About two months into my contract, I started talking to a Serbian waiter. Despite my insistence that I would not get into another relationship, we became an item. He helped me through a lot of the rough times I faced during my contract, and was also a part of the best. He left for vacation about a month before I did, and came back one week after my contract ended. Anxious to see one another again, we made plans for me to visit him on the ship.
We made a deal. He would book me a room for 2 weeks if I got myself to San Juan. I found flights arriving Saturday night, so I could be well rested by the time I saw my Serbian at the ship on Sunday. There was a snowstorm coming to Dallas, and since DFW more or less shuts down during winter weather, I flew out a day early. That left me with a whole day to play in San Juan!
I checked into my hotel around 9pm, and went to bed early. I woke up the next morning in time to take advantage of the breakfast buffet, and then asked the front desk for a beach recommendation. I followed the concierge’s suggestion and went to El Escambron, a beautiful beach near Old San Juan. It was quiet, considering it was Saturday, and the sun was shining. Palm trees allowed for shade when needed, and the cool water, although it was rocky, gave relief from the heat. I spent my time resting, people watching, and breaking in the new sun hat my sister gave me for Christmas!
After a workout at the hotel fitness center, I took a cab to Old San Juan for dinner. Going off the driver’s recommendation, I went to Mojito’s for mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish. When I showed up looking for a table for one, I was encouraged to take a seat at the bar. Awkwardly enough, I was the only person sitting there. My dinner was decent, but not remarkable, and as soon as I was done, I went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
The next morning, I went down to the breakfast buffet, and then spent an embarrassing amount of time fixing my hair so I looked my best when I saw my boy. I checked out of my room, and then sat in the lobby with a book. I was hoping reading would calm my nerves while I anxiously awaited his arrival. Shortly after noon, he came to the hotel, and together we went to the cruise port. We were “that couple” in line, completely oblivious to our surroundings because we were so happy to be together. It was perfect.
After boarding the ship and greeting the familiar security team, I went to the Schooner Bar to wait until my cabin was ready. Another Serbian friend was working at the bar. I filled my waiting time catching up with him and meeting the other bartenders. I ended up spending a lot of time with them during my two weeks on board.
The first week, I was lucky enough to have a balcony cabin, so I was able to enjoy sunsets (and a sunrise) outside. I felt like a princess! I was able to eat in the dining room at any time, and could wear whatever I wanted. It was a completely different experience in a totally familiar place. My boy had to work dinner and breakfast shifts, but we had afternoons and after-work hours together. I would visit him at breakfast, and at dinner he would stop by my table to chat and make sure I was enjoying myself.
The first two port days we stayed on the ship, but in Antigua, we decided it was time to get out! We took a cab out to Turner’s Beach. It was a long drive, but the beach, with white sand, gorgeous blue water, and cows at a nearby farm, was worth the trek. While we were searching for a place to sit, and woman I had dined with the night before called my name. She and her husband were leaving, but had bought an umbrella for the day. They graciously let us take it over! My white skin was grateful for the shade! The boy and I drank a few beers, went swimming, and chatted the day away.
The next day we were in St. Maarten. As soon the breakfast shift was over, we walked downtown. Along the way, we ran into some of my ice skater and his engineer friends. When we got too hot, we stopped in a little restaurant for a quick, cold drink, then found some lounge chairs and an umbrella on the beach. I entertained the idea of renting jet skis, but was so content relaxing and talking with my guy, that we ran out of time! We got back to the ship with just enough time for him to shower and get to work.
The following day, we took a short cab ride to Rainbow Beach in St. Croix. There were lush trees separating the beach from the road, and while the beach wasn’t large, it was pleasant. We befriended a dog, shared a crazy rum cocktail, and enjoyed a cool swim in the ocean. Water sports were available, but we opted to just lounge on the sand. There was a restaurant, Rhythms at Rainbow Beach, with live music and a diverse menu. After splitting a curry chicken sandwich and crab cake sandwich, we started walking back to the ship. We walked primarily on the beach, carefully navigating our way over a few rocky patches, and moved to the road to go around a couple private beaches. Although it wasn’t the leisurely stroll in the sand that I was hoping for, it was a fun walk. My boy had to hurry to work, but I sat on my balcony, called home, and reflected on what a wonderful week it had been.
Details about week 2 coming soon!