Have you ever seen a guinea pig on a river cruise? No? Well neither had Trevor, the skipper of the good ship "Everglades Discover". Our tickets showed a booking for three (supposedly) adults - My male staff, male staff's mad sister and her long suffering husband and one wrinkly - my male staff's dad. There was no mention of a large, hairy, muscular handsome cavy or a small fat-butted black and white cavy. He was at a loss to know whether or not he should charge extra for us. In the end my male staff pointed out that since we wouldn't be taken up any extra seats he would not be justified in making us purchase a ticket. Captain Trevor agreed to this but made my male staff promise not to allow us to eat any of the scones and cakes that were for the humans' afternoon tea.
So we set sail up the mighty Noosa River, accompanied by Captain Trevor's commentary of what could be seen outside the boat. "There are several pelicans on your left." "Look at the beautiful waterlilies on your right." etc. The bit of his commentary that seemed to arouse the most interest, amongst the human passengers at least was "If anyone likes shags, there's one ahead of us right now.." Even my male staff's dad woke up briefly before realising there were no shags to be had, just a silly black waterbird. And so the cruise went on, across three lakes, one of which was so shallow that a dog ran alongside the boat for a while, barely getting his paws wet. Captain Trevor said that sometimes the boat gets stuck and the passengers have to roll up their trousers, get out and push. Not this passenger! There's no way I'm getting my fur wet just because Captain Trevor can't steer his stupid boat properly. Anyway, as I was to find out later, there are some pretty big catfish out there with guinea pig sized mouths.
Finally we left the chain of lakes and cruised into the Everglades. This was frustrating because there was greenery on either side, but none in the boat. The only thing worth chewing inside the boat were some funny looking orange things that had very little flavour. Captain Trevor said they were called "life vests" and he didn't seem very happy when he caught Badger and I sinking our teeth into them. He threatened to make my male staff walk the plank "If he didn't stop those bloody rodents eating the life vests." I don't think Captain Trevor likes guinea pigs much. So while the humans enjoyed the scenery Badger and I waddled about on the deck between their feet. One lady had made the mistake of wearing open-toed sandals and had painted her toenails blue. It was a mistake because Badger is rather partial to blueberries and that is exactly what her toes looked like. Consequently Badger wouldn't leave her alone and kept sinking his fangs into her toes and then dashing away before she could see him, which not unreasonably caused her to yelp and complain to Captain Trevor that something was biting her. "Probably sand flies" said Captain Trevor, only to receive a withering death stare from Badger who vehemently objected to being called an insect.
At last Captain Trevor said he was going to "heave to." I thought this meant he was going to puke twice so I scampered out of range, but apparently it's just a nautical term for stopping. He steered the boat to the river bank and we all piled out and wandered around aimlessly while he prepared afternoon tea. There was grass on the bank so Badger and I were quite content to mooch about while the humans swilled tea, coffee and bucks fizz and gobbled scones and muffins. That is until we saw a bloody great lizard lumbering towards us through the grass, whereupon we repaired to the boat where I entertained myself by threatening to push Badger into the river with the giant catfish who by now were being fed the leftover scones and muffins.
The return journey was the best bit of the entire cruise. It was a warm afternoon and very soon my male staff's dad had fallen asleep, head cocked to one side and mouth wide open. He does this a lot. My male staff has started to do it occasionally too. Anyway my male staff and his mad sister each grabbed a handful of my bush chocolate and competed to see who could toss the most pellets into my male staff's dad's mouth from a distance of two metres. We were concerned that the pellets that bounced off his nose, forehead and cheeks might wake him up and therefore cause the premature abandonment of the game, but in the end mad sister won fourteen to ten. Male staff's dad eventually awoke, complaining that the afternoon tea muffins had something of a dungy aftertaste.
It was an entertaining and educational day out all in all, in which I learned the meaning of several nautical terms which I will share with you now.
What the captain is when you chew the life vests.
What the captain is when he complains about a few holes in the life vests.
What the bottle in the brown paper bag that the captain swigs from now and again contains.
A piece of wood that can be used to repair the boat.
What the captain asks you when he wants you to buy a souvenir hat.
Any deck upon which Badger and I have been residing.
Well, her toes looked like blueberries to me. I wondered why they tasted of cheese.