We met in the lobby at 9:00 for our day excursion to the island of Delos. Everyone was present and accounted for, except Andrew, who was not present, but thankfully accounted for. He's opting for beauty rest today.
We took a bus to the dock that quite honestly, in retrospect, seemed to go around our thumb to get to our ass. (Is that the correct phrase?) We got off at the dock area, and had to take this huge horseshoe walk along the pier area to get where the boat was. It would have been a much shorter walk to be left off where we've been taking the bus, which besides being closer to the area at the docks we needed to be, was a shorter bus ride from our hotel down to the dock area. Oh well. It was good exercise, and we were still there in plenty of time to catch the boat to Delos.
The winds have been exceptionally high here, since we arrived actually, and today was better, but not at all calm. At the pier, we were each given little round stickers to put on our shirts, at which time I thought were our "tickets" for the boat, as everyone else seemed to have tickets in their hands.
We boarded without incident, and all sat together in one section of the boat. The seats in the area were arranged like theater seating, rows and rows of seats all facing the same way, with no screen however. There were four or five seats to the left, a small aisle, maybe two seats in the middle, another little aisle, and then four or five seats on the right side, with maybe 10 or 15 rows all together.
It was about a 20- to 25-minute ride, and it got quite wild at times. The waves were unbelievable, and at times we went so high up and then back down that it was truly like a roller coaster. Adam was the lead cut-up, and it got to the point where we were yelling, "Weeeee!" everytime we went up and then came crashing down.
This was probably the most fun time we've had as a group so far. We were talking about the drama of the EAGLE database (in the nicest way of course), which we love. At one point music came on, or we were able to hear it for the first time, and I started swinging my hands around in front of me as if dancing, and then was doing the "swim" dance from decades ago, holding my nose with one hand, and drawing a squiggly line in the air, as if descending into the water, with the other. Most people were old enough to recognize what it was.
A little while into the ride, Robert pointed to a sign that was posted on the wall we were facing, where the movie screen might have been, and it said: "Life jackets are under of seats." (I think I have that right, but the picture of me pointing to it in disdain will tell for sure.) We had another round of discussion about the EAGLE database at this point.
We disembarked on Delos, and found a tour guide with a sign waving for our group. As it turned out, the round stickers were to identify us as her group, ours consisting of the 10 of us, and two other couples (straight couples). I thought, "Oh, they're in for a treat being in our group!"
The one couple consisted of a woman, who if I had to guess I would say looked like a California blond, and an Asian guy. Once we got past the stereotypes, she turned out to be from Belgium, and he turned out to be from the UK.
With the other couple, I only got as far as stereotypical guesses, which consisted of her being an American of Italian descent, and him being a purebred white-boy from Nebraska.
Our tour guide was a trip from "Hello." Robert and I absolutely couldn't figure her out, but we thought she was hysterical. We couldn't tell if her way of being was acted or natural, but whatever the case, we totally enjoyed her.
I got the impression that she was either fairly new at doing these tours, or that she was doing it for the first time in English. The basis of this hypothesis consisted of two points: 1) she certainly did not have a smooth delivery as if she'd done this a thousand times, and 2) she often seemed to be struggling for the right word to use at times, or to recall a certain name.
We started in the middle of the Agora of the ancient ruins. As we were starting the Italian-Nebraska couple snapped at each other about something, and I said, "Oh, these two are married." Laughter all around, including the couple, especially the woman; thank goodness.
The tour guide told us, "Before we go further, you should know that there are lots of lizards here. Lots of them. There are two varieties, one cute, the other ugly. So ugly. Repulsive." She said it like that, which made us laugh, but then she just looked at us, and said, "Did I say something funny?" That just cracked me up more.
Several times, she would say to the group, something like, "You've read the Greek tragedies?" And no one would respond yes, and she would look incredulously around the group, and at every third glance at someone would say, "No one?" Then she would put her two hands up in the air, with her palms facing us, and then bend her hands downward, and say, "Never mind!" Like she wasn't even going to bother telling us what she was going to tell us if we hadn’t bothered reading the Greek tragedies, or whatever she had asked us about. This sent me into hysterics. And then she'd say, "What? Did I say something funny?" Which made me laugh more.
This is the kind of thing that I couldn't tell if she was doing on purpose, as in really being disgusted, or if she was playing it up.
She also stopped a couple of times, right in the middle of a story she was telling, looked around, waved her hands slightly, and said, "All B.C."
Especially at the beginning of the tour, the guide talked about activities that were performed in that era that were only done by the men, and she would add, very dryly, after telling us something that was done, "Men only." And then look at the two women in the group, and say, "Sorry ladies."
We got to an area in the ruins where the tour guide talked about meetings—men only of course—that they had that were called "symposiums." Of course when she put the words "meetings" and "men only" together our group's collective gay ears went straight up.
The guide started, "So the men would meet here together…"
"Yes," our chorus responded.
"And they would drink…"
"Yes!" again, louder.
"And they would play games…" she continued.
"Yeees!" we cried.
She went on, "And do—let's call them—'balancing acts' with different parts of their body."
The gay male chorus swelled to a frenzy now, "Yes!"
It was very funny. Then Ms. straight-faced tour guide looks at the two girls, nodded her head up and down, and again, "Men only." Everybody cracked up.
Then Adam says to the couples, "If you want to see a modern-day symposium, just hang around with us this evening." Laughs all around again.
I was thinking, "Those straight people must be wondering, 'What in the world have we gotten into?'" But they were laughing right along with the rest of us.
The first section of ruins we went through was where the shops of the day had been built. Then we moved into the section where the residences were. The first "house" we stopped at had an object carved onto the wall at the entrance to the right of the door, a little over eye level high. The tour guide pointed it out, and asked, "Does anybody know what it is?"
It was somewhat worn, so not so easily recognizable. The lady from Belgium rubbed her hand over it to get a better "feel" for what it might be. Then someone in the group said, "It looks like an arrow." Then someone else, "It's a phallus."
The tour guide shook her head up and down and said, "Yes!" and the Belgian lady shrieked, and yanked her hand away from it. Like that wasn't funny enough, the Italian-American lady then goes, "What's a phallus?" OMG. The tour guide looked at her and said, "Girls. We'll have a little talk later. Ladies only."
After the tour, we had about an hour to take pictures, and visit the archeological museum. We met back at the dock to await the return boat, and Robert, Adam, and I had a nice chat with the UK-Belgium couple. She asked where everyone in our group was from, and was surprised when we were from as many places as North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. She then asked how we knew each other, and we explained about IBM's GLBT employee group and this second annual trip. She was very interested, and amazed that we had such a group, and thought it was great that we organized these trips.
The boat ride back started out with lots of laughter and carrying on. Adam and I sat against the wall of the ship - where the theater screen would have been - with the rest of the group facing us. Adam and I were cutting up. We took a picture of ourselves with Adam holding his camera out in front of our face.
Once on the way, the seas became so rough that we were literally going up in the air, and back down. Adam and I were putting our hands up in the air like a roller coaster, and screaming, "Weeee!"
The two couples that had been in our tour group were also sitting in this area, and laughing at all our antics. The next time I looked back at the Italian-American-Nebraskan couple, the husband was gone, and the wife was sitting up in her chair, sort of turned sideways, and was not looking good. Adam mouthed to her, "Are you all right?" but she didn’t answer. She was looking a little pale, finally stood up, and started walking down the aisle toward the middle of the boat. After her first two steps, her knees gave out; she dipped down a bit, but then stood back up and walked on, presumably to the bathroom.
Shortly after that I started feeling absolutely queasy. It got to the point where I thought, "If we're on this boat for more than 10 more minutes, I am not going to make it." What an awful feeling. At one point Steve F. said, "John, are you okay?"
"Not really," I said, "but I’m hanging in there."
Finally, as we neared shore, the bouncing stopped, but the rocking continued. I tried not to look out the windows, because that seemed to make it worse. I continued to feel queasy even once the boat was totally calmed, and even after exiting the boat.
We never did see Nebraska boy and his Italian-American wife again. In fact, Steve F. had picked up a bag that the wife had left on their seat, and couldn't find them anywhere to give it to them. I finally convinced him to leave it with one of the two or three travel agents right there by the dock.
We talked about hoping they weren't both still in the bathrooms on the boat, because it wasn't at the dock for more than five minutes to load another group, and was off. God forbid they were still on that boat. They'd've had to go over to the island one more time, and then back again. How horrifying.
We had a long walk back to the bus. I just wanted to get home and lie down on my bed. When we got back to the bus area, there was no bus for us. We waited about 10 minutes, and then Adam went up and talked to the driver of one of the busses that had pulled up recently, but was just parked there with no sign of looking for anyone. This turned out to be our bus.
We loaded, and I felt awful all the way back, thinking, "I've never noticed the up and down motion of a bus before when you're riding it," and once again, I just wanted to get back to my room.
We finally made it, and I lay down as soon as we got in the room. Robert was a dear and went to the front desk to ask if there was any Dramamine available. They gave him four, to also get us through the boat ride back to Athens on Friday should we need it. As always here, customer service was above and beyond.
After a while I went down by the pool for a while, and got in the Jacuzzi. Robert used the steam room and sauna for a while. After that, since I still wasn't feeling well, he volunteered to walk down to that little restaurant we'd eaten at yesterday, and pick up dinner. He walked there and back.
He brought back a pizza for me, some gyro meat for him, which also had with it some pita triangles and some tazhitzi. He also brought us a half loaf of round bread topped with a cheese spread, tomatoes and some sliced onions. It looked so good, but unfortunately, the cheese was some kind of very strong cheese that neither of us could stomach - especially not me with my still trace of nausea after all this time and after the Dramamine tablet. The pizza was most delicious, though - bacon, cheese, and mushroom. We ate this dinner out on our balcony facing that beautiful blue sea.
After dinner, I went up to the lobby, and posted my completed journal entries to livejournal. I also sent an email to Philip Bender asking him to post my postcard sentiments to the EAGLE database, and a second posting pointing to my journal entries.
I came back to the room, and we actually went to bed at around 9:00.