A beautiful sunrise is the start to my first day at sea. It grows into a typical Caribbean day – blue seas, lots of sunshine, warm and I am looking forward to a visit to Key West.
After such a wonderful sunrise to start the morning, we get the news that we will not be able to dock in Key West because of high winds. As usual, there was some grumbling, but we reminded people about the cruise ship accident a couple of weeks ago, where the wind blew one ship into the other in, I think, Cozumel.
I am not that upset. I was just in Key West at the end of October, and I am always happy with sea days. Key West is the location for my Meeting of the Mind conferences. That’s double speak for Jimmy Buffet fan club meetings, or as my fellow traveller and parrot head Connie DeBlaquiere calls it – spring break for adults!! Originally Key West was not on our itinerary. We were supposed to go to Cuba. But our ‘friend’ south of the border put a stop to all visits there and it was replaced with Key West. So now we have an extra sea day.
So a quick change of itinerary and the day became chock-a-block with lectures and a movie. We settled in with popcorn and a drink to watch Downton Abbey. We learned about many things, from Google Earth Pro and Geographic Literacy, to what to look for when trying to spot a whale out on the sea and in another lecture, some history about Santa Marta, Colombia, our first stop in a couple of days and the burial place of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. We are lucky to have two excellent lecturers on board.
I was intrigued to learn about Geo-literacy at one of the lectures. It is the term adopted by National Geographic to describe the “understanding of how our world works that all members of modern society require. It is the ability to reason about earth systems and interconnections to make far-reaching decisions. Whether we are making decisions about where to live or what precautions to take for natural hazards, we all make decisions that require geo-literacy throughout our lives”.
Geo-literacy is not only knowledge of geography, but also the relationship between human (political, cultural & economic) systems and their interactions with and impact on our environment (water, plant & animal ecosystems). A geo-literate understands that our world is interconnected and the decisions we make have long lasting effects near and far. Geo-Literacy is taught in schools but mostly to older students up to university. It is being suggested now they should start teaching it in kindergarten.
The weather is always first and foremost in the mind of, certainly the captain, but everyone on board, and today we are deteriorating to what they call “rough mounting seas” which means we have waves of up to 15 feet and there is a lot of ‘motion in the ocean’. Luckily I don’t get seasick – touch wood! But today the dining rooms are half empty and I have seen a couple of bandaged ankles and wrists. We hit one wave that washed up many decks and made such a racket that it felt like we hit a wall. Many times it felt like we were on a bumpy road hitting potholes. Just like home!!
I wasn’t able to get my favourite cabin right at the front of the ship this trip. I don’t know what the captain is going to do with my not being there to help him navigate the world. But I guess he has managed before without me. I was waitlisted from the beginning for that room, but it wasn’t to be. In retrospect, it is probably a blessing in disguise considering our weather. It can be pretty rough right up there at the front of the ship.
Another day and another port cancellation. Because of the heavy seas and winds, we find out we will not be able to make our port in Santa Marta, Colombia. The captain has had to go very slowly through this heavy weather and we are way behind, so we have another sea day. The winds are blowing at around 50 miles an hour and the waves are reaching from 15 to 23 feet. It is very difficult to walk around and it is lovely to see people helping other people with less mobility. We all walk around like drunken sailors or as if in some sort of macabre dance where everyone sways to the right and then to the left.
The outside decks have been closed for a couple of days now, the swimming pool has been emptied and today the elevator service was shut down ‘temporarily’. I don’t know what the people with serious mobility problems are going to do. If they can’t manage the stairs, then they will have to stay in their rooms and have room service I guess. That means our crew is going to be run off their feet and many of them are looking a little green around the gills as well as they shoulder on. At the end of the day, they put one elevator only back in service. Wherever you are on board, you hear crashes of glasses and dishes hitting the floor. They just slide right off the trays. I can’t imagine how many pieces of china and glass they have gone through. (By the way I found out that the Terrace Cafe one of our restaurants on board, actually lost over 100 glasses during the past few days.)
BEAUTIFUL CARTAGENA…. at last!!
I woke up this early this morning and lay there for a moment before I realized the ship wasn’t pitching and rocking and rolling. I jumped out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning and ran to the window, threw open the sash and what to my wondering eyes did I see….. calm water!! and land!!!
After the past four days of pounding, it is quiet, and seems strange to be able to walk around the cabin without hanging on to everything. The shower door wasn’t hitting me in the butt with every motion and back in bed I wasn’t rolling back and forth with the waves.
It’s 6:30 am and we are due to dock in Cartagena around 8:00 am, so I am just going to lie here and enjoy the relative quiet and calmness as our poor little ship makes its way to dock. I have visited Cartagena before and it was one of my favourite places on the last trip, so I haven’t booked a tour, but plan to just go into town and have a walk around. It will be good to walk on level terra firma after four pretty wild days at sea.
Next stop the Panama Canal and for sure they won’t have rough water there. We were all beginning to worry about making our time slot through the canal. But I guess we are back on schedule now and the weather is looking really great. As a matter of fact it is hot – 93, and very humid!! Dare I complain? I think not.