Day 125

I had one objective this morning; to have the doctor check my cut from the coral and make sure everything is OK. When I got there at 9am he was away on an emergency so after a short wait, I returned home and we went to Sunday breakfast. Pat had her champagne and orange juice, mimosa. That was a nice way to begin Mother’s Day.

We had turned our clocks back an hour last night to be on Panamanian time. We are now an hour earlier than east coast time.

Terry was scheduled 15 minutes earlier to accommodate a Captain’s safety announcement. Terry spoke on “The Short Story of Long and Short Canals.” The uses of canals mostly are for movement, transportation, agriculture, and drinking water. Canals can be short such as Venice or long like in China, 1,115 miles. He mentioned canals in ancient history, the Corinth canal in Greece, or the early Suez in 1800 BC that was shallow and connected to the Nile River, until De Lessop built the current 120 mile Suez Canal in 1869. He showed examples of Southern England’s canal designs and locks and Germany’s Kiel Canal across Jutland in 1895. The Panama Canal was a conceptual dream of the early explorers and rulers, but the French seriously tried in 1880-1889, without locks, but 22,000 workers died of yellow fever and malaria. America saw a strategic need for it and by 1904 secured the rights to build. Over the following ten years, using modern steam equipment and explosives, the canal opened on August 15, 1914. They had about 5,600 deaths, mostly by accidents; used 30,000,000 pounds of explosives and 4,500,000 cubic yards of concrete. He showed pictures of the lock system and the recently opened bigger locks. There are three locks to bring the ship to Lake Gatun level and three to bring us down to the Pacific; the total crossing being 48 miles. He estimated that the toll for this ship would be a little over $200,000.

The Captain’s safety drill followed. In compliance with international safety at sea regulations and in addition to the muster drill at embarkation, there is a verbal reminder broadcast over the PA system every two weeks. We chose not to go to the pastry chef’s demonstration and tried Facetiming family members. The noontime games rolled around and our group played 31 and Pat won a couple of points. After lunch of Asian cuisine on the Pool Deck, I lost in slots today and met Art and Harris at ping pong. It was busy with other people but we waited. I got a game in with Art before he left to attend to his coughing and congestion illness with some rest. Harris just wanted to keep playing and we did for the next hour plus, for seven or eight games. Although the table is indoors, we both worked up a heavy sweat. While I was here, Pat went off to the deck game and to the afternoon lecture on Mexico. After my shower, we both went of to the second deck game and Pat came in first in bowling and I got second place points. There was only a short time to Facetime before the Mensa and Trivia time. We scored more points in Mensa and third place in Trivia. Looks like there will be more Regent shirts and paraphernalia in our future.

Our usual deck games group of participants, under Mel’s leadership, decided to have a group dinner for the May birthdays in our group. There were six. We occupied five tables at dinner and had a special menu of foie gras terrine or potato crusted shrimp, cobb salad, surf and turf, rack of lamb, or grilled salmon with cherries jubilee for dessert. Our table had Terry Bishop, the lecturer, and Sarah, the pretty social hostess along with Jim and Betty of Vancouver. It was a great time of stories and wine tasting.

We moved toward the theater for the evening’s musical entertainment, Nicole Sasser, a dynamic trumpeter and vocalist. She played and sang. Some melodies we remember are “Eye of the Tiger,” “Spanish Fly,” “Ring of Fire,” “Sing Sing Sing,” “Java Java” and others. She came off stage looking for a likely candidate to show how easy it is to learn to play the trumpet. She zeroed in on me. I got a solid noise out of it to my surprise and did a second blow with some rhythm and fluttering of my fingers, even surprising me. As a thank you, she gave me her music CD.

Tomorrow morning will be early with arrival toward the canal about 6:30am and first lock entrance around 8am. Transit could take 8 hours. We would like to be on deck for the entire experience taking pictures and listening to the narration of a special consultant that will come onboard. Chairs will be set-up on the forward deck and coffee and bar service will be provided. We expect it to be a full day.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac