Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The MV Explorer is at speed - 28 knots - detouring towards the coast of SA to rendezvous with a medical helicopter as we have a passenger who requires hospitalization. Another passenger fainted and fell while we were in port, breaking her hip. She is in a hospital in Santarem awaiting her evacuation to the U.S. Just a reminder of the unpleasantries that can occur despite the best of plans, the most wonderful of adventures. As if another reminder is necessary...

I have recovered from the 24/48 hour virus that began to present itself as we were entering the port at Manaus. This virus - probably a Norovirus - is very annoying for a short period of time, thrives on passenger ships, and is very cleansing. While I did spend most of my first day in Brazil in my cabin, the second day's activities did proceed as scheduled, if at a slower pace.

My second day's planned trip, to the Amazon EcoPark (, was wonderful. We traveled by river boat an hour and a half up the Rio Negro, had lunch, played in the natural swimming pools, listened to a lecture, and toured the rainforest. As I did not want to overdo it, instead of the walking tour I found a swing and took a nap. Afterwards I walked down to the dock and hung out with the boat crew.

After a days travel & rest we ported at Santarem. My day was spent first at a forest tour that ended at a village where the locals showed us how they process manioc into flour. Ever had tapioca? They then fed us local fruits and juices. I am becoming very fond of acai.Alter do Chao Then we bussed to the village of Alter do Chao where we swam in the Tapajos River, relaxed on the white sand beach, and later drank Brahma Beer and tourist shopped. That is me lying on the beach in the shade.

So if you were expecting a typical Brazilian photo, just remember who's blog this is. I have more photos coming to my Flickr account as time permits. As Brazil and the Amazon are a bit overwhelming, I am still collecting my thoughts.

The medical helicopter is overhead as I write this, my best wishes to our stricken passenger.

Tomorrow, Trinidad.

And Happy New Year to Y'all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Brazilian FlagMerry Christmas from 01 degrees 44.92S, 053 degrees 11.7W; a.k.a. somewhere on the Amazon. We entered the river's mouth yesterday afternoon and, after poking along for the first 100 kilometers or so, are making about 22 knots.

The waters are calm and brown, the shorelines green, the skies cloudy, the air humid and cooler than most would expect. Some awful contemporary country Christmas song is on the ship's music channel.

Life aboard has settled into a routine defined by food service, sleep, and presentations provided by our professors and visiting lecturers. When at sea we average about 3 hours of lectures a day. Unlike my undergraduate behavior aboard the Ryndam, I am usually early to class and sit up front. I have not missed many. In the interest of full disclosure, my attendance has been helped by the showing of lectures over the ship's TV channel into my room where I can watch from the comfort of my bunk.

We dock in Manaus tomorrow about noon. Until then I will finish a novel by Brazilian Jorge Amado, wander the decks taking photos, and think about all of my friends and family I wish were here to share this with me.

And I am going to throttle that music channel.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Yesterday overlooking the harbor in Saint Barthelemy I had a cheeseburger w/ fries. Inspired by a similar experience in a restaurant a block or so from where we were lunching, Jimmy Buffett wrote the song that titles this post.

I SO understand.
As the restaurant, like Saint Barts, is french, it may have been the best cheeseburger I have ever tasted; it surely was the most expensive.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Amazon Expedition 2008

MV Explorer Morning 3I am posting this somewhere (actually lat. 19 degrees, 13.32 N, long. 067 degrees 46.64 W) in the Caribbean aboard the MV Explorer, mothership of the Semester-at-Sea program of the Institute for Shipboard Education, currently academically sponsored by the University of Virginia. I posted about our plans last May. For more information try here, Enrichment Voyages.

All has proceeded according to plan; the ship is quite nice, staff and crew organized, helpful, and professional. The MV Explorer is perhaps the fastest ship of its class, capable of 30 knots. But we are loafing along about 17. We have experience a moderate amount of wind and wave action since leaving Nassau, precipitating a bit of lurching about, rolling stomachs, and my disinclination to type on a moving laptop. Thus a delay in getting this post up.

So far I have attended 4 lectures, with two more scheduled later today. All very well done. The educational component of this voyage is as I had hoped.

I will be posting photos in a folder on my Flickr account almost daily. If you are interesting in following along click here. As we have a good Wi-Fi set up, keep those emails coming. I will respond.

St. Barts tomorrow. I will post more observations when this screen stops rocking and rolling.