Day 57

I checked the pier before the lecture but saw no activity. Terry’s lecture was on “Piracy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow-Featuring the Eastern Queens.” He spoke of a few examples of ancient piracy. Julius Caesar was a victim of piracy in 75 BC on the way to Rhodes. Terry found some historical humor even in this. The pirates asked 20 gold pieces as his ransom. Caesar complained that he was worth more than that. They raised it to 50 gold coins. He paid the amount with one stipulation: he would return and kill them all; and he did. In the 700s, the Vikings were notorious for their coastal raids, sacking villages, and taking slaves. Columbus sort of opened up the new world to the taking. Queen Elizabeth I sanctioned piracy on any Spanish, French, or Dutch ship. This is how Sir Francis Drake fell into the good graces of the Queen. The Barbary pirates harassed shipping in their waters in the 16th-19th centuries, taking an estimated 1.25 million slaves in that time.

The original pirate flag consisted of a skull and crossed swords, most likely created by Edward England and John Taylor. Terry briefly mentioned several famous pirates. Ed Teach (aka Blackbeard) was captured in 1718 after a battle in Ocracoke Bay and executed on board the British ship in accordance with the new Piracy Act of 1717. William Kidd was executed (drowned) in a metal cage in London after three high tides, while spectators watched. Ann Bonney and Mary Read sailed with Jack Rackham. They were caught and convicted in Jamaica in 1720. Mary died in prison and there is no record on Ann’s fate, only a rumor that her family bought her release. Grace O’Malley extorted money from ships sailing through Irish waters in 1530. She avoided the British navy’s attempts of capture. In a bold move, she sailed to London and walked into the palace of Queen Elizabeth I and requested a private chat. Afterwards, she returned to Ireland and lived a quiet life. Rachel Wall was a “wrecker.” She would mislead ships to crash on rocks by lighting fire beacons. In 1760, she was the last women hanged in Massachusetts. In 1775, Ching Shih of Canton married another pirate, Zheng Yi, agreeing to an equal partnership in their pirate activities. Their Red Flag fleet terrorized Malaysian and Korean waters. In 1807, she inherited the family business when Zheng disappeared in a typhoon and grew the fleet to 2,000 ships and 80,000 pirates. In 1808, she defeated the Chinese fleet, capturing 63 more ships and men. British and Portuguese attempts also failed, so they decided to offer her amnesty on her conditions to keep all her profits and full pardons for all her men. She enjoyed a pleasurable life until her death in 1844 at 69 years old.

Hassan Eltaher spoke this morning on “Resurrecting the Ancient Library of Alexandria.” Ptolemy was responsible for building the original library around 330 BC, a collection of all human knowledge at the time. He collected everything, even if he didn’t agree with it, including knowledge from the Greeks and Romans. Many famous scholars took up residence at the library, including Euclid, Aristotle, and scientists of the time. The Old Testament was translated into Greek, so more would have access to it. Manuscripts were classified by subject- law, medicine, science, theology, etc. and authors placed in alphabetical order. He had the foresight to make a daughter library with copies of the original manuscripts. This turned out to be a blessing because the original library was burned down by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, only leaving the index of scrolls and most of the 700,000 copies.

The idea to resurrect the old library was proposed in 1974 with many countries in the world behind it, and in 1988 UNESCO sponsored a contest searching for a suitable architect. The winning design was from Norway, and the group hired 7 international architects to work on this $230 million project. Built on the original site, the huge circular glass roof is angled like a giant microchip, and the cylindrical building slants down into a reflecting pool. Carvings adorn the exterior of the building which contains a planetarium, conference center, research area, Exploratorium, archaeological museum, and many hands-on exhibits. It is 11 stories high with 3 underground. There is also a restricted, climate-controlled area housing the salvaged 2,500-3,000 year-old papyrus manuscripts. The museum continues to amass international books and computer data. The library’s unique shape makes it instantly recognizable, sort of Alexandria’s version of the Sydney Opera House, a remarkable accomplishment.

One of the men onboard offered to cut Mac’s hair, so he took him up on his offer after Terry’s lecture, so I took the notes for the Egyptian lecture.

After lunch, I went to another card-making class with Julie. Today’s craft was folding designed paper into a 3-dimensional kimono. Everyone’s was a different style, but they all were lovely.

Since the divers hadn’t come yet, the ship was cleared to let folks off until 8PM if they wished. We weren’t about to venture out on our own, not knowing where to go and contending with the heavy traffic, so we remained onboard.

We received an invitation to dine tonight with Ricky, the food and beverage director, and Annie, the chief housekeeper. We also met another couple, Hope and Joe, from Colorado. Ricky and Annie have both worked for Regent for many years and had some interesting stories to tell. They will both be leaving the ship (the end of their 4 months) before the end of our cruise. Crew staff come and go on a regular schedule so that not everyone leaves for their 10-week vacation at the same time. It was a very enjoyable dinner.

Tonight’s show was Bayne Bacon, a pianist, guitarist, and comedian. He played some wonderful selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber, including music from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats and Phantom. He played some blues and country on his guitar, and finished with a Beatles medley on the piano. His jokes were quite funny, too.

After the show, we checked on deck for activity in the water-nothing yet. We may still be here tomorrow. Folks we spoke to are disappointed, but realize we need to be checked out before we can continue on our journey. We just wish the red tape could be cut a bit quicker. At the end of tonight’s show, Jamie, our Cruise Director, said the divers have arrived in Bali and will be coming to the ship soon. As of 10:40 pm, things are still quiet on the pier. There is still a small chance that we could make the next high tide, but it’s slim.


Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac