Never Off Duty

When an elderly woman's stumble turns disastrous on a small-ship cruise in the Galapagos Islands, Sally Moir, a nurse on vacation, suddenly finds the traveler's life in her hands. Fortunately, all ends well, but Sally is left to wonder about the line between adventure and recklessness. 

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My Furry Valentine

by Judith Fein

 

As the holiday of hearts approaches, you’re probably thinking long-stemmed roses served on a breakfast tray in a 5-star hotel. Then, hmmm….snuggling, doing the love thang, champagne, chocolate, doing the love thang again, bundling up for a hand-holding stroll, dinner, a show and home again.  The odds are slim that your amorous thoughts turn to things that creep and crawl and fly.  But what if Cupid inspired you to do just that—think of animals for Valentine’s Day? One equatorial word immediately leaps to the lips: Galapagos.

So how, you wonder, can blue-footed boobies compete with bubbly and sinking your fork into a one-pound crustacean swimming in garlic butter on your plate?

The great Galapagean secret is that it’s no longer an either-or proposition. The entire crew of a ship can pamper you and your honey while you float toward the remote islands that young Charles Darwin visited in 1835. It’s no wonder it took him five years to collect his thoughts and formulate his theory of Evolution and survival of the fittest.  Poor Charley had to recover from his years on board the Beagle, where he suffered continually from the agony of sea-sickness. Although your cruise may not result in a great scientific breakthrough, your ship will be stabilized, you will not be tossing your petit fours, and you will be in the mood for unusual forms of aquatic and terrestrial love.

My husband, who is a thoroughbred romantic, booked us in a deluxe room on the l00-passenger Explorer II.  I had visions of walking single-file down a dark, narrow, creaking corridor and ducking into a stateroom with a metal floor and a Murphy bed.  Ah, how little I trusted my Valentine. The corridors were broader than some state roads, and the doors all shone with mahogany finishes.  Our room was carpeted, had real drapery, a huge bed, a video console, chocolates on our pillows, and—was I dreaming?—the room steward made up the room at least three times a day.  Before bed, he twisted  our yellow beach towels into the shapes of different Galapagos animals.  I think my fave was the turtle with mints for eyes.

I’ll concede that it’s not love-inducing to get up at 6:45 a.m. every morning, but you have to take a ponga (a motorized skiff) to shore to greet the fauna before they go food-hunting.  The upside is that there are several breaks during the day when you can slip off into your stateroom for a quickie, and everyone is too busy talking about the animals they’ve just seen to notice.

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