Sunday, July 26, 2015


So..... You know those friends of yours who take cruise ship vacations? The ones that travel on Royal Caribbean or Carnival or maybe Holland America.....the friends  that come home with all the tasty tidbits of info on just HOW they managed to smuggle their own alcohol on board....the big NO NO of cruise ship vacations?

I am not one!  Nope, no way.  I am the gal that gets called to the Naughty Deck.....that would be Deck One Aft....deep into the bowels of the ship, each stairwell...each level...reminiscent of walking the plank...preparing.   Hearing Mom's voice in our heads,  "You're  grounded....WHAT were you thinking?  I raised you better!"

Well, did...kind sorta ....except when it comes to smuggling our contraband in order to be oh so thrifty and not have to buy $12 vodka sodas.

Flashback...1 PM....we are so lucky. We board early....our room is ready..... BUT no luggage ...yet.  We know it could be a couple hours.  We look at each other saying NOT one word, careful not to jinx it...after all, we see luggage all up and down our hall....ours is MUST be close!

Flash forward....4 PM... Mary's bag is here !!!!! We are in luck AND the contents of her bag are intact.....we now have our hands on one 32 oz. Rum Runner Pirate Bag of Seagrams Vodka Whahoooo!!!!!  BUT, where,oh where, is my lovely new coral rose suitcase?  New especially for this cruise so I could be JUST like my sister Mary and bring my laugh? Those who know her know it's true!
We look at one another....Not one word exchanged.  Quickly we exit the room, drink in hand, after surreptitiously stashing the bag in the can never be too careful.

5:30 PM.  It is clear as our steward Lee looks at us with a disapproving glint that we...I...Have been busted.  We innocently ask if he knows where my bag might be.
" Well, Ms Elliott, there is a bag with your number downstairs.....DeckOne...SECURITY... Did you have an iron perhaps? Or special water?  Or perhaps a bottle of wine?"
" Oh no, " ..I answer,,, blushing red..".none of those things".   Which is true.
" Well, to get your bag you must go to security...they saw something they didn't like". And he leaves.  I turn to Mary " You ARE coming with me""

The plank walk begins......slowly we descend...level by level by level, creating my speech as we go, as  though I could think of anything new.....these people deal with this every single week.
The final flight....5, 4, 3, 2, 1 stairs...bottom. There they stand, all five, count them FIve,  security agents among 60 or more ransomed suitcases....mine front and center.  I confidently walk forward to rescue  my lovely case....speech in place....but where is Mary?
 Why has she stopped walking?  It is not like her to abandon me in my time of need..... Damn!  

Agent one: " Hi, how can I help you?
Me:  Cheerily, "I need my bag please...that one".
Agent One:  " Did you maybe have something in it? Like an iron.... Or special water.  Or alcohol...maybe?"
I recognize the speech they use....Guests breaking the alcohol rules Training 101.
 And where the hell is Mary?
Me: " Well I do have vodka in a plastic bag so there would no issue with glass".
 Suddenly I feel her presence and turn.....she has not deserted me...however, the look on her face spells disaster.... She is shaking her head ever so slightly.  No No...shhhhh No...Is the message I interpret.   I don't comprehend.....
Security Manager: " Hello, Do you have alcohol?"
 Other nearby smugglers stare, realizing what awaits them.
"I will take those please.  I will have  to dump them. If they were in the original container you could have them back at the end of the cruise.... But,  not these.  I have to empty them."
Me:" What? You mean if I left it in the glass bottle I would have gotten it back? Isn't that dangerous?"  Temporarily refusing to accept that I do have contraband...I am breaking their rules... I have signed 29 documents as we prepped for this trip that acknowledge my comprehension of the alcohol policies.....  And yet not until they come back back with my oh so empty Rum Runner bags do  I see her standing very near the six foot Policy and Procedures sign announcing my potential looming disembarkation.
She smiles softly and says " DUMP them Kate. NOW!   JUST toss them....NOW"     as she snags them from my clenched fists and shoves  them deep into the garbage can.
 " DO YOU SEE PARAGRAPH TWO.....DISEMBARKATION.....Which is REALLY gonna suck!" . Hushed whisper..."JUST MOVE!"
Suddenly the $25 Rum Runner bags don't matter...what matters is smile, smile beautifully and  say thank you and get the HELL off The Naughty Deck..... the plank can't be far.....

Lesson:1 Rum Runner bags are not foolproof and 2... What your Momma taught you about following the rules.... It stands.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Mid day is story telling time. The Camino can be an open confessional, pilgrims emptying their hearts and minds to complete strangers. Baring their souls in cleansing. 
It is accepted. 

She comes alongside me; a woman I do not recognize. “ Hi! My name is Lilly… I am from Australia.  I have watched you the last couple of days.”  Her words are tinged in sadness. 
“ I hoped to get to walk with you and talk.  I like your spirit” she says.
For the next hour Lilly shuts the confessional door and whispers her truth.  Her tale of sexual abuse touches my heart. As she tells her story her tears flow.  
“ I have not told this to anyone on this camino.  It had to come out and somehow I knew I would tell you”.
When we part I find myself reflecting on her words “ I like your spirit”.

 I  believe we meet  people when they are ready for us and we are ready for them.  Lilly has come as a gift to help me see that these last years of focusing on love, on the belief that we are all of the same magnificent source and therefore are one and the same, is now showing through in me.  I am humbled.