Thursday, January 03, 2008

Logbook: "On Or About" and "As You Wish"

Onorabout1Yesterday, when I called the shipping company's port agent here in La Spezia to get my boarding instructions, he informed me that the ship is now scheduled to "be alongside" tomorrow -- the 4th -- from 6am until 6pm and that I can board anytime in between. (So, now we know what departing "on or about the 3rd" means!) During our phone call, he asked me to drop by his office today to take care of some "passport formalities" which I said I would be happy to do. In my customary style of trying to minimize hassle and confusion for myself this morning, I made a scouting trip last night to locate his office according to the address I had received from the booking company and was quite happy with myself for being successful. I tried to celebrate by getting some Asian food for a change at this promising looking establishment, but my order for the "menu of the day" resulted in an antipasti plate of sliced, smoked meats, a portion of beef ravioli and some kind of meat and cheese thing. So much for something different to eat. Seriously folks, you can't make up the stuff that happens on The Voyage!

Onorabout2After coffee this morning, I retraced my route to the agent's office but discovered that he was no longer a tenant in the office building I had found last night. (You'd think I would have learned by now, no?) A couple of phone calls and a whole bunch of wandering around later I finally found his new office and the "passport formalities" amounted to me handing over my passport to him and receiving his assurance that he will give it back to me onboard ship tomorrow. So much for that! While I had his attention, I asked again what time he wanted me to board and his reply was simply, "As you wish." I couldn't shake the feeling that this was not a very good answer, so I asked if ten o'clock would be okay. His reply was, again, "As you wish." So, I gave up on that line of inquiry and asked him where I should arrive for boarding. He paused, then said, "At the port." Silly me, I guess it was a dumb question. Nevertheless, I persisted and asked him exactly where I should show up. He responded by pointing vaguely up the street, saying -- and I quote -- "At reception. It is a small black building at the entrance to the port. Give them your name and they will take you to the ship." I sensed he had reached the limit of his helpfulness, so I thanked him and left. On the way back I scouted out the small black reception building you see here. No comment.

So, if everything proceeds as it has so far, I am in for a morning of last minute confusion, followed by hassle, miscommunication and utter chaos but ending up -- hopefully -- in boarding the ship that will be my home for the next month or so and setting sail for New Zealand to arrive "on or about" February 6th. Besides that, I really don't know anything. I wish I could answer all of your thoughtful inquiries, but I really don't have any answers. I don't know if there will be internet on board. I don't know how many other passengers there may be. I don't know what ports -- if any -- we may call at along the way. I don't know if anybody besides me will speak English. I don't know what my cabin will be like. I don't know if I will eat with the crew. I really don't know anything except that I'm heading to sea on a freighter for a blissfully long sea cruise. I have some books, my trusty Mac and a new bottle of scotch. What else do I really need?

As always, I promise to tell you all about as soon as possible. Meanwhile, best wishes to all of you in the new year as The Voyage of Macgellan continues!

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