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)

 

Weeks Five and Six -- Journeywoman's Semester At Sea...

 

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February 25 - March 1 -- Thank you Ariane M.

Hurray, we're on our way to Mauritius!

However, for me the biggest news of all is that I will not be getting off the ship in India as planned. Thanks to the absolute generosity of Ariane (one of the students), Executive Dean Kenn Gaither (a wonderful leader and delightful man) and ISE (the kind organizers back in the States) I've been asked to stay on until the end of the voyage (May 9 in Miami, Florida). Ariane has invited me to share her cabin with her which is so very kind. I appreciate (in the biggest way possible) the fact that she is giving up her privacy in order that I complete this 'Voyage of Discovery' along with the rest of the community. These are the types of kind gestures that pop up at Semester At Sea. Each person on board is seen as a valued member of this Spring 2008 sailing and they don't want to see you go. I consider myself very lucky!

Needless to say I'm delighted to be able to complete the sailing with everybody but now reality has set in and I have to take care of all the 'SHOULDS' that can make this extended assignment possible. Pay my rent, stop the newspaper from restarting, file income tax from far, get a visa for China or I can't leave the ship when we arrive there, buy some new clothes (I took so little with me) and try to order some pills that I need (I took a bit more than I needed but now I need a lot more). Maybe I can do that in Hong Kong. Anyway, what I do know is that after almost four months away I will definitely suffer from culture shock when I get home. Back to living alone (which I really like but I do love being with all these interesting, fun people on the ship), to cooking for myself and making my bed by myself and taking care of laundry. This is such a lovely adventure and a big break from reality.

This week I taught a travel writing class for the Media Writing Course. I didn't have time to prepare so I just followed a lesson plan that the professor had for the lecture. It was really easy, I enjoyed it and I think the students did, too. I expect that I'll go back one more time to finish up. There is also talk of me heading a travel tip club which would be a micro version of what I do at Journeywoman. We'd collect travel tips from each port and compile them for publication online. It would give students who need it publishing credits and this mini guide would serve as reference for next year's students visiting these same ports. Now all I have to do is find the time.

All the Life Long Learners meet from 5:00 - 6:00 PM every day in the faculty lounge. Either we simply socialize over a glass of wine or we have a speaker. This week we shared photos and stories from South Africa. It's interesting. We all dock at the same port but we usually have completely different adventures to report on when we get back. This photo exchange is always a hit. This time Rosina, one of the women in our group brought in South African wine for all of us to enjoy while watching the show. These are three photos that I shared.

I also think this is a perfect time to introduce my new roommate Ariane. Here are three pictures of her as well. P.S. Ariane is 22 and I'm 68. This should be an interesting combo. From what I know about Ariane I'll bet our cabin will get lots of visitors. This will be a whole new version of ship life for me to explore. Yea!


Very close to our jeep


Magical mystical tree


Full moon over Cape Town


Ariane out exploring


Ariane and Exec Dean Kenn Gaither


Journeywoman and her Cabin 5034 roommate, Ariane


 

March 1 -- Good Morning Mauritius

Mauritius has never been high on my travel radar so this morning I fought with myself. Did I really want to get up at 5:00 AM to watch the ship come into port? No matter how hard I tried to stay in bed, I finally had to get up because I'm addicted to the excitement of arriving 'anywhere' new. Low lying clouds almost masked the complete sun rise. I managed to get one OK photo before the clouds plunged us into semi darkness again. We all stood by the rail trying to see how Mauritius would unfold. And, unfold it finally did -- rugged mountains towering over low rise buildings and the biggest cargo container port in sub Saharan Africa. We couldn't see the beaches but we were told the beaches were fabulous. In fact, most of the students have rented 'villas' on the beach for the four days we're here. Mauritius seems to be their port for extreme rest and relaxation. I think I heard them referring to it as their 'Spring Break.' I'm so glad I don't have to write exams. Everyday with SAS is an absolutely fabulous 'Spring Break' for me.

We (Linda the drama teacher and her husband, Sam) got off the ship by 10:00 AM and were greeted by Mauritian musician and dancers. We chose a rickety water taxi ($US2.00) and headed into town and the ATM to get our Mauritian rupees. Again, it was easily over 90 F as we wandered into the central market. This week in Global Studies we learned that the Hindus, Chinese, and Muslims live side by side in harmony here on the island. I don't think it was my imagination but this market seemed a perfect example of that 'harmony.' Different skin colors, shapes of eyes, dress, and language are the first things you notice. Everybody calling out in French, Hindi or Creole. Differences are apparent but they don't seem to be a deterrent. Gorgeous rich colors in the fruits and veggies add to the mix. Fabulous! No one even took notice of us and I could take pictures freely. As I passed a restaurant close to the market I heard some students call out, 'Hi Evelyn.' They had already found their local hangout.

In the evening I chose to go on a SAS excursion. It was called, 'Bringing it to the Table: Food as Cultural Diaspora' held at a fancy 5-star hotel, Le Mauricia (I'd happily recommend this place for honeymooners). We listened to an excellent talk about the history of food given by one of the ship's professors. Then the hotel's executive chef (a lovely, sincere man) spoke. He started by saying, 'I'm a chef not a speaker.' Boy, was he right (Need I say more?). Then there were a few cooking demonstrations (fish curry) and heart of palm salad (yes, straight from the palm tree) and everything I tasted was a real treat. By about 8:00 PM we were invited to sample from the buffet and to be aware of the influence of Indian, African, Chinese and Creole on the food. I tasted some of the specialties but really concentrated most on the very French Pumpkin Puree au Gratin, the mini Baguettes and brie. Oh my goodness it was merveilleux!


The sun peeking through


Coming into Mauritius


Dancers greet us as we step off the boat


On the water taxi


The Central Market


Inviting produce


A mix of colors


At Le Mauricia's pool


 

March 3 -- Mauritian Women's World

Today I joined a group practicum designed to look at social services available for Mauritian women. Our schedule involved visiting the Women's Entrepreneur Council (created to help women start their own businesses), then on to centers for young unwed mothers (fifteen year olds with newborns (really baby women with babies). Next stop was a visit to housing for victims of domestic violence, a senior citizens home and a rehab program for women recently released from prison or addicted to drugs. Sound like a fun time? Oh, my goodness it was harsh. Not only were these women in a hard place in their lives, the services and facilities that were available to them were practically nil. And, everywhere we went, the directors explained that they had next to no money to run their projects. The Mauritian government offers help for one or two years and then stops their funding expecting these facilities to raise money on their own. And, because their fund-raising abilities are less than perfect, they simply have to start cutting back on already bare bone services. Thank goodness most of the fees we paid to go on this trip were alloted as donations to each of these places. I left feeling totally depressed because, of course, our contribution was not really going to help for more than five minutes. It also showed me where women REALLY stand in Mauritian society. I've made note (as did many of the students) of the address for the unwed mother's shelter. We all agreed that at least we can send used baby clothes from home when this voyage is over.

O.K. Not everything that day was as depressing. We made a wonderful lunch stop at a restaurant right in an Indian woman's home. Her verandah is her dining room and she and her mom cooked up a storm. We tasted all types of delicious Indian food served to us on banana leaves. Fabulous tastes and textures and a unique experience! At lunch we talked more about what we had seen that morning. I guess that's how learning starts and maybe affects some of the students in terms of what type of work they'll choose when they graduate.

During our time in Mauritius the Hindus (60% of the population) were preparing for their holiday called, Great Night of Shiva. Each year for a few days before the actual celebration they make a pilgrimage to one of the lakes in the region for a purification ceremony. For this ceremony everyone wears white and the men from each community carry large, wooden, hand-decorated shrines to the lake. When we were going to the women's centers that morning we encountered all of these people walking, walking, walking to their destination in the intense heat. And all along the way tents, food stations and rest stations were set up to assist everybody making the pilgrimage. Of course, all of these people accounted for very slow traffic on the highway but it was so interesting to observe. Some of the Semester At Sea students even made their way up to the lake that weekend to see the actual ritual cleansing and they raved about 'the scene' explaining that they, too, were welcomed and given food along with everybody else. What a stroke of luck that we were in Mauritius on these particular dates.


Women's Entrepreneur Center


Kiddies at the Women's Center


Indian lunch on the verandah


Preparing for the holiday


Carrying a shrine

 

March 4 -- Last day in Mauritius...

Yesterday was a long day so I took life easy this AM. It was so quiet. Most people are off the ship and don't have to be back until 9:00 PM tonight. This afternoon Dieter (another LLL) and I walked to town to make one last visit to the tourist market (lots of other kids did the same because the last day of any port stay we're discouraged from travelling too far away from the ship). I had just a tiny bit of money left and I thought I'd find a few little things for my grandkiddies. This market was a shopper's paradise -- t-shirts (3 for $10), semi-precious stones, linens, artwork, statues, key chains, sandals, postcards (none of which I needed) so we browsed all the booths chatting with shopkeepers and enjoying the atmosphere and sunshine. Dieter took lots of photos but I deliberately left my camera back at the ship so I wouldn't have to worry about it being stolen. I did manage to spend my last couple of dollars on a few woven bracelets which I've packed away for Josh, Lotus, and Jessie. They love to wear what the big kids are wearing. We got back to the ship in time for dinner and we sailed away on time. In seven days we'll be in India. Everybody is very nervous about travelling in India. I don't blame them. It's a country that I have a love-hate relationship with. Thank goodness I've been there before so I know what to expect. The inter-port Indian students are already on board. I met the guy, 'Kanishka' this evening. He's a modern, outgoing adorable student from Chennai. With his U.S. jeans and backpack, he looks like he'd fit in anywhere. His female counterpart is much more conservative and traditional. She wears Indian dress, and if I remember correctly, she explained that she'll have an arranged marriage. These students are going to be very busy this week. Our SAS folks will be asking them endless questions about what to do in India (myself included).


Off for last visit to the market


Meeting Kanishka,our interport student from Chennai


We sailed away from Mauritius on time


 

March 5 -- Celebrating Nancy's Birthday

When I grow up I want to be just like Nancy who is our oldest Life Long Learner. Nancy has already sailed with Semester At Sea five times (she claims this is her last voyage because her legs are not as strong as they used to be). Everybody knows Nancy and loves her. Today was her 80th birthday and our group of Life Long Learners surprised her with a party. To celebrate we booked the special dining room for their $25.00 per person, five-course, a la carte menu. We invited the Dean to attend as well.

All the waiters took special care in setting up the tables (white tablecloths, etc.) because they, especially, love Nancy. They call her, Madame Nancy. When she comes in for breakfast they automatically bring her her juice and coffee exactly as she likes it. In fact, they are at her service for whatever she needs whenever she needs it. I think Nancy came on board with three steamer trunks because she has a different t-shirt or blouse for every single day -- each one appropriate for the country and culture we happen to be visiting. She calls herself a party girl. For the Captain's Dinner she wore a long white beaded gown and she came into the dining room on the Captain's arm. You'd think that with all this attention she'd be a bit demanding. Not at all. She never has a cross word for anybody, if you give her a gift she writes a thank-you note immediately, and she told me that she goes to sleep thinking about the nicest things that happened to her that day. Anyway, back to Nancy's birthday. The food was wonderful (shrimp cocktail, Caeser salad, filet in peppercorn sauce, etc.), wine and ice cream birthday cake. Nancy was dressed in a short skirt and sleeveless top -- clothes I can't even wear and she looked great. When the party was over, one of the waiters walked 'Madame Nancy' back to her cabin. A lovely evening and I really 'do' want to be like her when I grow up!


The birthday girl arrives...


She's greeted by the staff...


Holding back the tears...


Making a wish...


Happy birthday dear Nancy...


A card from the crew...


 

March 8 -- Sea Olympics are Fabulous!

I have been working on a Sea Olympics Committee for the last month. The all day event was supposed to be held the day after we left South Africa but the captain advised us that the seas would be too rough and he was afraid that people would get hurt doing challenges like tug-of-war and volleyball (yes, we have a volleyball court, too). So, today was the big day. What a hoot. The students were divided into teams based on where they live on the ship. Each of the teams was named after a sea. The staff, faculty and LLL's made up one team and because we are the oldies we called ourselves the Silver Seas. Imagine us competing against 22 and 23 year olds. You can't, right?

We knew we didn't stand a chance at things like the pie eating contest and dodge-ball so we concentrated on things where age didn't matter. We had a gorgeous banner and we won GOLD for that. Our cheer was mild in comparison to the shouting, stamping kids but we all dressed exactly the same and we won BRONZE in that event. Scrabble was GOLD, ditto for ping pong, etc. All in all we came in sixth in a field of 10. As the MC said when announcing results, 'They may be old but they're not dead yet.' (small consolation, right?). What is funny is that even in sixth place we won the most golds of the day so we really aren't dead yet! Other events included mashed potato sculptures, toilet paper fashion show (dressing a model using only toilet paper), synchronized swimming (our team included the doctor and they used crutches to do their formations) plus a scavenger hunt where you photograph the items in as clever a way as possible rather than collect the articles themselves (I was in that event and we got bronze for our efforts). All in all it was a great way to let off some steam. We cross the equator tonight and we're now two days away from India.

Last night I watched the cooperative team work in our Silver Sea and in the other teams and it made me think that it's only been 45 days since we came together as strangers. Now very pleasant friendships have been formed. For the students I'm sure that the friendships developed over these 108 days will play an important role for the rest of their lives.


We had to find twins for the Scavenger Hunt


Pregnant woman dressed in toilet paper


The Caribbean Sea


Mashed potato sculpture event


Silver Sea banner wins GOLD


The Sea Olympic winners are announced

 

 

End of Weeks Five and Six

 

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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