Travel Tale: The Wedding Cruise
It’s been a little over week since I returned from a family wedding-cruise-vacation. For two cruise mornings, I carried a bucket with four sparkling wine flutes and a bottle of Spanish Cava to breakfast, thinking that we would make mimosas that morning. For two mornings, too, I got stares1 and a family member remarked, “Hey, isn’t it a little too early to be drinking?” I shrugged, looked at my bare wrist and said, “Sorry, I don’t wear a watch on vacation.”2
For every dinner, my sisters and I either brought or bought a bottle of wine to drink with our meal, and this, too, seemed to have triggered looks. Apparently, we were aberrations from the norm; and apparently, there were not a lot of wine drinkers in the wedding party.
Let’s do a flashback a day before the cruise: It was Wednesday and I planned on leaving work early to catch my 6 PM flight; that, of course, did not happen because the work craziness always happens when you have thoughts of escaping early. It was one thing after another, and before I knew it, I just had enough time to finish packing and take off for the airport. Unfortunately, I would not have had enough time to check my luggage, so I decided to remove the wine stash and other liquids from my luggage and leave them home. My friend Connie dropped me off and sure enough, I made it to Sacramento International Airport just in time to get through security and walk straight to my gate. I made it in the plane in time to snag one of the few remaining window seats, which I eventually gave up, so a mom could sit with her two young kids. Prior to my move, I demanded a complementary drink and proclaimed that I will only move to first class next to a good looking model. After hearing this, I was immediately removed from my seat and placed on the seat right next to the bathrooms. I am kidding, of course. Once in a while, I am nice to others, and so I voluntarily moved to the only available seat at that time – the middle seat on the following row. I ended-up sitting next to this young EMT who had the window seat, who became my flight chat companion. Although truly unnecessary, the flight attendant gave me a complementary drink. I ordered the Cabernet Sauvignon; a mystery one, as the flight attendant did not know the brand. It was all good.
When I made it to LAX, I had two top priorities: Text my friend Nick and then locate the closest BevMo. Nick arrived in his dusty car with his surfboard occupying the right side of the vehicle. This Russian’s California dream is in full force. After the tight hugs, I sat on the back seat. It was like, Driving Miss Daisy all over again, well, except neither of us is African American, nor an old white cranky3 woman. BevMo was approximately 3.5 miles away, so it was a no-brainer to stop at the store to get wine for dinner and to bring on the cruise. The trip to BevMo went longer than expected, but I finally found the perfect bottle to take on board the cruise ship – Bernardus Winery’s Marinus, and a 2009 vintage for $50.
I got a Tapiz Malbec from Mendoza and went to BJ’s Brewery for a quick meal and free corkage. I ordered a full rack of baby back ribs and ceasar’s salad for us to share. Of course, we argued again at dinner over big and small things. This is just the nature of our friendship.
After dinner, Nick gave me a ride to my sisters’ place. While we were in the living room, my sister sent me a text asking if I was with somebody and that perhaps it is not a great idea to let a “stranger”4 know that there will be no one in the house for four days. Paranoid alert. Instead of arguing, I told her I will send Nick’s picture and information to the police should anything happen. After that, I kicked Nick out of the house and threatened him with deportation to Mother Russia5. It was not my house, after all. Just kidding. We stepped out and continued to talk outside. It was late, we were getting more tired, and I feared we would get shot by the neighboring gangs6, and so we said our goodbyes. The next day, real early, I was ironing my shirt, re-steaming7 my suit, and getting pretty for the wedding of the century8. I had neither breakfast, nor coffee, so I could fit into my slim fit suit. It worked and I was the most fit9 male model type Asian guy to board the ship.
While crossing the bridge to board the ship, I thought it would look cool to have a quick photo shoot. After snapping two phone pics, including the one below, my sister snapped at me: “Am I gonna be taking your picture the whole weekend?!” I snapped back and grabbed my phone. The coffee-free morning has taken its toll: We have all become monsters. Fortunately, my modeling background gave me years of training. I only needed two shots10. See money shot below:
And then it was wedding time. Jaws dropped when my cousin entered the ship’s sensational Vegas-style auditorium: No one could believe she was wearing white. Ok, I am being bad. Jaws dropped because of her beauty and with how expensive that Beverly Hills wedding gown looked11. Frankly, there may be have been some traditionalists who may have had a reaction to the color of the dress, but it was her wedding and by God, she can wear the purest white she desires to wear. My cousin Jelene has been with her man for ten years and they have two kids, so yeah, a Virgin Bride is out of the question; but again, the beauty of your own wedding is you get to do whatever your heart desires, regardless of what the haters say. It was a very special moment to see her descend from the grand ballroom stairs and see her lips betray her smile with their quiver. I looked at the groom, and his eyes were about ready to burst with tears12. I joined the other guests in letting the tears roll down our shiny faces.
Behold, the beautiful bride and her dashing groom:
And then it was time for bubblies with the cousins.
As if God heard my thoughts during the ceremony: Endless shots of whiskey flowed.
With the drinks and food, I crashed at 11 PM, rocked to sleep by the gentle sways of the Pacific. I expected the worst: a tiny, windowless cabin four hundred feet under sea level, and a savagely turbulent sea. To my great surprise, our budget cabin was a few decks above the water and we actually had a real13 window that looked into the ocean!
At 4AM, I woke up and could not go back to sleep. I remembered my sister and my little niece making fun of me when they discovered on the itinerary that there is a ship library open for 24 hours. They giggled and joked that I will be there. Little did they know that by 5 AM, I was indeed out of our cabin and in search of the library. I imagined there will be another cute guy or girl there reading because he/she could not sleep, as well. I found the library, but there were no good looking people present. But I did find Hamilton!
After getting a book, I walked up to the top deck and went on a brisk walk on the track until it was time to watch the sunrise.
I wrote a few lines as inspired by the sea.
Then it was breakfast before our Mexican excursion.
We rented a car and then drove toward the La Bufadora. Why didn’t anyone warn us that we could spend our day better somewhere else?
After a quick pilgrimage to the holy Mexican blow hole, and after getting pandered every two seconds, I drove us out of that hill and back toward the city and the beach. I ended up driving because I was the only sober adult. My sisters were wasted in the pretty piña colada and my brother-in-law, in the tequila-spiked beer drink. Looking back, it was odd why I didn’t get a drink. We found a beach-side restaurant and as if starved close to death on the ship, we ordered every dish our table and Instagram feeds could handle. My sister brought a bottle of Bogle Petite Sirah, but it was too dark for the gifts of the sea.
After lunch, we walked to the beach. As if on cue, Baywatch Mexico paraded right before our very eyes. Thank you, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
And then it was time to select the tiniest horse and torture it with my little niece’s weight. It was cute, yes; but inhumane, yes, especially for less than $10. You should have seen that little trooper run like the wind, with my niece bouncing on its back. On our way back to the ship, we saw the horse resting by its lone self on the side of the road. By God, give that horse everything his blessed heart desires.
We returned to the ship, rested a little, and then it was time to get ready for the formal dinner. It was also time to uncork the 2009 Marinus. It was spectacular and excellently escorted us to the dining hall.
We finished Marinus before the main dish arrived, and so I decided to get a bottle of the Reserve Malbec. It was a perfect juice for the succulent steak.
After that huge dinner and some momentary rest, it was time to work it off on the dance floor.
My sister got a bottle of Chardonnay at the club. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever had Chard in the club.
For final night’s dinner, I ordered a pork chop and got a bottle of a fruity Barbera D’Asti.
At Sunday morning Brunch, the Spanish Cava finally made a glorious celebratory sound when I released the cork, and the sparklies mingled with orange juice to help ease the pain of this mini vacation’s conclusion.
- From envious people.
- I don’t wear a watch, ever.
- I was kinda cranky, as I have not had dinner.
- Although Nick and I act and feel like we have known and annoyed each other for years, we have only been friends for a few months, and my sisters have not met him.
- A place he has betrayed and denounced… just kidding! It’s not that dramatic, but he really prefers American life now.
- Kidding again! The gangs are like, a few blocks away.
- Because I’m OCD and the cleaners never, ever fully satisfy.
- Don’t get my sisters started on this sensitive qualifier.
- A lie, of course.
- Although a hint of that woman’s head on my shoulder needs to be cut!
- I, too, am being cheeky here.
- This was the first time ever I have seen him like this and my heart melted. Haha.
- Some cabins, apparently, had draped walls that make it appear as if there was a window behind, when it was just a wall.