Friday, November 12—11:49 AM
I shall now make a gross generalization, for which you may mock me if you prefer:
Many people in the “solo traveler” cabins are reeling from a recent loss. A husband died; a wife died. Each of these people is traveling with an enormous empty place beside them where their partner was supposed to be.
A few people have spouses who “don’t like the cold” or “didn’t want to come.” But overwhelmingly we solo travelers are a huge club of widows and widowers.
I suppose there could be geriatric mating going on all around me; maybe this is a widow’s singles club where we’re all trolling for dates—but I haven’t seen any of that. I’ve seen a glance of recognition; an understanding that the person who used to be part of a bicycle is now peddling furiously to learn how to be a unicycle. “How long for you?” is the question; not “Hey, baby—your cabin or mine?”
I suppose it makes sense; it seems very familiar to me. We all vacation with our spouses and significant others. We divide the tasks up—you figure out where we’re going, I’ll handle how we get there. You really want to see this, I want to stay there. We share the responsibilities of travel and see the world through our own eyes and through the “other’s” eyes as well…
…and then that’s gone. Do you have to lose that opportunity? Will you go on forever never hearing someone say on the PA “We’ve spotted whale plumes off the port side of the ship?” No. You deserve to keep going. And in fact, it’s the keeping going that helps to grind down the sharp edges on that empty place… so a guided expedition is ideal. Someone else decides where we’re going. Someone else offers alternatives for excursions. Someone else holds the passports until needed.
The Lindblad/Nat Geo partnership is an excellent pairing for all us unicycles. We’re here not out of a determined need to continue living, but to experience nature. We’re conservationists; we mourn the trash in Karukinka. We consult guides in the library to make sure that really was a stormy petrel that just glided by, and not a gray-headed albatross. We focus our binoculars and our cameras and pay attention to light-composition-movement and that helps to distract from the person who’s not there.
Yesterday much-revered Eduardo gave a presentation on Shackleton. He told us that he was likely to get chocked up, as the last novel his mother read to him when he was a boy was about Shackleton, and his mother had just died last month. All the married people cooed in sympathy; the death of a mother is a bitter and painful thing.
All the unicycles offered polite moues of sympathy, but thought—she read you stories when you were a boy and just died last month? (Eduardo has been with Lindblad for so long that he has a mighty and impressive leonine mane of white hair.) Brother, there are worse losses you could be choked up about.
There are a lot of us. And it’s a growing club. If you’ve got a honey, hold on tight. Sometimes they leave before you’re ready.
Mike the hero as Ernest Hemingway. The iPhone; is that not a cool photo?!
Grant the engineer. Problem-solver.
Sandy. Silent until witty.
Your humble author. There ARE lady unicycles on this trip--but most were suffering from mal de mer and declined to pose for a portrait.