I have been on a short-cruise vacation with two friends from my past work recently. Because it was my first cruise experience, I spent not just a lot of time preparing for what I need for the voyage but also money, on things that I thought I would need or use during the trip, most of those things though, I ended up not using at all.
I have a co-worker who went on the same cruise with his wife two weeks ahead of mine. The pictures they posted on facebook enticed me and made me more anxious excited to go. When he came back to work, I asked about what happened in the ship, the food, the entertainment, their experience at shore, and most importantly, where to go to taste authentic Mexican food in Ensenada. I wasn't expecting too much from 6 or so hours on shore but to sample the sea urchin tostada from the famous street cart of La Guerrerense and witness the blowhole called La Bufadora in Baja California, which our tour guide would often refer to as the natural phenomenon.
Day 1 at ship seemed a bit discouraging, we boarded late because of the long lines of people who also boarded late. I'm surprised to see that our boarding picture still came out nice, despite us starving and tired because of missing lunch. A couple of people were already drunk during the safety briefing at the Muster Station. A lady who was exceptionally loud and interrupted the safety person briefing us on how to properly put the life jacket on must be undergoing a divorce. I wondered why people would get drunk right after boarding. They are not having fun, it seemed they are trying to forget something, a problem maybe, or so, I thought. Later, I learned from my Aunt Godmother that these people who frequent the bars are the ones bringing-in profits for the ship. They compensate for the would-have-been higher cruise rates that people like me with limited budgets would not be able to afford. With liquor in their glasses, with every shot they take, they make cashiers, ship accountants, and the crew in general, happier. So now, I love drunk people in the ship.
Day 3 at sea was relaxing. This was duty-free shopping for most people, if not playing Bingo or watching afternoon shows. Certain purchases would earn you a raffle ticket for a chance to win a set of fashion jewelry or a loot bag of whatever from the ship. I have five tickets earned from souvenir shopping using the cruise money given by my Aunt Godmother. That is why I am so amazed at few people who were holding thick rolls of raffle tickets, they must have spent thousands in one or two hours in that part of the ship to earn those.
Day 2 was Captain's night. It is when we dressed-up for dinner. Most ladies opted for flashy and eye catching wardrobes, at least the younger ones I saw. Me and my colleague, I traveled with 2 other accountants, a male and a female, wore clothes, our male colleague said made us look like Pentecostal ladies. I think he meant “nicer than boring,” which is exactly how I wanted to look like, since Brack is not with me in this cruise. Food was not fantastic, but the abundance, and how you are served made up for some bland recipes, and made the dining experience pleasantly memorable. The time spent at the ship with all the pampering, first name basis from the housekeeping to your dinner servers, the 24 hour room service, the endless food served at buffets, the free entertainment, and little extras, made it so worthy of a redo.
Day time on Day 2 was our day at shore. We took an excursion to the City of Ensenada, to La Bufadora in Baja California, and finally back to downtown Ensenada. After taking a quick break of loading pictures on Facebook at Starbucks, we had a taste of the popular seafood cebiche from the street cart we thought was La Guerrerense but instead we didn't knew was El Guerro. The cart more popular with the locals than La Guerrerense which appealed more to tourists.
It is this afternoon on the streets of Ensenada that made me realise how fortunate I am to experience the pleasures and abundance in the ship. Suddenly, I felt a pinch in my heart seeing young children and older people beg for money. They are so careful and polite, trying their best not to bug the tourists. But in their transparent eyes, I didn't just see, but felt their needs. I can't give all of them money, and I don't have that money to spare. Still I regret saving some in my purse for extra tips for the crew at ship than giving it away to people on the streets.
“Come back again!” is the crew's message to us, the vacationers, during the final dinner on Day 3. To my mind, they don't even need to say. I will come back because I left a piece of my heart In Ensenada.
At home, I told Brack, mother, and the boys, the cruise is so worthwhile, not just for bacon at breakfast, and that we should all go the next time. I wanted all of us to see the full moon lit the deep waters, to smell the breathe of fresh air in the middle of the sea. And most importantly, because I need to go back to regain the piece of my heart I left in the city. How I'm going to do it, I have yet to know, on next cruise...