It’s good to be home, but in some ways I’m more out of place here than I am when we are away. I’m used to having so much more freedom. My best friend, Kathy and I hang out during the day and when she doesn’t have a date. More often than not, I help her get ready to go out then I’m back across the street in my room for the night. She’s 18 now, and can date and drink and go dancing out to clubs. While we’re away on the ships, I go wherever, whenever I want. I’ve been all over Cozumel, through the woods, to the remote beaches, to the clubs. I know people all over town and at all the resorts. Here, I have to ask permission to go anywhere, and have to be home early. The rule change happened automatically; I’m not going to bring it up for discussion because I don’t want to point out the ridiculous amount of freedom I get when we are away from home. I know how good I have it, and I don’t want that taken away. Quite frankly, being on ships is a break from reality for them. No cooking, no cleaning, no house repairs, no expenses, no demands from family or any of life’s normal responsibilities. Since they apparently look the other way when it comes to me, there are no kids to worry about either. Just do a few magic shows, and enjoy the ride and each other’s company. Can’t blame them. I don’t blame them. I like it this way.
My dad is making me spend a lot more time on school work now that I’m home. All I have to do is read the books and do the workbooks and then mail in my tests for grading. For the most part it is pretty easy, and I don’t really even need to do all the reading to pass the tests. I have quotas for how much I’m supposed to get done each week, so sometimes I am pushing to get through the tests. On the ship, I didn’t do nearly as much as I was supposed to do. But the grades I do get are all good, so my parents don’t bother me much about any of it.
Too bad I’m not getting tested on Russian and Spanish. I know enough to be polite and talk about basics and I can understand more than I can speak. When we were on the Italian and Greek ships, I learned a lot of those languages too. I can be dropped almost anywhere in the world and be able to say hello and ask for a bathroom.
I got to try my Spanish out in Havana, Cuba when the Kazakhstan stopped in for a crew change after the last trip. There weren’t any passengers on the ship, just the officers, crew, and some of the staff. The Russians go to Cuba all the time, but I think we were one of the few Americans to be there in a very long, long time. They are getting ready to start letting American tourists go there again; next season, we will be going to Cuba every other week. They have a lot to do to be ready by fall. Right now, it’s as if the country was frozen in time in the 1950s, like some sort of Twilight Zone episode. The cars, clothing, appliances … all the everyday stuff is really old. Lots of things that have been invented in the last couple decades are nowhere to be found. I guess the whole island used to be a really beautiful place where the “beautiful people” came to play. Not so much for them to do there now, even if they could come. There are huge mansions that have several seemingly poor families living in them. Everywhere you look, you see Communist signs and statues and posters and pictures, and reminders of the revolution. It should be interesting to see how much Havana changes in the next few months. They have a huge old rundown former Conrad Hilton hotel they are going to refurbish to make nice again. I told my parents that they should rename it the Comrade Hilton. Ha Ha Ha. They thought it was funny. They keep telling their friends my little communist joke. With all the travel I’ve done, it is clear to me that people are people, and you can’t make any general statements about groups of them based on where they are from. Friendly communist is not an oxymoron.