Sunday, July 29, 2018

Out of Cyprus Summer 2018 part two: The voyage from Mexico to first sight of Panama

I hoped to blog every few days while travelling. But since we left Mexico, the Internet connection on the ship was almost non-existent. I started this post on Sunday morning, 29th July when the Internet was working better than it has done all week; this isn't saying much, but I took advantage of an hour before breakfast to check email and Facebook, and catch up with some writing. I'm now finishing it a week later, after losing some edits I attempted in the past few days. I'll keep it dated at the 29th July and hope to write a couple more blog posts in the next few days.

My first post about our travels this summer covered our lengthy journey from Cyprus to Progreso port in Merida. By the morning of Sunday 22nd we were feeling almost human. Sunday is a working day on the ship, as many teams go out to visit local churches; but for those still on board there's a church-type service which lasts about an hour and a half. Daniel was running the PA and audio visual content for the service on that Sunday. Afterwards David helped him put away some cables, and then spent some time with the drums:

In the afternoon, Daniel was off duty so we decided to visit the local supermarket, to buy some juice and fruit, and have a walk. Esther was quite cranky still, a few days after her yellow fever vaccination, but was happy to snuggle in the Ergo carrier with Daniel. She didn't want me to take a photo of her, however:

The ship was at the end of a long quay, so we had to catch the crew bus for the 4km distance - if it had been cooler it might have been quite a nice walk, but it was hot and humid and the crew bus ran a shuttle service between the ship and the port gate. We walked a few blocks, David chatting all the time as he was very excited to show us everything. So much so that I didn't think about taking photos.

We found the supermarket and Becky made some purchases, then we walked on a bit further and found an ice cream shop. Stopping for half an hour was a good decision, and Esther was much happier when given her cone:

In the evening, unsurprisingly, we decided to play a game of Settlers. We use the 5-6 player expansion board when playing with four people, something Daniel and Becky had not done for the past year. So Becky was a bit puzzled to find that two of the expansion pieces were missing from her set. Probably packed away with their other Settlers expansions in storage in the UK.  It wasn't a problem having two sea pieces missing, but a bit tight fitting it on the small table in their cabin:

We left the port in Mexico on Tuesday. We had more or less caught up on sleep by that point, so I was a bit surprised to find myself getting dizzy in the evening. Apparently this is quite common on the first day of a sail with Logos Hope; the way it's built means that it rocks slightly from side to side in an unusual motion, unlike most boats, and it's not unusual to feel light-headed while getting used to it. Thankfully this sensation disappeared within the first day.

I'm not entirely sure where the last five days have gone, as the ship makes its way slowly through the ocean. I've been outside a few times; all that can be seen is water, in every direction. Mostly pretty smooth, though sometimes it's been a bit difficult to walk in a straight line.

The days have followed a similar pattern. I usually get up between 5.30 and 6.30, take a quick shower and get dressed, then make my way to the staff lounge, near the top of the ship When possible I have checked Facebook, and one of the news sites briefly, but it's all been rather slow and some days I couldn't connect at all. So mostly I've been reading on my Kindle.

Breakfast, most days, starts at 7.00am, and the family usually arrive about fifteen or twenty minutes after that. We have cereal, perhaps fruit (currently canned, with this long sail) and yogurt, and sometimes toast, or bagels, or (once) croissants. The bakers are always up early preparing food for breakfast and lunch, and we appreciate them very much. There's a coffee machine too, offering several variations; I have decided my favourite is cafe macchiato.

We're usually finished by about 8.00 or 8.15, then David has to go up to the family cabin to brush his teeth and get ready for school. Not that this is anything like school as most of us know it. He LOVES going to school. He's in a mixed nursery/reception class of nine children, with a teacher and assistant, so there is lots of one-on-one attention. I've seen his 'wow' book - a photographic record of the past year, full of things he's said, photos of him painting, creating crafts, playing with puzzles and more. On Sunday afternoon, when Becky asked him what he would like to do, he said, with a sigh, 'I WISH I could go to school!'

He started with just a couple of mornings a week, for two hours, last September, but liked it so much and did so well that this was gradually increased to five mornings a week, for three hours each time. For the last hour the 'nursery' part of the class play outside with the older toddlers while the older 'reception' age children have an extra hour.  He'll be Reception age in September, meaning he can also go for a couple of hours each afternoon. In preparation for that, he's just started going on two afternoons per week.  He has apparently been asking to do this for a long time, and was so excited to have afternoon school on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  He was quite tired by the end, but clearly gets a great deal out of it. He's an extremely talkative, sociable child, and without parks to play in, or places to go, the ship school provides an ideal outlet for his energies and questioning, curious nature.

Back to our schedule... three mornings a week there's a baby/toddler group which Esther goes to, and for two of them, Becky gets a bit of space to catch up on things in the cabin. So I returned to the staff lounge and read some more while Richard has been working with Daniel in the A/V department. On the morning when Becky was staying in the toddler group, I stayed too to help, and enjoyed it very much.

One morning there was a ship voyage safety briefing, which Richard and I had to go to as we hadn't sailed with the ship in the past six months. Another morning there was a 'country orientation' - brief descriptions of what to expect, what Panama is like, where to go etc.  There will be a full 'port orientation' session on Tuesday evening.

Lunch is quite early, starting at 11.45am, but David doesn't finish his school until noon, so we go to lunch after that. Usually bread, with plenty of different kinds of salad vegetables, sliced cheese and processed meats.

Esther takes a nap after lunch, usually for about an hour, and Daniel is sometimes free for half an hour or so; he's had a couple of days off during this week, which we all appreciate very much. We usually hang out in the family cabin in the afternoons, at least while Esther is sleeping. David (when not at afternoon school) likes to do activities that are more difficult with a toddler around, such as painting, or sticker books.

Around three o'clock the children have some fruit and juice, then we might go to the 'fun deck' (where there are outside toys, a slide, swings and various other outdoor activities in a safe enclosed area dedicated to children. Sometimes we stay in the cabin.

The children have a lot of toys and books, and David has an almost endless capacity for stories. Esther has been a bit cranky; she's been teething as well as recovering from her yellow fever vaccination. And shes a very determined little girl with quite a temper when she feels thwarted. David didn't really do the 'terrible twos' phase; she is starting six months early and taking his share as well as her own.

Dinner/supper starts around 5.30pm - and inevitably, as on a cruise, we organise our days around mealtimes. It's good food, provided by the hard-working catering team, although there's usually only one kind of cooked vegetable, and they're rather limited at the moment. There's usually a vegetarian option, often some kind of eggs.   Daniel is a vegetarian, as are a few other crew members, and my tendencies are that way; it's possible to be vegetarian on the ship, though not easy. It would be impossible to be vegan. Richard eats meat but not dairy products if he can avoid them; that's been remarkably difficult.

As with a cruise, it's all too easy to eat too much and exercise too little. I'm going up more stairs than usual, which is good; the first time we climbed from deck 2 (where our cabin is) to deck 8 (where the family cabin is) my legs ached and I felt quite out of breath by the final flight of stairs. Now I find it easier. Richard, whose phone takes note of steps walked and flights of stairs, shows that on most days he's been going up about 35 flights in all.

After dinner it's back to the family cabin, with more stories for David while Becky puts Esther to bed. Then David is usually asleep by about 7.30. After that we've played a game a couple of times. One evening there was a gathering in the dining room for married couples where we played a different game. Becky had to bake cakes a couple of evenings, and last night Richard did a talk about his work and ministry, which was well received.

Today we should arrive near the entrance to the Panama Canal, and will remain there at anchor for about 24 hours. A pilot has to come on board and check the Logos Hope for safety, then - all being well - we travel through the canal on Monday afternoon/evening, and should arrive at the port of Balboa in the early hours of Tuesday. 

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