Don’t answer the phone after midnight. That is what Wyona said to Moiya last night. Wyona does her searches for good cruise deals after midnight. I answer the phone after the twelve bells had tolled to hear her say, would you rather go on a cruise around England, stopping in at many ports, or one to the Baltic. Going to the Baltic was a no brainer for me, I told her and that is how I woke up in the morning, going on my first cruise, and how I discovered myself walking along the streets of St. Petersburg, 10 days later.
Moiya had a similar experience. She answered the phone after midnight, and was on a plane 24 hours later, joining us for our trip to the Canary Islands the day after that. Steve had upgraded our room from an inside cabin to a balcony so that Alex could come along with us. That opened up another bed and Wyona picked up the phone after midnight to ask Moiya to join us.
There is a sense of adventure in Wyona. We didn’t take any of the port destination trips that are offered to passengers. Instead we get off of the boat, Wyona finds someone who can speak English, asks them for a good local bus route to take, one that we can use to go to a destination and then walk back to the ship. That is how we found ourselves walking along a small side street, Moiya and Alex in a grocery store buying pop, and Wyona and me strolling the avenue looking at churches, statues, the design on pavements, and the graffiti on buildings. I had stopped to look at a quickly painted political statement on the side of a building about democracy, probably inspired by the trauma of the long dictatorship under Franco, and Wyona went back to see what was taking the shoppers so long. When she didn’t come back, I, too, wandered back, to find her sitting on a chair, surrounded by 8 locals, all of whom looked worried, and a couple of clerks were standing there, one with a phone in her hand. Wyona was pale and disoriented. “Have you fallen again,” I asked. “Oh, does she speak English? We thought she spoke French,” said one of the onlookers. I looked quizzically at a small old woman who was standing by her own shopping cart and she looked back at me right in the eye, but speechless, though she was intoning the musical fifth, doh/soh, doh/soh, doh/soh, over and over, which lead me to believe an ambulance was on its way.
Having had a number of on-ship discussions with Moiya and Wyona about the high cost of medical treatment abroad, I said to Wyona, “There is an ambulance on its way.” She put out her arms, stood slowly and said, “Look, I am OK. I am OK. Call the ambulance back. I am leaving right now and walking down this street. Thank you everyone for your help. I am going to be OK. ”S he limped back up the street, the by-standers shaking their heads.
“Alright, Wyona, what just happened there?”
“I was going into the store and tripped over the step that leads up into the store. I did a face plant. The clerks saw me. I got up and leaned on the wall outside, but when I did, I knew I was going down, so I slipped down the wall to the ground. I had taken a really hard fall. A clerk saw me and brought a chair and put me on it. That is where you found me. I needed to sit there for a bit. There was no way I was going in an ambulance, so I got up and started walking, telling everyone I was OK. Who was around me?”
“As far as I could tell, only Spanish speakers and you must have uttered a bit of French to them, for they thought that is what you spoke.” Wyona can flesh out her story when she gets on the blog – sufficient to say her energy level dropped for a few days until some healing occurred. She was back on her feet and into the markets again when Moiya missed a step going down reconstructed the same fall, letting her elbow and knee act as part of her 3-point landing that she bounced from, rolling into a position of being prostrate on the ground. Suddenly I was on the outside of a circle of 10 people gathered around her, asking her if she was alright. What is wrong with this picture, I asked myself later. I have my eyes on architectural details while my siblings are contending with each other for who can come away with the biggest bruises and contusions. Moiya has the perfect thing to say from the ground. “I am fine. I just need a minute to sit here and collect my senses.” But everyone stands around for that minute to watch and Moiya isn’t in for that kind of spotlight and scrambled as quickly as she could to her feet, all the while someone saying, “I am not stalking you, I am helping, I am a nurse, I am going to watch you for minute to see that you are OK.” How sweet was that?
So at night, when the shows are over, those two compare the colour of their bruises and the pain level of their stretched muscles, and I sit there determining to hold tight to the banisters on every staircase, and to keep my eyes more on the gutters than on the eaves troughs around me.