Day 118

Woke up to a gray morning and there would be on and off again rain this afternoon and evening. Pat was happy this morning, when she saw it was sticky-bun day at breakfast. To top it off, there is always champagne at Sunday breakfast and she adds her own OJ to make a mimosa. Afterwards, we FaceTimed a couple of the children to check-in and find out what was happening at home.

Terry was speaking on “Devils, Spies, and Butterflies” or the story behind Devils Island, the Dreyfus Affair, and Papillon. The English and French used old war ships, called hulks, to crowd prisoners onto. He recalled some of the French history of 1840-1852 around Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and his brief rise to power. One thing he did was to abolish use of hulks for prisons and copied the English model of sending the unwanted to prison colonies. The French had Guiana since 1503 and colonization was failing with a 75% death rate from illness and disease. By 1853, only a few survivors hung on. There were 3,000 prisoner volunteers on the first shipment. They thought anything would be better than the prison hulks.

France was developing secret plans to build a new breech loading artillery piece, but designs of this leaked to the Prussians and Russians. The military establishment was looking for the source of the leak. There was a secret trial and with little evidence and a note falsely attributed to Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew. He was railroaded and condemned in the press. Because of dubious alleged handwriting experts and being Jewish, he was found guilty and sent to Guiana 2-21-1895. He spent almost five years on Devils Island, while back in France, there was substantial evidence against another, Major Esterhazy, but he was declared innocent on the second day. Another person was arrested on this affair, but he committed suicide in jail. Looks like there is a military cover-up of their incompetence. Dreyfus returned to Paris in 1899 and was reconvicted for 10 more years to Devils Island. There was an offer made, that if he plead guilty, he would be pardoned , so  he chose this way out rather than return to prison. In 1906, he was exonerated and re-instated with a promotion to Major. He died in 1935 and attempts to honor him with statues were not well accepted by the military, still bearing a grudge. Instead of being at the military school grounds, the statue stands outside a metro station.

Rob Warne spoke on his personal experiences as a diplomat to the Caribbean, Deputy Ambassador in Kingston. He told his story of how the PM of Jamaica, Ed Seaga, became the first foreign state visitor to the Reagan White House. There was much secret diplomacy preceding the invasion of Grenada and driving out the Cubans. He recited the sorry state of affairs in Haiti and his confrontation with Baby Doc. He was involved in getting the UN Security Council to condemn Cuba’s jet plane strafing of Bahamian fishing boats in Bahamian waters. He mentioned his involvement stopping an arms shipment from New Orleans to Dominica. He noted a couple of failures in Suriname, where he could not get the Dutch to intervene during a coup, and the James Jones massacre in Guyana, where he had to clean up and notify families. He was involved in having co-operative banking agreements with the Cayman Islands and getting the Navy to stop practice bombing runs in Puerto Rico’s Vieges Island.

The noontime games were successful for a few points, then we went to check out the Greek Buffet on the Pool Deck. I was not lucky at the slots tournament but met Art and Harris at ping pong, playing more than an hour. The guest entertainer, Salvatore, that we heard last night, stopped to watch and we invited him to join us for a few games.

Trivia and Mensa were disappointments today, I missed checking a Mensa answer that Pat worded incorrectly and we did not get a perfect score for points. In Trivia, we were a close fourth again.

We had been invited to a southern fried chicken birthday party for Harris (Shirley’s husband) in compass Rose this evening. There were 26 guests at four tables with name place cards and special souvenir menus. Mac and I were at different tables, so we got to socialize with others we didn’t know as well. All were world cruisers. This was lots of fun. The dining room and chefs bend over backwards to do these special meals for special occasions. Fried chicken, which we have never seen onboard, was Harris’s favorite. There was no large cake because Harris loves bread pudding. There was a candle in his dessert, and we all sang Happy Birthday.

Tonight’s entertainer was Dimitris Dekavallas, an award winning guitarist who played Spanish and Flamenco music. He has performed for the Pope and Queen Elizabeth in recent years. He was quite good, but it wasn’t one of my favorite shows.

Tomorrow we will be able to explore Devil’s Island. We are looking forward to that, since we just finished watching the Papillon movie and Terry spoke about this horrible prison- sort of an Alcatraz with torture. The prison closed in the 1950’s and the islands are now a tourist destination. Tomorrow, we tender in to I’le Royale, where the general prison population was housed. Devils Island is nearby but off limits. The waters have been rocky this evening and tomorrow’s weather will be wet we are told.

Yours in travel.

Pat & Mac