SAS Reunion Voyage

SAS Reunion Voyage ( RO7) January 25th-January 29th, 2007

It seems so silly to journal after a reunion voyage (cruise maybe?) because it is in no way the same life-altering experience as SAS, but it was definitely intense. I usually hate writing about things like this because compared to the plight of others in the world, events that are “intense” by my standards are nothing but difficulties born out of the privilege and luxury that I am blessed with. Nonetheless, experiences are relative to one’s own life and should not be compared across obviously different standards. Eh, maybe not?

Anyways, I’ll start at the beginning. There was so much anticipation for this trip that I can barely believe that I am sitting at the airport right now on my way home battling with the fact that it’s over. I feel so stupid. My throat is closing up and I am indeed tearing up. How can I be so upset over such an amazing trip? What kind of ungrateful person pines for more of what was an already wonderful experience? This is the fight that I continue to have with myself and I am resigned to just accept the fact that I can still be emotional about something in a slightly selfish way and not feel guilty about it because everyone’s life experiences are only relative to their own? Why am I trying so hard to justify this? If this is one of the more emotional experiences in my life, then it is what is is. And emotional it was.

I flew in on Wednesday night instead of Thursday because I was afraid that I would miss the ship because my flight was getting in too late. Luckily (…..NOT), I was flying Northwest so my itinerary was as such: BWI –> Detroit, Detroit –> Ft.Lauderdale. A little bit geographically illogical, perhaps? haha oh well, I can’t complain about frequent flyer mile travel. When I got to Detroit, which is a really nice airport, I was waiting in line to board the plane and Mark Beamish came up behind me. Fantastic! And so it begins…haha. We talked for a while and then boarded the plane where I ran into Jason from the bookstore. It’s too bad we all had assigned seats because it was a 3 hour flight. Luckily, I made friends with the cop who was sitting next to me and we chatted for awhile about SAS and about how the hotel we were staying at was frequented mostly by truckers and prostitutes. Lovely. I think we’ve stayed in worse places though. Namely, BME1 in Burma. The flight was fine and as soon as we landed I called Brian to ask them where they were. Jason and I ended up going straight from the airport to Lulu’s Bar on the beach. And here we go…SAS Reunion time. There were about 10 other people there and after the initial ” wow it’s so great to see you” hug, it was all back to normal. It was just like we were in the port of Ft.Lauderdale. We hung out at the bar for awhile and then the Red Carpet Inn crew decided to go for a walk on the beach, luggage and all, of course. The weather was amazing so I didn’t mind at all. We went to the beach, dipped our feet in the water and then we all ( me, Pam, Brian, Armand, Jared, Riley, and Jason) headed back to our hotel. Pam and I threw our stuff in our room and then proceeded to stay up until about 4:30 am with the boys telling and re-telling fantastic SAS stories. The highlight of the night was definitely hearing stories from jason. Enough said. What is so weird is that I was never really really close with any of these people, but it didn’t matter one big. My roommates for the trip were Pam and Lauren, who I knew, but not well. I am so glad we met though because we all got along REALLY well. It is so funny meeting all these people AFTER the voyage because it makes you realize how many truly AMAZING people there were and how we only really met a fraction of them. Such is life.

The next morning ( Thursday) we took the shuttle from the hotel to the terminal around 11am and just waited around in the terminal until noonish. I can’t believe I was so excited to be back on the ship. It’s a material attachment that I wish I didn’t have but it is so difficult not to. It is just such a mental trigger of such deep-rooted emotions that I can’t help to want to be back. We went through security, customs, ID check, etc. and then we swiped in. The first thing that hit me was the smell. I forgot that the ship had such a distinct smell and it hit me harder than I thought it would. Tears ensue. Seeing Pam cry didn’t help either. Pam and I walked down to the 3rd floor to our cabin ( 3119) just trying to take it all in. It was all so surreal. I never thought I would be back. As cheesy as it sounds, this ship was my home for 3 months and so many wonderful memories were created there. I just couldn’t help myself. We got to our cabin and I just sat down on the bed in disbelief. It honestly felt like a dream. Oh, and it gets better. Guess who our cabin steward was? ARMANDO! He was my first cabin steward and then he left in Hong Kong. We were so happy to see each other and he even asked me if Jess was here. We have such an amazing crew and I was ecstatic to see so many familiar faces- Solomon, Norris, Mezrem, and a lot of the dining room staff. I wish Manny and Alan were there too!

OH! They painted an orange stripe on the side of the ship. It used to be yellow and they changed it because orange and blue are UVA colors I think? It looks ok because it matches the lifeboats but I’m used to yellow. Nothing else is much different except for the frequency of the UVA signs all over the ship. Also, the new ship ID’s have your picture on them. Anyways, we went upstairs for the 7th deck for BBQ lunch and just sat out by the pool for a long time. haha I forgot the biggest difference- alcohol was flowing freely from everywhere on the ship. Unheard of on a voyage of discovery! šŸ™‚ There is just so much to write about and I am so exhausted right now but I know if I don’t do it now it will never get done ( e.g. INDIA journal and how it just didn’t happen). I can’t remember much else from Thursday besides hugging EVERYONE multiple times and just smiling non-stop because it was so great to be home. Dinner wasn’t too exciting but I was too happy to care. I was more than satisfied with my cheese cubes and dinner roll.

Our departure was delayed because a lot of flights in FLL were delayed and such. We didn’t end up leaving until about 7pm. Leaving the port was actually pretty emotional too because F05ers met on the corner of Deck 6 to watch us all leave. There were about 81 people from Fall 2005- most out of any other voyage by far. We were trying to figure out why this was because a lot of us took time off from school to come. Alexis said that it was probably because it was just the right amount of time for people to be desperate to be back on the ship. That sounds about right. But having 80 some people on the ship meant that we were kind of loud and obnoxious. Eh. After dinner and departure, we went to pre-port in the union because we heard desmond tutu would be speaking at 8:15. I don t know what is is about him but I am inspired and touched by his words and presence in such a way that restores my faith in humanity. He only spoke for a few minutes today but it brought back so many memories to see hi again. The rest of pre-port wasn’t too exciting but we sat through it anyway. Bad idea. The ship was rocking A LOT and the Union is always the worst place to be when it’s like that. Luckily, it didn’t affect us too much. I just laid down in Glenn and Mischa’s room for like half an hour and i was good to go. We decided to re-create one of our happier events- Trivial Pursuit nights. Alexis brought it from home so we got a big group together to play. It was fun, but we definitely missed some of the old people but it was still ridiculous and crazy. (Firth of Clyde- It was slow going and I forgot who won. It was so strange because we were sitting in the Piano Bar and there were almost no people around. I guess a lot of people were sea-sick or in the staffulty lounge. Even tough I felt a little nauseous at first, it was so great to be on a rocking ship again. It was something that I really missed for some odd reason. I think we went up to the staffulty lounge after our game to hang out with other FO5ers. It was definitely strange to be partying there because we were never allowed in there before. We didn’t stay up too late tonight because I think everyone was tired from flying and/or seasick. We all made plans to meet tomorrow at 10:30 am in Purser’s to figure out our plans for the day ( when i say “we”, i mean all of FO5). I really wanted to wake up for sunrise but that surely did NOT happen.

We woke up just in time to catch the end of breakfast- blueberry pancakes! So 10:30 rolls around and the plan is to go to the beach at the Westin Hotel in Port Lucaya. We took a taxi there and found this cove on the beach and just plopped ourselves down. There must have been at least 30 F05ers there at the peak. Lauren and I tried to lay out but it was COLD. Much colder than I thought it would be in the Bahama. The temperature was ok but it was windy and the sun kept going behind the clouds. Oh well, we made the most of it. When the sun went behind a particularly large cloud we got up to get lunch and look for a hoodie for Lauren. We found this great drink stand that sold amazing coconut daiquiris in a coconut! The guy would chop off the top of the coconut, empty the water into the blender, make your drink and pour it right back into the coconut. So we got drinks and then Subway ( yeah, I know) and went back to the beach. Earlier in the day, Alberto and Ron made plans for a party cruise ( fine, Booze Cruise) for th evening. What great trip leaders! Somehow they got 64 people to sign up, including Chris and Rico. At least 55 of those people were F05. Adrian jokingly called it FRE06- the unspoken field program. We hung out at the beach until it was time to go.It was so ridiculous to see out whole group of people walk up to the port. I was at the end of the line talking to someone but I forgot that the list of people was in my notebook. We did roll call, gave people passes, and the party started! The booze cruise was $35 for dinner and unlimited drinks. I knew I was paying $35 for drinks that I wasn’t even going to have, but it was totally worth it for the fun. The “drink” consisted of nasty Bacardi 151 mixed with a little bit of juice. I tasted a sip of it and it was like gasoline going down my throat. Disgusting. I just drank lemonade for the rest of the night.

So, judging by the strength of the drink, people were getting really drunk. Whatever, there was a DJ and good music so I had a FANTASTIC time. Music is pretty much all I need for a good time. A lot of things happened on the booze cruise….all of which were well-documented by Chris Bolin, staff photographer. šŸ™‚ The cruise was from 6pm to 9pm so we got back to the port pretty early, not without excitement though. There was an older lady on the cruise who wasn’t part of our group but had obviously had too much to drink and was convulsing and throwing up all over. I get really scared when I see things like this, and it didn’t look as if anyone had called an ambulance or anything. So, me, Ian and Kelly decided to go find a pay phone and call 911. Little did we know that this would be an ordeal in itself. First, the 911 operator told Ian that if we thought she had alcohol poisoning, someoeone must have poisoned her alcohol. Then, they thought we were lying and hung up on us. Kelly called back and tried to explain again and they finally said they would send an ambulance. I don t think they really did, I think they just said it to appease us. We went back to the boat to see how she was doing and as soon as we got back we saw them putting her into a wheelbarrow and dragging it off through some shady parking lot. Her husband was no help either, he was obviously drink and just sat there smoking a cigar. Kelly and I could barely watch this happening and we went to find out where they were taking her. After walking through a shady parking lot we found the van that was taking her to her hotel and we watched them drag her out of the wheelbarrow and into the car. I’ve never seen anything like it. We talked to one of the people helping her and she said that they were just taking her back to her hotel and not to the hospital because intoxication is not a high priority for a small island with a small hospital.

We were upset but decided that we did all that we could and went back to the huge square where everyone was. It was actually a pretty cool setup- a huge open outdoor dance floor and a stage surrounded by tons of bars that were open to the square- so you could get a drink anywhere and walk around with it. Again, there was music and cool people so I was loving it. Jess, Gareth, and i were just standing around talking and this group of guys from NY start taking to us. They were actually really nice. I guess this could be considered a downfall of mine but I am happy to talk to anybody. I feel like one thing I learned from SAS was how to judge people and their intentions in a given situation. So we were in a public place with hundreds f people around, talking to these guys really wasn’t sketch or anything. Sometimes, I actually think it’s obnoxious to brush people off so rudely. If you don’t want to talk to them, at least be nice abut it. People who don’t know how to act politely in social situations- that is one of my pet peeves. Anyways, these guys were in their mid-late 20’s and they all were successful in life and partying it up for a few days in the Bahamas. I talked/danced with them for a pretty long time. Keep in mind, this was after I told them that I wasn’t available. One of the guys told me that I had “classic beauty” and that they ” just don’t make em like this anymore” (he was drunk) and I told him that there were a lot of HOT Indian girls in NY, which is true. They all just looked at e funny and said that those girls only looked pretty because they had 30 pounds of make up on. One of the guys said that he would NEVER let his girlfriend go to the Bahamas alone….and I told him that’s why he didn’t have a girlfriend. Haha anyways, we danced for a while ( Swadhya style- no touching- that’s how i like it). After they left me, Mischa, Pam, and Jared went back to the ship. It was only like 1:30 am but we were all exhausted. Amazing night though.

We woke up the next day ( Saturday) and actually got to breakfast on time. We had no plans after that so we just sort of hung around till lunch ( PASTA BAR complete with parmesan cheese bowl). Oh, I forgot- we stayed on the ship because Desmond Tutu’s speech was at 10am. Kristin, Lauren, and I sat on the floor right in front of him ( just like Tania and I did before!) He really said some things that stuck with me:

“I don’t know how to be human without learning from other human beings- I am utterly dependent.”
” There is no such thing as a self-made man. God made us for interdependence.”
“As long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate, even the most sophisticated defense system is made obsolete.”
“God’s dream is that one day we will wake up and realize that we are a family.”
“There are times when we don’t think, we act from who we really are.”
“We keep pretending we are impotent. The sea is made up of drops of water.”
“I know the forces seem immovable, but you do what you believe you should do.”
“Why don’t we invest as much in building as we do in destroying?”
“We have it in us, all of us, to make a better show of things.”

He just has such a humble but uplifting presence- so hard to explain.

I really had no intention of getting off the ship but we did it anyways. Ah, peer pressure. lol. We did watch the ISE update by Les McCabe and Dean Tymitz. It was actually really interesting. Rico said something about how technology ( aka facebook) has changed alumni relations and tha’ts how so many people from F05 were how on the voyage. Deam Tymitz said “well, where the hell are they now? probably on the beach getting drunk.” Haha too bad like 7 of us were watching the whole thing from our room. We made sure to tell him that later. šŸ™‚

We went back to the same beach after that and I had quite an interesting convo with our taxi driver about life. I really do love talking to random people. We just chilled on the beach and then headed home. In the taxi ride home, we met 4 other alums who had kept in touch over 20 years! I hope that will be us too. I ate dinner with Jess, Liz, and Gareth and then just sat by the pool with Mischa, Kristin, Pam and Lauren for a really long time. I twas great. We all went to clean ourselves up and then go to the alumni talent show. The talent show was pretty entertaining but what was more entertaining was SALSA NIGHT in the Staffulty lounge. Oh, I was so happy. I pretty much forced people to dance with me. lol Doing salsa on the ship brought back SO many memories. I wish more people were there from salsa. Rico and I attempted to re-create the routine but we had forgotten so much! We did remember our shines though. haha There was this older alum who was obviously an accomplished dancer so I asked him to teach me some things ( ahhh Carlos in Burma). It was awesome- he was SO nice. He went on like Spring 70 something. haha. Tonight was also Taco Bar night. I wish I was hungry enough to indulge in the bad tacos. We stayed up till like 2 or 3 tonight, just sitting on the stairs talking. I love it so much. Just being able to sit and talk for hours and hours- no cell phones, no internet, no TV, nowhere to go. you really learn so much about people this way. So many of us had the same sentiment- we would have been perfectly satisfied with just going around in circles in the ocean for 5 days. Ship life was one of the best parts of the trip for me because everyone was confined to the ship and you could always find them- just the whole mood was so great.

So we left Freeport and reached Nassau early in the morning. Again, we decided to all meet up and figure something out. This time it didn’t work out so well, but maybe it was for the better. We all took a taxi to the Atlantis Hotel ( for $5 not $4, sorry Eric) which I actually don’t like at all. It is so fake and so exclusive. We walked around the aquarium and the casino but we had all seen it already last year. In trying to find a public beach we were given the suggestion to ride around the island in a jitney- public bus. In order to do this we had to cross over the big bridge that separates the Atlantis from reality. We walked over the bridge and it was so awesome because under the bridge were these small bars and restaurants in colorful shacks. We walked to one of those and met this woman who’s daughter was going on Spring 07. She was nervous because her daughter was high maintenance but we assured her that her daughter would come home a different person.

After all this, we finally caught the #11 jitney for $1 and rode around the residential parts of the island. I absolutely loved it because it was such a stark contrast to the Atlantis and this was obviously how people really lived. We got off at a random place by yelling “Bus-stop” which is the proper thing to do, because some people had to pee. Someone wanted beer but it was as Sunday so all the stores were closed. The gas station attendant told us that he knew a lady that sold beer. Sketchy situation, right? Again, we assessed the situation and deicddei it was ok. He led us over some hole in a barbed wire fence to this old woman’s house and that was that. We caught the #7 bus and took it back downtown to the cruise terminal. Lauren and I showered and dressed for the “Captain’s Reception.” First, we ate a pretty good dinner with farewell toast. :-(/ We watched departure and then went to the CR which was in the Union and Staffulty Lounge. Captain Jeremy basically made some bad jokes that come with his British sense of humor. after the CR was the crew talent show and auction. The auction was pretty boring but the crew talent show was fantastic as usual. Solomon did stand-up ( Hi Jack!), Vik and Dixie sang, and my FAVORITE- the “Male Attraction Dancers” as they called themselves- all the Filipino guys that they hide from us by putting them in the galley or in laundry did a dance to Gasolina. Also, a new item for us was the crew member that danced to the Sister act song ( really well actually) while finger painting a picture of Jesus on some mural paper. Very entertaining. So, amidst all of this they had the raffle and I got to pick th winners! I didn’t pick anyone from F05 but the grand prize winner that I chose had just gotten married th week before and he won a free Seminar at sea trip! After that we went up to the 7th deck for crepes. mmm. somehow it became midnight and time for the F05 rendevous in classroom 9. Rico set up the projector for us and we ALL watched chris’s slide show. I had never seen it before so that was amazing for me- and what better time/place to watch it. Everyone was so giddy and emotional ( and not just from the alcohol). We were watching it and it felt like a dream- did we really do that? Oh, earlier in the evening Chris made a slide show of R07 pics and F05 definitely dominated a bit. haha. Anyways, after we watched the slide show we all went to staffulty for some more dancing and fun. for some reason, the wind was incredibly strong so we went outside and it was like nothing ive ever felt before. it literally pushed you and you couldnt push back against it. i’m surprised nobody fell overboard! they closed off the decks soon after that though. We made our way back to the piano lounge where eric, glenn, alexis, and jason were telling ridiculous stories for everyones enjoyment. We eventually went back to the 7th dec to dance on the ship as it was rocking- SO much fun. We finally went to sleep at like 5:00 am with our alarms set for 6:30 am to watch the sunrise. We actually got up for it and it was indeed worth it. I have no vantage point for sunrises or sunsets at home, so I LOVED it. We ate breakfast and then went back to sleep for an hour or so. Kristin came in and fell asleep on our floor and we didnt even notice. We finally woke up properly when Ammo came in with gifts from his mom. šŸ™‚ hah we showered, packed, and started saying goodbye to people.

I did it once and I could barely bring myself to do it again. Say goodbye to the ship and the people? Too difficult. Turns out it wasnt really a good bye because almost 30 of us went out to lunch at Shorty’s BBQ. So random and wonderful- F05 rolls deep. I got to the airport around 1pm for my flight at 5:30pm. I ran into Mark again and we talked and talked until his flight was about to leave- and that’s where this entry started.

I don’t want to go home. I was never homesick on the ship because it was HOME. This reunion voyage was just the same. One of the crew called it our second home and he was so right. The first thing Solomo said to us when he saw us was ” if it’s nice, do it twice.” So now, i am sitting here on a plane on my back to Detroit ( and finally DC), wondering when I will get a chance to do this again. I needed this more than I would like to admit. Maybe now I can adopt some sense of normalcy in my life? I highly doubt it. Even all the drinking didnt bother me this weekend. Liz and ALberto said yesterday that they couldnt imagine life without alcohol- not in those words but I understood what they were trying to say. They were amazed that I went through college without it being a big part of my life and I wondered for a second if they were right? maybe I did miss out on something? But now that I think about it, I don’t think it was like that at all. I occupied myself with so many other things that I never missed out on anything. I did what I enjoyed and I never depended on alcohol to enhance my fun so that’s why I don’t have that dependency now. Alcohol isn’t associated with fun for me, kind of the opposite actually. I definitely don’t judge people who drink because if I did, I would have no friends and who am I to judge? I may change someday. The only thing about alcohol is that it makes me WORRY! worry about people’s safety, health, etc. Oh well, enough about alcohol. I am going home a much happier person than I was when I left and hopefully this will be the sign of a wonderful last semester.

Thanks so much to everyone for making this reunion voyage so wonderful- especially to Pam and Lauren for being such FANTASTIC roommates. Now we need to have a 3119 Reunion! Missing ALL of you so much. Until next reunion….


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