The ship rocked in the heavy seas, and I puked my brains out into a swaying toilet. It seemed the entire world was adrift in some apocalyptic cosmic storm. The ship seemed to be a meer toy, utterly powerless in the raw face of nature’s rage.
I’d signed up to travel by cargo ship, something I’d long wanted to do. It was about the same as plane fare, and the trip from Santiago de Chile to Singapore was going to take three months with all the stops. It seemed, though, like an adventure I should try to take while I could. There was something dark and foreboding about the open ocean that always called to my midwestern soul. Something about the vast rolling waves that seemed both utterly pedestrian and completely alien.
Now anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of the seas would tell you that storms are a thing, though one I assumed were avoided. I guessed the ship would use all the modern technology that we have to see them from far off, skirt their edges at worse, and sail for fair seas and following winds.
Turns out, though, they crop up fast and wild, and sometimes out of economic thriftiness are just endured to expedite delivery. Thus into the tempest we charged with our containers and hatches battened and our loins girded. Now in the depths of the fury we are tossed like ragdolls.
And I, the son of the plains, am hopeless. Any shred of equilibrium is impossible and my brain is none too pleased. The puking, I would imagine, is its way of expressing protest, its urgent calls to bring a swift end to this nonsense and return to a more normal, stable orientation.
That, though, is not possible so I hurl ’till it’s nothing but dry heaves. I crawled, for want of enough stability to walk, from the bathroom into my cabin. My windows faced forward, I hoped looking out them would help calm things. A trash can was in my sweaty grip in case the plan failed. We hit a huge wave, riding its crest up, then skiing down the backside. Over the speaker the captain bellowed a ‘Whoo Hoooo, mother fuckers that was a bigun, we got a few more coming, no danger though, nothing this old girl can’t take. Hold on, man your stations and enjoy the ride.’ He put on a Led Zeppelin album and somehow made the volume of every speaker louder than should be possible. Above the lashing rain and creaking ship Robert Plants’ voice soared.
The rollercoaster of insanity rose on another wave and my stomach accompanied it, all to the rhythm of a guitar solo. We dropped again and I dry heaved, now crying from the effort and the sheer mother fucking terror. If only I could enjoy this like the captain seems to be. Instead I will endure, in some form or other, this insanity.
I gripped my trashcan and stared straight forward, watching the churning ocean, feeling my churning stomach, and remembering that flying was also an option. I wanted adventure, I got it, with a rocking soundtrack to boot.