A Familiar Theme - Death March of the Luggage We were both kind of numb from dragging our suitcases across a gravel expanse in the hot sun, and then dodging four lanes of near-freeway traffic. to cross the road, and then balancing the luggage between the highway and a ditch on a narrow strip of grass..
There. The boat was in sight - Our boat was named the "Cezanne", right? No, it was the "MS Arlene" Oops. There’s another boat further down the road. Let’s go there. Down through gravel and grass, along the side of the road. A deep ditch separates the river from the highway. The next boat down the river was the MS Arlene, but we were still on the other side of the ditch. A rickety ramp crossed the ditch. We hopped the baggage across this, and up the ten-foot hill.
A Mirage - or just a Bad Dream? The MS Arlene was there, just like the picture — looks like a floating barracks, white sides, two rows of windows, and a rail on the top deck. Nothing impressive on the outside. A man in a suit introduced himself — Andre? He came out to help us in with our baggage. We had boarded the MS Arlene. Nothing to do now, but get waited on hand and foot in the air-conditioned splendor of our luxurious stateroom.
We were in the lobby of the MS Arlene, It was cool, air conditioned, clean. It was like a motel lobby, with a reception desk, a tan marble floor. We presented our boarding papers, and Andre showed us to our stateroom. It was a hot, very small room. The orange curtains were open, letting the sun in. A picture window about four feet long and three feet wide let in the afternoon sun, which we could feel radiating without regard for the air conditioner, which, even turned to its maximum setting emitted a barely detectable disturbance to the air directly in front of the vent. The vent was cool, but none of that coolness was allowed to work its way into the room. As expected, there were two small single beds. One was permanently mounted into the wall on one side of the room. On the other side of the room, other was presently locked upright. A set of cabinets. During the day, the first bed surved as a sofa, with movable bolster cushions against the wall, and an orange furniture cover placed over the entire bed.
Ha Ha Monseur, Ou e la Frommage? When we opened both of our suitcases, there was no room to walk. The room was equipped with a small desk, an even smaller closet, with fixed hangers. There was a set of cabinets above the movable bed. A bathroom held a small shower stall with sliding doors, a small sink, and a toilet. A notice posted in the bathroom informed us in French, English,and German about how expensive towel service was, and if we really didn’t need to change our towels every day, we could leave them on the towel bars to dry out, but if we wanted new towels, we were to leave them on the bathroom floor.
Unlimited Ice! While we unpacked, I asked Andre at the desk if there were any ice available, as the tap water was quite tepid. He showed me an ice machine at the end of the hall. I took our two glasses to the machine, opened it up, expecting to fill them both and take them back to the room. The entire inventory of the ice machine was four cubes floating in about ½” of water. I took all four of them, and returned to the room. I gave Joyce the four cubes, and drank my water warm. I figured there were enough things going wrong, what with the hanger situation being what it was and all. There would be no room for whining about ice.
We continued to unpack. I went back to the desk, and asked Andre about getting a few more hangers. He said that some would be brought to the room. I managed with two hangers, folding the rest of my clothes to fit in the cabinet. Joyce got the remainder of the hangers, the floor of the closet, the desk drawers, and the other cabinet for her clothes. Joyce began to pine for the comfort of the Nikko.
What more could possibly go wrong? So, we were in a foreign country in a small hot room, no hope of getting out until the end of the week. We speculated — maybe the meals, the fantastic French cooking, would compensate for all the momentary discomfort, and the lounge would feature a spectacular floor show every night, perhaps even better than the Gil Seville show on the Dolphin cruise ship the year before. (Please see the writeup of the New York Cruise of 1997 which I didn’t write last year) The hangers arrived. Joyce was finishing her unpacking.
What could possibly go wrong? heh heh hehThanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52