Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Dinner with US Navy sailors
Being a member of the American Women's Association in Hong Kong has some really cool benefits. They are always organizing tours, trips, drink nights, hikes, golf and mahjong lessons plus so much more. I just recently signed up with a really cool program through the AWA: hosting Navy sailors in our home for dinner when there is a ship in town.
The AWA has been doing this for years and I have wanted to sign up for it for a long time. But Troy’s travel schedule is so sporadic that I could never trust he would be in town when the sailors were due to come over. For some reason the AWA has a policy that you can't host the dinner by yourself (ya think???) I decided to take the chance and get on the volunteer list to host a meal and cross my fingers that a ship would be in town over a weekend and that Troy would be home.
This past Sunday night we had the honor and privilege of having four sailors from the USS Blue Ridge over for dinner. Their names were Josh, Nia, Leroy and Lyle. Their backgrounds were diverse ranging from age to how long they have been in the Navy to being married and to what their duties were aboard the ship. I, of course, bombarded them with all kinds of questions, (not all of them stupid believe it or not.) By the time they left, we knew more about the Navy and life aboard a ship then we ever wanted to know. (One interesting thing we did find out is they don't mind it if you call their ship a boat.)
We started out the night getting everyone loosened up with some margaritas. Troy and I have never had four strangers over for dinner so we definitely needed the margaritas and then the guys were way too polite so they needed to relax and let their hair (or what little they had) down. I was also very nervous cooking for them. My cooking skills are not very good so when one guy replied to my e-mail about what kind of food he didn't like, he said he didn't like Navy chow. I can't say my food is any better then Navy food but at least I know how to not burn a salad!
The USS Blue Ridge is a small enough ship that it was allowed to dock at the Ocean Terminal where the cruise ships park. Most of the time the Navy ships are so huge or they are nuclear powered that they are not allowed anywhere near the Hong Kong harbor. The morning the ship left I was able to get a few pictures from the dock. The security guard didn't like me getting so close to the gate that cuts off access to the ship. "You go way now, you no picture, what you want? You go way!" But then I got an e-mail from Lyle who said that the four days the ship was in port, the HK security put that time to good use by taking pictures of the ships antennas over and over again. Who wants to make a bet the Chinese military had a hand in that?
It was truly a special thing Troy and I were able to do. Not only were we able to meet some awesome guys, but we were able to give them a break from the ship and get a chance to relax and be themselves. I can't wait until the next ship is in town and we can do this again.