I’ve quickly realized that my pipe dream of blogging everyday is absolutely ridiculous and unrealistic. So instead, I commit to posting as often as I can, without trying to give day-by-day accounts. One of my cast-mates, Krystle, had warned us about how long time can seem once you’re living on the ship, and she is absolutely right. She calls it “ship time.” After arriving the ship on Friday morning, so much has happened. Is it really only Wednesday? Feels more like we’ve been here for two weeks!
Right after my last post, the cast dealt with the final stresses of dress rehearsals and run-throughs of our opening show, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a showcase of Motown hits. In the evening after our dress rehearsal, we got to experience the rather interesting moment of entering into the Suez Canal. I went up with some others to the top forward deck and watched as we sounded for a pilot boat, and we joined the line of several cruise ships and cargo ships, to enter and pass through the canal together. As we approached the land, we saw fireworks exploding over a stadium in Port Said and a lightning storm displayed to the East. Not something you often see in a lifetime, so I felt pretty lucky. It took all evening and next morning to pass through the canal, and it was a sight to see – ships everywhere! Monday was a day at sea, but luckily we were passing through the Suez Bay so the ship was not rocking and rolling as much as it had been a few days ago. What I’m trying to say is that it is FREAKING HARD to sing and dance in serious heels while the stage you’re on is unpredictably moving. I thought it was hard to host a show on a moving bus. Yeah, no. This is ridiculous. So a calm seas day meant that our opening on Monday night went on without me falling on my face! And the show was great! We had an excellent turnout and the audience gave great feedback to us all after we finished. It was certainly enough for me, because I felt fantastic afterward. The cast and creative team hit up the crew bar (same deck as our cabins) and had a couple $1.50 drinks to celebrate. Before rehearsal started on Tuesday, Krystle, Jeff and I headed out of the ship to visit our port city of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. We didn’t have time for an incredibly long adventure, but I managed to still have an amazing time in the short 1.5 hours we were off the ship.
We visited an area of the city called “Old Egypt,” which is basically populated by vendors that clearly make their money off tourists. I spoke for a long while with a man who was selling spices, and finally decided on two different blends of Egyptian spices to purchase. He bagged them up, and I said, “How much? Do you take American dollars?” (Most of these places do!) His response? “55 American dollars.” FOR TWO BAGGIES OF SPICES? Nuh-uh, no way. So the haggling game began. I ended up getting the two bags for $15, which I still thought was overpriced, but the bags are actually pretty full, so I’m happy. We continued our way walking around the market, taking in the colors, the culture, apologetically dismissing each and every vendor and taxi driver. I found an adorable kitten on the street, and a man tried to sell it to me for $2. Jeff found the ultimate place though, when we stumbled upon a perfumery in the back of the market. The gentleman running the shop was calm, pleasant, and thoughtful as he got to know us and asked what kinds of scents we liked. We all ended up getting perfume – or really, blends of essential oils. I picked mine out and then he told me it was called “Cleopatra.” Hooray! That was $10 well spent, and he even served us some fantastic Turkish coffee as he measured our perfumes into little bottles. But Tuesday afternoon we were right back to work to run through our other shows: “The High C’s” (opera show), “ABBAlicious,” “Songbook” (music of Billy Joel) and “A Little Night Music” (a show of solos performed during the deck BBQ). It was a long, tough day. But this group of performers is fantastic and I’m positive that all our shows will be big hits on this cruise.
By the end of last night, we were feeling run down and exhausted, so I took advantage of our early port in Aqaba, Jordan, and went off to explore the city for a bit before we began rehearsals again. I was feeling the need to clear my head, and clearly the concept of stepping off the ship and learning a new culture had become an intoxicating idea. So I hopped on the shuttle bus from the ship into town, and learned from some of the ship’s guests that they were all embarking on a market tour together with our ship’s head chef. How perfect! They invited me to join them, so I followed along as we tasted spices, olives, breads, sweets, falafel, tea, coffee… you name it! I became one shopkeeper’s model as he demonstrated a traditional outfit and headscarf on me for the ship’s guests. I managed to get some whole nutmeg (by today I decided that the vendor in Sharm El Shiekh was absolutely ripping me off!) and some sesame cookies to take back to the rest of the cast. It was a perfect short outing. One thing that was striking was how simply everything is done in the market – they are clearly eating and using the products that work there, with little variance in meats and vegetables. As far as I could tell, they get extremely creative by putting all those spices to work! I can definitely confirm that Aqaba, Jordan, likes eating goats, because I saw several dozen freshly killed and skinned animals hanging – not only in store windows, but right under market tents out in the open! Also found a shop that was strangely displaying a cow’s head with a fake cigar sticking out the mouth. I tried to give an inquisitive look to the shopkeeper, but all he managed to say was, “You liiiiiiike?”
Back to rehearsal this afternoon, we hammered out the run-through of our classical show and are ready to go for tomorrow night’s performance. This evening I was on duty to usher the piano concert, so I got dressed up did my duty of greeting people at the door. I was surprised by how many of the guests I had already met and that remembered me! Okay I’m fading now, so it’s off to bed before our show tomorrow. I’m posting these pictures above from yesterday’s trip, but today’s pictures will just have to wait until I have a bit more time and internet connectivity. I will hopefully also soon have photos of the Motown show!
If you are reading this I am probably missing you!