Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Love Sydney! Goodbye to the Islands.

We're delighted to once again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock for her final installment of Teaching through the Islands!

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 previous blogs regarding Teaching through the Islands, 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, introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea, how she was bit in Bora Bora, and then she described her first class while teaching en route to Fiji.  Most recently she shared: Second Lecture enRoute to Fiji: A Great Storyto Tell, Fiji but the Wrong Port!(I won’t mention it, but I will), On the Way to New Caledonia, and Don't Judge an Island by its Dogs.


Karen Albright Lin:

We’d started in Tahiti and had cruised through Polynesia and Melanesia.  I’d taught 6 classes in three different venues, one per sea day: Writing Your Life, Have a Great Story to Tell?, Writing Short Stories and Flash, Writing Nonfiction, Screenwriting, and What Ghostwriters Do.  The cruise was coming to a close.  We were ready to face the chaos and unknowns of getting off the ship.  As a “guest entertainer,” I’d taught on Celebrity Cruise lines twice (through the Baltic ending in Southampton and down the east coast of Central America ending in Ft. Lauderdale) and I was always treated like a passenger when leaving. 

For this Princess cruise, ending in Australia, Wen was considered a passenger and I was considered crew.  He was scheduled to debark early morning and I after all the passengers had left.  That wouldn’t make much sense for us.  So we asked to leave later together.

Despite our debarkation time, too early for comfort, Wen and I emerged from our crew cave to stand on the moonlit deck as we glided into Sydney Harbour past its famed Opera House. 

Sadly it wasn’t lit.  We were told it was to save on energy.  This seemed a shame considering its shelled-elegance is probably the one building most associated with Australia.  I’m glad N.Y. stills lights up the statue of liberty. 

After watching the sun rise, we waited for the chance to trade in my crew badge for my passport.  Wen and I toured the underbelly world of the ship.  Cold metal floors, unadorned walls, institutional.  An anthill of activity between kitchens and hospital (where I know at least one passenger died), maintenance, safety office and crew admin, it was a different world.  Colder yet less stuffy and less put-on.  A 1,000-strong otherworld.  A place where crew members got paid, we heard, according to the going wages in their own home countries.  These “basement” inhabitants had their own ATMs, their own Internet kiosks, their own less-fancy buffet line.

When the activities office opened, I checked out, received my passport, then we walked off the ship.   I was surprised that nobody asked to see my Maritime Visa or any of my employee paperwork.  They’d made such a big deal of my work status before I left home. 

Because I’d put all our x-rayed luggage in the crew cart the night before, labeled as mine, they had been taken off the ship first and sat along the wall, quick to pick up.  We stepped out of the security building and to the taxi line ready to explore Sydney

Sydney, where there was no cover charge to choose a dance room of Pop or R&B in an upscale outdoor bar. 

Where Asians were abundant and stylishly dressed people sat in parks reading.  Where they were good-day-mate-polite, and made passion fruit ice cream.

Where goods were expensive, “no worries” meant you’re welcome, “the lot” meant all of it, and “pissing” is what we call rain.  The aborigines were short, beaming beautiful, and sported delightful tightly curled hair. 

Australia, where kangaroo meat is tough and stringy but emu is tender and tasty.  Sydney with the purposeful energy of N.Y. City but the relaxed and friendly nature of San Francisco.  It wasn’t overcrowded, yet it was teaming with activity: free history and modern museums,

a botanical garden in which tagged ibises foraged under multi-rooted fig trees,

the governor’s palatial residence, 

and the old town flanked by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the world’s largest steel arch bridge.  I’m not a big city girl, but I could live in Sydney

It wasn’t quite the end of our trip; we still had Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to discover.  But the “work” part of my trip, teaching on the Sea Princess, was now molding itself in my memory, my bucket list one strand of the world shorter. 


Karen, thank you so much for sharing what you learned and experienced while teaching through the islands!  You can learn more about Karen on her website.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Karen, for sharing! Quite a cool series of posts! So glad you had fun!

But, really, you must post more about that one DEATH you so easily glossed over! Who died? When? Most importantly, HOW?! Details, my friend, you are writing to an audience of WRITERS! :-]]]

Sisters of the Quill said...

I didn't know the person who died (at least I don't think I did). They put out a P.A. call for type O blood, Wen went down to donate and didn't have to because there was a long line and he didn't have a card proving he was O. The next day I asked after the mystery person and they let me know... frown and shake of head.

Sisters of the Quill said...

Thank you to everybody who read my posts about teaching through the islands. And to Chiseled in Rock for graciously hosting me! Karen