Day 117

We woke up a little late because of the lack of morning sunshine in the gray rainy weather. Because it is a sea day, Pat had prepared herself for the special waffle and fresh fruit topped with the specially ordered whipped cream. She enjoyed this treat.

Terry’s lecture today was on slavery, which is a universal condition through all the centuries of human existence. Winners have their way over the losers. He cited many examples of winners taking captives as slaves; the Romans, the Vikings, the Arabs with their 1,000 years of slave trade from eastern Africa, and Barbary pirates. England also sent prisoners to Virginia and later to Australia to perform forced labor. Spain and Portugal developed the west Africa slave trade to support their island colonies in the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands. In Brazil, Portugal noticed slavery among the indigenous tribes. However, these people easily succumbed to European diseases with only a 10% survival rate. They looked to west Africa, where the people were accustomed to the hot weather and more immune to diseases since Brazil needed slaves for the production of sugar cane, coffee, gold and silver. At that time, this was an accepted way of life supported by both government and the church. Brazil accepted 35.4% of all the Atlantic slave trade. In 1888, Brazil officially abolished slavery, but even today it is still dealing with affirmative action programs. Forced labor is today’s slavery.

Rob Warne spoke on the Caribbean, beginning with the political evolution since 1700s. It seems that class structure still exists and social stature is equated to skin tone. In the Greater Antilles, he described the political structure, population, and economy of Haiti, with all its problems, to the Dominican Republic’s stability and greater individual standard of living. In the Lesser Antilles, Rob focused on the historical Spanish declining influence and the current condition of Puerto Rico. The Leeward, Windward, and Lower Antilles all rely on tourism. Overall, the Caribbean is democratic but stagnant and dependent on outside interests and attention which are declining.

At the noontime games, I got one point for the 31 card game. We had a special Cinco de Mayo Mexican lunch buffet that was supposed to be on the pool deck but the drizzly weather brought it indoors. While seated near a window, we looked outside on the ocean, around 1:30pm, for the equator line, but did not see it, only felt a little bump from riding over it. The traditional crossing the equator ceremony was postponed and switched from the pool deck to the inside theater for later this afternoon. Seems that King Neptune did not want to get wet.

I had no luck at the 2:00pm slots tournament today, again. Then I rushed to ping pong where Art and Harris had already started without me. We took turns playing several games. After Art left, Harris and I played four more games until a new spectator arrived, Mike. We invited him to play against Harris first, while I rested, and I played two games with him after Harris left. I needed a shower after this workout. We left for Mensa and Trivia and did well in both, getting a surprise second place in Trivia probably because the questions seemed too easy.

The Crossing the Equator ceremony and cocktail party was beginning right next door in the theater. We don’t really need an excuse for a cocktail on the ship. The waitstaff almost follows you around offering their services. The indoor ceremony was humorous as usual and enjoyable for everyone. King Neptune was there with a new guest appearance from the dark side, Darth Vader. The Prosecutor and the main characters read their scripts, not always correctly or synchronized, which made it even funnier. The pollywogs lined the front and had to kiss the “fair mermaid,” a staff technician in mermaid costume and green wig. Everyone played along and enjoyed the farce. Pat and I went on stage to pose with King Neptune (Clive the piano player) and Darth Vader (Terry Bishop the enrichment lecturer).

We weren’t too hungry or interested in getting dressed for dinner for the Compass Rose restaurant, so we ordered room service, watched a movie, and worked on today’s correspondence. Because we are headed to Devil’s Island in former French Guinea, we watched the 1973 Papillon movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen. We got halfway through it before tonight’s magic show and will finish later tonight.

We hastily changed from our shorts into long pants for the show, and as we closed the cabin door, Mac remembered that he had left his room key inside. He had to call security to be let in to retrieve the key card. I met him in the lounge. Jon Armstrong, the comic magician, performed again tonight. He was very good, making things appear and disappear, and doing some amazing card tricks and involving several members of the audience in his magic.

We have one more sea day before getting to Devil’s Island.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac