Day 75

Expect to hear about the usual sea day activities. All is safe. No pirates spotted yet. Seas are calm and we are proceeding at a fast clip still. We crossed the equator heading south overnight. Technically, we entered the autumn season but near the equator everyday is hot and humid.

Terry’s morning lecture was on the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858 between the natives (Sopay) hired into the EIC military and the British EIC officers. Tempers were building for some time with the clash of different cultures and traditions and the British forcing their ways upon them. Disobedience was severely punished, which only prompted more dissent among the troops. Hangings for disobeying orders kept tensions high. On 4-24-57, 85 of 90 Sopay soldiers refused musket drill with the new Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle, which introduced cartridge loading. The rumor, true or not, spread that the cartridge paper, whose end had to be bitten-off during loading the rifle, was treated with either pig grease or beef grease to keep it water-proof. This offended either the Muslim or Hindu troops. Their refusal got them a court martial and 10 years hard labor. The next day the cavalry revolted, freeing the prisoners and killing all the European women and children. The rebellion spread across northern and central India. Rebels captured cities killing Europeans. Britain sent in the regular army over the following months, recapturing towns and breaking up sieges through 1858. In all, over 10 million casualties by war and starvation. This signaled a time for change and that is tomorrow’s Part III.

Mike Scott spoke on “Charles Darwin and the Origin of the Species.” Beginning with some background in Edinburgh at the time of the Scottish Enlightenment of 1730-1790. Darwin must have been influenced by critical thinkers and debates during his short two years in school. Prof. Hutton, a geologist, gave Darwin his two volumes on the principles of geology. His father transferred him to Cambridge attempting to keep his son focused on theological studies, but his interests were elsewhere. Prof. Henslow, a botanist, influenced Darwin on the necessity of detail in observations and recommended Darwin as the Naturalist on a scientific survey ship, the Beagle. Along the trip, he noticed the volcanic land of Cape Verde. In South America, he found fossil skeletons of a pre-historic giant sloth, noticing familiarity of fossils to some current animals. In Chile, he experienced an earthquake with evidence of permanent vertical earth movement. These observations helped support his theories that landscapes and fossils/animals may change over long periods of time. He landed in the Galapagos in 1835 and visited four islands noticing different landscapes, unique animals, and birds on each island. He recorded detailed observations, returned in 1836 to Britain, studied his notes and observations for years before publishing his famous treatise in 1859. His idea of natural selection, as opposed to divine intervention, caused him to be reviled from the pulpit.

Noontime games were unrewarding, but I played several games of ping-pong with Bob and Art before lunch. Pat avoided lunch to save herself for a special dinner event. The Pool Buffet had mac and cheese, a rarity, so I enjoyed that. Pat went off to card making craft time and I showed up at the deck games, indoors on the 9th deck. We played bean-bag toss (like cornhole) for a couple of tosses. My teammate was Jeannie, the oldest passenger and walker assisted. Regardless, we won.

The third lecture by Don Walsh focused on the Portuguese Explorers and the Spice Islands. He displayed maps of Indian Ocean trade routes that existed before the Europeans arrived, mostly Chinese traders with India, East Africa, and Arabia. Prince Henry, the Navigator, 1394-1460, sponsored many expeditions along the west coast of Africa. He developed a new ship designed after the Moorish dhows, a caravel, which could sail “close” to the wind. Existing Portuguese ships could not sail against the wind, so this new design allowed longer explorations. Bartolomeo Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama sailed to India and back, trying to spread Christianity and establish trading posts. Sailing was a very treacherous endeavor in any long voyage. Da Gama left with 170 men and returned with 44. He also returned with “china” from east Africa, which became the craze in Portugal. In the early 1500s, Portugal was the top dog in India trading. Ferdinand Magellan, 1480-1521, was Portuguese but sailed under the Spanish flag. He was not liked by the king at home. He left with 5 ships and 237 men. Only one ship returned with 18 men. Magellan was killed in the Philippines during a native skirmish. By mid-century, Portugal was fading and the Dutch had the East Indies and the British had India.

We did well in Mensa today and our Trivia team scored the best ever, 14 out of 15, and still finished out of Regent point range. Too many other teams had perfect scores. On the Pool Deck was the traditional Equator Crossing ceremony. Drinks were being served and the band was playing. The Cruise Director and cast members were costumed as pirates and mermaids, Neptune and Poseidon. They read their script and kept the gathering in laughter. The pollywogs, first time Equator crossers, stood at one end, while Kings Neptune and Poseidon, said appropriate words transitioning them to full-fledged shellbacks, subject to one more test of courage. One group had to kiss a fish and the second group kissed a jellyfish. They were stage props. After dinner, we had certificates signed by the Captain, acknowledging our crossing of the Equator, our third set of certificates.

We had a wonderful dinner tonight with Michael Scott, our Scottish destination speaker, and his wife, Sue. We were also joined by Art and Joanie, and Bob and Twila. We had some stimulating conversations and learned a lot about their lives in Scotland.

Tonight’s show was World Beat, the cast’s best, in my opinion. This included songs and dances from Spain, Greece, China, Africa, Japan, and Ireland. The cast changed outfits at least 8 times in about a minute and never missed a beat. This was the fourth time we saw this show and I never tire of it.

Tomorrow we will be in the Seychelles about 2PM and stay overnight. We are looking forward to this island country as it is supposed to be quite lovely.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac