|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)
Weeks Five and Six --
Journeywoman's Semester At Sea...
25 - March 1 -- Thank you Ariane M.
Hurray, we're on our way to Mauritius!
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
Ariane out exploring
Ariane and Exec Dean
Journeywoman and her
Cabin 5034 roommate, Ariane
1 -- Good Morning 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
A mix of colors
At Le Mauricia's pool
3 -- Mauritian Women's World
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.
Kiddies at the
Indian lunch on
Carrying a shrine
4 -- Last day in Mauritius...
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
interport student from Chennai
We sailed away from
Mauritius on time
5 -- Celebrating Nancy's Birthday
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
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
She's greeted by the
Holding back the tears...
Making a wish...
Happy birthday dear
A card from the crew...
8 -- Sea Olympics are Fabulous!
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
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
Silver Sea banner wins
The Sea Olympic winners
End of Weeks
Five and Six