Celebrating 60 years of adventures

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jan. 15, 2009

Dear Julie,

DC's parents have had an adventurous marriage. On missions and trips and assignments together they have spent weeks and months and even years in Thailand, India, Kenya, Guatemala, Tripoli, the Yucatan, floating down the Danube and in other places around the world. Dan had the privilege of being offered the delicacy of grubs while dining with natives in Ecuador. He partook. In Thailand their hotel was shelled by guerrillas.

Twelve members of their extended family just returned from a much tamer voyage, a cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. The cruise from Miami in calm waters was a laid-back feeding frenzy of breakfast and lunch buffets and multiple course dinners. The air conditioning going out caused the most excitement aboard. The nightly musical shows induced as much yawning as applause. The twenty-something nieces sang karaoke and played cards with each other.

Everyone remembered how to relax. For a few days everybody could only imagine what hunger feels like.

In Ocho Rios, Jamaica, some others on the cruise snorkeled or climbed a dramatic waterfall or flew across the rainforest canopy in rope harnesses. DC and I decided to stay with the tame theme and accompany Dan and Polly aboard a small boat that enables passengers to see the life underwater through the glass windows lining the hull.

The mate on the rickety boat pointed out Mick Jagger's house on the highest ridge above the bay. Reggae music blared as we peered through the tinted windows at the reef. Lots of drab coral and a few small fish were visible and not much else. I did marvel at the captain's ability to navigate the boat so close to the reef.

Then, wham! The boat slammed into the reef and lurched to a stop. Those of us in the bowels looked at each other like passengers on the Titanic. Topside, the captain threw the engine into reverse. The boat shuddered but didn't move. For long minutes the engine strained unsuccessfully to disengage the boat from the reef. I wondered what we'd do if the hull sprang a leak.

Finally the mate moved a few passengers, shifting enough weight to enable the engine to ease us off the reef. "No problem," he said.

You can program life to be tame, but you can't guarantee it.

When Polly and Dan returned to the ship, DC and I dropped into Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant. The nieces, there with their parents, were splashing down the water slide that's in the middle of the raucous restaurant. While DC snorkeled in the bay just a few yards away, a pretty blonde sitting next to us reached beneath her skirt, slipped off her panties, pulled on the bottom half of her bikini, removed the skirt and headed for the water slide.

Jamaica or Cape Girardeau, Margaritaville is Margaritaville.

Swimming with stingrays the next day off Grand Cayman was the high point of the cruise for DC. It sounds untamed, and wildlife adventurer Steve Irwin died by stingray, after all, but they turn out to be docile creatures who rubbed up against our legs in the clear, shallow water and let us hold them. Prompted by the onboard photographer's promise of seven years good luck, some people even kissed them.

Polly and Dan have had 60 years of good luck together. I think the secret might be kissing each other.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a former reporter for the Southeast Missourian.

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