• Day13

    A huge change from yesterday’s visit to Lima! Paracas is a small fishing village that has capitalized on the nearby islands that have a great deal of bird life.
    It is basically a desert with some small populated areas within it. We are just a short distance away from Pisco (Pisco sours are one of our favorite drinks!), which is best remembered for the magnitude 8 earthquake that struck here in 2007 and damaged 80% of the buildings there. The tectonic plates here move 3.1” a year. In fact, there was a magnitude 7.1 earthquake just south of here 2 days ago that was centered 22 miles off shore. There was a brief tsunami alert that was quickly cancelled. There was also an earthquake in the Honduras the day after we were there. Hhmmmm...... We are definitely in the ring of fire!
    It is an interesting juxtaposition of a body of water within a desert setting here. This is our last stop in Peru before we head to Chile tomorrow!
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  • Day12

    The ship sat outside the harbor for several hours this morning trying to get into a very fogged-in Lima. Once we arrive at a port, we often have a complimentary shuttle that takes us from the ship to the city center and it is typically some great sightseeing.
    Our impression of Lima was a very bright and vibrant community feeling. There are 11 million people here, but it certainly didn’t feel that way. One of our favorite things to do is to just walk around our destination and we especially like to find a residential area to get a feel for the flavor of the life.Read more

  • Day11

    Todays port was Manta, Ecuador which is a vibrant, smiling city that boasts the title of the tuna Capitol of the world. Some of the tuna fishing boats even have helicopters on their decks to go ahead of the boats to scout prime fishing areas.
    The “chivas” truck is a traditional way to get around here. It is a open-air jalopy with bench seating. The fun part is when a band, complete with saxophone, trumpet and drum, climb up to the roof of this truck and begin playing some incredibly lively tunes! Everyone on the side of the road waves, dances and smiles as you go by. What a great place!
    We also learned about the Panama hat, which I always assumed was made in Panama 🤔. Indeed, it was not made in Panama, but in Ecuador. When the Panama Canal was being built, the workers needed a lightweight, breathable hat to protect them from the sun. The people of Ecuador began weaving and providing hats for the workers. When Roosevelt visited during the construction of the Canal, he wore one of the hats, the picture was transmitted world-wide and the design was referred to as the Panama hat. A typical, medium-quality Panama hat takes about 1 month for someone to make and up to 8 months for a master weaver to make. See the photo below to see the unusual position the locals have adopted for the making of the hat.
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  • Day8

    I think it’s a little hard to explain why we all love sea days on the ship so much. This is our 4th sea day in a row and we generally feel like it isn’t enough. (You mean we have to get off the ship tomorrow?) It’s a departure from all the obligations, both actual and self-imposed, that allow for days of reading, walking, computering and general relaxing. Not to even mention the lectures and other activities available on the ship.
    Lunch for me consists of one giant salad bar. Five kinds of greens-really? Evidence seems to be mounting that I may have been a rabbit in a former life.
    It all leads up to happy hour with Nancy and Jim (and sometimes another passenger on the ship if they dare) and a wonderful Silversea dinner followed by entertainment if one chooses.
    We have maintained our reputation on the ship as “those people who laugh all the time”. The ship crew keeps the Prosecco flowing and the Silver Spirit martinis mixed. What is not to like about a sea day?
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  • Day7

    Today we are transiting the Panama Canal, and even though we have been through it before, it truly is an engineering marvel. We have a person making announcements about the various locks we are going through and citing some interesting facts.
    It takes a ship like ours all day to go from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean and costs around $75,000 cash.
    A couple of observations:
    The people working the locks are very friendly, wave at all of us and sometimes take pictures of us, taking pictures of them, taking pictures of us.....
    You think they would be a bit jaded after doing this day in and day out, but they all seem to have a smile.
    The tugboats that we see along the way seem to have such personalities! They are almost territorial in how they act, sometimes seeming to chase another tugboat away so they can do the job. Sort of the Jack Russells of the boat kingdom.
    The lock we just passed through dropped us 31 feet-and quite quickly I might add. The water went out at 3,000,000,000 gallons a minute.
    The rest of the cruise until we arrive back in the Caribbean in March is new territory for all of us so stay tuned.
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  • Day4

    After an exciting birthday celebration for Jeff last night, we had a lovely morning snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world off Roatan. They are very aware that the coral is disappearing due to climate change and are trying to educate people about this which reflects the bleaching we saw while snorkeling.
    We then kayaked in the protected bay and we’re able to get close enough to the mangroves to see huge iguanas and hear parrots communicating with each other.
    Needless to say, we used some muscles today that had been dormant for awhile, so we were beat but stirred by the experience this afternoon upon our return to the ship.
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  • Day3

    A beautiful day in Belize for Jeff’s 63rd birthday!
    He is getting more attention on the ship than he likes, but hey, that’s the price you pay for having a birthday!
    We all took a fairly brief walk around Belize City and found it to be quite quiet and the locals very friendly.
    We had visited here 26 years ago and didn’t see too much change in our very brief encounter.
    The architecture is fascinating, although a bit tattered. There is definitely a British colonial influence from it’s former life as the British Honduras.Read more

  • Day2

    We arrived in Cozumel today and took a trip to see Chichen Itza, the Mayan ruins that are one of the seven wonders of the world. It was especially interesting to see what it is today because I visited there when I was 15 with my high school
    Spanish class. The ruins are roped off and protected now, but it the early 70’s we climbed them!
    We also visited a cenote ( the 4th photo) which is a natural swimming hole that is formed by limestone breaking away into a large underground system of caves and rivers. It is a popular place to swim, but it was a little cool for us to partake.Read more

  • Day1

    We have begun our South American circumnavigation!
    We departed Virginia on December 24th in search of warmer temperatures. That was not the case when we arrived in Beaufort, SC to spend some time on Jim and Nancy’s boat. I think it was the freezing rain one night that told us we hadn’t gone far enough south.
    We continued on to St. Augustine for New Years and had one beautiful day (that means I didn’t have to wear every shirt I’d packed all at once!). Then the wind started howling and the super moon flooded all the streets. Oh, and there was a wind chill warning!
    Surely it would be warmer in Fort Lauderdale! Nope.
    Even though this sounds like complaining, it really is just an observation-we are well aware that our weather is much better than what the rest of the country is suffering through.
    Today we are powering through some moderately rough seas on our way to Cozumel, Mexico tomorrow.
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  • Day136

    We have arrived home again after an amazing journey around the world.
    We stopped at the Shell House in Georgia for dinner on the way home since we also had dinner there on the first day of our trip in December. Note in the photo the convenient hole in the table to put all dinnerware, garbage, etc.
    Also, note the placemats are the menu.
    We followed the world turning for 4 1/2 months and now have landed back at home full of incredible memories.
    Signing off for the World Cruise 2015!!
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  • Day135

    As we have mentioned numerous times, we have had an extremely smooth passage around the world. I feel I can safely say that now that we are heading north through the Caribbean and toward home. We had 4 days of rough seas out of the 134 days we have been sailing and we have only had 2 1/2 days of rain while we were in port.
    There have been a number of cyclones or storms that have occurred just before or after our visits to certain ports. A cyclone developed within 12 hours after we left Tahiti and there was a tremendous storm the day before we sailed into Hong Kong. The seas were quite rough in and out of Sydney, but nothing compared to the 40’ seas that the Carnival cruise ship endured last week waiting outside Sydney for the harbor to reopen after huge seas and the 30” of rain in one day wrecked havoc for all harbor activities.
    A volcano erupted just after we left Guatemala and another just before we arrived in Tonga - the latter eruption created a whole new island!
    There was a hostage situation in Sydney shortly before we got there. The terrible kidnappings and shootings of the students in Kenya happened a couple of days after we left and the social unrest that has led to violence and killings in Durban, South Africa occurred only a few days after we left as well.
    This trip has impressed on us that the world is a continually evolving place in both natural and social arenas. Now that we have visited so many new countries and spoken to people that live there about their lives and daily challenges, it gives a new perspective on the world as a whole. It is interesting to speculate about what has been successful and unsuccessful, the ways that various countries have chosen to handle issues and what the outcome has been. We find the world news fascinating now that we have walked some of the streets where these current events are unfolding.
    In addition to traveling on the ship, we have been on motorboats, a zodiac, a flatboat and a kayak. We’ve taken trains, subways, an air train, a double-decker bus, countless big busses, small buses, mini busses and vans. We’ve been in hired cars that looked like they couldn’t limp around the block much less get us to our destination, taxis that required 10 minutes of price haggling before getting in, tuk-tuks and bicycles. We swam, snorkeled, floated, waded, run and my Vivofit tells me I have walked 675 miles since leaving home on December 19th.
    Will I remember how to cook? Will I remember how to drive - and on which side of the road? 85% of the places we visited drive on the left side of the road. And I shudder to think of how much wine and Proseco I have consumed. We’ve changed time zones 29 times so I’m not really sure what time it is.
    We’ve met many wonderful people on this trip and even though we’ve been on vacation, we feel a bit exhausted and have much more to process. Among mixed emotions of our trip ending, we’ll get off the ship with big smiles on our faces and maybe a tiny tear in our eyes.
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  • Day134

    Apartheid was a system of segregation and discrimination used by South African Afrikaners of Dutch decent until the early 1990s when it was abolished. The South African government carefully divided the population into black, colored and white designations, even using guides for hair curliness or skin shading to make these assignments. The blacks had the lowest rank with no voting rights. Coloreds were those of Asian, Indian or mixed descent and were one step above blacks in socio-political ranking. Even though blacks were by far the majority of the population, they were restricted to living in less than 20% of the total land area of South Africa, an ironic situation for these original inhabitants.

    As the country developed, blacks in rural areas migrated to cities where there were jobs. Large portions of the cities, termed districts, gradually began to be integrated with their own music, artistic cultures and economies. Integration was antithesis to the concept of apartheid so bulldozers were brought in to level these districts during the 70s and 80s, forcing the residents into designated areas outside the cities called townships.

    The townships were hastily constructed dense collections of buildings with inadequate water or sewage infrastructure. The government built some block houses in the townships but shanties filled the spaces between the government houses to accommodate the many people forced to live there. The location of the townships outside the cities led to blacks spending high percentages of their income on transportation to city jobs and aggravated the poverty and income disparity.

    The apartheid policy had even more sinister societal goals. Certain areas of the townships had designated housing for single male workers from rural areas. Their wives were allowed to visit only one night per month and a significant charge was levied for this one night stay by the government. However, girlfriends were allowed unrestricted access to the male residences and there was no charge for their visits. The goal of this scheme was to actively break down the family and social structures of the rural blacks.

    The resulting escalating internal social unrest as well as economic pressure from the rest of the world lead SA President F.W. de Klerk to negotiate a peaceful transition to democracy with Nelson Mandela and others in the early 1990s. Mandela had been in harsh prison conditions for 27 years and we had the opportunity to visit Robben Island where he was held for 18 of those years. Our tour was led by a former inmate who described the cruelty they experienced. The political prisoners were treated particularly aggressively because, unlike common criminals, they were a real threat to the government so the leadership wanted to “break” them. It was therefore remarkable that Mandela promoted a future of national harmony, inclusion and forgiveness without revenge. For example, we were surprised to learn that some of the former prison guards also work for the Robben Island tourist site and they are now friends with the former inmates.

    The national Truth and Reconciliation Commissions brought previous apartheid practices into the open for the country to address. Many townships and racial disparities remain, as do several of the razed districts, but the population appears to be surprisingly integrated. Even with setbacks in the process, we were impressed with how the people we talked with faced down the horrible past and were actively working toward a more integrated and accepting future.
    The first photo is District 6 in Cape Town.
    The second photo is a Cape Town Township.
    The third photo is East London razor wire.
    The fourth photo is East London Township
    The fifth photo shows the inadequate garbage collection.
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