The call to find guest bloggers returned a lot of favorable responses. Jason, the guy I once described as "would easily fit in the Ranch", already wrote two guest entries. I might regret posting this first one before my South Africa report.
Warts and all. Warts and all.
Rico isn't a happy camper. Oh, he may seem happy, but he's not. It's day six in Cape Town, and we're going somewhere, or doing something, or...well, you know. The days all blur. But there's a problem. Rico, you see, keeps missing out on the bonding.
There was initial bonding, of course. There were only about a hundred of us on board for the first four days, with little to do but ramble around a mostly empty ship, eat with each other and get very limited starts on our jobs. We hung out. We asked questions. We figured out who the cool kids were (for the curious, it was just about all of us, but we still figured it out). All good stuff, and everyone got to play. And Venezuela, where everyone seemed to have prearranged stuff to do, didn't feature much together time.
But then came Brazil. Rico took off for some sort of paradise, where he claims to have seen dolphins, been interviewed for TV, and been crowned King of the World or some shit. Whatever. I wasn't there, so I can't speak on it, but it all sounds a little made up. Put it on top of the rescue plane story and I think we've got a whiff of something pathological.
But I digress. Often, and at length. See, there it was again.
Anyway, there was a side trip in Brazil that featured me, Chris B. the photographer, and Yas, the cutest little Resident Director in the whole wide world (no, really, she's just the cute, bless her little heart.) What happened will forever be known as the Julio period of our lives, wherein we overshared while drinking Brazilian beer and caiprinhas. I'll spare you the details (mostly because Rico hasn't yet heard them all, and would once again feel left out. We can't have that.) Julio was this guy we ran into in the little beach town we stayed at; he had a glob of white something on his lower lip at just about all times, and we saw him about a dozen times. He spoke very little English, but acted like he did by carefully repeating anything you said and nodding. He was our BFF right away. Rico never met him. See what he misses out on?
The point is, there was bonding. Boy, howdy, was there bonding. I know so much about those two. I could mention Chris's technique, but I won't. I could talk about Yas's numbers, but I won't. I could tell you...well, everything about me, but that would be really, really boring after a while. A very short while. I'm not that interesting. Really.
Rico got back with his dolphins and interviews and BFF with people who run hotels on the islands story, and all we had was beers around Julio. So of course, we had to act like we were the winners on that trade. We had bonded, you see, and all he had done was spend a four days in paradise. Alone. As if any of us would want such a horror. I turn my nose up at it.
Funny thing was, Rico was bothered. Or at least, I must presume he was. Because we get to Cape Town, and he vanishes with Sarah, re-emerging for a single meal. A very good meal, of game meats of all sorts, that was really great, but still, just a meal. And then he misses going out for dinner and drinks, and hearing a cover band comprised of a tiny Goth girl singer and a fat guitar player singing “Africa” by Toto. And he misses CAP 100, The Winelands and Beyond, an unofficial Staff-only trip where we tasted a lot of wine and didn't really bond as much as we could have but still had a great time. Rico was in the same town as us, but we didn't call him. Because we're bitter that he has these great (and probably completely false) stories of what he did.
I'm sure you've heard what he did by now. Rode an elephant, was made leader of a tribe that has never seen a camera before, swam with whales and learned their language. Yes, it seems pretty incredible, but the way he tells the stories, you could almost believe it. Me, I think he was just trying to compensate for his lack of bonding.
Because he was sad that he had missed it, you see. Complained that we didn't call. Whined about the injustice of it all. Wailed and gnashed his teeth, even, which should tell you all how serious it was.
So now, back to the beginning, it's the day he gets back, Day 6 in Cape Town. We all go out for a birthday dinner, 17 of us. This is no bonding moment. Too many people. It's tough to bond in groups larger than will comfortably fit on one road trip. Dinner is followed by drinks, and we get down to 10. Still too large. But then, through the intervention of a fortuitous showing of gymnastics at a neighboring bar (okay, it was power tumbling, but what the hell do I know about that?) we end up, just me and Rico and Yas, in a bar together. Could we bond?
No, really, Rico asked that question. Could we bond, are we bonding, is this bonding, yadda yadda. We tried to patiently explain that if he had to ask, we weren't. It was like watching him try to do “For Example” (which he should tell you about at some point). Pitiful.
And then...breakthrough. We suddenly shared. We bonded. Oh, we had come close, when Yas was almost crushed by the door of a cab. When we sang about “working the streets down in Africa.” When we fought off that chain wielding gang of mutants...no, wait, that was “Weird Science”. But at long last, we bonded.
Again, I can't go into the details. I can only mention there was South African beer involved. And Long Island Iced Teas about the size of a swimming pool. (This is a lie. The Mexican bar by the ship had drinks the size of swimming pools. Served in tupperware bowls. Seriously.) And dancing. And milkshakes. And Rico getting to be a part of things. Okay, there were stories about getting walked in on during various acts, but that's all I'll say. So don't ask. I'm not telling. But it's Rico I'm talking about here. Just so you know.
The only problem is that now, poor Chris is behind. And no one else has even really gotten to start. So Rico has to come bonding again in Mauritius, and won't be able to rescue any creole-speaking Hindu princesses, or find a lost golden temple, or any of that. Just Mauritian beer (is there such a thing? God, I hope so) by the beach, and disclosure into the night, and a new, hopefully improved BFF who will almost assuredly not be named Julio.
But you never know. He might be.