|Week before leaving
-- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 --
(Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador,
-- (Feb 10-16 On the way to
4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town
and African Safari)
5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 --
(March 9-15 Chennai, India)
8 -- (March 16-22
Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
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...
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.
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
Preparing for college
near the equator...
guy wearing Semester At Sea Tshirt...
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.
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.
sea is cobalt blue...
Invitation from the
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!
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
Bihanas tying "Wish
Beach in Salvador
Little Girl at Mellow
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.
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
Life in the streets
Guys afternoon out
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.
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
Market in Cachoeira
at inflated prices
My Salvador shopping
I found a ticket for
a bus tour
My favorite photo from
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.
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
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
Bar BQ on Deck Seven
Music at the Bar BQ
with Wish Ribbons
End of Week