Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring Vacation: Day 3 -- Hell Is Other Tourists

Day 3 was the day we put into port at Cabo San Lucas. Jean and I had signed up through HAL to take a "historic pirate boat and whale watching sail" which sounded just my speed: maybe a short-rigged two-masted brigand, a careful slow sail out into the Sea of Cortez while the tour guide goes over the various local pirate legends and historical facts, a little bit about the Spanish / French conflict over the territories, maybe even some talk about the "Americanization" during the gold rush. Then we watch some whales and sail home. That's even what the brochure made it sound like. Maybe not for everyone, but I liked the idea, and plus, whales.

Turns out, this is not what we got.

HAL is terrific at getting people on and off the boat, especially when that requires tenders (tiny little boats that chug into port when the port isn't deep enough to allow the cruise ship to dock). Our walkthrough of the process was quick, clear, concise, and timely, and because we are nerds, we did our thing and were out and off to Cabo in record time (Cruise Director Erin said so, even). Then things started to go sideways as I realized the loud disco music was coming from the deck of the boat we were about to get on... which probably started life as a 25-foot fishing boat, upon which they had glued or otherwise attached a single mast and some faux rigging, as well as costco-level props of skeletons and "pirate weapons". Our tour guide on this little excursion was the hispanic knockoff of Johnny Depp as Jack Harkness, and while he was perfectly cromulent as a party boat MC, he knew pretty much nothing about pirates, history, the Sea of Cortez, or whales.

That said, once expectations had been adjusted the outing was quite enjoyable. We were out on the Sea for a couple of hours, and came across an extremely active and cooperative pod of humpbacks with at least one and possibly two young calves who were flashing their tails and at one point even attempted a breach. It was actually pretty awesome, since once we got close to the whales they turned off the music.

Then we headed back to port, where we got off the boat... and stood around on the dock waiting for our water taxi to take us back to the tenders, to take us back to the cruise ship. And we stood there. In the sun. Surrounded by the overwhelming odor of diesel fumes. And we stood there. And so I managed to get extremely overheated and sunburned and woozy and ill, which prompted us to give up on Cabo and the loudness and the tourists and head back to the ship for a late lunch and a nap, possibly not in that order.

And then when we woke up from the nap, I finally passed my kidney stone, which I swear to Poseidon looked like a d8 made of needles. I've owned dice sets smaller than this stone. It had been plaguing me for the better part of two weeks when I finally passed it, and OH MY LADY GAGA did I feel better once it was finally out of me. And no more heading to the bathroom ever fifteen minutes!

 Just in time, too, because that night was fancy dress-up night, and Jean and I took advantage of that to do a fancy dress dinner at one of the (several) special dining venues on the ship. Jean looked fantastic in her dress and fez, and I looked OK in my outfit... which at least three other people (one of which was a woman) wore: black suit, red shirt, black tie, red fez. I was mildly embarrassed, because of course everyone else wore it better. Especially the woman.

The party on deck was very nice, and there were lots of amazing looking outfits and fantastic looking people, but it was pretty crowded, so Jean and I snuck off to the game library (where I had brought along several of my own games to lend out) and borrowed a pre-release copy of Illumat, which Jean proceeded to teach me and two other people how to play. It was really quite enjoyable, and while it sounded complicated to explain, Jean did a great job of laying everything out and making it clear, and the game itself turned out to be relatively streamlined in execution. We played that in the dining room until after midnight, and then headed back to our cabin, for the next day was Loreto and JoCoChella!