Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cruise Ship Crew

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

It occurred to me this week that the best connections hubby and I have are to people outside our everyday life. People who don't live in our city or state or country.

Hubby and I have spent more than half our lives in a small rural community in Idaho. Going from a town with a population of around 800 to a city with a population of over 200,000 would seem to be a huge adjustment. We've settled in nicely but have become hermit-ish. Hubby goes next door some mornings to have coffee with the neighbor and daughter calls me on her way home from work in the evenings. That's the extent of our conversations during the day/week/month.

But on a cruise ship we are different people. We talk all day long to the crew members. Cruise ship crew come from around the world. Working for very low wages by American standards, these kids (most are under 30) have become our connections. We have close relationships with people from Nicaragua, India, Mexico, Serbia, Honduras, and Peru. I've learned more from them about other countries and nationalities and politics and religions than from any history book or TV program. We truly care about their personal and work lives. They've also let us into a cruise ship world few people outside the company know about.

It's a symbiotic relationship for all of us. For hubby, it reminds him of teaching high school and the rapport with teenagers that kept him young. For me, I can be a mom. And for the crew members they get a little break from the monotony of long days spent dealing with demanding passengers. We bring them chocolates and take them to lunch in port and give out hugs. And they treat us very well in return.

We cherish every day spent with them so when we aren't traveling we keep in close contact. Just yesterday I was chatting with a crew member from Honduras. I could hear his Spanish TV in the background and we were exchanging pictures of snow (me) and no snow (him). Only a few hours later they had an earthquake hit. I heard from him today and he had no earthquake damage at his home.

The earthquake reminded me of one of the days we spent in port with this particular crew member in Mexico. A place in Mexico that is no longer accessible because of the Mexico City earthquake in September. Now the earthquake in Honduras.

I'll just focus on the good times we've had with our crew. It's what keeps us going when we're stuck at home. We can't get these kind of conversations in Boise.