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 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. 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 schoolwork now that I’m home.  For the most part it is easy, and I don’t even need to do all the reading to pass the tests. I been given quotas for how much I’m to submit 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 assigned. But the grades I do get are all good, so my parents don’t bother me much about it.

Too bad I’m not getting tested on Russian and Spanish. I know enough for polite basic conversation and 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 final cruise. There weren’t any passengers on the ship, just the officers, crew, and some staff. The Russians go to Cuba all the time, but I think we were among the few Americans to be there in ages. They are getting ready to let American tourists in again; next season, we are scheduled to go every other week. They have a lot to do to be ready, because right now, it’s as if the country was frozen in the 1950s, like some sort of Twilight Zone episode. The cars, clothing, appliances, and everyday items are old. Lots of things that have been invented in the last couple decades are nowhere to be found. The island used to be a beautiful place where beautiful people came to play. There are huge mansions now occupied by several seemingly poor families. Communist signs and statues and posters and pictures, and reminders of the revolution are everywhere. It will be interesting to see how much Havana changes in the next few months.

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