Monday, July 22, 2013

Nightmare B.C. (before the cruise)

The Essence Festival rocked the New Orleans Convention Center, and thus there were no hotel rooms to be found on July 6th. We stayed an hour away in Hammond, Louisiana at The Best Western, that wasn't! After a ten hour drive, Bill went into the lobby to register. The computers were down and the newly hired, young and frustrated desk clerk could not pull up our reservation. Twenty minutes later she assigned us to the first room available, that "housekeeping had just cleaned" and we rolled our luggage in. My flip flops stuck to the DRY tacky floor like those wacky sticky suction toys my kids used to sling against the wall. Called for housekeeping and the woman brought a too small, not-too-clean mop and went over the floor again complaining how awful it was to work with such a small mop and how awful it was to work for that place blah-blah-blah.
I looked forward to a swim, but the pool had no visible bottom. If the water's not clear, I steer clear. So, swimming was out and we were in a room for the evening/night. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. and checked my I Phone for e mail messages. My squinted eyes flew open when I read the message in the dark: Do not report to the cruise terminal at 9:00 a.m. as scheduled. The Coast Guard has closed all traffic to the Gulf as a cargo ship has sunk at the mouth of the Mississippi River. We will update you as soon as we know more.

Oh right! I thought the kids at home were playing a joke. No joke! It was an official communique.

Bill was snoring so peacefully, but with my adrenaline flowing, I just had to broadcast the news. We shook our heads and wondered aloud, "What do we do now?"

By 6:00 we had called the emergency number several times. Nobody had an answer and they kept telling us they were waiting for an update, too. What a nightmare. Were they going to cancel the cruise? We turned on CNN and heard that Tropical Storm Chantal was building and heading for the Bahamas where we were also heading. We had to be out of our room by 11:00 and I certainly did not want to stay another night there.

Bill said he was going to the lobby for breakfast. I told him breakfast wouldn't be ready, despite the posted sign: Breakfast served  at 6:00.

Fifteen minutes later I walked into the lobby and saw him sipping coffee waiting for breakfast.

"How did you know?" he asked.

"How could you not know? This place is run by kids. Kids don't want to be awake at 6, much less preparing pans of powdered eggs, nuked sausages and stirring grits."

As we ate breakfast, guests wandered in and out of the lobby wearing robes, or wrinkled clothes, looking hung over and hungry. Nod and smile is about all people do at that time of day. Nobody makes real conversation that early. Except...

Lisa Douglas's look alike. You know, Eva Gabore, the "city" Mrs. to the "country" Mr. Douglas (Eddie Albert) on Green Acres. In she tottered on four inch heels, a designer top that would have made a male peacock envious, blonde hair done up, and makeup that would make a drag queen ache. Her diamonds and baubles probably cost more than my house. Miss Bubbly greeted everyone. We asked if she were headed to the cruise terminal.

"No, we're heading to a farm (this could not really be happening) to pick up a dog for my husband. We live in Texas, but he also has a country home, although, I am not at all country (no kidding!) and if he thinks I'm moving out there just because this new big dog needs room to roam ..."

Sometimes, I can't help myself. I chuckled, "Sounds like Green Acres is where he'd like to be, and city living is the place for you." (Shut up, Linda!)

She smiled sweetly and said, "Oh it's my second marriage, so I'll give in some of the time, but he's not moving me out there to live full time. Well, all y'all have a nice day."

My phone plinked a message received. The sunken ship was a tug boat, crew rescued, BUT the cruise ships were being diverted to the Port of Mobile, Alabama, (which closed two years ago) and they were scrambling to find staff to open the place for embarkation. The ship wouldn't be in for another day, and we'd receive another update by 3:00 p.m. Do not drive to Mobile as your return ship will debark in New Olreans.

We approached the desk clerk and asked the teen to call New Orleans and make reservations for a night. She said, "Could I use your cell phone to call? It would be faster than this system."

Seriously? I asked her to give me the number. I called. No rooms available, (ugh!) "Oops wait, someone is checking out now and you can have the room. When do you need it?"

In one hour we were unloading again. It was like walking into a technicolor dream. The Essence Fest featured every African-American big name and wanna be music artist in the business, from Beyonce` and beyond. At 9:00 a.m. the streets were packed with women in evening wear, glitz and glamour everywhere. It was a fashion show, I tell you. And then, we spied her. She was a big woman, plus-plus size. She strolled through the French Quarter in high heels and a shocking pink swimsuit. Oh the sights we saw.

At 3:00 p.m. we received another update. Passengers could cancel for a full refund, or skip the first port of call (which we wanted to see) and proceed to the Bahamas on a shortened cruise. Well, Key West was having torrential rain anyway, and tourists there were traipsing through six inches of water, so we decided to skip first port and opt for the shortened cruise.

We wended our way through the French Quarter, and perused the town. That night we tried to sleep, despite the revelers outside on the streets all night long. 

OMG! In the morning....
to be continued, please come back.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Oh Linda, I imagine that--soon-- this story will be rewritten and published in a Chicken Soup book or a Not Your Mother's Book collection.

Rae said...

Must have been frustrating at the time, but it sure makes a great story now.

Unknown said...

What a trip! Literally! I love people watching. It reminds me what a diverse world we live in! ;)

Bookie said...

We have only been to New Orleans once and it was poor rooms from Mississippi on. DH never wants to go back. It was non working and non clean all the way. New Orleans does NOT make good memories for us.s

Susan said...

Oh gosh, Linda. That sounds like a nightmare trip.

Looking forward to installment #2. Susan

Pat Wahler said...

More material for your essays, right?
Every cloud...

Critter Alley

Cathy C. Hall said...

Holy cow--I read your FB posts and knew it was bad. But this is REALLY bad. (Yikes!)

P.S. Had a chance to catch up with your posts--and Linda, you had me laughing out loud with your wonderful mom essay! I thought you sounded--and looked--charming and witty and totally at ease. I guess you still have some acting expertise. :-)

Val said...

I think your wackadoodle magnet is still strong.

Tammy said...

You're the only person I know who has adventures before her adventures!