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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Four relaxing sea days

The weather has been getting warmer and warmer, culminating in the 32°C we have experienced today.  The sea has been quite flat mostly, with a gentle roll some days, but nothing to really notice.  The sky has been mostly overcast and we only really saw the sun on Saturday.  Despite this, most passengers are various shades of red and brown, something to do with the sun’s strength and reflection off the water.  I sat out for about an hour today, under cloudy skies that occasionally spotted blissfully cool rain on us.  After the hour I had to start coating myself in factor 30 sunscreen, as my exposed skin had turned a brilliant shade of crimson, and I mean crimson.  Peter of course is fine, browning off nicely, just cos that’s what he does.  (Humph!) 

So what have we been doing for the last four days?   Well, Peter has been running his three classes a day for the first three, but got the afternoon off today because of Neptunes visit (more later).  Because I am chief bottlewasher between classes, I’ve been hanging around nearby whilst he is teaching, mostly reading and chatting to passengers.  Peter’s classes run through lunch, so unfortunately, he doesn’t get any (although that doesn’t make me feel guilty when I am eating mine), so usually, as soon as he’s finished, we drop in to the Bistro to partake of “afternoon tea” where Peter stocks up on sandwiches and I eat cake.  After that we generally spend a lot of time on the deck at the front of the ship, looking out to sea, enjoying the limited breeze, and generally chilling. Eventually it’s time to go downstairs to get ready for dinner followed by the evening’s entertainment.   

On Saturday, (sea day one), after breakfast we went up on deck to see if there were any of the flying fish that we remembered from our last cruise.   It didn’t take long before we saw the first one, brown and silver as it launched itself up and out of the waves away from the ship.  It was followed by another, then a group of three and then so on.  Peter and I then spent a long time watching them before it was time for his classes.  I went back whilst he was teaching and after spending some time looking over the railings, I realised that the other passengers on the deck hadn’t seen the flying fish.  They were looking out to sea, not down beside the ship.   I told the man next to me about them.  Once he’d seen his first one, he told the guy next to him and the one beyond that, and before you know it, everyone was looking out for the little darting bodies. 
Like last year, there were different types.  There were larger, single, brown fish, and smaller blue fish that appeared in groups of 3 or 4.  Then there would be the almost magical moment when a shoal of very small ones, not much bigger than dragonflies, all left the water at once and flew in a small cloud over the waves, flashing blue and silver.  This would be accompanied by a collective “Oooooooh” from the people watching.   The fish can travel quite a distance, I would say easily 50 ft.  Remarkable!  Peter and I spent a lot of time watching them after his classes.  Peter also spent a lot of time trying to get a picture of them.  The ones I have added to the blog don’t do justice to the little critters, but they are so fast, and never quite close enough for the camera to get a decent shot.   Entertaining though.

Rear deck at night
We’ve had a “formal night” on board, so I had the chance to get dressed up.  I felt dead posh n proper in my dress and wrap, feeling particularly proud of the electric blue shoes I’d found to match.  Thing is,  it’s not easy to walk far in 4 inch heels when the ship is gently rolling from side to side, especially if you are that good at walking in the blasted things in the first place.  Peter found my wobbling quite amusing, but was good enough to hold me up when required.  Bless him.  He looked good in his tux too.

A bonus has been that we’ve managed to find some thermos mugs.  After all that time tramping around Funchal looking for them, it turned out that we could buy them from the ship shop!  So now we can sit in the cabin, reading, watching tv or messing around on the computers, supping tea and coffee out of our new mugs.  Bliss.

Everyone on the rear decks to watch the ceremony
We don’t spend that much time in the cabin though.  There is loads of entertainment on board.  We’ve listened to the Asst Cruise Director, Cait Stevens, sing (very good), and watched the show company do a medley of songs from the musicals.  We’ve sat in on a few quizzes such as “Name That Tune” and “Muddled Melodies”, (good fun) and watched the comedian Andy Ford (very, very funny). We’ve listened to a couple of lectures regarding the Amazon and the rubber trade, and finally, this afternoon sat out on deck to watch the crossing the equator ceremony .   In the style of “I’m a celebrity.....” the entertainments staff had to complete tasks to become the ships champion.  That champion could then represent the ship to ask Neptune’s permission to cross the equator.  It was an entertaining and enjoyable afternoon, especially since the afternoon watercolour classes were cancelled so that everyone, including Peter, could watch.

All in all it’s been a good four days, the only negative being the fact that we have been made incommunicado.  Peter has managed to get a few messages and a blog post out, but  for the last day or so especially, our phones don’t have a signal, and we’ve been unable to use any wi-fi at all.  This eventually resolved itself about 7 o’clock this evening thankfully.   Peter is like a bear with a sore head when he can’t access his email.

The ship crossed the equator at about 10.30 tonight, so there’s been a party on deck.  (We didn’t attend to be honest preferring to stay in the cabin where it’s cool).  Tomorrow we visit our first Brazilian Amazon city, Belem.  Peter and I have booked ourselves on the “Guama River Tour”.  The tour will take most of the morning, but should give us a little time to look around when it’s finished.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

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