106.   🚢ah, days & days of salty air!

Oh my beautiful blue Pacific Ocean ~

On this leg of the voyage, I rarely missed sunsets or a sunrise -these I quickly realized were gifts of the journey to me.  And if the seas were not rough, I’d find myself relaxing on an uncrowded deck in a comfortable sun-worshipping lounge chair, legs up and all!

It certainly felt good to just soak up the sun -nap style, getting hypnotized by watching the ocean go by or leisurely flip through the pages of a magazine, that is to say, if I could keep my eyes open long enough in this lazy position.  

Taking the most important daily walks from one end of the ship to the other and breathing in deeply the freshest salty air was always invigorating and enjoyable.  

Not every time but certainly at least half the time I was out there, I’d see some dolphins and an occasional whale or three.  The other fish I took notice of were schools of Pacific Bluefin Tuna in the course of their migration.  

There were others watching along the rails at any given part of the ship, at any time of the day and when a pod, a school or what have you passed alongside the ship, there was a whole lot of cheering coming out of the excited men.  This was ocean entertainment at its finest!

It was an awesome site -as was the whole of it- to see the flying fish and catching glimpses of billfish who were also being watched carefully by the ever-stalking seabirds along the way. 

Every now and then I’d spy a ship waaay out in the distance on the horizon.  One minute she’s there and another -gone!  

Not that any passed by close enough to say hello … 🔭 even if I had a telescope.  Well, maybe but then they’d have to have one too just to see me wave!  

Occasionally the Skipper’s voice blaring out of the bullhorn startled us.  It was like he’d wait for the perfect moment to catch us unawares.  He’d say things like, “I see you all out there having fun.  Good!  Go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Make the most of this time at sea, it’s good for you!”  I think he wanted to make sure we didn’t fall victim to sea madness … or something!

Along with some form of exercising, the strolling or brisk walks, any style of lounging or napping and daily duties, we’d play cards, most often, poker.  We played in my charge area, the officer’s saloon. 

These poker nights gave way to opportune time to share stories with one another; be it of home, passing thoughts or what experiences we had while on this Asian tour.    

Our evening snacks always lined up; sandwich makings, non-alcoholic beverages and snackable what-nots.  Beer 🍻or wine 🍷 but no 🥃 hard liquor; I’ll mention here, if we wanted it, the beer or wine that is to say, we had to buy our own and bring it on board.

Btw:  “Why is the rum always gone?Captain Jack Sparrow  

That reminds me I didn’t tell you how we mainly got our beer earlier in the trip.  The seasoned veterans of our ship told us about this barter.  We had cartons of American cigarettes on board and so while in the Philippines, when we saw a small boat approaching our ship, we’d load up a largish basket with some of those cartons.

It was attached to a very strong rope and then lowered down to those guys.  They were zippy in the unloading of this large basket and then refilling it with the favorite beer of their country, 🍺 San Miguel Beer. 

Cartons for 6-packs!  What a deal I thought.

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billfish because I’m not entirely certain if I was seeing swordfish, marlins or sailfish … not so close to the ship they were spotted and so without binoculares handy at those times unfortunately, I couldn’t really tell.  I had thought in my mind these must be one of them.

57. Magic Wine & Tip Snatching

I began waiting on tables in this little Italian restaurant Mondays through Fridays and just like the sign said, from six in the morning until two in the afternoon.  After a little over a week I was an official member of the Union.  I opened my first American, well really first ever, bank account.  I did this at Bank of America.

I was doing fairly well and so I started to send money home for the family.  My leaving Fiji left the full financial load once again upon my brother and it was only right that I should continue helping any way I could.  

After about a couple of weeks working at this Italian place and secured in the Union, I went back over to the Indian restaurant and offered to take them up on their previous offer of employment.  In all honesty it now would better suit me, timing being what it was and all.

Jack and Bill were still most interested and accepted me into their business; same offer as before, no wage only tips and food, until such a time as business steadily picked up.  I know they were confident in my eager attitude and my seemingly endless brain of ideas.  

I did not reveal to them that I was a member of the Union, I honestly didn’t think about it, nor did they ask.

Perfect!  I had a pretty good set-up I thought:  I worked the breakfast and lunch shifts at the Italian joint and went home in the afternoon for a little rest.  I’d freshen up and go to work the dinner shift (3-4 hours in the evening) at the Indian place.  Not bad for a single guy in a new world.

Now to make things happen for the Indian restaurant.  I thought to pay a visit to the Indian Office of Tourism for travel posters and anything else they’d like to spare which spoke of India, turning to the Consulate for extras.  I would display these in the restaurant to lend some ambiance to the scene.  I had some other plans too of course.

As I had walked along the streets of the city, I noticed some men lying about on the sidewalks quite literally, some propped against a building wall, sipping bottles of wine most usually.  And so after a couple of weeks working in the Indian restaurant I found myself with what I thought to be a brilliant idea.

Having seen what I had while walking sometimes, I remember thinking that in my experiences up to now, on the average a person of supposed middle class standards would dare never to touch a cheap bottle of wine.  Maybe they’d even turn their noses up at it; and then perhaps only if someone was watching.

Okay never mind all that.  One day I decided to buy an inexpensive bottle of wine to conduct an experiment.  I took it in to the Indian restaurant that evening.  Amongst other helpful suggestions I lent to the owners of this place such as complimentary lite appetizers, this could prove to be useful.

I put some wine into 3 or 4 glasses and dropped different food coloring into each one.  The basic colors of blue and yellow; red obviously wasn’t called for.  It turns out the blue/yellow combination of green worked the very best, it had a jewel-like quality to it.

Mind you this is basic white wine that anyone can pick up for under a buck and a half.  I showed the colored wine to Jack and Bill and their quick comeback was, “Oh no, we can’t sell that here!”  I suggested they taste it and then comment.  I hadn’t yet told them what I’d done.  

They tasted it and said it was pretty good.  Then I gave them each a taste of the white wine in its original form and they both said it tasted the same.  Well of course it did.  I then suggested we charge 50 cents per glass.

They pondered this over for a couple of days.  Bill and Jack both agreed to start selling the wine in the restaurant, maybe they realised the profit margin?  Jack suggested to serve it up in chilled glasses.  Yes chilled wine glasses, Bill and I agreed.  

And so I introduced it in a teasing form to the patrons as they sat down at their tables.  ‘Would you be interested in trying a little glass of house wine?’  Most everyone replied yes and so along with the little basket of appetizers I brought out, a sample of the wine came too.  

The guests were naturally fascinated by the coloring; they would sip it conservatively.  “Hey that’s pretty good,” most of them would say.  “What is it called?”  I would smile and reply, ‘Jadoo.’   Being asked what that meant, I told them it means magic, which it does.  The two proprietors quickly added it to their menu.

Customers came in more often, drank more, ordered/ate more and my tips grew along with the clientele for this dinner restaurant.  Bill and Jack would buy the wine in a box, we wouldn’t run out.

In fact some of the customers brought in their own empty wine bottle to fill with ‘Jadoo’ so they could enjoy it at home.  The restaurant decidedly charged them $3.50 for that.

Now these customers were telling others about their experience at this little Indian restaurant which of course brought in more people for dinner.  Needless to say what the owners had hoped for their restaurant, was now happening for them.  But they didn’t keep their word.

The effort was never made to pay me a set wage now.  Instead they noticed when I’d cash in smaller bills for bigger ones at the end of the night, I was generally pulling in about $30-40 per shift working so few hours; they began helping themselves to half of my tips!

For a short while and only a short while I kept quiet.

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