9 Jan 2020, 8:40am

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Chronicles of Spain, 1966

Chronicles of Spain, 1966

(bodhisattva connotes a being who is ‘bound for enlightenment’; a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened.)

By Kate Chamberlin


  1. Shipboard Costumes

The tiny tug boats nudged the huge Greek Line ship away from the crowded New York Harbor dock amidst much fanfare, horn blaring, tears, hugs, and hopes. Our group of college students were off to study in Spain for six months.

The young, Greek boys who staffed the ship, waiting on passengers every whim, set-up and served lavish meals for First Class passengers and sumptuous meals for the rest of us were very accommodating. Their good, but broken English, fascinated us. It didn’t hurt that all of them were handsome and about our age. We were always asking them what the Greek word is for Good Morning, Good Night, or this or that, and on and on.

The ship was also loaded with quite a variety of other young men and women, too. We met each other through the many activities available for our entertainment. Eating was the main event, but, the parties, dances, contests, and sports abounded at all times of the day and night.

One evening, a contest for the best costume was announced. We were to parade before the First-Class passengers after their dinner and they would judge our costumes and award prizes in various categories.

One young man in our new circle of acquaintances asked me if I’d partner with him as a Muslim couple. Why not? We wrapped up in separate sheets from his cabin. As we were about to enter the First-Class dining room, he admonished me to remember to walk behind him and keep my head  down with my eyes on the floor. Well okay, I played the part, even though we didn’t win anything.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, but later, I marveled at how demeaning that was. And to add insult to injury, when he walked me back to the cabin I shared with my college friend, Phyllis, he shoved me up against the closed cabin door, insisting he was coming in with me for what he felt was his due. Apparently, one of the Greek staffers heard our scuffle and rounded the passageway corner causing my date to angrily stalk off to bother someone else. We avoided each other for the rest of our 7 day Atlantic crossing.

Decades later, I’m still embarrassed about the costume and angry about his assumption that I’d sleep with him; but, my mother would have been mortified to know her prudish, smart, feisty daughter had let herself get into that situation. So, I didn’t tell her.


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