I have gotten second place in an International Bellyflop Competition. I have drunk more top-shelf liquor than I ever will for the rest of my life. I have eaten five course meals served to me by three servers from three separate countries, speaking seven different languages between them. (One for bread, one for wine, one for the main courses.)
I have held hands with the CFO of a major corporation and skipped in a circle on stage for the amusement of others—all in the hopes of winning a free bottle of champagne.
I have conversed with a Professional Basketball player from Nicaragua and eaten a buffet breakfast with a Kiwi farmer from New Zealand. I have spent $32 on a game of Bingo (and lost despite playing with six cards) and I have lost $40 in two minutes to a Poker machine surrounded by a haze of cigarette smoke. I have seen sun tan lotion spread on the backs of half-naked bodies that I wish I had not seen.
I have seen a group of 80-year-old women kick aside their walkers and canes and dance the Macarena. I have seen couples married for a quarter century admit on stage the most memorable place they have done it. (The fifth hole of Augusta national and in front of the statue of Pearl Harbor, in case you are curious.)
I have drunk Caribbean rum with a bartender named Deryck from Trinidad and Tobago and Vodka with a man named Andriy from Ukraine. I have tried Ouzo and gyros in Greece and Hummus in Turkey. I have paid 38 euros to eat fresh sea corvina overlooking the crystal-blue ocean in Santorini, and 40 euros for a necklace made primarily out of lava.
I have had a whistle blown loudly in my direction for striking a wrestling pose atop the base of a Doric column at the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia. I have also had the thought to rip that aforementioned whistle off the neck of the large woman sporting it, and threatening to “shove it up your ass if you blow that fucking thing in my face again.”
I have learned how to say ‘Cheers’ in four different languages, and I have managed to butcher each one spectacularly. I have (finally) managed to put some of my knowledge of Ancient Greek to the test by attempting to decipher the inscriptions in Katákolon and Santorini.
I have memorized a song about cartoon blobs washing their hands. And I have consequently washed and Purell’d more times than I can count. I think the skin on my hands is permanently discolored now.
I have paid seven dollars for a small glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and then proceeded to swallow a mouthful of seeds.
I have had a fifty-year-old woman rip off my t-shirt and compliment my body before gifting me a deck of erotic Greek playing cards.
I have seen the film set of Game of Thrones in Durbovnik and conversed with the slaves from Flea Bottom in King’s Landing. And, unfortunately, I have yet to be discovered for my acting talents.
I have jumped in terror at the sound of my cabin toilet’s vacuum-like flush, and at the thunderous flatulence of the ship’s horn.
I have urinated outside the home of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, while looking out over the cliffs and olive trees of Kusadasai.
I have impatiently (and silently) raged at old, oblivious couples trudging at molasses-like speeds down a flight of stairs.
I have bumped into so many non-English speakers that, by day three, I have entirely foregone the pleasantries. People now bounce off me without so much as a “coming through!”
I have smelled the pungent odor of a dozen donkeys walking (and defecating) down a 2,100-step stairwell leading from a 5-star hotel in the cliffs to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
I have paid $200 for an Internet connection so atrocious that Time Warner Cable now seems almost passable in comparison. Almost.
My time aboard the Splendour of the Seas was glorious. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.