Anna Cleary's first...ocean voyage with a man!
The next guest to arrive at the You Always Remember Your First... party is the delightful Anna Cleary with a "first" story that makes me certain the two of us should NEVER travel together :). Drinking wine and chatting on the other hand...
I thought I'd share with you some of the highlights of my first ocean voyage with a man.
We joined the ship at Brindisi, in southern Italy, for the crossing to Greece. Though it's quite a short voyage in marine terms, because we were travelling overnight we'd booked ourselves berths.
Naturally we enjoyed a hearty Italian dinner before boarding, probably even heartier than usual in my case. As was the tradition at this time, the men's sleeping quarters were strictly segregated from the women's--no doubt in fear of some dangerous cross pollination of ideas.
Greg and I said goodnight, then I sought my berth deep in the ship's bowels.
I'd been allocated a tiny space within a miniscule airless, windowless, diesel- scented cupboard to be shared with three strange women. They hadn't arrived when I first ensconced myself on my bunk, which was a pity, I'm sure they all agreed later. What happened next was simply shocking. The ship's engines revved up, and under my feet and all through my delicate insides I felt a hideous whooshing swell. A swell that was inescapable, and never ceased.
As the walls advanced on me I grew alarmingly hot, and in desperation to cool down took off my clothes.
A nasty sensation told me that my insouciant attitude to sea-sickness had been misplaced. Why, I'll never know, since I'm renowned in my family for chucking breakfast on every road I travelled as a child.
Without a bucket or any convenient kind of receptacle to hand, I was forced to snatch one of the extra pillow cases that for some reason had been left on each bed. I'm afraid I filled that pillow case. And every other pillow case I could get my hands on. During this ghastly operation, the three other women arrived.
Far from being disgusted by the state of their cabin, the stench, my near- naked misery, these three wonderful strangers--from Germany, the Netherlands, and Guatemala, I believe--showed me the most generous, warm-hearted humanity and concern. I'll never forget them. Somehow they helped me get my clothes back on before the Italian steward burst in, slapping his forehead in disbelief and fair screaming his outrage at the fouling of his pristine bed linen.
I managed to escape the hell I'd created. Too shaky to stand, I crawled on hands and knees to the bathroom, pursued by two more furious stewards flapping their hands, alternately snarling vicious threats and wailing. It was one of the longest journeys in human history.
Luckily there were plastic- lined rubbish bins at fifteen metre intervals. I availed myself of every one.
After a wobbly cleanup in the bathroom, I somehow staggered my way up towards the light, air and a deck, and was just contemplating throwing myself into the dark, dark sea when Greg located me.
I knew I looked a wreck. I was green, vomitous, and my hair has a tendency to twist into corkscrews when stiffened by brine and other things, but the expression on Greg's face confirmed my worst fears.
Horror rendered his voice all but inaudible. 'What the hell happened to you?' he croaked at last.
This was my first ocean voyage. And I promise you, my last!
Anna is another collaborator in the When Honey Got Married... anthology. So, what the heck? "Like" my Facebook page, and leave a comment for the chance to win an ebook copy of the book!