We live at the ocean, a ten minute walk from the cruise ship terminal at Ogden Point. The Alaska season is in full gear. On our walks along the shore we occasionally meet passengers who prefer to walk rather than the costly organized shore excursions. Myself, I just stroll, while N walks briskly. You could say a combo of ‘Turtle and Hare’. There are a few benches where you can sit quietly and look south over Juan de Fuca Strait towards the snow-capped Olympic range (there seems to be snow year-round) and west to the ship terminal.
A bench, our daily walk
Yesterday while strolling along, a man with a laptop occupied one of the benches. He looked like a cruise passenger. A dog came by on a leash with its owner and sniffed or tried to sniff the fellow on the bench. “Keep that mongrel away from me!” he shouted angrily with a southern drawl. Then he noticed my Cunard cap and gestured for me to come over. I learned he was upset because the battery in his laptop was down. I asked why he didn’t go and use the shipboard computers. The fellow, who was from Houston, Texas replied he couldn’t waste time; he needed to know how his stocks on Wall Street were performing. So we moved on, leaving this unhappy and stressed out man muttering to himself.
This incident brought a flashback from 1961 when I was living on the island of Ibiza. During a long stay to paint, I rented a bicycle. A few times each week, I rode into town to do errands and wander at siesta time in this sleepy, walled-in city of Ibiza.
Panoramic view of beautiful Ibiza (without 'Farouk' yacht)
Lunch would be at the picturesque waterfront bodega. There were only six tables, with iron tables and chairs painted white, no cushions. In those days, Ibiza was still in a slumber before the jet-age onslaught. A few sailboats were anchored amongst the fishing boats. One day a magnificent yacht moored in the harbour.
I was having lunch at a table for two in the bodega. The place was almost full. A gentleman approached me, dressed in navy blue jacket with yellow brass buttons, white trousers and shoes, wearing a marine cap. There was one empty seat, at my table. “Good-day, chappie. I say, do you mind if I join you?” he asked. I replied, “Not at all”.
Laundry patio, inner town. Another photo from my 1961 collection.
The dapper fellow turned out to be Commodore of the impressive yacht. When he noticed how much I was enjoying my lunch and generous serving, he remarked, “You have a very good appetite.” He ordered a bottle of mineral water, and removed a small metal box from his pocket, took out one pill, then swallowed it. I asked if he was going to order some food. “No, chappie. It’s my nerves. My stomach. And this is my lunch.” It turned out his investments on the stock market had lost some value. He thanked me for letting him join the table, and then invited me to visit the yacht; they’d be anchored for a week.“Bring some friends along”, he said. I took him up on this kind invitation a few days later.
She suddenly appeared from nowhere. Both surprised. HvB 1961
It turned out the yacht used to belong to the late King Farouk of Egypt. Ebony, mahogany, malachite, silverware everywhere and yes, gold taps in the bathroom. No more needs to be said. You see what we mean with a similarity between the two fellows? One was very upset while sitting in paradise, the other could not enjoy a tasty lunch in a picturesque island harbour, all because of the stock market.
Henri van Bentum