The Cactus Patch
February 2018

A Cruise to Nowhere
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Christmas involved a lot of eating.  On the 23rd we celebrated Daniel’s wife Mini’s birthday with a roast lamb.  Then on the 24th we had the traditional tamales and pozole at Lora’s.  On Christmas day we went to our niece Tina’s and her brother Leo and kids entertained us with keyboard, guitar and voice.  I was surprised at the volume produced by his daughter, Kayla, as Leo himself is a quiet singer.

We did not celebrate New Year’s in Bakersfield this time.  Instead, our sister Lora treated the family to a cruise with money from a group settlement. Since it was free, we went along even though we had said we would never go on a second cruise. We set off from Long Beach on the 31st.  Right away we found that the food was not quite the quality of the previous cruise (on the same line – Carnival). At 11 that evening there was a balloon drop.  There were more celebrations after that, but we quit for the night.

The next morning we left the ship at Avalon on Catalina and went to the museum.  It was not open that day, but we did observe a large plant of Synadenium out front.  I wonder if anyone realizes how dangerous the latex of this is.  We then took a bus up to the botanic garden which was quite delightful.  I was surprised how many large Euphorbias from Africa they had. 

Returning to the ship, we watched an evening show called “Divas”.  They weren’t anywhere near the real thing and there was too much strobe lighting.  The quality of shows was also down.  The comedian who followed was also weak.

The following morning we left the ship at Ensenada, Mexico.  Right at the dock there were cute souvenir ceramic cacti with little manger scenes inside.  There were also large Euphorbias with fruit.  Most of our group went to see the nearby Blowhole.  They reported lots of blooming Agaves on the hill slopes, but the delicious tamales were not on sale. I loved their pineapple ones.)   We had seen it before, so we just took a bus into town and walked around.  When we got tired we had a sidewalk seafood lunch and then went across the street to a shop with local artifacts.  I asked about Paipai ones and was shown a corner with terrible baskets but beautiful pottery.  I bought a figure of Hueueteotl, the god of origin, time, fire and old age.  I think “father time” was appropriate for our New Year’s trip! (He is also known as “tortoise lord”.)

Why Paipai?  Back when I was at UCSB there was a young woman who was studying ethnomusicology and played Paipai recordings at parties.  I have never heard anything more monotonous.  I always wondered who made such “music”.  It turns out that St. Katerina Mission 20 miles east of Ensenada is Paipai!  Incidentally, when I was studying trance curing in Malawi I recorded almost identical music!  I now understand that the effect is supposed to be hypnotic.

Back at the ship we watched a woman comedian who was a bit funnier. Next day was a boring trip in circles (I kid you not!) so that we could have a leisurely sail to Long Beach.  In the morning they showed how to fold animals out of towels followed by a towel theater. (Incidentally, there were folded towel animals on the beds as before, but no chocolates on the pillows this time.) After lunch we watched a Seuss-a-Palooza show which told the story “Horton Hears a Who”.  I always loved the line “a person’s a person, no matter how small”.  That evening there was a “Rock Show” which was a bit better than the “Diva” one.

In the morning we disembarked and Polly was off in the first car.  The car I was in was a bit delayed, but that would have been ok if we hadn’t blown a tire at the junction of I-5 and 14.  We finally got someone to come and change the tire and then limped into Newhall to get a new one.  We then had supper at Claim Jumper and finally reached Bakersfield at 6:58.  There was no hope of reaching Fresno for the CSS meeting at 7! At any rate we will hear the same talk here in Bakersfield.

Incidentally, the New Year’s cruise was one which had been suggested at AAA when we were planning our 50th anniversary cruise.  Fortunately, John arranged for a flight to Florida and a Caribbean cruise for the same price.  Although Catalina and Ensenada are not really “nowhere”, they were nowhere new. At any rate, I think we are now done cruisin’.

The BCSS meeting on the 9th was very enjoyable.  My only criticism of Marcia Tatroe is that she included too much information.  Who can absorb that much in one sitting?

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