. RIT is a big brick complex, just built on a new campus when I went there. Looked almost like I remember it from thirty years ago, but seemed a lot smaller.

Flew into Buffalo, then rented a car. Time in Rochester with some old friends, then off to Niagra Falls. A few days there, even took the boat down near the falls. Yes, it’s a lot of water, and green compared to the southwest. Then off to Canada. After the party we went to Toronto for a few days.

The party – probably everything I imagined an Italian wedding party would be. Tons of people, all relatives somehow – “this is Fab’s third cousin of his second uncle on his mother’s side” kind of thing. Lots of food (lots, lots, lots of food). Held on the lawn behind a place used to hold events. Backing on the lake, under a big tent. Started around 4, we left around 2 and except for those with small kids were about the first to leave. I don’t know how much longer they played.

I’ve been to Italy once, back in my Navy days. Had some big meals there, but this was something. My wife doesn’t eat much and really had a problem. First soup, then proshuto and melon, then chicken, then tomato and mozzarella, then fish, then pasta. Then came the salad and the main courses. I’m sure there were little things brought around between all of the big dishes. If you don’t think we were filled by the pasta course then you must have experience with these things. I don’t remember how many courses were served – yes, all sit down served courses. After all this came the coffee, then a few hour break for dancing while they set up the desserts in their own little tented area. We then got to walk around and pick up sweets and coffee, probably around midnight, it all got a little fuzzy after all the wine. The served food was all from the facility, but half the desserts were made by various family members. Stared with two wine bottles on the table, which magically were replaced every time they got near empty, so I don’t really know how much we went through. Eight people per table, probably about two hundred people there. Glad it was the father of the groom that paid for everything, I don’t even want to thing of the $$$$.

And everyone had to dance with the bride (or groom). Against her wishes (well, the whole thing was against her wishes, so why stop now?) she had to carry a little white purse. Everyone that danced with her put something into this bag. She didn’t fully tell us what, but I think the ‘take’ was over $50,000 US. Problem is, of course now they are expected to attend every event of every cousin, and drop something in their little bags. Or send a check if they can’t attend. So I think there is a fixed amount of money and it all just circulates.

It was nice back on the lake. Not too many mosquitoes, warm breezes, a place to walk and try to bounce down the food and make room for more. Since I wasn’t paying it was a really nice time.

And the wedding on the boat was nice. I stood next to some grandmother that was on the cruise and just heard there was a wedding and had to come. She was on the boat with about twenty relatives, all there for Grammy’s big number birthday (she wouldn’t say, but I think it was 80). It didn’t take too long. Nice standing up in the warm breezes, looking at the boats. We were anchored off of a fancy resort at Nevis. Not too far from us was a private yacht. We saw some pretty fancy boats down there, St. Bart’s bay was filled with smaller boats – those with crews of six, garage in the back with smaller boats and jet skis. This one was larger – it had two, not one but two, helicopters parked on top. It probably had a crew of over a dozen for the boat, plus a few for the helicopters and two pilots. Don’t know who owned it (probably a corporation, for the tax breaks) but even our captain was impressed at the size. He was on my other side during the wedding, and kept looking at that boat too.

After the wedding my wife and I went ashore (on one of those little boats) and went horseback riding on the beach and around the area. Then up to a botanical garden. Then back to the boat to change and go off to the fancy wedding dinner.

The carnival at St. Kitts the next day was different. My first time on an island like that with a festival going on. Similar to other small town events I attended. Probably half the town was in the parade, the other half watching, and each year they take turns. It was the boxing day party – Nevis/St. Kitts was a British colony. There were big flatbed trucks filled with piles of speakers, playing LOUD music. Lots of Bob Marley. Each followed by a coordinated group of singers and dancers. Similar to the carnival parades I’ve seen pictures of in Rio. Groups of 40 – 50, all with the same color t shirts (no fancy Rio carnival type costumes) following each truck, dancing and singing and waving at all their friends. Stood against a building, and we could feel the wall shake from the volume. Probably about twenty trucks, each playing different music, moving slowly by, each about a block apart spread out by the dancers. So the music passed – as one went away and the volume dropped to something that was almost acceptable the next one came into hearing. So it was never quiet.

I liked walking around St. Bart’s. It’s another French island. The resort of the rich. Reading the gossip columns there are always movie stars just back from St. Bart’s. As I said, lots of big private boats tied up, even bigger ones anchored out in the bay. Our sailboat was anchored a ways out, probably pay according to how close you anchor. So it was a 20 minute little boat ride in to the dock, past all of those big boats, some longer than our Windjammer. All taller because they were not sail boats but motor yachts, with may floors. The more you spend the longer and taller the boat. Not many with helicopters but almost all with the garage in the back for the smaller water toys.

We walked up to the old fort and took photos of our small boat way below. Hit some small bakeries and got some great pastries (my favorite part). Had a jambone and fromage sandwich with Orangina – just like when we were in Paris. Too bad I couldn’t afford that place. As below, we didn’t have cheeseburgers in paradise, but most of the other passengers did.

Then back to St. Martin’s and the airport, to Puerto Rico airport and a four hour wait for our connecting flight to Atlanta. On the way in the plane we took from Atlanta into Puerto Rico was the same one that continued on to St. Martin, but with an hour wait in PR. This time we got to walk around the terminal. Several hours in Atlanta airport. Then back to California. This was before we moved here to Vegas.

So if I forget the week on the boat itself it was a really nice time. If I remember the boat (please, don’t make me go through that again) and average that time in, it was two weeks in hell. That’s one week in paradise, great food, time on the beach in warm warm water, totally obscured by that little metal coffin. So I try to only remember the good parts.

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