Carnival Imagination, Dec 18-20, 2014 Birthday Quickie: ENSENADA

So, up and at 'em at 7am.  Stumbling around to find enough clothes to go upstairs for coffee and a quick vape.  As I step out of the room I am ONCE AGAIN assaulted by the smell of burning hemp.  I don't know if the neighbors are still at it from last nite, or doing the wake and bake thing, but it's really starting to piss me off.  I look at the  list of items that are not allowed to be used in the room, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, etc.  Nowhere does it say you can't smoke dope.  I assumed this was an oversight, but apparently it's policy.  Honest to God, every hallway on the ship smells like a Dead Show.  And, you know...it's not that I care if anyone wants to get blazed on their vacation, but it's puzzling that my odorless vaping is grounds for a $250 fee, if I were to get caught using it in the room, but this is overlooked.  And you can't tell me the crew doesn't know what that smell is.

But, yeah...I get some nicotine and caffeine in me and then head back downstairs to get dressed for breakfast.  Had a quick eggs Benedict in the MDR and made my way to the gangplank.

I have been going to Ensenada since the 70's, and nothing much ever changes there.  Except they moved Papas and Beer.  I liked the upstairs location better.  I walked around the main drag, did a little shopping, found an ATM to replenish the cash, and decided to go to the aforementioned for lunch.  Kyle and Natalia were there, so I joined them and watched the hijinks whilst munching some carne asada fries.  Maybe it was just early, or maybe they are toning things down, or maybe the new outdoor location is considered unsuitable, but I was dismayed to find out women can now get bumper stickers without taking their shirts off.  Boring...

After lunch I headed back to the ship for a little nap.  That plan was interrupted by a trivia game, at which I sucked.  So then I had to wait for the next one, to prove I didn't turn stupid.  Won that one.  Now I could nap in good conscience.  So I did.

And nearly missed my dinner date.  A few of us from the piano bar had made plans to dine at 7, and I got there at 6:58.  So, no worries.  Dinner was definitely better than the previous night, but still not all that.  I started with a caprese salad, and again, the portion was comical.  3 slices of nearly-cherry tomato, and 3 equally diminutive slices of mozzarella.  Followed by a chicken tortilla soup that was FINALLY a flavorful and hearty thimbleful.  It was the best tasting thing I had the whole time.  So I ordered another.  Then a beef tenderloin that was tender, but not terribly tasty.  Even the sauce was just blah.  And I was refused a baked potato!  Mashed is all I could get.  They were okay, but again, just sort of blah.  A little gravy would have been good.  For dessert I ordered a chocolate panna cotta.  What I got was really a chocolate mousse.  While I admit a good panna cotta is a challenge to make, they didn't even try.  This was straight cream with some chocolate pushed from a nitrous charger.

So, after dinner I decided to head back to the piano bar.  Mat wasn't in yet, and they were cleaning the room.  So I stood at the rail of the atrium with some of the others and listened to the kid playing in the atrium bar.  He was fantastic.  In 20 minutes he covered John Legend, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and The Eagles...yeah. 

Finally got in to the piano bar and Mat had to wait while atrium dude did 3 encores.  He actually joined in one song, playing a duet with the guitar guy.  Some new faces and some repeats from the crowd last nite, we all put in our requests and sang along and had a good time.  Except Silvia's esposo.  For some reason (probably alcohol-fueled machismo) he thought his job was to mean mug everyone who looked at or spoke to Silvia.  Including me.  And, you know...I was sitting next to her, and it would have been rude NOT to talk to her.  So I talked to her.  And didn't think too much about it when they left. 

He came back an hour later, even drunker, walked right up to me and in slurred Spanglish asked why I was bothering his heina.  I had no idea what he was talking about, and said so.  He again accused me of inappropriate contact with Silvia.  I again told him I was completely unclear on just what he was referring to.  This is all taking place 3 feet to the left of the piano, and with a half dozen onlookers, all of whom have been sitting there all night, all of whom are mystified at what it is I have done. 

So, Mat decides right then to stop what he's playing and break in to "Santeria" by Sublime.  Which, as soon as I recognized it, caused me to bust out laughing, and decide to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize.  The little pendejo didn't much like being laughed at, but when the others caught the lyric and joined in the laughter, little dude just had to slink away.  And for the rest of the night, I had to answer to Sancho.  Like I said...one of the weirder cruises I have ever been on.  So, I finished the night in the piano bar, headed up to the buffet for a late night snack, hoping not to run in to Silvia's man, and decided to pack it in about 2am.

Thus effectively ending the birthday quickie cruise, as I rolled out Saturday at 8am, packed my bags and went HOME!

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