Unless you are a quilter, you may be asking yourself how a person can actually use the words “quilt” and “adventure” in the same sentence? Yes, quilters bear the burden of being stereotyped as little old ladies who sit home alone with their sewing and their cats. But things have changed in the last century or so. OK, so I do have a cat, well three actually, but I don’t sit home alone. I like adventure. Perhaps that’s an odd admission from a person who is too afraid to ride a roller coaster, bungee jump, water ski, snow ski… well you get the picture. But I do like a challenge, so in the winter of 2006 I signed up to go on a quilting cruise to the Caribbean. I had never been on a cruise, and never been to the Caribbean… On top of that, I went by myself… alone! My friends and family were aghast.I flew down to Florida and spent a few days in Daytona with my son who drove me to Miami in his little sports car. I had a stylish ride. What a great start to my adventure. I checked into my room on board the ship and met the roommate that the cruise company had arranged for me. She turned out to be a very nice woman from California. So far, so good. Then we had to go on deck for a life boat drill, complete with life vests, life boats and whistles we could use should the ship go down in the dark. Gulp!! I’m starting to wish I hadn’t seen that movie, The Titanic. However, a few drinks and a trip through the 40 foot buffet line took the edge off my anxiety. The cruise was sponsored by Quilting Arts Magazine so I was looking forward to meeting Pokey Bolton, (who I later learned is a descendant of Pocahontas, hence the nickname Pokey), as well as the instructors hired to provide us with quilting seminars during the voyage: Leslie Riley, Laura Cater-Woods and Arlene Blackburn.
Now fast forward to the next day. I am sitting on the bus with nine other people on the way to the Mayan ruins, and now have a terrible sore throat and a fever, obviously the result of ingesting polluted salt water. But there is no way I am missing out on climbing those ruins. Our guide pulls out box lunches that contain tuna fish sandwiches and tells us to hold on to them until we reach the ruins, about an hour away. Now I used to be a microbiology technician, and I am already questioning the advisability of serving tuna fish in the tropics, but sit, as directed, with the sandwhich on my lap for an hour. As we exit the bus, we are told that there will be a lovely place to picnic at the end of the tour, again about another hour from now. I begin to calculate the time it takes for bacteria to reproduce and figure in another hour I could be vomiting, too. I decide to eat and walk at the same time. I am proud that I read the guide books and have liberally coated myself with heavy duty bug spray. No one else seems concerned about the mosquitoes. After I inform them that this is malaria country, I make several friends who want to share my heavy duty Deet. I am truly in awe of the ruins and am photographing them from every possible angle to get the best shot. Then I remember another Nat Geo episode about the crafty Fer de Lance snake that inhabits this area. I did not notice a first aid kit on the van. I begin to walk gingerly, but made it safely to the picnic grounds, which was on the bank of a breathtaking lagoon. I notice that no one is eating their picnic, apparently I am not alone in my opinion of the tuna fish. I am very glad to see a restroom, altough it is merely a hole in the ground with no doors. The roof is covered with palm fronds. The women take turns making sure the coast is clear from the males in our party. When it’s my turn, I start thinking about how those Fer de Lance snakes are reputed to hide in palm frond ceilings, then drop down onto their unsuspecting victims. Death come rapidly. In my hast, I manage to drop my brand new, and expensive sun glasses down the hole. I decide to view this loss as a sacrifice to the gods that keep me safe from snake bite. Despite what you may think, I had the trip of a lifetime. And you thought quilting was for little old ladies!