March 5, 2007

Crossing the Southern Atlantic

We departed Salvador late at night to the sounds of ships calling back and forth. We gave three enormous blasts from our MV Explorer, and reply blasts from fellow passenger ships in the harbor were returned. Into the inky darkness we headed for the open ocean. A few days into our trans-Atlantic voyage we saw large pelagic sea birds (!) and then ultimately mountain peaks poking out of the sea. Did you have any idea there were small islands in the Atlantic? We sure didn't. In addition to sea birds we saw sea garbage. Another reminder that there is no "away" even thought we through stuff there all the time.

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Getting to know the Archbishop

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to speak with the dependent children on the ship. He answered questions from what was his favorite color to how did he participate in ending Apartheid in South Africa. Halfway through the conversation there was a group photo shoot and Ryder ended up on his lap and stayed there for the rest of the talk. During this time Ryder was busy working on a soft ribbon bracelet the Archbishop wears in honor of the people of Tibet. Alas it came off and went promptly into Ryder's mouth. The Archbishop fished it out and dangled it above Ryder and said, "Oh, the Dali Lama will not be happy about this"!

NOAA is on Da Ship

There is an oceanographer from NOAA aboard (Hi Gustavo!) who is deploying a series of drift buoys to record currents and temperatures. The buoy sinks to the bottom and then periodically pops to the surface to send a transmission to a satellite (part of a climate study). There is one now bobbing along the South Atlantic Ocean somewhere between South America and Africa with Ryder and Miles' (our dog) names on it!

Becoming a Community

Folks are now starting to call the ship "home." We started as a bunch of strangers but we are evolving into a big family. The family is comprised of 702 university students (two thirds female and a handful from countries outside of the U.S. and two are even from Sonoma State), a dozen or so "life long learners" (retired folks sitting in on classes and seeing the world), eight dependent children ranging in age 7 to 16 years old, one dependent baby (Ryder), a dozen or so spouses (called either "trailing dependents" or "independent travelers" as we prefer), and a wonderful multicultural crew who are primarily Pilipino folks with a sprinkling of Jamaican, Ukrainian, other eastern Europeans, a few Indians and some South Americans. Throw in interport students and lecturers (sailing with us between their country and the prior port) and our British captain, and you've got the whole gang. Is it a ship or a planet? Here at least, everyone is well fed, respectful of different cultures and religions, and welcome aboard!

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Neptune Day

Maybe you've heard of the maritime ritual that happens when you cross the equator on a ship? Well it involves fish guts, fish kissing and head shaving in order for a pollywog to become a shellback. We took a family vote on which one of us would get their head shaved, and since Ryder didnít speak up when presented with the idea, he went under the razor. Hence, the Mohawk. Don't worry, we buzzed the rest off in a couple of days so now he doesn't look like a punk rocker wannabe. Oh and we all jumped in a pool of fish guts and kissed a few fishes so we are legit shellbacks too.

Kickoff to Archbishop's lecture

There is one class that everyone on the ship (besides the crew) attends: Global Studies. Yesterday the Archbishop took the stage for his first and much anticipated public speech just before we arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. Some students eager to get a good seat for the event spent the night before sleeping in the front row. The Archbishop kicked of the speech talking about how much he enjoyed everyone on the ship and how happy he was to be here, and especially about the very special new friend he has made. Yea, you guessed it, Ryder James. Our jaws dropped! Don't worry, we got it on tape!

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Cape Town Arrival

We've FINALLY arrived in Cape Town. The ship is docked with a fantastic view of Table Mountain, illuminated at night. Rocky is off for a three day safari near the Kruger National Park, not far from Mozambique. Stay tuned for what should be some amazing photos.

Posted by rohwedde at March 5, 2007 1:23 PM