We got up at 4:30 in the morning to drive to San Jose Airport. I was tired and wired after spending two days at the swim meet. We flew to Ontario Airport, where we climbed into the mini-van with Raybon's Dad (R.), Mom (D.), Brother (K.), Sister-in-Law (J.), and 3-year old nephew (L.)
The rest of the day I wandered around in a bit of a daze. The cruise ship was huge. The ship had 10 floors, and a staff of 1000 people. I felt tired and disoriented. The first thing I did was go to the top floor to look at the gym. I got there, and breathed a sigh of relief. I saw the treadmills, elliptical machines, exercise bikes, weights, exercise balls, and mats and instantly felt at home, that this cruise thing would not be so bad. This is exactly how I felt in Prague when I saw the tiny pool they had in the hotel with an "Endless Pool" machine.
The gym was attached to a spa. As I've said in the past, I like having painted toes, and haven't had a pedicure since the last time I blogged about it, so I made an appointment. I sat in the hot tub until about 10 minutes before my appointment, thinking I could run down to my room, change, and get back in time for my appointment. No such luck. Finding my way around the huge ship was much harder than I expected, and I got to my appointment 20 minutes lake. I apologized profusely, and felt like an ass. These people on the ship work ridiculously long hours for little pay, and I showed up late for this poor woman's last appointment. She tried to make me feel better, told me to relax, and that I should enjoy feeling spoiled and pampered. I couldn't. She noted that on a scale of 1-10 my stress level seemed to be about an 8, which I thought might actually be an understatement. My head was spinning with the disorientation of being lost, late, and coming down from the stress and excitement of the meet. She told me I should get a massage, and I practiced my New Year's Resolution of saying "I'll think about it."
Monday and Tuesday, On the Boat
These days were spent sailing to our destinations in Mexico. The weather was cold on Monday. I spent most of it indoors. I tried to eat lightly, and ran, did weights and Pilates. My Sister-In-Law, J., and I did Karaoke. That was tons of fun. We sang "Build Me Up, Buttercup." She didn't know the song as well as I. I danced and hammed it up, much to her initial embarrassment. She later told me she was impressed at how confident I seemed. I told her singing Karaoke was nothing to me like facing up to the terror and childhood trauma I faced that weekend swimming in a meet.
Wednesday, Puerto Vallarta
Raybon and I tossed around the idea of doing some kind of adventurous excursion, involving zip lines and repelling down a waterfall. We decided instead to find a beach for me to get a good swim in, while he and the rest of the family went shopping. I swam for about an hour in an area swarming with fish and pelicans. I have am embarrassing phobia of birds. I've been pecked in the heads by birds at least a dozen times. No joke. It's like I'm like the Bizarro World St. Francis of Assisi. The pelicans were diving down, beak first of course, right in front of me, and I was little frightened that one of them would brain me. The pelicans left me alone, but some fish ran into my legs. I screamed so loudly, I'm sure everyone in Mexico heard me. I felt like such a wuss. I swim in the ocean so much, along with bat rays, jellyfish, tiger sharks, and sea lions, and I'm scared by some silly little fish running into my legs?
My other adventure in Puerto Vallarta was parasailing. I'd never tried this before. Raybon and his family watched me. J., who I am starting to realize is a kindred spirit and potential partner in crime, did it last time she was there, but couldn't this time because she was pregnant. I was a little nervous, but it felt more like a sense-heightening experience than a thrill-seeking adventure. I was more amazed and enthralled than afraid, floating up above the beautiful ocean and beaches. It was over way too quickly.
I got another nice swim in. There was a sign at the beach in the "Golden Zone" warning of jellyfish in the water. I talked to a couple of local guys about swimming, and they said that the jellyfish were pretty small, and while they burned, they wouldn't kill me. They dared me to swim out to the island about 900 meters from the beach, and asked me if I thought I could break the round trip record of 32 minutes. Based on my times in races, I thought this wouldn't be a problem. I swam from Treasure Island to San Francisco (1.5 miles) in 39 minutes. It took me an embarrassing 39 minutes to swim the 1800 meters. They said I spent too much time sighting, and that the conditions were rougher than when they went for record-breaking swims. It was very gracious and kind of them to not rub in the fact that I shouldn't have bragged. Raybon joined me on a kayak, reluctantly. He wasn't going to, but his Dad and the two locals I talked to gave him a really hard time about not caring enough about his wife's safety. Poor guy didn't reach me until I was already out to the island, and was totally soaked. We had to buy him new clothes so he wouldn't be totally miserable. Senor Frog T-shirt and shorts.
We ate at McDonalds in Mazatlan. That's what they wanted to do. I didn't make a big deal about it. I never expected this trip to be an authentic, Mexican, cultural experience.
I Karaoked again that night. J. and I sang "Take A Chance on Me" by Abba, which as it turned out, neither of us knew well enough. I then played it safe and sang "One" by U2, which had a ridiculous video with really bad model/actors crying and trying to look hot. Embarrassing. I then sang "Build Me Up, Buttercup" solo, and had some guys standing in the back of the bar cheering and singing back up for me, which restored any loss of self-esteem I had from my previous performances.
Friday, Cabo San Lucas
I was PMS-y and hung-over. Raybon and I went on a little glass bottom boat that toured some rocky island formations in Cabo. I actually enjoyed the boat ride, despite not feeling all that well. The boat dropped us off at a small island, so I could swim and Raybon could explore the rocks. I got in a little bit, but the water was cold and rough, and there were so many boats speeding around, I didn't see getting in a good, long, safe, swim. I sat on the beach, trying to enjoy the surroundings, but generally feeling like a wuss. I then saw a guy in a cap, goggles, and Speedo, escorted by a kayak. Swimmer! I pranced up to him, and asked him where he swam from. He said he had swum for about 24 minutes from the mainland. I asked him if he was a Masters swimmer, and he said yes, he was, and an Ironman Triathlete. He said he'd done Hawaii twice. I did a little ass-kissing/harmless flirting (I was never going to see him again after all) by saying "Wow, you must be really fast." I told him I was an open water swimmer, but a slow one. He asked me if I'd like to swim with him back to the mainland, and I told him I'd love to, but the boat that dropped me off was going to pick me up shortly. We swam a short distance together (maybe 500 yards), he flattered me by telling me I was strong, and I swam back to the island.
Saturday, Stuck on the Ship
At this point, I was starting to feel claustrophobic. My period had begun in earnest (sorry if this is TMI.) The ship seemed smelly and stuffy and small. I sat on the top level of the ship looking out at the bow. It was windy and the ship was a little unsteady, but I felt thrilled and refreshed to be up there. I imagine that as a swimmer in this life and a dog in my former one, I was experiencing the equivalence of what my dog feels when she sticks her head out the window when she is in the car: powerful, big, and faster than I can naturally go.
Raybon, J., K., and I went to a trivia contest, which was followed by a cruise version of "The Family Feud." J. and I went up to add our names to a bowl to be picked for the contest, and decided again to be partners in mischief by putting our husband's names in instead. We giggled as we put their names in, but tried to act like nothing was up when we went back to sit with them, until K's name was actually picked. We whooped it up as he reluctantly went up on stage. Too bad Raybon wasn't picked, too.
Sunday, Back Home
A lot of boring sitting around and waiting in line. I'm home at last though.