Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

 

Week Two -- Journeywoman's Semester At Sea...

 

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February 3 -- Experts everywhere!

Today we crossed the equator! I wanted to write something about the winds but as usual I had to go out into the hall to look at the map of our voyage to see which winds blow, in which direction, just before the equator and just after it. I stepped out into the hall and met a prof from Hawaii on sabbatical who is a 'life long learner.' I posed the question to him and he told me about Magellan, then we were joined by Javier who is the Brazilian expert on board. They discussed and I listened. I didn't need 'google' or 'an atlas' or a sailing manual. That is the joy of this adventure.

It's a free day today. No classes and no immediate obligations. The sun is shining and everybody is out sunbathing, doing their required reading and just hanging out. We ate lunch outside on the deck (in the shade). The sun is SO hot. This is as close to the equator as I can get. The hours just fly by in discussion and looking out to sea.

I had my first planning meeting for the Olympics. I suggested and am in charge of a ship wide photography contest that goes on during that day (Feb. 23). The best photos will be shown on the huge screen in the union as everybody is waiting for the results of this day long event. Everybody is very excited about the Olympics because traditionally the winning team of the Olympics is the first off the ship in Miami at the end of the three month voyage. I know my event will be very popular. I've asked the ship videographer, the photographer and his wife and Courtney, the AV lady to be my judges and they have all agreed to help. Later on I'll post the winners in my blog.

Because it is free day today, it was also the perfect time to take 'college' pictures. I've included a photo of one college preparing for their school photo.

This is a message for my grandchildren Josh, Jessie and Lotus. Grandma got you Semester At Sea t-shirts just like the big kids on the ship are wearing. I will mail them in Salvador but it will take a long time for you to get them because Brazil is very, very, very far away from Canada. Josh, I found a big guy wearing an orange Semester at Sea t-shirt and took a picture of him. Your t-shirt is just like that but the color is gray. Jessie and Lotus -- yours are in bright colors.


Preparing for college photo...


Sunbathing near the equator...


Big guy wearing Semester At Sea Tshirt...

 

February 4 -- The Tin Woodsman...

We're two days away from Salvador and the excitement on the ship is growing. We've been prepped and re-prepped for Carnival. We've been instructed not to wear rings, earrings, watches. Don't carry a backpack or fancy camera. Don't go out solo, try to have a male in each of your groups. We've learned that during Carnival already bad crime rates will soar. In fact, some people turn their pockets inside out to show thieves that they have no money with them. All this sounds very unappetizing to me. I think it's going to be dangerous out on the streets and on deserted beaches but I believe the deans are exaggerating just a little so that the students will remain alert and not take chances. Good strategy. Some of these students haven't been outside of the USA before. I'm going on an organized city walk and an organized visit to a small side carnaval. Tickets for bleachers to watch Samba Schools (the real thing) are $350. It's going to be very hot, wild and crazy and I figure it will be more activity than what I'm looking for. I would hate to get lost in that sea of people. Actually I'm feeling less than intrepid about the Carnaval. I'm saving my money to go to the Brazilian countryside instead. Then I have one free day to explore with a friend after which Javier, the Brazilian interport lecturer and his wife will take me touring on Saturday. Even though we sail at 9:00PM, I told him I must be back by 4:00PM. I'm afraid of missing the ship (car breaks down, etc.) and then having to fly to CapeTown, our next stop. Again, Journeywoman is feeling less than intrepid and I don't think that that is necessarily a bad thing in this particular case.

Today in Global Studies we listened to four Brazilian students that are onboard. They told us about life in Brazil -- (i.e.) schooling -- there is no Liberal Arts degree, you must enroll in university to study a profession. Young people live at home until 26-28 years old because they earn very little at the start of their careers. Incidentally, these four students have offered Portuguese language lessons every night since we left San Juan. Those who attended classes now have a few words to help them when they hit the streets. Isn't that a great opportunity? We also heard from an English prof who spends four months of the year in Rio. To be sure my understanding of Brazil is now a bit better than before I left and, of course every little bit helps!

This afternoon I interviewed Sal, the VP, Chief Operations Officer again. It was so interesting to talk to him. Especially with my camp background I understood having to take on certain supplies at certain ports to be able to keep the ship running as effectively as possible. Incidentally, the food is a step above cafeteria food with many vegetarian choices each day (actually quite good). I am gaining weight. It's so easy to do that with buffets.

There was a special on at the spa today. $20 for a 25 minute head, scalp and shoulder massage. I grabbed it because my neck and shoulders are VERY sore from being at the computer, etc. I got back to my room with an hour to spare before the Dean's cocktail party (for life long learners and faculty). Just then the phone rang. 'Evelyn, we need you. Come to classroom 4. P.S. I was given a roll of tin foil, a cardboard box, a sheet of orange paper, a marker and a tiny piece of scotch tape. I created (in 10 minutes) the Tin Woodsman who previewed to everyone's applause at the cocktail party. Pix enclosed.

OK. That's it for blogging until after Salvador. Now I have to concentrate on getting ready for my adventures. Ship sails into Salvador at 6:00 AM tomorrow. We have travelled over 2,000 kilometers from San Juan.


My cabin...


The sea is cobalt blue...


The Tin Woodsman...


Some lifelong learners...


Invitation from the Dean...


Approaching Salvador 5:30 AM...

 

February 5 -- Hello Salvador...

You've all been writing to see when the next blog entries will be showing up. Phew! Give a gal a break. I've been partying in Salvador. Well, not actually partying ... just getting lots of sightseeing in with a few cold Cervesas (that's beer to you, gringos:-) and a Caipirinha -- sugarcane, rum or vodka, lime, with chunks of mango, or pineapple thrown in for good measure. Do I sound like I know how to do this party thing? Forget it. So far, I've had beer twice and a Caipirinha (the cool people's drink), once. But I drank lots of water. Does that count?

We had five days to enjoy Brazil by way of Salvador. Everybody was up bright and early ready to go this AM. We've been learning about the country for days. Now we had to test our knowledge and plans. The students and staff were chomping at the bit to disembark. Many were going on planned excursions to the Amazon (7 hour flight), Iguacu Falls (8 hour flight) and to Rio (7 hours travel time). Many had organized independent travel and there were those who stayed in Salvador and took day trips. Think of the excitement generated by close to 700 people eager to begin their adventures. Definitely contagious!

Imagine, it was 91 degrees before 9:00 AM. Since it was the last day of carnival in Salvador there were another six cruise ships docking here as well. Our good captain got our ship into port one of the first if not THE first (Woo Hoo for the captain:-).

As soon as we left the ship there were women (baihanas) in costume who tied 'wish' ribbons around each person's wrist making three knots. You must make a wish for each knot tied. The idea is that you wear this ribbon until it disintegrates and falls off. THEN you get your wish. I walked along the dock to the official money change booth and was so overwhelmed by the heat that I beat a hasty retreat back to the ship hoping it would be cooler in the afternoon. Nothing doing. I learned that this summer has been one of the hottest and driest in Salvador. Global warming IS global, folks.

Good things happen to those who are good (sometimes). Because of this heat I gave my three hour 'city walking tour' ticket to someone who wanted it. Then I looked in the box where people give up 'paid' excursion tickets and there was one lonely little ticket -- an air-conditioned bus tour -- panoramic view of the city with a bit of walking in the old city. Perfect for me. They had extra water on board and a nice clean washroom. I was in sightseeing heaven. I saw the public beach -- a sea of bodies and umbrellas. It was like a 'Where's Waldo' picture (see pix below). I saw the different neighbourhoods and learned that (1) Salvador has the largest black population outside of Africa. (2) 85% of the people living here are descendents of black slaves -- Afro-Brazilians, Creoles, Mulattos, etc. I saw first hand the favellos and the poverty in this city. Late afternoon I attended the beginning of the mellow version of Carnival in the old town (best described as a block party). Before I left with the tour -- as instructed I took off my rings, watch, hid my camera and wore a money belt. What I saw was enough to give me an idea of Carnival without having to participate at night where the hard core festivities were taking place. That evening excursion group paid $250 to $350 and had armed guards with them! The best fun of all this is that everybody came back with stories of their experiences and shared all their adventures over mealtimes. And there were adventures! Not all were good, however. There were several muggings and some of the girls were groped in the crush of people.


Bihanas tying "Wish Ribbons"


Beach in Salvador


Mellow Carnival


Little Girl at Mellow Carnival


 

February 6 -- Exploring Salvador...

OK. Carnival is now officially over and the crews are out in the streets cleaning, dismantling platforms, taking down decorations. Now things should be more calm and less dangerous in the old town. I learned that 1.5 million $Reais ($US1= $1.6 Reais) is spent on security during Carnival. They had a 15,000 man/woman security staff, 8,000 men on foot, two helicopters, etc. There were police everywhere. We were told that if we were mugged or in trouble to call a certain number and that all lamp posts had serial numbers that would tell the police exactly where we were. I saw policemen on horseback and also on bikes. Though I didn't see it myself, others that did told me that the kids and gangs doing pickpocketing were hit with sticks without mercy by police. The instruction we received was to travel in pairs so I went out with one of the ship's librarians (he's from Montana) and one of the other LLL (you should know what those initials stand for by now:-) also a retired librarian from New York. This woman had a sightseeing agenda for the day and the other two of us just went along for the ride. We brought lots of water with us and wore sturdy shoes as the streets in Salvador are cobbled, very uneven (with huge potholes), and there are lots of very steep roads (hard to walk both up and down). There is an elevator at the dock level that takes you up to the old town of Pelourinho (a UNESCO world Heritage site). This was the site of the 'pelourinho' (whipping post where slaves were publically, legally tortured and sold for auction ONLY 175 years ago). From there we began a tour of the churches and found everything very calm. I think it was way too early for thieves. They were sleeping off the effects of all the carnival partying. We made note that The Church of San Francisco is smothered in gold leaf however the slaves' church (Igreja NS do Roserio dos Pretos) took one hundred years to build and has only plastic flowers at the altar.

Today was our day to try Brazilian food. We went to a restaurant called, UaUa (Pronounced Wa Wa. See? You're speaking Portuguese already.) It was very clean, the decor was simple but lovely, the service great and the food was brilliant. UaUa is on the second floor, ceiling fans and windows open to the street keep the small dining room very comfortable and a perfect place to stop. (Sorry -- the travel writer in me made me put in that last description:-) Anyway, we shared two starters -- fried manioc balls filled with melted cheese, and roasted cheese which you eat drizzled with sugar cane (lots of sugar cane farming in the hills around the city). On my goodness, that food was good. Portions in Salvador are huge so the three of us shared a moqueca (fish and shrimp stew) served over rice. I was concerned it would taste fishy but I was so wrong (Moi? Wrong?). The flavors were delicate and I think the stew's orange broth had some saffron in it. A real treat.

We continued our sightseeing and finished at 5:00 PM in the most luxurious hotel in town. The others had a drink at the bar and then we took a taxi right back to the ship. It was a truly lovely day especially since we didn't get mugged (I had my little bit of spending money in my pocket which was closed with a huge diaper pin and covered with a long shirt. I hoped little hands couldn't get in easily.)


Cute policemen everywhere


Police stands were taken down


Life in the streets of Salvador


Guys afternoon out


The Peligourinho


 

February 7&8 -- Overnight in Cachoeira...

This was my first overnight bus trip (actually small van). We were off to Cachoeira (CASH WHERE AH) and some other towns in the hills. I finally got the proper pronunciation of that town -- up to now I've been referring to it as Cootshee-Mootchee. There were fourteen of us going-- three Life long learners (LLL), a professor (who speaks Portuguese, the language spoken here), Kay (the VP of marketing who came down from Virginia to be on the ship from Salvador to Cape Town) and nine students. Since we left Nassau, this was our first opportunity to enjoy the countryside. Day one we visited several small charming towns -- in Santo Amaro we visited a local market to sample the fruit of the area (Mango, acai, jackfruit, papaya). Was it fun? Yes, but it was SO hot it was hard to concentrate on the guide. I walked around taking pix and just plain observing. I bought myself a shopping bag made from a sugar sack for about $1.25 (I think when the buyer from Bloomingdales discovers them they'll be $14.95) . Thought it would make a great souvenir (see pix). Then off to an experimental cocoa farm that was appropriated by squatters who believe that if you own land and don't use it, someone who doesn't have a home should be able to farm it as a community (think 'South American' kibbutz). We ate a fabulous 'never-ending' lunch in a converted 17th century monastery. They served fried plantains as one of countless side dishes. Oh my goodness they were good! Did I mention I must start a diet? Then off to sight see in the heat again -- I don't know how many bottles of water I drank that day.

We visited a cigar rolling facility. Going there we saw no one else on the street. Locals all happy to be out of the sun. Just us crazy tourists making our way through town. Then the highlight of my day -- a visit to the Sisterhood of the Boe Morte, a sorority of black women who are direct descendants of slaves. With my excellent grasp of the Portuguese language I can tell you that that title means, the Sisterhood of Good Death. The black woman on duty that day was tiny, with few teeth and dressed in a hooped shirt and layers of several blouses (as prescribed by the candomble religion). She remained very serious when I told her via our guide that she was only eight years older than me but she was eight times as pretty. Then I told her I'd like to make a donation to her sisterhood. She opened her red felt purse, I dropped in the money, she gave me a wide smile and, then ... the thumbs up sign. I expected her to say, 'Thanks, sistah' (in Portuguese, of course).

Was eaten by mosquitoes in the inn we stayed at that night. The neighbourhood rooster was our alarm clock in the AM. We had chocolate cake and coconut cake for breakfast. Our bus had a flat tire, we bought pottery (supposedly at the source) at inflated prices, went up the river to an island in a small boat manned by a toothless captain and his two sons. He moored the boat where the students in their bikinis could hop out and into thigh high water. The three LLL (Life long learners) refused to jump in so we were carried to shore by one of the sons. I swear that I heard groaning as the guy carried me through the water. Did I have fun on this trip? You bet I did:-)


Market in Cachoeira


Pottery at inflated prices


My Salvador shopping bag


I found a ticket for a bus tour


My favorite photo from Salvador

 

February 9 -- Goodbye Salvador...

Today was our last day in Salvador. This place has grown on me and I could have used one other day of checking things out. I missed the Afro-Brazilian Museum with exhibits of wood carvings, baskets and pottery that show the connections between the two culture's artistic traditions. There is also a room dedicated to the sacred objects of the Candomble (an African-Brazilian religion that the slaves practiced). I learned so much about this religion in lectures that a museum visit would have topped things up for me. I tried getting there on Ash Wednesday but it was closed.

Was speaking to a student later in the day and he told me that a group of eight kids found out through the grapevine that there was a candomble ceremony going on in town (involving lots of chanting, drumming, herbal elixirs, going into a trance, etc.) and they were allowed to witness the ceremony. How cool is that? I'll bet they'll never forget what that religion is about. I am completely taken with the resourcefulness of these students. They seek out fabulous things and go to great lengths to see as much as they can at every port. It makes me aware of my very 'soft approach' and how much I've changed since my early days of travel where I needed to try EVERYTHING.

Speaking of soft approach, Javier and his wife took me on a car tour of Santo Antonio neighbourhood, a district they feel would be good for women travellers. Honestly, if I were walking alone in this area I might have considered it unsafe. So many buildings need renovation that the guidebooks call the area, 'ungroomed.' There were lots of little inns (pousadas) and many of the innkeepers are beginning to paint the fascades in either pastel or vibrant colors. It's strange to see three boarded-up buildings and then a renovated one right beside it. I did see lots of women walking in the area but I know it would be dangerous to walk around at night, alone.

Then we went to the fruit and vegetable market -- it was the real thing! Javier did all the explaining, chatting with merchants and bargaining. I got interesting pix and a beautiful vase in traditional tan with a white design for $7.00. It would cost 8 or 9 times as much at home. Bringing it back will be a challenge but... I'm up for it. We were out for only an hour, by noon the temperature was probably close to 100 degrees (maybe I'm exaggerating but it was 95 for sure). Street vendors with two or three bottles of water in a bucket walk in and out of the crowds calling out 'water for sale'. Men with wheel barrels call out that they will deliver your packages for you.

Late afternoon, Dieter, one of the other lifelong learners (LLL) and I went to the arts and crafts market close to the ship. Since we were in the dock area there was a strong smell of urine to accompany our stroll. Urine and heat. Feh!!!! (Too much sharing?) Deiter bought a shirt, I got a few trinkets. I was in Salvador for 5 days and I spent no more than $80.00. I'm saving my cache for South Africa. Hoping to find one FABULOUS basket.

We're sailing tonight. To lure the students back to the ship on time the powers that be organized an outdoor Bar BQ on Deck Seven -- Bar BQ ribs, chicken, potatoe salad, corn on the cob, lots of fresh fruit and ice cream (with chocolate sauce). There was even a four-piece Brazilian band singing and playing. I told Solomon, the guy in charge of the kitchen that I would hire him to cater our family's next wedding. We had a good chuckle about that.

We sailed at 11:00 P.M. In the dark, with all the city lights acting as window dressing, you can't see the delapidated buildings and the extreme poverty that is Salvador. Goodbye Bra ---zeel. Next stop South Africa.


The old in Santa Antonio


Newer in Santa Antonio


Pottery shop in the market


Bar BQ on Deck Seven


Music at the Bar BQ


Leaving Salvador with Wish Ribbons

 

End of Week Two

 

Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

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