Christmas in Easter
It’s Christmas Eve. In Japan, Christmas is a time nto for families, but for couples. Singles desperately spend the weeks leading up to Christmas tring to find a date so as not to be a lonely outcast on the big day. In line with this, someone on the boat has organised another “Date Caravan”. It’s the second time one has been arranged, though I haven’t found out about either until the day. A couple of days ago, all the single guys and gals who wanted to take part threw their names into a hat. Names were taken out and paired off, although the participants didn’t know who their blind date would be until they were both all dolled up and told to meet their mystery person at a specific location at a specific time.
As I walk around the ship, there are glamororus couples everywhere, guys in suits and girls in dresses, walking around having conversations and making the most of whoever they have ended up with. It actually looks like alot of fun, so I kind of wish I had have known about it earlier.
Us GET team have just come back from practicing our nativity play which we will be performing later on tonight, immediately after Rapa Nui tribal dancers from Easter Island. I’m currently suited up, ready for the formal dinner tonight, sitting in Free Space and watching the mob of elegantly-dressed people ballroom dancing on the wooden floor which has mysteriously appeared in the middle of the carpeted area.
I’m not sure why all the Christmas events seem to have been planned for Christmas Eve, but I’m glad for it. This way, tomorrow gets to be a fairly relaxed day with nothing much on, so we can just relax and spend a Christmas the way it should be spent – albeit on a boat. It’s taken me a long time to get into the Christmas spirit this year, but today I have finally got there. I don’t know if it’s partly due to doing my lesson today on Christmas, listening to Christmas songs all day, and knowing that tomorrow is my first break in a long time, but I’m in a good mood today! I will definitely miss my family tomorrow, especially not even being able to ring them, but I’m sure the gang on board will help each other to have a fantastic day!
Christmas is over. It was already over yesterday, as far as the boat was concerned. Christmas Dinner was served up on the 24th, as well as the Christmas performance performed (which consisted of our Nativity play, some tribal Rapa Nui dancing, and then a couple of bands playing unrelated songs). By the 25th, everyone was all Christmassed out. Except for us non-Japanese (its hard to avoid using the term “foreigners” depsite the fact that nobody on this boat is in their homeland).
Yesterday was a nice slow day spent under a gorgeous blue sky, on a fantastically sapphire ocean. There were a couple of people practicing music at various places around the boat, letting the tunes float out across the still air, and for about the first time since getting on, us teachers allowed ourselves a day to literally do nothing but walk around and enjoy the experience of just cruising across the sea. We met up, exchanged food, drinks and gifts, played games and listened to music (and danced some salsa, which has become a normal part of life here). As a special gift, the staff allowed us a couple of minutes of free internet time to fire off quick messages to our families, the only thing missing in the Christmas picture. For most people, the fact that they were spending Christmas surrounded by the sea in the middle of summer was a fairly surreal experience, but for me it was just what I wanted, and needed to make it feel just like Christmas should.
Since “Christmas dinner” had happened the previous day, dinner was the old standard of noodles and fish, but it didn’t matter since one girl had brought Fruit Mince Pies with her, and I had picked up a few christmas cakes in Panama. We managed to stuff outselves with goodies before dinner even came around, and could pass through that small bump in a slightly drunken joyful haze.
Today, nobody has had anything planned. I personally got up at about 10.30, and wandered outside. We have parked the ship in the ocean just off Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and looking out across the water I can see the island stretching in both directions, dotted with stone moai statues, and sandwiched between the brilliantly coloured sea below, and the awesome open blue sky above, with large puffy clouds soaring across the still sky, casting their shadows on the land below. It’s absolutely beautiful. Rapa Nui doesn’t have any docks big enough to accommodate a ship of this size, so we have to stay out here and go into land via smaller speedboats, which are being called “tender boats” for some reason. Because of the number of people on the boat and the small number of boats, half the passengers are heading out today, and half tomorrow. I am going out tomorrow. So today, I just sit, relax, look out at Paradise, and read. I have managed to sit down and read for pleasure today for the first time since getting on this boat! I brought along about five books with me in hopeful disillusion, and they remain unread. I got a package of reading from someone in Ecuador, which is what I have enjoyed getting through today.
With half the passengers gone, no events planned, and the sheer beauty and idyllic nature of the world outside, this is exactly how I wanted my Christmas to be. As another teacher said earlier today as we sat around, drinking coffee and eating cake, this is the first “Refresh Day” on the boat where he has genuinely felt refreshed.
I hope everyone reading this is having a fantastic Christmas holidays, I wish you all the best of the season, and a fantastically happy new year. If you are feeling at all stressed, just think of a beautiful, still blue ocean carressing a small green island being showered in sunlight from a clear blue sky, surrounded by silence except for the gentle lap of the waves. It’s amazing.