On the 3rd day we took a horseback riding excursion on the island of Jamaica. Our group of 15 had varying riding experiences. We were saddled up for about 3 hours, riding through St. Ann, up and down a “mountain” trail. The tour took us through Richmond and Llandovery, two of the oldest sugar estates on the island, and then along the balmy beachfront to a private beach. My horse was a brown mare who stopped frequently to eat grass. She was cooperative and sweet otherwise. We enjoyed the ride so much because we were beginner riders. The guides were excellent. Our guide was a young man by the name of Tien, who made sure that we were riding in style and in safety, and at points of uncertainty he would say, “Hey mon! Horses don’t commit suicide!” When our rides were coming to the end, he led our horses through the water and cut through a shallow beach–we were completely soaked! It’s amazing how tough their hoofs are. Horses are incredible swimmers. Of course it’s impossible to ignore the poverty of Jamaica, and I thought about Tien’s future while I was riding, but that’s a separate post, except to say that Tien is going to do very well in life.
Back to the ship, we went ice skating, rock climbing, and kick boxing. But the highlight for me that day was the Flow Rider, a simulator for surfing and boogeyboarding where 30,000 gallons of gushing water are pumped to create the effects of ocean waves. Everyone was smiling and laughing, and I knew this thing had to be tried. Chatting up people around me to ask for last minute advice, I got ready–or so I thought. The kid before me almost lost his swimming trunks while he was on the board! The woman before me got beaten around to the walls in less than 4 seconds! No one was successful. When it was my turn, I was told to jump into the water. I looked the water, and the steep decline, and the awesome force, and I just FROZE. I refused to jump. Then someone yelled, “BEGINNER!!!!!” And then the crowd followed, “One! Two!…” All I could do was remaining frozen. Counting to three was where I was supposed to jump, but I couldn’t jump! Ah, it was so embarrasing, a million thoughts ran through my mind about how the crowd was waiting, yet time and my feet seemed to stand still…anyway, the comraderie was so much fun–the peer pressure was definitely ON, and the instructor readjusted my position, and gave me more instructions. Finally when I jumped, the crowd went cheering and whistling–and I heard some kid’s yelling, “She did it!!!!!!” Of course I was washed up in less than 10 seconds but for extra credit the instructor let me go twice even though the line was really long!! Everyone high fived me as I walked back during my Walk of Shame…hahaha!!! By the way, when the water washes you “ashore,” you’re going to be banged up against the walls of the Flow Rider, and that will give you bruises and you are going to be completely buried alive under water. You won’t know what hit you. Water in the nose, water in the eyes, water in the ears, water up your head and neck…all you want to do is to STAND UP!
Toweling off, it felt great. I think it was after the Flow Riding with my fellow shipmates that I began to began to appreciate the thousands of passengers who were there, and I got into the rhythm of calling the ship “home” for the week.