Monday, February 28, 2011

The Half Way Mark


Day 55 at sea; March 1, 2011

Has it really been 55 days?  Are we really halfway through our incredible journey?  Today is a sea day and I wrote six pages in my novel. I had my class share stories and impressions of their time in Madang.  I wish we had a copy of the Writer’s Market here on the ship.  Next time, if there is a next time, I will have one with me.

We are rocking and rolling on the semi-rough sea and the pool is like a wild waves feature.  A nice cool breeze keeps the temperature and humidity tolerable.  I have enjoyed almost two hours out here on deck.  It’s almost dinnertime so I’ll need to go in and get ready. 

Looking forward to Manila and Hong Kong and Viet Nam.  In Hong Kong I hope to go shopping for dancing shoes. 

Crossing the Equator—Again

Day  54 at sea; February 28, 2011

King Neptune and his redheaded mermaid visited the ship today in a time honored tradition. The entire ship celebrated the event with free equator slings, music and sacrificing of the ship’s staff to ensure safe passage.   A huge fish—real one was mounted of a stand and each staff member had to kiss the fish as part of their punishment. They also had to endure being sprayed with gooey stuff and then thrown into the pool.  It was quite a party.

Otherwise we had an average sea day.  I taught my class and went to the HAL Chorale rehearsal—we are doing a medley of 15 Rogers & Hammerstein show tunes.  After that I went to a cocktail party by invitation from the Cruise Specialists from Seattle.  They have about 300 people on board who booked through them and I learned that they are the ones to book a cruise with.  Lots of perks and good value. During the party, the captain came on and told us we wouldn’t be able to stop in Palau. As an alternative we will stay in Manila for two days.  Many of the crewmembers are from Manila and were ecstatic as they will have an overnight.  Several stopped serving to do a little gig.  Most of us are not too disappointed, though I was looking forward to meeting a friend’s friend.    

Our entertainment tonight is Paul Fredericks, a Brit who sang with the band that did Winchester Cathedral.  He was great.  He’ll be back tonight along with the magician comedian in a variety show.  Set clocks back another hour.  What time is it anyway?  I do know it’s Sunday because the elevator rug tells me so.  Off to bed at 9 which was really 8 because we crossed another time zone tonight.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Old Ways Clash With the New

Madang, Papua New Guinea
Day 53 at Sea; February 27, 2011

 Rainy, but warm. Very warm—and humid. Madang is the capital of Papua New Guinea. As we came off the ship and walked out into the town we were met by hundreds of children and adults smiling and waving, greeting us as if we were rock stars.  Most of the adult men and women had red teeth, stained from drinking a Beetle Nut concoction. Startling to see.  Of course this is how Bloody Mary got her name.  Many had set up mats on which they displayed handmade items to sell.

I was walking with Sharon and Allan, a couple who are well traveled. Ron had gone on an excursion so I was left to wander around town. The unpaved streets were muddy and full of ruts. A family of ten: An older man, one of his two wives and ten children followed us for several blocks. They left us when he discovered we had no Beetle Nuts and had nothing to give him.  The people didn’t beg. They were very friendly, but they did walk expectantly beside people. The town’s natural beauty—lush and green and tropical made up for the trash, the police presence, the run-down buildings and the obvious poverty.

The volcanic region is in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has many high peaks and active volcanoes.  There are some resorts and a hotel. Many of the houses are built on stilts. We walked to the war memorial along the botanical gardens and back into town. The humidity totally zapped me so I could hardly wait to get back to the ship.  Again people were very nice and willing to help.  There were very few street signs so our map did us very little good.  Very little had been done here as far as building goes since WWII allied forces took the island over from the Japanese.  What little building that was done happened mainly in coastal towns after the war.  The town was destroyed and many killed in the heavy fighting here between Japanese and allied troops.  

Despite the friendly smiles, there is a sort of sadness here that maybe comes with the advent of modern times into a land whose people hold to the old ways and are stuck in between. The digital age has arrived here, but you don’t see as many cell phones as you do ads for digicel and the internet experience. 

Ron had a better experience as he was asked to escort a tour up into the mountains.  There are still tribes here that adhere to their old customs.  Pigs are the primary currency and women are a commodity. A man can have as many as he wants, and usually trades in pigs. 

Children and adults came out to the ship on whatever floats and lingered there as passengers tossed them gifts of shirts, candy. They would dive from their broken-down crafts, canoes, dugouts.  For me it was bitter sweet—they were so happy to have something—anything.  At the same time I wondered how much happier they might have been if they had never been exposed to life in modern world. 

Sailing on again—in luxury wondering what will happen to these people—hoping that in time, since there is no going back, that life can be better. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Classes and Beautiful Calm Seas


Day 51 and 52 at Sea; February 25& 26, 2011

I hope everyone is following this journey on a map.  Today, the 26th, we awoke to find island after island on both sides of the Ship.  We passed through the China Sea, the Coral Sea and are now in the Solomon Sea. We are winding our way north to Papua New Guiney. 

Our entertainment tonight was award winning Concert Pianist Tomono Kawamura and she was magnificent.  Our entertainers the last few times have been mediocre—so-called comics and magicians –performers who seem to have gone to the same school of comedy.  Tomono was a breath of fresh air. 

The Rain In Cairns Falls Mainly on the Tourists

Day 50 at sea; February 24, 2011

Cairns is a lovely seaport.   Ron went on a tour to see the highlights and ride a gondola over the rainforest.  And what a rainforest it was.  He had a wonderful attitude—unlike some of the grumps who sounded as though the rain would turn them into toads.  The temp was supposed to be in the 80s but the rain cooled things down to a bearable temp. 

When Ron came back to the ship, we ate lunch and headed out.  The ship provides clear umbrellas and we walked off the ship, through customs and into a park, along the waterfront to the casino.  We played a while and walked back to the ship, in the terminal on our way into the ship, we sampled all kinds of wonderful fruit—compliments of Cairn’s townsfolk and listened to a bit of folk music.   

After dinner, we went back out and talked twenty minutes to the “Night Market” to do some browsing for souvenirs.  There were a lot of interesting stalls and reasonable prices, but I wasn’t in the buying mood.  On the way back to the ship we stopped at Woolworths (like Target) and picked up hairspray and such.   We had rain on and off—nothing major all the while we were out until….  About four blocks from the ship, the heavens opened and it poured.  Even with umbrellas or because of them, we were soaked from the waist down.  What fun.  We came back and changed and spent some time at the Piano  before heading to bed.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2 Party Days at Sea—Sailing Inside the Great Barrier Reef


Day 48 & 49 at Sea; February 23-24, 2011

I have lumped these two sea days together because they are one big party.  We have the CEO from Holland America on board and he is being wined and dined.  It is also Mariner Appreciation Days—honoring people to sail often with Holland America and are considered Mariners.  Tuesday I had my class and shared my two cents on writing creative non-fiction.  At 4:15 we had a cocktail party and people could talk their pictures with the CEO.  Complimentary drinks.  Then we had a formal dinner and it was oh so fine. 

Unfortunately, I had an episode with angina and ended up in the infirmary for a couple of hours.  My enzymes were normal, but the doc was going to send me to a hospital in Cairnes for further tests.  Fortunately, the primary doc came in and since I have a history of these and have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, she told me I could go to my cabin and sleep and they would repeat the blood work and EKG in the am.  She was able to contact my doctor’s office in Vancouver.  I am fine this morning. 

Second day the staff is getting ready for a huge party—A Taste of Austrailia.  Austrailian musicians on board, wine, food of all kinds including crocodile, kangaroo and emu, wonderful large cherries, and other delectable things.  I ended my class early so we could all go hear the CEO talk about the future of the HAL cruise line. 

At five, the Lido opened and people poured in, stewards poured wine and beer and other stuff.  An absolutely amazing party.  Too much noise and way too hot. 

On a more interesting note, we are sailing inside the Great Barrier Reef where waters are calmer and temperatures are tropical.  It’s been raining, but who cares.  Tomorrow when we awake we will be in Cairnes. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Leaving Sydney


February 21, 2011; 47th Day at Sea

We are at a sail away party with free wine and champagne.   It’s with a certain sadness and joyfulness that we sail away.  It would have been nice to be here in Syndey a bit longer, but we’ll be at sea for two days and arrive in another Austrailian Port, Cairns.

I'll try to post some photos soon.--but I do need to work. :-) 

Hugs to all.

Entering Syndney Harbour



February 22, 2011; 46th Day at Sea
It’s said that Syndney, Austrailia has the most beautiful harbor in the world.  I have not seen many harbors—well actually quite a few on this trip—but I would have to agree.  The sight of the opra house  and the city coming into view brought tears to my eyes.

We awoke early and were out on the decks at 6 am to hear the travelogue from our onshore expert telling us about the harbor.  The sun began to rise and provided us with magnificent colors and cloud formations.  We must have taken a hundred or more photos and each turn, each inlet, each view was more spectacular than the last.  

We pulled up and docked at the overseas terminal located just a stone’s throw away from the famed opra house off out port side. We walk off the ship and are in The Rock District.  The walk along the water is wide and beautifully appointed.

We were within walking distance of the Botanical Garden and the large weekend market at the Rock and lots of other places to see.  Our first day was very warm and humid. I had two trips back to the ship to refresh and change.   We walked past the ferry terminal and along the harbor where the opera house sits.  Lots of restaurants with outside seating.  With it being Sunday, artisans had a large street fair with their stalls.  Some lovely things. 

After lunch, I walked to the opera house and the botanical gardens.  I walked up past the library which is phenomenal and down through a series of courtyards where the subway has stations.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a Lindt (as in my favorite chocolates) cafĂ© with outside tables and umbrellas.  I resisted buying the chocolates because they’d have melted before I went a block. Still, it was fun to see it.  I also passed a Prada shop or salon—or whatever it was called.  And several brand named stores that unfortunately were closed. J   This wonderful courtyard lasted for about 8 blocks and then I turned to go down George Street to the art fair and the ship. 

Last night was lovely and cooler. After seeing Date Night with Tina Fey, I listened to Diane for a bit, then walked around outside, enjoying the lights of the harbor and the city in the background.  

My legs have yet to forgive me, but I shall abuse them further tomorrow.

Sea Day and Time for Singing


February 20, 2011; 45th Day at Sea

No class today—we have a guest talent show and the HAL singers of which I am one of about fifty, are performing this afternoon. 

What a fun day.  It was nice to be at sea without having to work.  Well, I did work on my book, but not on class. 

We went to a movie rather than the entertainment tonight.  Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston.  Kind of cute—romantic  comedy and adventure.  There is a movie available every night in the Wywang Theater.  We usually take in the show, but I might be becoming a movie fan. 

Tomorrow Sydney.  Hooray!!!

Port Arthur, Austrailia’s Premier Convict Site


Feb 18, 2011; Day 44 at sea

We awoke in Carnarvon Bay this morning and used tenders to go ashore.

Port Arthur operated as a prison colony from 1830 to around 1877.  A complete community was built up around the prison.  Today many of the original buildings are in ruin, but some have survived.  The stonework, done primarily by prisoners still remains intact.  Tours are available to the Island of the dead where an estimated 1100 people (townspeople and prisoners) were buried.  Many of the prisoners were repeat offenders, but many too were young men whose only crime was stealing a bit of food.  One boy was only 9 years old.

The visitor’s center is most impressive and contains an amazing museum depicting life in the prison and the rehabilitation done there.  Many of the prisoners learned crafts and trades and were eventually released. 

The site receives around 250,000 visitors a year and it’s easy to see why.  The grounds here are beautiful.  I was especially impressed with the church.  Prisoners had created beautiful woodwork, but an accident caused it to burn down.  What remains is a stone exterior.  I took a number of photos.  It’s a haunting place and is said to be haunted.  In April 1966 a gunman went on a shooting spree and took the lives of 35 people and wounded another 19 in and around the historic site. The man is in prison serving 35 life sentences.

I worked this morning until noon and then went out to walk around the site.  What an experience. We arrived back on the ship at 2:30 and I’m writing. 

Soon Sydney!!!  I understand that port is right by the opera house.  I can’t wait.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Little Devils


Hobart, Tasmania
Day 43 at Sea;  February 18, 2011

Used to be that whenever I thought of Tasmania, I’d think of that wild nasty Tasmanian Devil from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.  No more.  Now I think of Hobart and the beautiful harbor and St. David’s Park, and the amazing old buildings built by the original settlers—prisoners for the most part.

Today it is a lovely city and I will think of the yarn stores and the luscious Australian woolens and yarns. My friend Pat nearly bought out the store. She bought some of that wonderful yarn to spin and more yarn to make up sweaters and such. 

I will think of the fascinating and adorable photo of a baby Tasmanian Devil sleeping in the palm of its caregiver’s hand.  Sadly, they are endangered as a disease has spread through their population and killed so many.  I will try not to think of them as nasty little creatures that can rip your face off—unless that is I come face to face with one in the wild.  J

We left Hobart last night at midnight.  Unfortunately, I missed the sailing as I was sound asleep.  Next stop Port Arthur. 

Rejoicing!


I am a great grandmother again.  Adalia Rose was born on Feb 16, in Fargo, North Dakota at 3:20 am. She is 19 in and 7lbs 1.8 oz.   Hannah is doing well and looks great. 

Sea days:

We had a formal dinner and a valentine ball.  After dinner I had intended to take in the ball, but went to bed and slept 12 hours.  Seas have been rough since we left the Fiordlands and are crossing the Tasmanian Sea.  Yesterday I was so tired—groggy from sleeping so long, I guess) I fell asleep with my hands on the keyboard.  I got nothing done except to sign up to sing at Diane’s open mike at  go to a nice lunch with Diane (our piano broad)  I had to stay awake for the open mike which happened at 9 pm.  I did a couple songs.  Blew one since it was in the wrong key. Once adjusted  it went okay.  It’s been too long since I’ve sung in public. 

Today is another day at sea and I hope to work on the book this morning. 
I’ve had trouble getting on the internet the last couple of days. 


More on the Fiordlands


What an unbelievable tour. We went into three different sounds today and each was more beautiful than the last.  High mountains lots of trees, waterfalls from recent rains. Small tour boats, canoes.  A couple of little settlements accessible only by boat.  Similar to upper Lake Chelan only more scenic.  The ship came very close to some of the areas and everyone was out on the deck taking photos like crazy.    It looked like there was barely enough room to turn around in the sounds. 

By the end of the day everyone was elated and in a great mood.    

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cruising in Fiordland National Park

Day 40;  Monday February 14, 2011

We rounded the southern tip of New Zealand and are sailing along the west coast.

Today is a scenic cruise day along the waterways of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Most of the area in uninhabited and is a wildlife preserve it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We’re traveling along one of the most beautiful parks in the world. The park covers around 10% of New Zealand with many islands, mountains.  Glaciers carved the area around 15,000 years ago. 
This area is magnificent. I may have to stop working this morning so I can take it all in. 

Since we are not docked or going to shore, today is considered a sea day for us and consequently, I will have a class at two. It’s Valentine’s Day today and we have another formal night along with a ball in the Queen’s Lounge. 

From here we sail north to Tasmania so we have two more days at sea.  More adventures to come. 

Oban at Halfmoon Bay

Day 39: Sunday February 13, 2011

Finally we are at Oban—a very small, quaint community of around 300 people.  It’s very hilly. We climbed up a steep hill and down the other side to get to the town. For part of it we  hiked along Fuchsia Track or trail that could have been in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The town is a popular vacation spot among locals and the really neat thing is that 85% of this island is protected and can never be built on.  It was cool and damp and really reminded me of

Dunedin, New Zealand

Day 38; Saturday Feb. 12, 2011
I Lied… I thought last blog we’d be going to Oban, but I missed our actual next stop.  Dunedin is situated at the head of Otago Harbour and has a Scottish flavor.  It is the home of Cadbury Chocolates.  Archeologists believe it was a multi moa-hunter site around 1100 ACE.  Captain James Cook spotted penguins and seals in this area.  The area was settled by Scotts and founded as Dunedin (Du`n E`ideann), the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh. 

We arrived on the one day of the year when the townspeople put on a major street festival. It went on for blocks and blocks and so many people you could hardly move among them. There must have been a 1,000 or more booths or stalls. I was surprised to see how green and lovely this place is. More vegetation here than at our last stop.  I’m reminded of the Northwest.  Later, Pat

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tauranga, New Zealand – to Christchurch

Day 34 at Sea; February 8, 2011

Tauranga is located in the western part of the Bay of Plenty and is an absolutely wonderful island.  One entire side—the ocean side is a surf beach—lovely cream-colored sand with shells.  I wish we could have stayed longer, but for the next few ports, it’s in and out the same day.  Maunganui is a Maori phrase meaning big hill and Mt. Maunganui is a large hill—an extinct volcano.   They’d had slides recently, so it was closed to the public.   

The shuttle took us into a nice downtown area with a lot of shops.  However, the prices are fairly steep.  There are a lot of little clothing shops featuring garments made by the designers.  Interesting.  Most things were not exactly tailored for my shape and style.  Naturally, I stopped at a Starbucks for my venti mocha frapaccino light. J 

The island is known for its Kiwi (bird and fruit). They also have items made out of Merino wool. 


Next Stop Napier
Day 35 at sea; February 9, 2011

Thin Art Deco. Napier is located in Hawk’s Bay; it’s a tourist town with lovely parks and shopping.  An earthquake not only leveled it back in 1931, it raised some 40 square km of land from below sea level. There are many art deco buildings that have been restored and renewed.  Wine is one of New Zealand’s most popular exports and some of their wines are considered the best in the world. The earthquake also took away their sandy beaches and left black rock.  Well, I suppose you can’t have it all.

Napier is compared to South Beach, Miami, Florida as two best art deco towns in the world.  The town was named for Sir Charles Napier, a British war hero.

Welcome to Wellington
Day 36 at sea; February 10, 2011

Oh, my, what a gorgeous town. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand.  It is the southernmost capital city in the world.  It’s known as windy Wellington and today was no different, but we were blessed with unseasonably warm weather—it was perfect.  The city has more hills than San Francisco.  Many of the homes build on the side of the hills have their own cable cars to transport then from the lower roads. 

I went on tour after lunch.   We drove along the waterfront and then made out way up to the highest point in Wellington and had a great panoramic view.  Had to climb several flights to the top, but well worth it. We went by one of the sites where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  Fascinating.

We then took a cable car from downtown up a very steep him to the botanical gardens.  Wish we’d had more time there, but the bus met us at the top and we went into the gardens to the Rose gardens and Begonia house.  Gorgeous.  Probably as spectacular as our Portland Rose Gardens, but the begonia house was awesome.  I bought a 6 ounce coke for $4.00  ($2.80) our money.  

Wellington is one place I’d like to spend more time exploring.  Our bus got us back to the pier four minutes before we had to be back aboard.  I changed for dinner and managed to get to the dining room just in time.  Gotta eat.

The Amazing Christchurch, New Zealand
Day 37; February 11, 2011

We docked in Lyttelton.  Ron had a tour today to the Antarctic  Expedition.  They had a fantastic trip (virtual) to Antarctica and even felt the water from the penguins shaking off the water.  They created wind and fog and snow and weather about like my family experience in North Dakota, but not as cold.

I took the 30 minute shuttle into town to Cathedral Square.  Every city should have one of these. The cathedral is very old and very beautiful.  The Avon River runs through the town and there are a number of lovely parks and walks. I went to the art museum and the art center with all New Zealand artists.  There was even a quilt shop. J  I totally enjoyed the outing.

It’s definitely getting colder.  The topography has changed a lot—sort of like traveling from Portland/Vancouver to The Dalles.  Here in Christchurch it’s been in the 60s with a rather cool wind.  I’m on Lido deck having to use a blanket.

Tomorrow we head further south to the southernmost part of New Zealand to Stewart Island and Oben at Halfmoon Bay.  It will be like the temp in Alaska.  I may stay on the boat.  J 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 2, Auckland

Day 33, February 7, 2011

I worked for a while this morning and after lunch, Ron and I walked up Queen Street to a Starbucks, then to the Skycity—think Seattle’s Space Needle only with 5 restaurants, a hotel  and a two story casino at the base.  At the top, people can skywalk or bungie jump or just look at the view. Ron and I didn’t do any of those since the cost is pretty hefty.  We did walk around and then made our way back to the ship. 

At the moment I am lounging by the pool, ready to take another dip.  Tonight we are dining at the Italian restaurant so we can watch the ship sail away from Auckland. out Hauraki Gulf, through the Colville Channel with the great Barrier Island on our portside. We sail into the Bay of Plenty on a southerly course and arrive at Tauranga in the morning.

Excuse  me while I take another dip in the pool to cool off. J

Ahhh.  Much better.

Tonight we’re entertained by Jeff Stevenson, a British Comedian.  Just so you know, a couple of nights ago Peter Cousins from Australia gave a stunning performance the night before last.  He’s amazing and has played major roles in several big stage productions, one being the lead in Phantom of the Opera in London for around 200 performances.  

Until tomorrow....

Auckland, New Zealand

Day 32 at Sea, February 6, 2011

It’s about 75 degrees here and very humid.  Warmer than usual. Auckland is known as the Queen City or City of Sails.  It’s home to about a quarter of the country’s people.  There are around 4.3 million people here and 45 million sheep.  Of course here in Auckland we don’t see any of those sheep., but we are making our way south so I expect to see more farmland.  We are moored in the most beautiful harbor.  Funny thing though—we are right beside a Hilton Hotel and can see right into the rooms.  Not that we’re looking.  Imagine going to bed overlooking the harbor and waking up to a line of people at the ship’s railing, peering at you. 

Today Ron and I took the city highlights tour and drove to several interesting places. Among them was Auckland’s fabulous museum.  Spectacular.  We spent an hour there experiencing New Zealand history from the Maori people, native to this island.  We also saw the bones from archeological digs and history through the war.  One of the ancient canoes used in battle (Maori people fought one another a lot), made from one tree was hollowed out and held 100 warriors.

From the museum we went up to a volcano and could see all of Auckland from the top.  When the tour ended, we had lunch on the ship, then went to explore the Westfield Shopping Center.  Believe it or not, we have Westfield Shopping Center in Vancouver, Washington,, reminding me that we are in Western civilization.  Sad to leave our beautiful Polynesian  islands in a way, but so much more excitement to come.  

Our show tonight featured Maori natives in a folkloric presentation.  Interesting, but I was so tired I could hardly stay awake.  So goodnight.  More tomorrow.

The History of Bingo


Day 31 at Sea, February 5, 2011

We are at sea again. Our newspaper, which we get everyday didn’t have a lot to say today.  The headline is “The History of Bingo”.  The bingo game can be traced back to a lottery game called “LoGiuoco Code Loto,” played in Italy in the early 1500s. 

We also learned about the Bulbous Bow.  The bulbous bow is the torpedo shape part of the ship’s hull. It protrudes out of the bow just below the waterline and water is forced to flow over it. It then creates a trough by the V shape of the bow. Basically it reduces the vessel’s wake thus giving more energy to the forward motion of the ship. It also helps with fuel efficiency. 

Now aren’t you happy to hear that! J  I actually love days at sea because I’m fairly productive and I get to teach my class.  I usually get some time at the pool and then it’s time for dinner. 

I’ll try to send more of this useful info soon, but we are in port for 8 days in a row in different ports in New Zealand.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Nuku’ Alofa, Tonga


Feb 3, 2011, Day 29 at sea

We went to sleep on Feb 1 and woke up in Tonga on Feb. 3.

Tonga is nearly flat—no lava domes or high peaks.  The Island is lush and fertile allowing for the growth of those wonderful tropical plants.

Ron had a tour this morning and I was on my own. I hooked up with Diane the pianist, but since she didn’t want to take the free bus into the market place, we parted ways.  I didn’t do any shopping, but hooked up with two other couples to hire Peror who charged us each $20 to give us a two hour tour.  We had a nice time but wished Diane could have come with me.  She ended up finding Ella, a taxi cab driver and wished I had come with her.  Next time. J

Saw a bunch of blow holes on the rocky shore; Huge bats that hang from the trees in daylight and fly at night.  Saw spiders with inch long bodies and very long legs—non-poisonous.   Went past a wedding and a funeral—lots  of  cemeteries since they cannot bury their dead, but must build tombs in graveyards or in their yards. 

Tonga used to export primarily coconuts, but now their main crop is pumpkins which they sell to Japanese.  The beautiful  plants and trees are cleared for pumpkins and the farmers use pesticides.  Sad. But it brings in money.  Many of the Tongans go overseas for jobs and send money home to the family.

It’s very hot and humid, but often we have a breeze to cool us down.  I’m loving it.  The islands are great to see, but I’m always happy to get back to the boat and into the pool.  J 

Last night we had a Dutch dinner and celebrated the Chinese New Year and our loss of a day. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Whatever Shall We Do Without Ground Hog's Day

Day 28 at Sea—February 1, 2011

We docked at Alofi, Niue this morning. It’s a town of about 600 people.  It’s a lovely island. Lots of reefs.  From the dock we could see parrot fish and those yellow striped guys.  There were a number of caved and the cliff-side near the dock was stunning.  At the top of the hill was a church overlooking the water and a beautiful little cemetery with very old tombstones.  One looked as if it had a lace cloth on it, but it, of course, was concrete.  Fresh flowers decorated many of the tombs.

In these islands, families own land and it is passed from generation to generation.  Many of the families bury their deceased in tombs in their front yards. 

People of the village brought their crafts and wares to town simply because we were there.  I understand there is a prison on the island (we didn’t go on a tour) but there are no prisoners.  The people were lovely and friendly. 

It was drippy humid there so I’m glad we went in early.  Once back on board, I spent the rest of the day on Lido deck getting in and out of the pool and enjoying a wonderful breeze.

An amazing thing happens tonight.  We go through a time warp.  It is Feb 1 and tomorrow when we wake up it will be Feb 3.  Yes, we lose an entire day.  In actuality, we are crossing the International Date Line.