Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ten things to take on a cruise - for By Invitation Only


"C'est un poisson d'avril?" you might be wondering. "Are you really following up a week of talking about right wing politics, Humanity and Death (in the comments section no less) with...a cruise?" I am, dear friends. Call it an antidote if you wish but I also made a promise to the lovely Marsha at Splenderosa, who is the founder of the By Invitation Only International series, that I would stick to the theme...for once, since it seems that...um...I am not always so great about that. This month's theme is, as the title of this post infers, "10 things to take on a cruise." So here we go...

©Remi Benali


Heather's List of Ten Things to Take on a Cruise

1) Flexibility. Perhaps you have flown for days (literally) only to arrive at your tropical destination and find that...it is raining. Hard. Or let's say the boat, your home away from home and mode of transportation, is not all that you had desired. Perhaps you will have to travel up the Maroni River in the French Amazon for days on end with the sun beating down mercilessly on your head which is already weary from the endless mosquito whine of the straining outboard motor. You know what? It's all good. It's just another part of the story and you have gone on the cruise to write a new chapter to your story, n'est-ce pas?



2) Patience. Not everyone is on the same time schedule and time is one of those oddly relevant and irrelevant things while traveling, isn't it? So perhaps you will have to wait many hours while the afore-mentioned motor is being repaired or several days floating in a prism of heat on the Niger River until you meet up with your rendez-vous. All the better to let the scenery imprint itself on your mind until the end of your days. And those stars at night that burn so bright will remind you how silly your rushing to and fro actually is.


3) Reading, writing and research. But still, even the most zen of us can use a little outward inspiration and inward exhalation. So make sure that you have plenty of good words around you, both those by others and those which you will slowly scrawl on a page until you remember what it is like not to type. And why not do your homework and bring it with you? If you understand, really understand, what you are seeing, it will mean so much more to you than, "Oh...that is...pretty." Not to mention, it is just the smart way to travel when on excursions onshore. For example, while everyone else is at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap for sunrise, pushed into sardine-like groups to capture that rising burning ball, you will be at the Bayon, alone save for the wizened Buddhist nun who is the attendant. She will nod at you as she lights her offerings and the moment will be pure magic.


4) Protection. Let's face it, even on a cruise, it can be a jungle out there, so be prepared. It goes without saying that your skin is going to take a beating so please apply the SPF liberally and often. If you happen to be in a boat that is low lying to the water (as opposed to those jumbotrons that are destroying the canals in Venice - oops - did I say that? Moving swiftly on), keep in mind that you won't be able to hide from the sun's reflection, even under a big floppy hat. The brown spots on the back of my hands said that they are warning you. I have been known to snorkel in a long sleeved shirt to protect my bright white skin. And your eyes? I don't care if you just bought the newest Prada with rotating crystal flowers on the sides, leave them home and get serious lenses with old-school filters. Pretty please? And additionally, have a photo copy of your passport and credit cards (not in your wallet) just in case...


5) The goods. Ok, so we are deep into the non-fun part of the list but truly? Do you want to spend your precious days groaning in your stateroom clutching your belly in pain? Think how far most of the food has had to travel to be prepared on even the finest of ships. Accidents happen. Plus, of course there is the whole panoply of other "must haves": dramamine, mosquito spray, anti-malarial meds if you are in that type of zone, anti-bacterial gel...actually, just see the amazing Slim Paley's list here. Oh and a pair of shower shoes. Because if, after two weeks of having gone without a shower, you arrive in Timbuktu only to find that yours is lined with thirty giant cockroaches, you are going to need them.

©Remi Benali

6) Portable elegance. On that note, there are times when you might need a little pick me up. We all have ours. Mine is without a doubt my beaten but still true Hermès scarf. And red lipstick. Without fail. Even if it has gotten me some strange looks in certain countries. Silver jewelry is also a favorite but why not leave yours at home and buy some where you are? You will be helping out local artisans and giving each piece a special memory as you do so.


7) Kindness. A little goes a long, long way and I can promise you that it will not be forgotten.


8) Simplicity. Even when on a fabulous yacht in Bora Bora, I'm not a fan of excessive embellishment. A happy glow will do most of the work and if the world's top designers keep their Cruise wear lines simple, it is for a reason. As much as I live in black, it is just weird on a boat (unless there is a funeral at sea) so I like to keep it light. I live in my white cotton shirts and khaki capris, wide-legged linen pants and long skirts that roll up in the suitcase. They dress up or down. I have a pareo that Remi brought back from Ethiopia that is the perfect weight to work as either a cover up or a scarf. Oh and always, a clean outfit (protected in its own plastic bag) to wear home on the plane.


9) A camera. Now, I realize that in our Instagram world (hey, I have given in to it too, you can find me at @lostinarles), this can be a catch-22. How amazing to seal memories onto a disk (and then print them out into albums or books), how sad to spend so much time snapping away that you ignore your partner and the bliss of the moment. À vous de juger...



And most importantly...

10) A clear mindset: stay open, be ready for adventure and have a sense of humor about it all!



Et voila! Wow, that was fun to write. Those of you who have been reading for a long time are no doubt very surprised at seeing so many photos of me, more than in the nearly four years of blogging combined. And trust me, it will never happen again. But oh, these are all so old, some more than ten years (!), that it made me happy to revisit wide-eyed young 'un me. Hi you! Those truly were such incredible life experiences. 

I have already mentioned the cruise in Bora Bora for my first post in BIO, you can see it here. 
I wrote about our trip up the Maroni River here. 
Both of our journeys on the Niger River in Mali and on the Mekong in both Vietnam and Cambodia were truly epic and are stories for another time...


Toujours l'envie pour l'aventure? To read all of this month's contributions to By Invitation Only, please stop by Splenderosa by clicking here.

I would like to extend a special welcome to two friends that have just become members of this fine group, Jeanne McKay at i dream of and the charming La Contessa of Vintage Hen House!




Two of the photos are used with permission and copyrighted by my companion, Remi Benali, so please do not use nor share on any social media such as Pinterest. Merci!


Happy trails...


PS...Oh! Don't sail off just yet as I have a favor to ask. Remi's story in National Geographic in the April  2014 issue is now out on newsstands worldwide. For those of you in non-English speaking countries, would you be willing to email me a photo of the opening page at robinsonheather@yahoo.com? It is just for us, just for fun and we would be so grateful...


Remi's musical suggestion for this post, perfect for traveling:

58 comments:

  1. if you really understand what you are seeing.....that's the premise for every journey . Travel in that way is only possible not doing it in a group but individual. Mali ...still on my bucket list but unfortunately a bit dangerous at time, isn't it? And Bora Bora is definitely the most wonderful island I have seen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh sadly, there is no way that I would suggest that anyone go to Mali now. Which makes me sad as the people there were really lovely and it is quite an amazing place to visit. Hopefully the al Quieda strains there will be controlled in the future...

      Did you get to go to Tahaa too? I loved all of those islands!

      Delete
    2. unfortunately not, only Moorea, Bora Bora,Huahine and Tahiti.

      Delete
    3. Ah and I did not get to Moorea!

      Delete
  2. SIMPLY LOVELY! What else can I say, dear Heather.
    Your posts are really always SPECIAL.
    Tres amicalement et bisou,
    Karin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci Karin et Gros Bisous à toi aussi...! "Special" is one word for it I guess... ;)

      Delete
  3. Heather, I was wondering what your take on the topic would be, and, of course, you did not disappoint. I admit, I did not for one moment picture you on one of those (ahem) jumbotrons and couldn't imagine how you would manage the topic. You did it with pure magic and great humor and I just love it. And I love, love, love seeing all these wonderful photos of you, too. Hello! Such fun.

    Thanks for your warm welcome to the party, I am in such fine company. And thanks for being such a lovely friend! XOXO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not exactly a challenge with someone as wonderful as yourself! And hehehe, yes, you understand that I was like "WHAT am I going to do here?" but was so happy that I had an idea so I didn't have to bow out this month.
      Thank you again for your gorgeous post!

      Delete
  4. Wow, what an amazing trip!! Your list is full of things I never thought of. Patience...of course. Kindness...mandatory. I too, got some wonderful tips from Slim's post. I've enjoyed getting to know you through this post. Enjoy your day. xoJennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci, Jennifer. And I think Slim's list is the best I have ever seen - I will be passing it on. Your story in the comments made me smile...

      Delete
  5. This is wonderful. Much better than a list of items to buy and pack. I confess that I don't usually read these BIO posts on any of the participants' blogs. I find the whole idea of By Invitation Only a bit exclusive and clique-ish. Perhaps if the event had another name... Ah well, I loved seeing the photos of you in those wonderful locations. I think my favorite might be the one with you sitting on the boat, legs crossed, putting on your lipstick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness - I think that is one of my favorite all-time photos that Remi has taken of me (and trust me, when you live with a photographer, he takes many)! That was my first "real" trip to Africa - little Miss NYC and it shows! :)

      As someone who has been somewhat of an outsider for most of her life, I did balk at the name of the group too - I am not someone of the "I am cooler than you" school of thought. But then I realized that the other ladies involved weren't either! I like the challenge of a monthly theme but I admit that these posts always take a heck of a lot out of me...

      Delete
  6. Well, you have just put all us superficial girls totally in the shade, but that's OK because this is just SO Heather.
    I love each and every photo Remi took of you. He "gets" you, and you are beautiful! These are the kinds of memories you have inside your head forever and you see them and feel them as vividly as when they happened, don't you ? Thank you, thank you, thank you for being my friend and being one of us, the BIO group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for being my friend right back, Marsha - and for celebrating our differences! It is what makes the BIO group interesting. :) And yes, when I look at the photos I am right back there - but even more so when I look at the notes I took for those trips... sigh...

      Delete
  7. I like this post and I just LOVED Remi's photos of you. There is love, love, love in each and every one of them. Oh and by the way, Jim and I just got a great big dog ................. NOT! Happy Poisson d'Avril!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A dog? pssshaw. There was no way I was falling for that one. A cat? Maybe.

      And I passed on what you said to Remi. Thank you, Miss.

      Delete
  8. So gorgeous -- and, I agree, so Special, like all of your posts. What a delight to see your happy face! I actually scrolled through the photos before heading out for what was a rather lengthy dentist appointment. Those images helped me relax and ignore the drama going on inside my mouth. And your advice is just spot on -- I wish I'd had this before my trip to Morocco a year ago, but I am also pleased to see that I did do most of the mental and attitude adjustments that you suggest. .... Except, I need a few of those white shirts! (The only one in my closet right now was 'borrowed' from the son in Morocco, but he'll be returning in just a couple more months, so I'd better get on that right away!) Big hugs to you, Heather. This post has made my day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really??? If I helped you through a dentist appointment then honestly I think that is the best thing that I have ever done with this blog! I mean it!

      And for years I bought my white shirts at H&M and still do if I can find a decent quality, if not I buy them in the men's section of Monoprix, a nice French grocery store.

      Delete
  9. Yes yes yes to everything here, and oh how I love seeing these images of you on your adventures! Quel plaisir!

    May I add... "portable elegance" - that phrase is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was rather fond of it myself, merci! hehehe

      Delete
  10. What a cool post and I love seeing all of your pictures. No way I won't recognize you if we happen to cross paths on one of our sojourns in Provence. Have a great day Heather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just add ten years and twenty pounds and yep, that's me! ;)

      Delete
  11. ABSOLUTELY, LOVE THE PHOTOS OF YOU!!!!!!
    IT"S ABOUT TIME!The HERMES scarf tied on the wrist is THE BEST!!!!!!!You have written about that scarf before…….I REMEMBER!!!!
    What a LIFE of ADVENTURE you have been on………and aren't we THANKFUL you share it all with US!
    BEAUTIFUL POST HEATHER……….BEAUTIFUL……and yes , my post and yours just a wee bit different!
    Thank You for MY WELCOME!!
    LOST IN ARLES was the second BLOG I first started FOLLOWING and I haven't missed a POST!
    XOXO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still don't know how you found me but I am so glad that you did!! I could be wrong but I think that you and David (and maybe Elizabeth Eiffel too?) are the longest continual readers of the blog that aren't family members...and I am very grateful.

      And I knew that you would make a comment about all of the photos! :) I am more shy than you are, my dear...

      Delete
    2. YES< ELIZABETH EIFFEL has been there the entire time.I think David came after me.I do not think he was there when I started.But then again I could be wrong!HE WILL RECALL!OH DAVID……………can you help here?

      Delete
    3. You can count on my always being right behind you, Elizabeth. Interpret that as you please, of course.

      -----david

      Delete
  12. AMAZING! Great photos but 7 really touched my heart the most. Kindness what a beautiful "must have". I love the pictures taken of you....they show someone doing something they love, and that is a wonderful sight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Tina, I really DID love it! Although it was a lot to learn in the beginning. Just learning how to travel in tougher climates. I cried every night for the first week of that Mali trip as I had never seen such poverty before...still, I miss traveling terribly and would go back to that way of life in Heartbeat...

      Delete
  13. Yes, those must have been truly incredible life experiences. That must have formed you a lot. And the way you see the world. It must have enriched you.

    I admire that readiness for adventure as you show it in all of your lists steps. I have been to Russia (before the perestroika) and to the States. But that was all pretty save and nothing in comparison to your experiences. And I always wonder what that kind of adventnture does to people.... You look as if you were gathering everything around you.
    And I love the simplicitiy paragraph and that photo of you. Such beautiful coulours, blue white and your beautiful red hair!

    Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As always, you "get" it. I have to say that traveling can be a bit of a drug - everything is constantly new and a discovery and the world is such a fascinating place. Without a doubt, it changed the way I think of it and mankind, entirely. It also humbled me quite a lot, which needed to happen!

      And as with a lot of redheads, my hair is fading as I age. It really used to be that bright. :)

      Delete
  14. A perfect list, and wonderful images that tell a story on there own. I think a book about your adventures with Remi written in your voice with Remi's photography would be parfait. Can I put in an order now please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is funny because I was just talking about that the other day when I was starting to put this post together. I would love to do a book on all of the trips where we spent at least one month in a place as it is such a great way to know it. But with Remi's photos? Wow! A good idea...

      And ps. See my comment above to La Contessa - how long have you been reading here? Do you remember?

      Delete
  15. Aha…it's red lipstick and a sense of humour….they are the 2 shared things on our lists!!! I actually had patience on mine, but then had to swap it for the red lipstick as I had hit my limit of 10, and the red lipstick was non-negotiable. (Shall just have to take the patience as a given instead….)

    This was truly, truly the most fabulous post you have ever written Heather. From the heart. Loved all the pictures of your beautiful face. So much thought and honesty and depth went into this - it glows off every sentence - as do you in those images.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thank you so much!! I read the sentence about this being my "most fabulous post" a few times to make sure that I had read right. :) That makes me feel really, really good. Thank you, dear friend that you are...

      And you really swapped "patience" for red lipstick? That made me giggle!!!

      Delete
  16. What a wonderful post, Heather....thank you. (and thanks also to Remi, as usual; the boy really is talented when it comes to taking a picture that reveals the story/person behind it. Herve and I reallylove portrait of the joyous boy in Mali).

    It's our anniversary today, in this old house. I know....April Fool's Day. Just for The Public Record?......we met through Match.com (yes, it does occasionally "work") and had our first date on April Fool's Day (or night, I suppose) twelve years ago.

    Sincerely,

    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Congratulations! Belatedly but it comes from the heart. I didn't know that you and Herve have been together the same amount of time as Remi and I (although we actually don't have an "anniversary"- when should it be? The day that we met? That I moved to France? That we PACSed? We have never been able to figure it out). I hope that you were able to celebrate together in that wonderful "old house" of yours...just lovely.

      And yes, you put it perfectly about Remi's work. Actually, when we did the ad for Apple in Botswana, Remi was chosen by the TBWA office in LA because he was "so strong at celebrating people within their environments." I have always felt that it is one of his strongest points...and your photo of the boy in Mali is one of my very, very favorites because of that. I think that Remi wrote you that when we went back to that village (on the trip from the photos here), that young boy remembered Remi and was now a young man. It is what I meant when I wrote that kindness is never forgotten...

      Here is the ad: http://www.remibenali.com/about/advertising.html

      Delete
  17. YES, Openness, curiosity and all you've listed.

    On a Turkish Gulet I was in awe, lust over rubber flip flops w huge bow, in a certain black that only the "girl" from Paris could bring onboard. Few days later she whispered to me in the moon lite night : " Zee bag? Mayan?" Yes, I was living in Guatemala at the time.

    Swap day next day. She had another pair of shoes. I had a spare plastic bag but no regrets. Was 22 years ago; flip flops still steam.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Replies
    1. My Mom told me that some of these trips don't actually count as a "cruise" - really? I think they do. What's not to like?

      Delete
  19. I sometimes feel that we lead parallel lives. I so loved ready your travelogue and i ache to run away to some far away land, I am as we say in french "en manque" d'aventure...the years pile on and i feel i am running out of time to see it all, feel it all, jump in and...who knows what happens. We must meet! i am now on a roll and watch movies that take place in Provence et Cote d'Azur, from To catch a Thief filmed on the Corniche where I grew up, to Pagnol
    Wonderful post, thanks for making me dream

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fancine, I have to admit that this post was bittersweet for me to right as we stopped traveling in 2008 (avec la crise) and I miss it so much. Yes, my heart also aches for that incredible freedom and joy of discovery. We do have much in common but through your hard work you have provided for yourself and your lucky sons the possibility to travel on your own means (whereas we were always invited for the press). Alas, you just need more time!

      And yes, I would love to meet one of these days...To Catch a Thief is one of my favorite films of all time. I had no idea that is where you grew up...oh the stories you must have...

      Delete
  20. Another delightful journey with you as my guide....and yes, you are a lovely muse to gaze at..
    great read, great advise, and as always...great photos.
    Thank you both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci, joyful, I am always so appreciative of the kindness that you share...

      Delete
  21. An amazing trip; precious Heather! What a wonderful girl you are! And I am so pleased to see all these gorgeous pictures of you!
    xx
    Greet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a long time ago, Greet but those really were such amazing times...
      Bisous!

      Delete
  22. Cool photos! Man...this post both made me want to travel and also stay at home! You are so right about unpredictability, comfort, etc. Travel is one of the great pleasures of life but it can definitely wear you out - I'm happy to be in a brief moment of respite. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spoken like a true traveler! The photos from Mali make me wince a bit to look at them as I was sooo skinny. Why? Because I was SO sick. Really, really ill. On a moving boat. Yowza!

      Delete
  23. Thank you for all the photos. It's nice seeing you in real life :) I too am rather camera shy. Especially since I have a 'thing' about my hair. It's much like yours but I am blessed with frizz. Of course, living just a few miles away from the sea doesn;t help. It looks best whenever I am in the mountains. But, alas, they are rather hard to come by in this area of the world. I really enjoyed reading this post. I'd love to travel to all the exotic locations you mentioned but I am not too sure about those giant roaches ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Loree, there are plenty of places to go where bugs are not a problem! That was the worst we ever experienced actually - Remi went in and killed them all for me and cleaned up. My hero!!

      And the older I get, the more my curly hair is frizzy. I just put on a ton of product (Phyto) and hope for the best. :)

      Delete
  24. Ha estado un regalo el visitar tu bloc, te invito a visitar el mío y espero que disfrutes del post de esta semana, la fiesta nipona del Hanami, si te gusta espero que sí no eres seguidora te hagas ahora y si lo eres no dejes de visitarme la semana siguiente. Elracodeldetall.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Complete and practical suggestions for any traveller.
    I love all the photos.
    Thank you Heather.

    ReplyDelete
  26. OH. MAH. GOD. Sister - I think this might be my favorite post you've ever done!!! First and foremost, the pictures of you are so gorgeous - the pics AND you are gorgeous - and it's such a treat for us after seeing nary a glimpse for 4 years!! I know how beautiful you are, but now everyone knows! But to take that theme and turn it on its head, with heartfelt advice nonetheless - you knocked this one out of the park. I'm so glad that you've had these amazing experiences and that you have this amazing blog to express and share it all! And, yes, I'm still rooting for the book idea, too, but with your photos, please; the combination of your eye and your words are what make this blog/you so special! (no disrespect meant to Monsier Benali, photojournalist extraordinaire). Thank you for exposing yourself and sharing what I think could be 10 things to have in life: flexibility, patience, reading/writing/research, protection, the goods, portable elegance, kindness, simplicity, a camera and a clear mindset - um, hello?? YES!!!!! Sister, YOU ROCK.
    p.s. don't know if David Terry will read this, but I also met my partner on Match.com and had our first date on April Fool's Day! (2 years for us this week - hooray!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Robin.....yes, I just read that. To up the absurdity ante even more?....

      Herve had,actually, written to me (via Match) six or so times before we finally met. I'd answered each of his letters quite politely (quite frankly, as as he knows, I'd taken about thirty seconds to consider that I wasn't interested in Frfench empidemiologists who were seven inches taller and eleven years younger (both of which, in fact, he still is). According to him, he finally decided to simply Show Up (my address is on my website).

      I'd just gotten up from an afternoon nap that April Fool's day when I blearily noticed that Laura (the very intelligent, but rather paranoid writer with whom I lived for seven years) was busy telling someone to get off the front porch and g-o a-w-a-y. So, my first viewing of Herve was made under the impression that he was a Jehovah's Witness or simply wanted to mow the lawn.

      I thought she was being a bit harsh, so I let him in the house. We talked for about five hours, I fed him dinner, and that was that.....been together twelve years since then. As I've regularly told folks, we met via match.com one evening and immediately fell into the habits of a long-married, latter-middle-aged couple. As far as I can recall, we entirely skipped the "courtship", negotiating aspects of the business. Idon't think we ever actually had anything one could call a "date". Od, but true.

      ---david terry

      Delete
  27. I am totally in love with your thoughtful list of travel necessities Heather.
    And I nominate that fabulous pic of you on the boat, applying your lippy to be added to your blog header!
    Thanks so much for the link. xx from a fellow traveller SP

    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/266767977902136413/


    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Heather! How I enjoyed reading this and your amazing pics!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!

    Gorgeous pics Heather and such thoughts to send me off on a good bout of daydream believing....


    Sending Hugs

    Veronica

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hand's down, my favorite post EVER. As much as my imagination is oh-so busy and creative, I could never dream up the images you posted and I ADORE the sunscreen one, you on the side of the boat. LOVE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please don't judge that bow-legged tree pose - the boat was moving!

      Delete

Your responses are what makes this blog so special to me. I love hearing from you. Thank you for visiting!

* Comments left on posts two days after publication or more will be published after moderation. So not to worry, they will arrive and again, I appreciate them all so very much...Merci! *

If you prefer, feel free to email me directly at robinsonheather (at) yahoo.com...