Day 113

Finally, we have a sea day to unwind and relax, but not with Pat around. After breakfast of yogurt and fruit (we are thinking about being good so we can go to Prime 7 again soon and have our specialty steak dinner).

Terry’s morning lecture was on “The Early Explorers of the Amazon.” After Columbus opened up the New World, many Spanish adventurers followed. Most notable was Francisco Pizzaro, who started in Central America and got the Queen’s permission to venture south into Inca lands of Peru between 1524-1531. In 1532 at Cajamarca, he met King Atahulpa and, with his 180 men and 60 horses, won the battle killing 2,000 Incas and losing only 5 soldiers. He actually tricked the king into meeting him unarmed and after the fight, he held the king in a room and offered to free him if the Inca filled the room with gold. They did, but Pizzaro did not release him, and after a fixed trial garroted him. The Spaniards kept taking gold away and the Inca told stories of a city of gold beyond the mountains, El Dorado. Pizzaro’s greed led him to believe the story and he sent his brother and another conquistador, Orellana, in February 1541 with 220 Spaniards and 3,000 Inca slaves to find it. Almost one-half died trying to get over the mountains and many others deserted. The two decided to split up with Pizzaro staying back while Orellana built a boat and floated downriver. After 18 months they reached the Atlantic Ocean on 8-26-1542 and found the Portuguese settlement at Rio. Orellana returned to Spain and reported to Charles I. He eventually returned to the Amazon in May 1545 to venture about 100 leagues up river before he died at age 35. Nothing was ever heard of Pizzaro’s brother. Terry moved on quickly with stories of much infighting among the conquistadors and many names of Amazon explorers and scientists with their achievements.

I left Pat to listen to the next new lecturer while I went to a ping pong tournament. I wanted to check out the new competition. I did well enough to come in first and win three Regent points. Some of the contestants will get better once they work out the cobwebs in their game. After returning to the theater and listening to the conclusion of the second lecture, Art and I played a few games before the special seafood buffet lunch on the Pool Deck.

Bob Warne, diplomat, professor, and think tank CEO, spoke a bit about Brazil’s history, growth, social issues, corruption, economy, and future outlook. With 210 million people, Brazil is by far the largest country in South America. It also makes for about ½ the total land mass here, bordered by 10 neighboring countries. It is mostly a large plain with some hills, mountains, and 8 major river basins. Its main resources are rubber, ethanol, iron, gold, manganese, tin, and copper. More than 400 sugar plantations currently use sugar to make ethanol, a gasoline substitute.

China depends heavily on Brazil for more than ½ of its soybean, beef, and iron imports. In return, China has invested more than 21 billion dollars in building container ports, oil drill platforms, and railroads to transport products they want.

Since oil was discovered off the coast of Rio, the area is now open for foreign development with Exxon, Shell, China and others drilling for oil here.

In recent years, more than $3 billion was skimmed by politicians in back room deals, money laundering, and false contracts. These people are now being prosecuted and jailed, making the judges and prosecutors into local heroes.

Many citizens are very poor, living in favelas (layered makeshift homes) and hope a new election will bring more prosperity, a decrease in crime, stability, and a better economy. There is a great national consciousness and voters want to see an honest and fair president come to the fore. We hope this happens, too.

We played baggo and carpet bowls this afternoon, but didn’t earn any points in these or in trivia. Pat was brilliant again in mensa for more points.

With the start of a new segment, there was the usual “block party” at 6PM, where you venture out into the corridor with a wine glass. Our stewards had wine and snacks ready for us and we met several new neighbors as well as the usual world cruisers. As part of the block party, the Captain, General Manager and Cruise Director quickly cruised through all decks greeting and shaking hands with the guests. Our original captain boarded yesterday after his ten week vacation. Our very personable Italian captain disembarked yesterday to begin his ten week vacation. These two rotate shifts on the Navigator.

At dinner tonight, we sat at a sharing table for six and met new travelers, Ruth and Ami from Florida and Sandy and Tony from England. There was friendly conversation and stories ranging from other cruises to grandchildren. We passed on dessert so we could hustle back to our suite and Facetime our nine year-old granddaughter, Ellery, to sing our typical birthday greetings. She knows we are off the coast of Brazil and reminded us not to forget her birthday presents next time we see her.

Tonight’s headliner was Salvatore Hasard, a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Chile. He performed songs from Billy Joel, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker and others. He played the electric guitar, piano, harmonica, saxophone and drums. He was very talented and entertaining.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac