Friday, January 12, 2018
We're tugged into every port. As our room is at the extreme aft of the ship, they're usually right below our veranda. I enjoy watching them work.
The fishing boats are always loaded.
Apparently these Arabic sails have been around for centuries.
Hundreds, maybe over a thousand people boarded this ferry. People streamed on and off, carrying boxes, suitcases, babies, strollers, bales, briefcases. With our telephoto lens we could see they were crowded. Now, when a ferry sinks and hundreds drown, I can visualize how it can happen.
Too many people. Period.
I had octopus carpaccio the night before I began reading The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery. Do Not Read This Book if you ever want to enjoy eating octopus again. Today in the fish market in the Maldives, I was happily taking photos when I saw these poor white, ethereal octopus corpses. I had to work hard to keep from bursting into tears.
From the book, I learned they are magnificent creatures - with the ability to disguise themselves myriad ways, changing shape, texture and color and squirting ink. The author of the book has named some of their camouflage effects like "dappled sunlight", "rocks and stones." Their eight tentacles can each be engaged in separate and unrelated activities. Some researchers believe there is a separate brain in each arm. They lay eggs in long chains like strings of pearls and hang them from the ceiling of their caves, guarding them for months, grooming them, caressing them as they mature.
The author talks about watching an octopus in the wild, shape shift from looking like a screech owl, to a silken scarf, a beating heart, a gliding snail, an algae covered rock. After the display, the creature "pours itself into a hole, like water down a drain and disappears completely."
Each sucker on the tentacle can hold a lot of weight. Up to 42 kg for suckers of the Giant Pacific octopus, the biggest one of all. The suckers can carry out small, almost dainty movements, like untying knots. Even though some grow to a hundred pounds and eight feet in length, they can squeeze "through an opening the size of an orange."
Their personalities are different - some gentle, some assertive. They play and solve problems. They don't live long-a couple of years. They die suddenly.
Business is brisk at the fish market as batches of mostly tuna are bought and sold. If "The Soul of a Tuna" is ever written, I'm skipping it.
Tuesday, January 09, 2018
The staff got us up well before dawn for our game drive. After what seemed to be a lot of shuffling around we boarded our jeep and left the camp without breakfast - just a cup of coffee they seemed reluctant to give us. We drove five minutes from camp to find a sunrise breakfast ready for us.
We're really out in the middle of nowhere. Overwhelmed. The food was delicious, the setting amazing.
As we've traveled through piracy country we've had to keep the decks clear at night and the drapes are drawn in the large gathering rooms. We heard today that this ship, the Nautica, was tracked and chased by pirates in this area a few years ago.
Our enrichment lecture today was appropriately on piracy. Dr. Roger, the lecturer, is rather a Jack of all Trades and give talks on history and culture with particular emphasis on things naval. He began by saying that should we be pirated, the British government would be willing to give the pirates three million pounds to keep us - the amount the government would save on pills once a boatload of old farts were removed from British Health.
He spoke about many of the famous pirates including a few females who were particularly vicious. We laughed at his suggestion that the famous pirate saying: "Yo hoho and a bottle of rum," might be changed to "Yo hoho and a bag of knitting." Grace OMalley, as one example, was an Irish pirate with a number of children. One fell overboard. He attempted to reboard the Mother Ship, getting his hands over the sides to hoist himself up. Grace used her scabbard to cut off both of his hands, stating that a son of hers stupid enough to fall overboard wasn't getting back on. So there! As Dr. Roger pointed out parenting is quite different now.
Some merchant ships in the Indian Ocean took aboard Ghurkas for protection. The Ghurkas had to draw blood if they pulled out a knife. If it wasn't an enemies blood it was their own. They were serious.
A couple of my personal pirate myths were shattered. Dr. Roger says there is a record of only one instance of "walking the plank" executed by a female pirate known as "Sadie the Goat." There is record of only one skull and crossbones flag. You'd have to be pretty stupid to announce to the world that you were a pirate ship.
We met a S. African woman on board who is recovering from the mysterious virus affecting many of the
passengers. She'd been in the ship's hospital, required oxygen, and had seen the doctor a few times. All she wanted to do was go home. Her husband felt the same way. He said he'd swim home if he could.
She went on to tell us they'd come on the cruise on a whim. There's a water shortage in Cape Town - a serious shortage. Water has been turned off in neighbourhoods that overuse. This woman told us she and her husband were totally stressed by having to limit their usage. On the ship, they can bathe all they wish without feeling guilty. Because this cruise left from Cape Town, they made the brilliant decision to join it. but most of the cabins were sold out, so they bought an expensive suite - one with a butler.
She began complaining. First, it was about the ports...which were in S. Africa for the first six days. The couple wouldn't get off the ship because the ports were places they'd avoid as they drove around their own country. Sort of like us, avoiding the Port of Long Beach or San Pedro. But, duh....we thought. You knew that when you signed on.
"The butler is really annoying," she said. "He's always there hanging around." What?? I thought.
"And the food isn't very good and the ship, well....nobody really likes it," she said. "Other Oceania ships are better."
The conversation made me realize how tough this business is. People are carping about everything you can think of. Today another woman told me she was "so tired of eating lobster." No kidding - she actually said that. And she added that with all the ports, you had to do soooo much planning. You can't please all the people, but most (not on the ship) would agree this is a fine ship with world class food and service. Makes you wonder.
Richard enjoying tea, which is served every day from 4 to 5 with delicate finger sandwiches and delicious pastries. A string quartet plays (I hear people saying the musicians aren't good enough, the sandwiches aren't cut properly, the sweets are too big or too little or too tempting). The room is too hot or too cold. Gawd.
Monday, January 08, 2018
Aldabra tortoises typically live between 80–120 years. There has, however, been exceptions to this. Currently, the record for the oldest animal in the world is held by Jonathan – the 184-year-old Aldabra tortoise. Before this, the record was held by Adwaitya – also an Aldabra tortoise – who lived to be around 255 years old.
These are kept as pets by an individual living in Victoria. Groups are called "herds".
I could post hundreds of beach photos. We couldn't stop taking them.
Coco de Mer. Looks like, well..... The largest one on record was 42 kg.
From Wikipedia: New legends about the coco de mer came into existence after 1743, when the real coco de mer trees were discovered. Fruits of coco de mer are developed only on female trees. Male trees have long phallic-looking catkins. Because of these unusual, erotic shapes, some people believed that the trees made passionate love on stormy nights. According to the legend, male trees uproot themselves, and approach female trees. Apparently the love-making trees are rather shy, and the legend has it that whoever sees the trees mating will die or go blind. The fact that even now the pollination of the coco de mer is not fully understood, is one of the factors behind the legend.
Everyone loves the gorgeous Seychelles. The stuff travel posters are made of the islands have stunning views and pristine beaches. The boating must be fabulous as many large, luxury yachts were anchored there.
The cemetery is beautifully sited and colourful. It's all plastic but looks good when views as a whole.
Our ship carries around 600 passengers. A peewee compared to modern cruise ships but it looks gigantic here.
Saturday, January 06, 2018
Friday, January 05, 2018
I've never been sea sick. Today I couldn't figure out what was happening. My head felt clamped around the forehead and my mouth was dry. Queasiness set in and I realized I was sea sick.
In our cabin, I opened the veranda and sat in the doorway, fixing my gaze on the horizon. The sea sickness passed in an hour or two; now I'm looking forward to a good long sleep.
I felt like the zebra...half dead and half alive.
I'm sure my complexion torqued through all these lion colours as the ship lurched and rolled.
Everything was annoying, like I imagine this man's pants were to him. He was our guide at Fort Jesus; he'd mumble something unintelligible (meant to be guiding) and kept hitching up his pants which obviously didn't fit.
We found little to like in Mombasa. Dirty and crowded, the city is noisy with menacing-looking knots of youth hanging anywhere you could hang. The tour guide told us "people like to sit around in Mombasa." With forty percent unemployment, what else is there to do? If they asked me, I'd suggest cleaning up the place for a start.
We always attempt to look past the crummy stuff, wherever we are, to something interesting. Here, we found the traffic amazing-not something you'd come back to see again.