Monday, March 19, 2018

Miscellania, or Whatevah

When I went to check the spelling in the above title I found out that Miscellania is a small island in some digital game. I think it would be a perfect name for a real island, and if I ever buy one, I will change its name to Miscellania.

Below are the last (I hope) of photos that I have selected related to the cruise. They are just for fun or question or pause.

We were photographed ourselves almost as much as we took photographs of others.

Every single port we anchored, there were armed military.

Cargill in Manaus port. "Cargill, Incorporated is an American privately held global corporation based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. Founded in 1865, it is the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue."

I have no idea what this crewman is doing. Those of you who know ships can perhaps enlighten me. This happened after we had docked.

This is how the locals go up and down the river. Supplies and shopping and shipping are on the bottom deck. Food and socializing and hammocks for sleeping above that. These journeys can take several days depending on the stops. Very different than how we traveled!

Thursday, March 15, 2018


We stopped at islands in the Caribbean after we stopped at small cities/villages in the Amazon; we were able to see lots of local people. 

First I must qualify this post. I HATE ocean cruises. I repeat, I HATE ocean cruises!  I only went on this one because it cruised up the Amazon River for most of its 1,000 miles. Something I would never be able to see unless I stayed in one of those villages for some time.  This ship held 900 people.  It was one of the smaller ships, but still WAY TO BIG.  

Ours was the "small" ship on the left.

When these floating giants come into a port the entire energy of the island or small city changes.  They see us as people who come to spend money (hopefully) and then leave before the day is over and we see them as very poor folks that make handicrafts and are very slow in service at the restaurants and can also be thieves.  (Two of the women on our cruise wore jewelry into a local fish market and were robbed...I know, they were idiots.)  

We descend like leaf-cutter ants as we swarm into their churches, museums and food places.  One of our 900 said they thought the 20-minute tour of the local museum was too long!  It was mostly history and political leader information and one of the few things they could show to us of interest.

Along the Amazon stops tourism via cruise ship is a brand new venture and they are struggling to learn enough English and to provide things that we want to buy, or see, or do. This is not just a hobby for them, this means they have food for their children and can repair their fishing boats! I will NEVER forget the haunting face of the small man in his late 40's who wanted to peddle us around the town, but the rain was too heavy for us to consider it. We gave him some money anyway, but that face...that face will never leave my mind. It is an ancient story.

It is a double-edged sword, this tourism thing. One of the talks about the tribes (100s) of the Amazon forest broke them down into three groups. Those who wanted nothing to do with outsiders and would shoot you with poison arrows as they retreated deeper into the forest, those who were willing to meet briefly with leaders to trade handicrafts/food for things they needed, and those who were making an effort to meld into the Western culture so that their children might have an 'easier' life and lived at the edge of the forest. 

The Amazon forest, referred to as the lungs of Brazil and the whole continent, is being destroyed by both drug cartels and illegal loggers on a daily basis. It started with rubber barons 100 years ago.  Seventy-eight million acres are lost annually to a forest that is currently 2.124 million mi² and there seems to be no slowing of this with the current levels of corruption in the government.  It is a sad story and an old story and I do not regret that I saw it.

Here is a good Ted Talk to leave you in a more optimistic state of mind:

Monday, March 12, 2018

No Time to Be Bored

At the beginning of the day, you turned on your TV to see where you were after traveling all night; and then your looked at your 'personal' daily schedule on the same TV so you did not miss anything you had signed up for.

The generic daily schedule for each day on this cruise was placed on your bed the night before while you were at dinner.  It was filled with items of interest, or not.  You never had an excuse to be bored.

Hubby took in many of the music shows at 9:30 while I headed to bed, but I did take in the magic show which was exceptional on that small stage.

You could actually just spend time on your tiny balcony and watch the horizon go by while you read a good book. If you forgot to bring a book there were LOTS of great titles to explore on the ship.  These below were in the Explorer's Room.

Note how 'tightly' packed they are on the shelf, someone works hard at that.  Each book is marked inside with a label of the lounge from which it was taken.  The Explorer's Lounge had books about explorers and exploration, of course.

The first few days the seas were rough and we adapted and got our sea legs or in some cases took Dramamine. I did not get seasick as that happens to me on the smaller boats.  The rest of the cruise was perfect in terms of ocean smoothness.

Most customers on the boat were "elitists" in the sense that they valued expertise and education and wanted to learn more about the culture, geography, and economy of the areas we were visiting.  This did not mean that they did not politely challenge some of the conclusions of the lecturers.  

There was always music playing somewhere!  There was always wine and soft drinks being served everywhere.

Yes, that is a view of the mouth of the AMAZON once we had moved up into it a couple of hundred miles.
There were cooking classes and dance classes and we took a small part of both.  The dance classes were free and the cooking classes were $30 each which coved the cost of the food.

If the day was too rainy for sipping wine on the bow or stern you could take your iPad or laptop and walk the public areas and learn all about the Norwegian art on board by following an audio website as well as check out the historic artifacts in the small onboard Viking museum.

They did have a lot of Munch art and I am not a fan of his, unfortunately.  Edvard Munch was most famous for "The Scream"  and moved through a number of styles in his lifetime.  (Note the audio clue next to the painting.)

If you got tired of the lectures and the shows and musicals and even the late night dancing in the little nightclub at the bow, you could go to bed and watch movies, or a few news programs or Ted Talks that had been pre-selected to match the cruise!  Then you could be rocked to sleep by the waves (gently).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

At the Beginning

Some of my readers (I have readers!) like to live vicariously and asked that I post about this cruise.  Therefore, those of you who have no interest in looking at a slideshow of my travels, you can skip the next few posts.  We were on the boat about 21 days and in two cases did not see land for at least 3 days. There was plenty to do so no passenger boredom and I will write about that in the next post.

Below is the itinerary (sort of). Our cruise was similar to this one posted below but we left from Miami and ended the journey in San Juan; we did not get to Devil's Island because the seas were too rough to tender passengers ashore and we stopped in Antiqua and not St. Lucia. These are grandma and grandpa cruises and some of these folks came on board with wheelchairs, walkers, and canes!  (The itinerary was also changed a few months ago due to the hurricane damage.)

We left Miami around 7:00 and got a lovely if somewhat hidden sunset.

We were able to board a few hours earlier and voyeuristically watch the tremendous wealth in this part of Miami.

No matter how much money you have, there are people that have so much more.  Note how the water is greenish and not a nice blue!  We soon were moving a rather windy speed and headed indoors for our first of many gourmet meals.  No, I did not take a photo of everything we ate...!

I did not take a photo of our room, but it was really comfortable.  Our traveling companions got one of the nicer rooms (a suite) because nothing else was available and I post that photo below!  The ship was from the Viking line..."In 1997, Torstein Hagen acquired four ships in Russia and Viking Cruises was born. Three years later, the company absorbed KD River Cruises, and in the process gained access to certain European ports as well as 40 years of river cruising experience. That same year, as Viking River Cruises, the company opened its American headquarters in Los Angeles. The operator has grown rapidly ever since while upholding its dedication to destination-focused itineraries that allow passengers to immerse themselves in the history and culture of their surroundings. Today, operational headquarters are located in Basel, Switzerland. In 2015, Viking Cruises broadened its horizons by taking to the seas with the launch of its first oceangoing cruise ship."

The design and decor are very pleasing to the eye and comfortable as well!  Our friend's suite was filled with lots of great books to read and a bottle of champagne to enjoy while reading.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I Could Have Died

I am back, sort of.  I got back home from my 25-day trip and found I had to turn around and head back to the city for a belated birthday dinner (my birthday) and to see a play. (Great play and may write about that later.) Then back down here to go through a box of mail, clean yard, do laundry, respond to answering machine messages, download 2,500 photos, grocery shop, and make a longer list of stuff still to do like get new passports and start on income taxes and clean up the yard after the storm!

Where did I go?  The Amazon River and a bunch of Caribbean Islands.  More on that later.

In response to the title of this post, on the second to the last day of my journey, I took a very nasty fall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I fell down two concrete steps with very sharp edges onto more concrete.  It was right behind the Capital building and since the Governor was giving a speech that very afternoon, dozens of police officers were everywhere.  

In no time I was spouting blood from my right shin, building fluids in my left knee and beginning the swelling of a nice left black eye where my face fell on my camera!  Guess what?  No broken bones, no stitches, and no concussion!  Had I not been going into shock, I would have taken more photos of the tragedy.

Three police officers (cuter than ever and very sweet) came by and called the ambulance and two medics checked me out asking lots of questions but allowed me to opt out of going to the ER---wonder if I would have gotten away with that State-side?  I had no later headache and the bleeding stopped on the leg almost immediately with pressure and elevation although the blood flow was nasty.  I spent the afternoon watching movies in the hotel and after taking Advil applied ice and gentle movement to various parts of my body.

The next day I was well enough to see parts of San Juan with a hired taxi before our later afternoon flight out.  That afternoon I had to make a fast walk from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other to catch our last flight and had no pain or problems.  Somebody up there is watching out for me...for some reason!
Now I will add reading your blogs for updates to my list of things to do!