Just as the snow-ladened winds of late January were sweeping to rest on our home in the heartland of Tennessee, the grandchildren of Annie Moses mounted our noble steeds and raced the birds on their flight to the South. Floridian flowers and fruits rewarded the long journey from the frozen climates of the North. Our bones soaked in the sun, and our eyes delighted in the pleasant color of green. According to the Florida natives, their winter season was a cold one for what they were used to, but, to our chilled bodies, the mild weather seemed glorious.
A whole week of concerts followed upon our arrival in the tropical land. Everywhere we went, we were met with full audiences, excited people, and friendly hosts. The church at South Biscayne was especially high on our list for hospitality and the wonderful new friends we were privileged to meet there.
On the first day of February we drove into Port Canaveral at three-thirty in the morning. We were able to catch four hours of shut-eye before we were called to embark on the ship that was to be our home for the next four days. The ship, The Monarch of the Seas, was beautiful and spacious, and promised much fun in the future days. Once we finally got on the boat, we were able to get safely into our rooms, and then to journey on to the dining room, where we were given all sorts of flavorful, exotic foods, served by the very friendly staff.
As the evening progressed, the stormy heavens above excelled in wrath, and soon the ship was tossed to and fro with high winds. A few hours after dark, some of the young folks of our group ventured out into the tempest. The wind seemed to strike us with the fury of a gorgon, tearing our hair in its ferocity, blowing tears from our eyes, stealing our very exhalations. I fought my way to the very prow of the ship, holding onto the rail for mere adherence to the ground as we sailed into the eye of the storm, piercing the whirlwind, the foaming waves striking us as they glimmered in the moonlight. I have never experienced such a euphoric moment, for the power of the Creator that breathed that wind into being seemed to sweep my very soul away in the very energy of its onslaught.
At midnight, safe inside once more, we played two back-to-back concerts, and had a good time trying to stay balanced in the extreme turbulence that we felt beneath us. We did have a couple losses in equilibrium, but managed each time to stabilize ourselves, and, once the very eventful concerts were over, we made our way back to the rooms to try to battle seasickness in the safe haven of the bed-sheets.
The next morning we were awakened to clear golden sunlight streaming through the cabin port-holes. The sea lay calm and still, shimmering and blue in the beneficence of Sol. The ship rested serene beneath our feet.
The world of Neptune stayed thus for the remainder of our sailing. The moon controlled the waves, and, once we gained our sea-legs, our time on the boat was filled with fun activities: star-gazing, card-playing, running, listening to the live concerts every eveningâ€“â€“even rock-climbing.
There were two stops on our journey. The first was at the cruise-line's own private island, Coco-Cay, which offered a beautiful glimpse into the landscape of the Bahama tropics. The waters were clear and full of fish, and, after wading in the glittering shallows, we had a great time exploring the wilds, burying breached jellyfish, and even knocking coconuts out of the palm trees, skinning them with sharpened seashells, and drinking the coconut water from the insides. We felt like we had stepped right out of the Swiss Family Robinson.
The next stop was at the capital of the Bahamas: Nassau. The culture intrigued us considerably, as, after we had secured a tour guide, we were driven all over the city and were able to see many a new evidence of a very different civilization. The architecture, though rather Westernized, sported all sorts of bright, island colors, with big, tropical signs, and all sorts of archipelago amusements. We were shown the neighborhoods of the rich, who were comprised, mostly, of government officials and bankers, and also the regions of the poor, who lived in very dilapidated houses, with only one pump of running water for every street block. We were told about the religion, government, economy, and culture of the Bahamas, which all interested us greatly.
We stopped at a small corner of beach, from whence the famous Atlantis hotel, with its royal suite that rented at twenty-five thousand dollars a night, could be seen shining down upon the shacks of the citizens of Nassau. We saw crabs, jelly-fish, and even a conk shell on the beach, and were able to converse with the woman who was in charge of keeping the beach clean every day.
Through the tour, we were shown different kinds of fruit trees on every corner, and were even told the medicinal ways the fruit, leaves, and bark were all used by the Bahaman people. Stopping for lunch at a small restaurant, we were delighted to get to taste all the island delicacies: fried conk, beans, rice, fried plantain, baked macaroni and cheese, and iced coconut milk. All delicious!
To end the tour, our guide took us to the Atlantis hotel itself, where we strolled through the grandiose architecture, admired the million dollars worth of wealth in the very ceiling of the building, the huge aquarium, and the bronzed statue of Pegasus standing proud in the sunlight of the courtyard. Thus, having seen Nassau in all its glory, we returned to our berths.
The next day the ship turned about once more for Port Canaveral, and, by nightfall, we had ported in the familiarity of our own nation. A farewell concert and a late night kept awake with coffee, ice cream, and cards saw the end of our cruise, and, early next morning, we found ourselves saying goodbye to the sea-side and hello to the midland of Florida.
We had a very fun performance in Georgia on the way to Tennessee. Our sea-legs were rather uncomfortable on firmer foundations, and we had a great deal of fun admiring the way the floors seemed to swim around us. Soon we found ourselves on the road again, and watched with joyful eyes our progress from the warm climes of the tropics to our sweet home in the snowy heartland of America.
Our own beds welcomed our weary heads before dawn on that bleak midwinter Sabbath, and the sun, rising, dared not disturb our soundly sleeping selves.
-Camille Camille's Corner