Orange Rhymes With: ¡Corazón de Fuego! *Pt 1*

Spring break is a wonderful heaven send.

Strategically placed right before most students collapse into fits of mass-study-induced hysteria, it’s the university’s way of saying, “Listen, we do care about you students’ well being—take some time off and go get massively drunk for a week.”

As such, students are given something to look forward to as they stagger and claw their way through midterms, fighting against caffeine OD and sleep extinction (it’s no longer simply deprivation at this point). A week-long hiatus gives students a chance to switch the brain cells off and temporarily forget how much college is straight up kicking their ass. A welcomed reprieve before returning to the grind.

This time around, I got myself a double dose of that relaxation.

Una dosis duble, if you’ll pardon my sorry attempt at Spanish.

The week prior to Midterm Hell, I kicked back on a five-day cruise Cabo San Lucas-bound. Before you attempt to viciously strangle my newspaper-likeness out of jealous rage, let me say that I had a terrible, awful time. Just horrible. I can’t recall, in recent memory, a worse and more soul crushing five day period.

Okay not really, it was fantastic.

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I found myself on a company trip, fully paid for by the sales program employing me over the summer, aboard a cruise line well known for its tendency to party hardy. And headed off to Cabo, the land of  brilliant sun, pristine beaches and peddlers haggling for cheap hand-woven jackets and snorkeling equipment. One could hardly believe such a thing was happening.

But as awesome as my destination was, I did hit a couple hiccups along the way. First off, because passports are the number one essential item to pack when taking a trip to Mexico, I apparently decided the best course of action would be to forget mine.

I realized as my plane lifted off from Ted’s airport that the bugger was chilling innocently on my desk back at the apartment—a little bundle of useless papers on an already over cluttered hunk of wood. And convincing though I tried to be, turns out pilots don’t pull U-turns once they’ve risen above 5,000 feet.

Twas a horrible sinking feeling, arriving at the San Diego Airport and knowing the port was just about as far away as I could toss a midget dwarf small person. (So, not very far at all.) But no passport = no boarding, buddy.

After a red eye flight from a place of ten degrees above to a haven of 75, however—my first time in Cali and my first chance to go out-of-country—I wasn’t about to turn around and shuffle back home. Plus, paying for a return ticket sounded pretty sucky too.

“Taxi! Okay Azzòlé, take me to the cruise ship port. I’m gonna bust out my Bambi eyes and try to work this thing.”

So I headed down to the docks and got my plead on with the security folk. Turns out, while faxes of passports are not legally accepted, faxes of birth certificates will do the trick. At least for Carnival. And it may have helped that I said I was from Alaska.

The ship was behemoth. Ridiculous. Lavishly ornate. Christened the Carnival Spirit, it accurately conveyed Carnival’s mission statement: “We’re here to party ourselves stupid—in style.” I wandered the ship’s massive foyer area in stupefied amazement, already wondering who could have possibly come up with the idea that a floating hotel out in the middle of the ocean would ever be feasible. And that it would need glass elevators and a giant water slide.

My cabin was fairly small, but even it featured a mini bar and bunk beds descending from the ceiling. A plethora of bottled drinks and fancy snacks were scattered strategically throughout the room, so as soon as you reached for one they could bill you $15 for a sip of water. The only things free were the complementary mints, which were undoubtedly a nice touch, but I’m always slightly suspicious of mints left lying around—who knows who might have the fiendish motivation to unwrap the treats and do dark things to them, before replacing the wrapper. It’s a sweet tooth’s gamble.

The cruise attendants themselves, originating mostly from the Philippines but as far spread as Morocco, were some of the most friendly people in the world, and mind-bogglingly professional. Smooooth operators.

I’m also convinced they received ninja training, because you could never even hear these people performing their duties. You’d get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of night (which required dedicated concentration in such a cramped space—you had to stand in the shower to wash your hands) and come back to find the bed made, your socks folded and sorted, and a twisted-up bunny rabbit towel perched happily on your pillow. I’m fairly certain there was a middle aged Filipino man living under my bed.

We had fancy eighteen-course meals. Impromptu mariachi bands stimulating us while we ate. Mini golf tournaments up on the sundeck. Awfully-sung karaoke nights. Krumping dance-offs. Stu, our excitable New Zealander PA announcer. And throughout all the craziness, the knowledge that Cabo San Lucas was just a little ways off—waiting with all those tantalizing five dollar knock-off brand Oakley’s to be purchased.

That’s gonna have to be a whole ‘nother column.