Wednesday, November 30, 2005

White River Rafting Experience in Costa Rica

It was such an awesome experience I had with the rafting thing. These last weeks, I've been feeling myself like wanting to do some xtreme sports. So my boss (Shaun) and my friend Alexander planned on going to this tour that was being offered for a nice price to the crew. As soon as I finished my shift at 10 am I changed clothes and met met my friends on the bus. We were so excited about it, and the tourist guy said we were lucky for the last 2 or 3 weeks it had been raining cats and dogs non-stop, but the last 2 days it had been a wonderful sunny day. So with this in mind, we set our mind to get some great fun. The bus trip from the ship to the starting point was boring, probably an hour and half, but as soon as we got a glimpse of the rough river from the bridge we got into the mood. So we were given the basic instructions of how to handle and paddle and stuff, and into the water we went. It was probably 50 of us crew members in groups of 5 to 8 in a raft. It wasn't really that rough, but it was so much fun. We spinned around on the toughest parts and we did a lot of water splashing to the other fellows, to the point we got to be known as the annoying team, as we harrased so much the other guys, splashing them and pulling them down from the raft into the river. My first time, and I think I want to do it again, but next time in a toughest river. By the way, the name of this famous river for the fans of rafting is "Reventazon River", which meanns, "violently tear apart", and that because this river change its course very frequently dragging whatever it finds on its way. So right after we finished up, we were driven to the restaurant of the owner of this small touristic company and we had some real nice caribbean food. So much alike what I eat in my own home country, if not the same. So I felt like at home. And in a joke manner, I tolk my friends...."I can smell it", and they asked, what?, I said, I can smell already my country. We were 2 hours drive from the frontier to Panama. So at this moment we are sailing to Colon, Panama, and I will be so glad to see my family who are coming onboard. Looking forward so much to it.

Alfa Team, Alfa Team

One of the main or I would rather say, the biggest source of disaster on any ship is called "fire", and because that is a constant reality, there have been developed international safety regulations that all the major and not so major companies that owns ships have to follow, or otherwise they are not allowed to set sail. Anyway, all these things and more we have to hear over and over again and we do all sort of drills like for example, fire drills, man overboard drills, bomb search drills, medical disaster drills among others. However one thing is to know about them in theory, and another very different is to deal with it in reality. Yesterday in the morning, there was a major fire in one of my areas of supervision in one of the many kitchens. By the time I learned about it, it was already controlled. My eyes didn't give credit to what I saw and how the pantry was afterwards the fire was extinguished. How did it happened? was my first question. I was very nervous, because had it been a human mistake then many heads would roll over and mine could be among those. Almost nobody realized about the whole event, although it is located in a very busy section where all the guest pass, the area was blocked by security and so there was no panic at all. Right after all the ship top deck officers, and engine officers left the area we started the cleaning of the area and then that was it for me as I left cuz my shift was long pass over. I went to my cabin and I was stressed out and worry, because in this kind of situation, always, someone have to pay even if it's not the responsible of the incident. So I prayed and I put all the investigation process in the hands of God and asked for protection against any injustice and wrong doing from the investigators. And to my surprise I slept peaceful. After all, God heard my prayers and answered me. Apparently, someone left a plastic item on top of the bread toaster and when the cook came in the morning, he turned it on to start toasting bread, but didn't remove the plastic glass rack, and left the area for some time, and when he came back the whole area was on fire. Now, he said he didn't see that rack there when he switched on the toaster, and the bar cleaner who also works there, said he saw it since the day before lying on top of it. And to be as honest as possible with myself and God, I am not completely sure if I saw the rack lying on top of the toaster. And there is my concern, cuz as one of the supervisors on duty of that area, the logic is that I should've removed it had I saw it. But then again, I can't remember clearly if I saw it or not. Anyway, the two guys on the spot at the moment are the cook and the bar cleaner who work there. And after all, it was a shocking experience to pass through the event of a fire onboard.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Day at the Beach

What a weird thing, I realized that the reason to this heavy headache I got early in the morning today was due to the fact that I hadn't drink coffee during the night. What I monster of headache was it. I had to go to bed for an hour just to learn that it didn't help. So I think I finally got addicted to it. During my days of college I used to drink a lot of coffee along with coke to keep myself awake during the nights of study, but right after those nights, I wouldn't drink any and nothing would happen. Many years have passed since my college days are over and now I find myself drinking coffee again to keep myself awake during my PM shift. Around 8:00 in the morning it hit me, that it could have been the lack of coffee drinking that caused this annoying feeling. I got upset, cuz I couldn't believe this was happening, lol, so I went for a cup of cappuchino and the headache began to decrease.
Anyway, on the good note of the day, today I went to the beach (Costa Maya, Mexico) and it was so relaxing to lay down under a big umbrella and feel the tropical wind blow from one place to another. I went with my friend from Brazil and we met there 5 more brazilian gals. So after forcing myself to pay close attention to their conversatinon, I think I got to understand portugese a bit. What really puzzle me is the fact that portuguese, italian, and romanian parlant people can easily understand spanish and yet I can't understand none of their languages. I wonder why. Anyway, we spend couple of hour there chatting about everything and then we went for lunch to this popular mexican restaurant. Nothing fancy of course, located by the beach side, more of a hut than a proper brick building. We had fry fish a la onion style. It was delicious. By the time I came back to the ship I had only 5 hours left to sleep, so know I feel very sleepy, but I don't complain. It was a good relaxing day.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

To my Friend, Alexis.

Today, I am kind of sad. My good friend Alexis is leaving the ship. He is being transferred to Carnival Conquest. Although, I think he is saddest than me, cuz he won't get to see his wife this week. This ship is going to our beautiful, beloved and so missed country this coming thursday, and he was so looking forward to see his wife and some friends. But, then again, this is the way things work in this company. One day you are here, the next day, you are told you are leaving in a few days, and that's final. We were talking about it, and we agreed that we couldn't understand the reason and we concluded that God has a purpose for everything that we go through. So I reassured to him, that God is taking care of his life and is leading him through the right path. God's plan for our lives is perfect, free of error. So whatever it is, he will show it to us and it'd be the right thing to do.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

To My Beloved Dad

So I have these team members peruvians guys under my supervision and I have to fight with them every single day, to make them work the way they should be working. And every day I have to tell them the very same thing that I've been telling them since over a month. And everyday they complain and give me all sort of attitude. And everyday I am getting tire and tire of having to deal with them. And everyday I am reminded by my superiors that we can not change them to other section until we pass USPH. So I am so tire, that I don't even want to ask them to do anything, cuz I know forehand what's gonna be the result. So a while ago, I was thinking seriously about my sad condition, and suddenly a thought hit my memory. Years ago, many years ago in fact, when I was still in elementary and high school, my Dad had to wake us up (me and Daniel, my brother) and it was such a struggle. Every single day, my dad used to come at 4:45 AM to give us a wake up call. He would come first time, and would lay his hands over my head and pray out loud for God blessings for my life, and then he would talk to me in a sweet way, the way a loving dad would do to his beloved son. He would say, "porotito" it's time to wake up and he would tease me and tickle me until I got upset and ask him not very politely to leave me alone. So he would leave the room and come back 10 min. later kind of upset to find me still under my covers. So he'd tell me, hey wake up, it's late already. To come back 5 min. later with the well remembered belt to beat me when finding that I was still lying asleep. So this story was so familiar to my dad, not only with me, but with Daniel, and Ana (my sister). There would be times that my dad would get so hopeless that he would just not wake us up at all for days, cuz he felt that it was useless and he was wicked tired of having to go through this annoying ritual everysingle day for 12 years. And as I was remembering this, I got emotioned, cuz first of all, I felt guilty for giving my dear dad a hard time, and at the same time I felt joy in my heart, cuz from these small things early in your lifetime, you learn from and you get to use it in the future as a efective tool. My Dad was so patient and is still a patient man of God, and that I am still in the process to learn it. While all these thoughts came to me, I thanked God for allowing me to have a wonderful dad who never gave up on me. He is still a very powerful source of inspiration for my spiritual life and though he is very far away from be perfect he hasn't stop trying to set in his own life the example he wants for his children to follow.
I love you so much Dad.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tortola, British Virgin Islands

So yesterday we went to the port or call of Tortola, in the caribbean. And the day before we went to Antigua also a colony of England. Out of those two places I'd never been before, I liked the most Tortola, maybe because I went on a tour, so I got to see more than I did of Antigua. Anyway, a friend that had been there before, told me that the view from the distance when the ship is still approaching is amazing. So early in the morning like around at 5:30 AM I went to the uppest part of the ship with my camara and waited for the sunrise to illuminate the whole conglomerate of islands that conforms Tortola. It was awesome. Right after the sunrise ended up and the rays of sunlight were on their fullest, I appreciated the different mountains all surrounded by dark green thick jungle. So many wealthy houses emerged here and there in the different altitudes of the mountains. The coral reefs all around the islands gave the sea a lightly green-skyblue color to the sea, making the whole scenery the classical enjoyable tropical island. To my surprise, all that was nothing compared to the beauty of the view seen from the top of the mountains. No wonder why they call these islands, Virgin Islands. It's so natural, barely you see the touch of humans, namely, big buildings and contamination. I has this strong feeling of undiscovered land. I took this all four wheels truck touristic bus that took us through the place, all the way up to the top of the mountains and then down to the other side of the main island to the beautiful Cape Beach. From up there, you could see dozens of small islands, some of them close, some other in the far distance. The blue sky and the funny color of the sea plus the strong wind blowing all over, just made me wish I could stay there a weekend and enjoy myself. And then...back to reality, back to the ship, back to work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My First Photo Camara

Well, it is not a secret to my friends and family that among the things I love, photography is on the top 5. If there is something that brings joy to my life is to see an image of something (a friend's face expression, a landscape of a place I visited in the past, a cityscape, a sunrise or sunset, etc) I saw in the past that impressed me and I got it recorded for me and anyone else to see in the near or far future. And I've always felt that way ever since I was a little kid. The other day I was checking my camara equipment (which is really nothing that fancy and pro as yet) and I felt blessed, because just 3 years ago all my equipment used to be a 5.25 dollars disposable camera. And it was that way for the last 7 years. My parents couldn't afford not even a cheap camara for me to learn properly and develope what I consider a gift from God. And yet, I remember that the first camera I holded that was mine was when I was probably 9 years old. It was this real economic, almost a toy camera my parents bought to me as a b-day present. It was a 110 mm or so format of camara, the one with the horizontal type of film (real old stuff, I haven't seen that kind of model anymore). Anyway it was a bright yellow camera that I remember I enjoyed it for a good while and for some reason I can't remember what happened to it. My dad used to use a Pentax pro camara (I call it brontosaurius), when he was in high school, which he still have somewhere in the house, but ever since I have memory it is broken. So basically, this has been my story concerning my interest in photography. God first, I am planning to aquire soon a semi-pro digital SLR and a medium format film SLR camera. It's not like a feel that I want to dedicate my life to do photography as a way of a living, it's rather something personal in which I feel a deep joy in my heart when doing it and ultimately it glorifies God for the joy of all people. And that I believe is part of the particular purpose God has for my life and I want to be part of it fully.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Carnival Liberty Trasatlantic Crossing

Well after finishing the season of Carnival Liberty in europe, the travel to America for the first time began. It was gonna be a 16 days crossing to finally arrive into mainland US Florida. So we departed from Civitevechia, Rome with the passangers of the trasatlantic trip and arrived two days later into Barcelona for the last time among other things to pick up the food supplies and all sort of supplies needed for the long crossing. What nobody expected was that there was a strike by the fishermen in Barcelona because of the high prices of oil, so they blocked the way to the different ports with their small boats and didn't allowed any cruise ship and cargo ship to dock into Barcelona. So we went instead to "La Palma de Mallorca", a beautiful tropical island of Spain and spent the day there. Me and some of my panamenian friends went out and visited this fortress that belongs to perhaps 700 years ago and among the main things to see, there was this cathedral that took 600 years to build. It was huge and georgous. So we walked and watched the stores for couple of hours and then I went inside the cathedral with Nuris. Definitely I walked way back in the time, the moment I stepped inside that building. It was a shame I didn't had with me my tripod for my camara, so almost all the pictures I managed to take are blurred because of the very dimmed light there. Almost everything inside was pure, real aged gold. After some more walking and photography session we went back to the ship and said good-bye to Mallorca. So next day finally we arrived and we were allowed to dock in Barcelona late in that afternoon, so we could load up all our supplies. It was a bummer for the guests who couldn't enjoy of Barcelona, as all the touristics trips were cancelled due to the late time we were allowed out of the ship. Couple of days later we arrived into the excellent place of Malaga, Spain. I went out with my old friend from Peru and some others who dissapeard after we hit downtown. Malaga is a very old place. It has probably more than two thousands years. As a matter of fact, it was conquered first by the Muslims after a long battle and was inhabited by the arabs for a long while. And the evidence that proves it, you can see it on the castle and fortress that is on the top of the highest hill of Malaga. There on the top there is a magestic Castle built by the muslim arabs probably more than 1500 years ago. It is made of stone above stone. Huge is not enough to describe how big it is. There are coconut palm trees inside and outside and sand everywhere. It was just like if you were walking suddenly into the middle east, where sand, palm trees and stone castles are common of their past history. So once again me and my friends walked way back into the time of the human history while walking inside the walls of that Castle. The funny thing about it was that, in order to get there, either you walked or you took a 90 euro cent bus. So my friend who was tired of spending money during the european season, decided for us to walk up the hill (we didnt know it was only 90 cents until we reached the top of the hill). My friend, you have no idea, how high was that hill. It was really high. It was a real steep upway. By the time we reached the top I was steping on my draging tongue. But it worthed. It was a must-to-see place. Right after we spent some time in the museum upthere and some pictures we started our way down which in turn was pleasent and nice. (I wonder why) Anyway, after so much physical stress we went back to the ship, of course right after we made a few buyings and then right to take a shower and bed. It was an exhaustive day. So then one more day at sea and then we reached the excellent beautiful and colorful island of Funchal, Madeira that belongs to Portugal. I was amazed to know that such island is real far away from mainland continent. It is practically in the middle of nowhere. But the people there is amazing. Portuguese people and a bunch of other european citizens living in that so away from mainland island, where probably potable water is more expensive than a beer. I went out with my friend Alexis and we took this touristic sightseeing bus that took us all over the interesting and historic places of the island and then took us to a very high point of the mountain where we were delighted to see such an amazing view of that side of the island plus the 3 cruise ship docked on the port that at such altitude rather looked like toys. Of course I didn's spare the memory of my camera. After the 2 hours tour we went to get some souvenirs and then tried an apple pie from mac donald which in turn was real good. Now you could feel that you were not in europe zone anymore, as the hot temperatures were typical of the caribbean. And then 5 days at sea on our way to the caribbean island of St. Marteen. Each of those 5 sea days some got to sleep an hour extra and some of us got to work an hour extra, as we had to put our watches an hour back to adjust to the international zone time. I didnt got off in St. Marteen, cuz I had already been there in the past plus the heat is real intense there. So instead I decided to take a good rest. And finally after 2 more days we arrived to Miami. Continental american territory. There was a party on the ship with celebrities and the big boys of the company and all that crap and then next day we sailed to our new home port, Ft. Lauderdele, Florida from which we are sailing to San Juan, Puerto Rico and then other caribbean countries. I am really looking forward to go in San Juan, cuz there is a friend of mine from Panama, that is living there now. So I am excited about it.