On the Ship (first day)

First day on the Constellation. This is what they call a “day at sea.” For us it’s more like our first day at rest…Amsterdam was yesterday and Thursday. Yesterday we toured the Coster diamond factory, where the cut, polish and set the stones that come in from South Africa. It was interesting to learn about how diamonds are classified (e.g., ‘River” is best quality; “brilliant” and “royal 201” are the best cuts, with the “royal 201” being the most popular; and of course weight in carats (they don’t use fractions, they use “points” so a 3 1/2 carat stone is 3.50 carats. They took our little group of about ten from the Celebrity group into a private room where a “guide” (actually a polished salesman), Andreas from Rome,  showed us a lot of diamonds (all for sale), as he explained that this factory (Coster’s primary world facility) has no “middle man,” it being the wholesaler to jewelry stores worldwide, so we would not be able to buy a diamond product cheaper anywhere else (unless we were in the jewelry business and a buyer of diamonds at Coster’s wholesale prices).  One of our group (Lenny Weiner, an ER physician from St. Louis) bought a ring for his wife, Charlene. We were impressed with the five carat, river-quality, royal 210-cut diamond, that Andreas offered us for 120,000 euros (about $175,000), so we grabbed it, before any of the others in our group could buy it.

A note about Lenny (more to come later): he is an as ER physician, in practice for many years. Two of his kids are doctors as well. Lenny and Charlene eat strictly kosher, so they must constantly eat special food (sticking to vegan when they can’t get kosher). Lenny saw that Les was limping about and in obvious pain, and he graciously offered to take a look at her foot after we again boarded the bus. The good news was that nothing major appeared to be wrong with her foot and there was no reportable pain;  the bad news was that the pain was coming from her left foot, which, upon examination, led Lenny to diagnose that she probably had a hairline fracture and should have the foot x-rayed as soon as we got on board.

Because we had grabbed the five-carat diamond, we were taken by security to await the arrival of the Amsterdam police…….but that’s another story.

We then went to the pier to board the ship where we unpacked and went to the ship’s medical center. While waiting for the doctor (Marrietta Leves), a man wearing a yamulka came in to speak to the nurse (it was Friday night, so we assumed he was either one of those orthodox Jews who always wore a skullcap, or he was attending Shabbat services on board). I don’t recall how we struck up the conversation, but the short of it is that he was 70 years old (though looked 50), had just attended the Shabbat service and had forgotten to take off the yamulkah. He somewhat abashedly took it off when we drew casual notice to it (by our laughing and pointing at his head), and we learned that he was from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, his name is Richard Mark, and he belongs to the same temple where Lesley’s cousins, Lee and Rosedale Hymerling, are members. He knows them well (Lee had been the President of the congregation). To coin an original expression here, “it’s a small world!”

Dr. Leves carefully examined Les’s foot, which was giving her no discomfort whatsoever. Unfortunately, once again upon examining her left foot, upon x-raying, revealed a hairline fracture exactly where Lenny had opined it would probably be. Dr. Leves advised that she should stay off her left foot as much as possible (there is no cast recommended for such a minimal fracture). It will take four to six weeks to heal, and she should take Ibupropen to alleviate the pain. I asked Dr. Leves why she thought Dr. Leves had to stay off her foot and she couldn’t give us any satisfactory answer. She also advised that Lesley should stay off Lesley’s foot for four to six weeks. This means that we will have to avoid any of the strenuous walking tours. We are of course devastated, as we enjoy the long walking tours, as it helps us burn off a tiny fraction of the calories we ingest (see future blogs re same) and keep us really fit so we don’t inure knees, feet, etc. We re-arranged the tour package and will make the most of the situation. Tonight is the first formal night, so we have to dress in formal ware. We won’t be dancing, however… We were given a DVD showing the fracture so we can give it to an orthopedist when we get home. If we had a disc drive in this MacBook Air, we could share it with you all — it’s really quite stirring. Dr. Leves suggested we show it to Lenny; however, we had already paid him quite a bit for his first examination (enough to buy his wife a ring at Coster), so we think it best to stop at two opinions from physicians with us on this vacation (anyway, neither knows their left from their right)…..

I see my battery is down to 3%, so I will have to stop (I’m sure your devastated to learn this). We will try to post some photos again when we can.


Love to you all; wish you were here (in such case, we would wish we were there)…


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