It's not my Imagination….The Heat won

January 28, 2008 -

John Heald

Back in the 1980’s the Boomtown Rats had a number one hit across the world called “I Don’t Like Mondays.”………………..well, its 8:30am on Monday and I am sorry to disagree but I do like Mondays, particularly this one as I get to return to the Carnival Imagination for the first time since 1997…………….more about that later but first lets return to Saturday.

It had been a fantastic week, sailing with the bloggers and meeting so many new friends and Saturday morning was not one I was looking forward to. Firstly, I once again had to live through the nightmare scenario of Friday afternoon and evening……………….Heidi was packing again. Now, I understand she has to do this more than most, we do travel a lot but does she have to turn into that woman from The Exorcist every time………………I mean, I could pack myself………..ok, I may have forgotten the odd thing and have to wear one brown sock and one blue one and have no clean underwear (am I bothered) but at least I wouldn’t have to watch Heidi’s head spin around as she tells me that I “don’t understand how to pack properly and that I have no more right to live on God’s earth then a dung beetle for making her pack…………….again.”

Anyway, once her head had stopped spinning and the battered old Samsonites once again were closed it is my job to lift them off the bed. Now, I love my wife, I love her more than an Aston Martin full of naked supermodels shouting “there’s room for one more big boy.” But once again I know that as I lift the suitcases off the bed I know I will discover that she has slightly over packed and the suitcase will weigh the same as a baby elephant…………….and I was right………………….so that’s my back buggered again.

Saturday morning started at 5:00 am with the alarm demanding for us to get out of bed as we had to leave the ship at 6:30 am. This of course was not my choice but that of United States Boarder patrol that have all the crew go through the various checks at that time. I was disappointed because I wanted to use the PA system to say goodbye and also to stand on the gangway to do the same, but that was not to be.

I did however feel good about the cruise and I am sure everybody had a wonderful time. I certainly put my heart and soul into it and although I will change a few small things for the next one overall…………I was very happy.

As I said, going through Immigration and Customs was quick and simple and I only just had time to marvel again at the new Carnival Terminal……………it’s fantastic. The day was going well. I had found that $5 was enough to have some poor sod called Dwain who was one of the porters to carry our bags to the taxi. I had given him the money before he had picked up the bags as I was sure if he had picked them up before taking the money he would have demanded much more of a tip to help pay for the back surgery that surely was imminent.

So, things were going well but of course that was about to change as we entered a place called Avis Rent-A-Car at Miami Airport.

It’s 7:45 am…………..there are 18 (I counted) people in line and guess how many people were working behind the counter…………go on guess………………….wrong…………..2………..yep……….2. I stood in line while Heidi sat and waited as the line moved slower than a sloth who has just taken a sleeping pill. The worst thing was……………..I needed to pee……………..really badly and standing still made it even worse. We have all been there, that feeling that you just have to go and like you I started doing that stupid dance that we have done since we were kids…………you know the one……..where you move from one foot to the other on the spot………..making small “ohhhhh” noises…………..I looked like an American Indian……………Big Chief Needapee.

Eventually after 40 minutes in line and with my bladder feeling like Niagara Falls was about to burst out I reached the desk. I expected a “sorry to keep you waiting” or “thank you for your patience” or even a “I will be as quick as I can because I can see from your war dance you were doing that you need the bathroom.”…………….I got nothing…………..just a blank stare as Lourdes waited for me to tell her why I had dared to come and see her. I handed her my licence and credit card and I waited for words to eventually make there way from her brain to her mouth……………..eventually they did and arrived in Spanish. I guess she took for granted that I spoke Spanish and when I said “I don’t speak Spanish” she looked at me as though I had three heads and a large booger hanging from my nose. Eventually Mrs Lourdes Rudo gave me my contract and I ran (ok, walked quickly) to the other side of the building and finally disposed of three diet cokes, four coffees, two cups of tea and judging by how long I was in the bathroom………..I must have drunk two swimming pools as well.

Eventually we were in the car, a Chrysler 300 in black which with its darkened windows and angry grill looked like something Tony Soprano and friends would be driving. As we drove I kept saying ” forgetabout it ” to Heidi and that if she ever packed as much again I was going to “whack her”………………she was not amused.

Then we arrived at the hotel grateful to them for allowing us to check in so early. We then had a choice to make……………shopping, breakfast, see friends…………..well, I am embarrassed to tell you we did none of these things because the sight of the king size bed and fluffy pillows……………..we went to sleep. I do not think we both realised how tired we were after the Bloggers cruise………………..so that was us in the land of nod…………at 9:45 am.

We awoke at noon and I would like to say I felt refreshed but I actually felt like I had just flown Trans Atlantic and realised that going to bed had been a mistake.

So, we roused ourselves as we had a special afternoon and evening to come.

You may remember that a few weeks ago I had the privilege of going to see the Miami Heat play and as we were in Miami and they were playing again I thought I would take Heidi to see this amazing spectacle for herself.

Now, for those avid followers of basketball you will know that the Miami heat have been ……….ummmmmmmmm………well……………..awful and have lost a few games here and there……………..and as we sat there I could see why. Ok, I am no Michael Jordan or Magic Bird but as the lads played the Indiana Pacers I could not see a smile amongst them. It does not matter what you do for a job but surely if you are not happy at work you won’t do your job well…………….these guys were not happy and therefore they didn’t play well. The crowd were getting frustrated and the players even more so…………..it didn’t look good.

Half time came with the Heat loosing and as I had my half time diet coke both Heidi and I feared the worst. I spoke to the chap sitting next to me who was obviously a die hard Miami Heat fan about why he thought they were playing so badly but after a minute or two I realised speaking to him was pointless due to the fact that he was sitting next to a stunningly beautiful young lady who had reduced him to a blubbering mess of puppy love. They gazed into each others eyes the whole match and even if I had taken of all my clothes and dribbled the ball up and down the court dunking over Dwayne Wade’s head …….Romeo and Juliet would not have noticed………………..I remember when.

Back to the game. The second half started as the first with the Pacers smiling and laughing and generally having a good time, especially one lanky git called Delaney who I was told was a Duke…………..strange…………….I didn’t think you had royalty in America. Anyway, he was brilliant and had scored most of Indiana’s points and you know what………….he was smiling………….even when he missed a shot.

That was the difference then, one happy team having fun, one team not happy, not having fun and therefore loosing. Then, something happened…………….. suddenly Dwayne Wade scored a brilliant lay up shot………..and then another and then another and he smiled……..coach Riley smiled………….the other players started to smile and then the crowd saw that they were smiling and having fun…………….still loosing………but having fun and the crowd responded with cries of “let’s go Heat” and I started screaming like I was at a soccer match at the referee and that “he needed glasses” and the arena, its fans, its players had come to life……………all except Romeo and Juliet who were feeding each other Sour Fish as though it was Caviar.

The Heat won. They had fun and they won………….it was close but the smiling, happy team from Miami won the game and broke a multi game loosing streak.

Obviously the reasons were many. Great coaching, inspirational team talks and of course the players scored some brilliant baskets. However, I would like to think that they also won because they were having fun; they were smiling at each other and remembering why they had dedicated themselves to this game.

I have often wondered about sports stars. When they loose a game does that awful feeling stay with them as they climb into their Ferraris and head for their million dollar homes. The feeling certainly stays with us, the fans, as we drive our ordinary cars and head to our ordinary homes. However, this Saturday thousands of fans drove their ordinary cars and went home feeling fantastic, their team, their pride and their joy had won.

Have fun lads, smile, show the world that even in adversity you can have fun………..the other teams are expecting down trodden and sad faces…………..give them a smile and a laugh, pinch their bottoms and let the opposing team and the fans see that you still over this game………………………………………..that’s enough from Coach Heald.

After the game we went for dinner with some great friends Mr and Mrs Prince. The restaurant was in Miami Beach………..it was an Italian eatery called Casa Tua……………..and while Heidi had Sole, and Mrs Prince had something called Ozzie Buco both Mr. Prince and I had something historic…………………Pork with crackling. This is where the skin goes hard and although it’s not exactly health food it was amazing and it was like my Mum was in the kitchen…………..what a meal. Then it was time for dessert and the usual ritual of Heidi telling me she can’t have any because she is overweight. I have to respond with the “you are not overweight my darling and you should have the Panecote and worrying about eating a small dessert is like a multi millionaire panicking because they have lost 50 cents.”……………..she then has the dessert.

It was a fantastic night with good food and great friends.

On Sunday farternoon (that’s not a spelling mistake by the way as the pork returned with a vengeance) we met up with Roger Blum and his family and enjoyed some sushi and lots of laughs with the junior Blums Max, Ashley and Pumper.

Returning to the hotel Heidi went straight to sleep while I watched a classic movie starring one of my favourite actors…………….Sir Michael Caine. The movie was The Fourth Protocol which also stars a youthful looking Pierce Brosnan. I watched the movie which reminded me what a brilliant actor he is and how I would expect him to be funny and very personable off the screen as well as on it…………how I would love to meet him……………and his gorgeous wife as well! Maybe we could invite him to the Carnival Splendor naming ceremony …………..his wife Shakira could be Godmother and as the ship was built in Italy they could arrive in a Mini like in the Italian Job……………..sorry, had one of my visits to the realms of fantasy there……………………anyway, rent a Michael Caine movie and remind yourself what a completely brilliant actor he is.

Can I just send a quick message to Mr. Pietrangelo who I know was so disappointed as was I that I would miss him on the Carnival Freedom. I will however ask Immigration to allow me on the ship early so I can say hello to you in person before you disembark………………it would be an honour to shake your hand.

So, you are up to date and now it’s Monday morning. In a few minutes I will be heading to the Carnival Imagination to see for myself just why the world is raving about the new Evolutions of Fun. As I mentioned before, I was her first Cruise Director, Heidi and I were engaged on the ship and if I climb under the desk in the Cruise Directors office there are probably a few memories of the time I had a cold but no handkerchief.

Whatever I find I will of course share it all with you through multiple blogs.

So, the cases are packed and in a few moments some poor un-expecting bellboy will arrive at the door to take our luggage unaware that he will be lifting something that will have him walking like that chap from Notre Dame for days.

Good Morning

Your Friends

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.