Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bit in Bora Bora — Teaching through the Islands

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 three previous blogs, 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, discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise, and introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea.


Karen Albright Lin:

As an enrichment speaker, I only teach on sea days. It was the second day of our first Princess cruise, another port day, Bora Bora. I wouldn’t teach for the first time on this ship until the next day. But that didn’t mean I had no obligations.

As per my broker, I’m to consider myself a representative of the cruise line, expected to help in making it a good experience for the passengers, smile, and report small problems to my broker instead of the cruise line. I should never complain about the cabin assignment – the bunk beds were… um… different than what we had on our Celebrity cruises. But my husband and I are very flexible and creative people.

The Princess Patter, our daily 4-page guide to life at sea, welcomed us to a French Polynesian paradise just waiting to fill our camera’s memory card with images of black pearls and sea life.

After grabbing some towels from the pool deck, we collected our tender ticket and waited our turn to line up and have our Princess Cruise IDs swiped so they could prevent leaving anybody behind. We scooted down the ramp to the tender boat. When the port area isn’t deep enough, the ship must stay at a distance and ferries zip us to and from port to ship. We were warned to watch the time; the last tender would leave shore at 16:30. This advice became important on another island—tease!

Passengers using motorized scooters had to stay on board if they were unable to be assisted onto the tender without their equipment. It mattered with this older crowd; Wen and I were babies on the ship.
Once on shore, we ignored the aggressively soliciting vendors—who, we were told, lived totally different lives when no ships were in port. We hired a boat with three other couples to go out and swim with the sharks and stingrays.

As we slipped along on the sapphire water, our fellow travelers asked me what type of compensation I received for being a speaker on the ship. I did exactly as I was advised to do by my broker. I answered, “I have an agent, Posh Talks, who handles the details.” In reality, two cruises for free.

We anchored. Scuba divers explored below us as we snorkelers slid into the chilly water (me the only one unapologetically in a full body wet suit).

Our captain pulled out fish parts, coaxing to us a dozen rubbery stingrays. They swarmed in. I was covered by a writhing gray mass.

Not scared, despite Steve Irwin’s ironic death by stingray, I placed one hand above and one below one of the water flyers to let it slip through. I felt my thumb being sucked and swallowed, then a clamp down with teeth. Teeth? I thought they simply had sucker mouths. I had no idea I was exposing myself to little sharp fangs. The greedy bugger figured out quickly that I wasn’t food and unclamped.

Nobody seemed to worry as I announced it and stared at the puncture marks on my thumb.

They were all distracted by the blacktip sharks circling us, drawn by the fish smell. Lucky for my other thumb, or any parts of any of us, these reef sharks were too shy to come within reach. Good thing. I wasn’t up for being bit again.

After returning on the last tender, we watched the lush hills recede as we backed out of the bay at 17:00 sharp.

The next day was a sea day and my first scheduled lecture. I reviewed my PowerPoint presentation one last time, decreasing the number of words on some of the slides. The fewer the better and the more basic the message the better. This is especially true for an audience made up primarily of non-writers.
I wouldn’t know until that night’s Patter delivery where on the ship I would present and when. I was surprised at how laid back I was about a new ship venue and unknown passenger interest. Guess the holes in my thumb would put teaching about Writing Your Life into perspective. The next few days I checked to be sure my thumb didn’t get infected with some kind of ichthyic staph. All was well. It seems salt water is a pretty good disinfectant.


Thank you, Karen!

Please join us on July 23rd for the next installment in Karen's series on Teaching through the Islands!

No comments: