Monday, April 23, 2012
At sea towards Western Sahara
Sunday April 22. At sea towards Western Sahara I love the days at sea. It is totally different pace, much more relaxed. Iwake up early, but know that I don't have to leap out of bed. Breakfast is a leisurely affair. The first lecture of the day isn't until 9:30 AM. David Barnes our Welsh historian lectures about Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle. It seems that Darwin was most interested in going to the Canary Islands, which is where we will be on Wednesday. As it turns out, the Beagle was quarantined because of a cholera outbreak in London, so he only saw the Canaries from the deck of the ship. David has a dry sense of humor, which makes him a pleasure to listen to. The next lecture by Jim, the geologist is on plate tectonics. He brings in material from some of the latest published research this year, about theories of what will happen in the future--of course in 100 million years from now the human race probably won't be in existence any more. It is interesting to hear about the history,and how the first geologists were accused of heresy, because the prevailing thought int the early 19th C. Was that the earth had only been around for 6 thousand years. I had lunch up in the observation lounge, and saw a few dolphins during lunch. It is sunny, breezy and on the cool side today,but I managed to find a sheltered spot up on the top deck over the bridge where I could lie outside and read for a while. We are at about 18 degrees north, and will pass the Tropic of Cancer sometime tonight or tomorrow. Our course heading has been nearly due North today. Dakar is a remarkably modern city with lots of skyscrapers and modern architecture, nonetheless, as soon as you get out of the main business district You see the typical little African businesses on the sidewalk or in the street--fruit vendors, and old tires, chickens, and turkeys, auto parts. One of the places that've visited is a grotesque monument to the renaissance of Africa. The monument is over200 ft. High, and is made of bronze, depicting an African man emerging from a dead volcano, with a child perched on his shoulder, and a woman under his right arm. Like the Statue of Liberty, one can go up to the top, there are viewing windows from the man's Muslim cap. The monument is on the highest hill in Dakar, next to it is a twin peak that has a lighthouse. The food at the "best night clubbing Dakar" was really lousy, but the music was great. One man played a wooden xylophone that had gourds underneath each key that resonated. Another played a kora, a type of harp Monday 4/23 at sea towards Al Dakla, Wester Sahara Blogus Interruptus by cetaceans. Yesterday as I was writing came the call, "Whales". I jumped up, ran to my cabin, grabbed my camera and ran for the bow. There was a large pod of Sei whales, maybe 30 animals, some were owing to the surface within 30 ft. Of the ship. A beautiful sight. I never got back to the blogging. So, the kora harp has --- at the bottom that acts as a resonator, and a 3 ft. long stick stuck into it, to which many strings are attached. If you enjoy Caribbean music, African music will be very familiar. Yesterday at recap I gave a 10 minute talk on Chimpanzees, focusing on conservation, with a little bit about male dominance displays. There is only so much one can do in 10 minutes. Now it is just after breakfast,and I am looking at Northern gannets flying along with the ship, they are right outside the observation lounge at eye level. We have bright sunshine, lots of wind, and it is only about 50 degrees out. I am hoping that it will warm up enough to get out on deck. We have a packed schedule if lectures today, and although I enjoy them immensely, I can't stand to be in dark room all day when we are at sea a d these is shining.