An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 22, 2011
issued at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 km north of Mahahual
on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast just north of the Belize border,
in the state of Quintana Roo, MÉXICO

ENCHANTED CITY AT DAWN

Each Monday morning about half an hour before sunup a white cruise ship with all its outside lights ablaze glides through the darkness right in front of my sea-facing, second-story window. The ship is heading to dock at Mahahual 20kms south of us. In predawn darkness the splendidly lit vessel looks like a glowing, enchanted city dreamily drifting by, and that sets me to thinking during the following morning jog.

Sometimes I daydream of starting my own cruise-ship line. My ships would be slow ones, though, mostly drifting with the currents, and using solar energy for navigating in port. I'd offer passengers low-key, homey settings where linens would be clean but not chlorine-bleached. Instead of offering gourmet meals, the emphasis would be on fresh, tasty, nutritious dishes with ingredients grown locally at our ports of call. Guests would empty their own trash, clean their own bathrooms and wash their own clothing, these chores undertaken as meditations on the beauty of being a working component of a healthy, sustainable environment.

For entertainment there'd be participatory sports, fitness programs and classes on the cultures and ecosystems we're visitiing. When we'd dock, everyone aboard would know the local history, the distinctive features of the culture and ecology about to be experienced, and at least a few phrases of the local language.

My ships would be big enough for entire decks to be given over to themes of diversity. Deck Six, maybe, would support a tropical rainforest, while Deck Ten might host an entire traditional Maya community with cornfields, thatch-roofed huts and all. In fact, my cruise ships would be so large that they'd constitute biospheres all by themselves...

At this point in my jogging day-dreaming it starts dawning on me that what I'm visualizing already has been done. Already the Earth is a splendidly lit, multi-leveled ship on a lonely but enchanted voyage, one adrift on a current vaster than I can imagine.

On and on I jog, the revelation dawning, the day itself dawning, me running, almost laughing, unable to keep track of which metaphor I'm running through, which metaphor is making me want to laugh, and why. Facebook Icon.