Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Private Beach and New Tablemates: Moorea

We're delighted to again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock!

Karen consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues, including on cruise ships.

If you missed her blogs last week and the week before, you might enjoy reading them before this installment, as she first shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching classes while on board her latest cruise, and then discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise.


Karen Albright Lin:

We’d boarded the Sea Princess in Tahiti, Wen as a passenger, me as an enrichment speaker. I was scheduled to teach 6 writing courses, one for each sea day. That first day, we dealt with a few snafus getting my credential badge, but we got the OK to leave the ship the next day in Moorea. Behold the remarkable jagged mountains! Michener’s legendary Bali Ha’i, Bloody Mary of the South Pacific, certainly had bragging rights.

Told that the entire coast of the island could be driven in an hour, we rented a scooter, buzzed along pocked roads, pulling to the side for trucks whizzing by. Rain threatened but only spit. We drove past blowholes then up to a lookout spot,

stopped at an outdoor cultural center,

and we pulled over at a little roadside stand to eat a dozen of the first YELLOW passion fruit I’d ever seen.

The island, it turned out, takes over 3 ½ hours to circle. When we got to the only “public beach” it was closed off and labeled “private beach.” We later learned it closes to the public when cruise ships come in because the hotel guests don’t appreciate the crowds pouring in. Huge disappointment.

I’ve taught on three cruises in the last year and found each time that the local lifestyle changes dramatically on the days the ships come in. In the islands, I understand their lives are slow and laid back until the days they have a flood of people to whom they can market their wears (from China-made trinkets to black pearls) and their services (from foot massages to private tours).

That evening was Dress Casual, tough ribeye, so-so asparagus salad, and disappointing cherries jubilee. Food was lackluster. The best part of every meal were the 4 tablemates we would share dinners with the rest of the cruise. Entertaining would be an understatement. Both couples (like 99% of the passengers) were from Australia, both (like 99% of the passengers) were older than us but energetic, intellectually dynamic, and young at heart.

Couple number one would be failures on The Dating Game.

I’d like to think Roger and Emily’s discord was attributable to having already spent 15 days on the ship in tight quarters before Wen and I boarded. The two of them interrupted and criticized each other, lectured me on my right-handed fork work and general lack of the queen’s etiquette, and endlessly reminded us of their “affluence.” Literally using that word! It was enough to disturb digestion, if we weren’t busy laughing about it.

Mike and Denise from Cairns were quite different, her a warm and charming woman, always beautifully put together “even when she goes to the grocery store,” complete with a coordinated silk flower in her hair. Mike was a marriage counselor with remarkable bushy and expressive eyebrows, an affectionate man who happened to have an interest in a celebrity whose memoir I contracted to ghostwrite a while ago. Synchronicity only began there with this couple. Mike had done some writing and, as I teased, became one of my lecture groupies. Denise and he offered to take us to their favorite restaurant in Cairns where we would go after the cruise. At the tail end of our trip, half a month later, we happened to be eating in a little Thai hole-in-the-wall in Cairns and in walk Dennis and Mike. We’ve stayed in touch since. There’s a reason these things happen, and it might have something to do with writing and the singer we both have an interest in. The future will tell.

Aside from the company, the dinners never met my expectations, but the Aussies loved most nights’ meals. Only after I later tried Australian cuisine did I understand why they raved over the ship’s food. On a budget, ethnic foods seem to be the only way to go in Australia. I’m a cook and food writer, so I may be a tough one to please. But seriously… meat pies and fish and chips can only be eaten so many times. But that’s for another post.


Thank you, Karen!

We hope you'll drop by Chiseled in Rock on July 9, 2014 for the next installment in this series, Bit in Bora Bora-Teaching through the Islands!

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