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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Grandma goes on a cruise

My husband drove me to San Pedro  port and dropped me there because I wanted to take a cruise to south America with a friend. I asked him to wait for a moment so I could run and get my luggage tags.  I was quick, but as I returned the line to enter the terminal had grown up fast. It was December 4, but the California winter sun was merciless. 

I wanted to hand my luggage to a porter, so it would be delivered to my cabin and I would not have to carry them, pass the TSA and to my cabin.

I saw two porters, with their carts.  Each of them had piled up so many luggage on top of each other and so high that the suitcases lost their balance and tumbled down. 

While the porters were busy picking up the suitcases, I thought I rather proceed to the terminal and on the way I would see other porters. The line was moving slow. and the temperature was high.

Since I didn't see any other porter, I entered the terminal which was air-conditioned and it felt so good. There I asked a few officials, if they could help me with my luggage. They said, "The porters are outside and I have to go back." Not wanting to leave the air-conditioned room, I thought I will carry my luggage. That was a mistake.

I had a big, clumsy carry-on, a very heavy backpack loaded with my laptop and books that supposedly I was going to read and another big and heavy handbag. 

Since I didn't notice the elevator, I took the escalator— that was another big mistake.  At the top of the escalator I tripped. Thank god there were officials standing there. They pulled me up and prevented everybody to pile up on top of each other. 

I'm not exaggerating. There, I saw a few thousand people in line to get their boarding passes. I estimated the wait to reach the counter might be at least about an hour.  Since it deemed impossible to me to get in line and move with all my belongings, I looked around and found a corner to sit and read a book.  

After about two hours when the lines became thinner, a woman official approached me and asked the reason I my sitting there. Other people had passport issues or things like that.

I told her my story. She was very helpful and offered to go down with me and find a porter to hand my luggage. She helped me with my clumsy pieces of luggage we took the elevator down and she called a porter and I handed him my luggage. I had a sigh of relief.

When I went back upstairs, the lines had disappeared. Sure enough I walked freely to the counter and in a minute got my boarding pass.  I thanked the woman a million times. 

This incident was a wake-up call to realize that I'm no longer the spring chicken I used to be.  The age is doing it's job.  At 68 I feel that I no longer have the sharp mind I used to have.  Things that I could finish in 5 minutes now takes me an hour.  I put things in a secure place and then I can't find them. Sometimes I think that an hour has become shorter. My kids warn me not to overestimate my abilities. 

That ship was the largest I've ever been on. It had 3000 passengers,18 levels and three sets of elevators. I've always prided myself to have a good orientation. I could quickly figure out my right from the left wherever I was dropped.  However on this ship it took me more than a week to realize where the front or the back of the ship was. It was a 17 day cruise and almost by the end of the trip I figured out my way around. 

Our room steward, told me something which was helpful. He said, "The left side of the ship is called the 'Port side' and the room numbers are even." 

Thank God, all went well and by the end of the cruise I still had my head on my shoulders and didn't loose anything.  The ship docked in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru and Chile.  My friend and I left the ship in Peru and took a three-day side trip to Muchu-Picchu. 

Our last stop was in Santiago, Chile.  We stayed there for two days. Afterwards, my friend went home and I flew to Buenos Aires in Argentina to write about the Armenian community in Buenos Aires. I stayed there for two more weeks.  It was a fantastic once in a lifetime trip. Next time I will be careful not to overestimate my abilities.