Monday, March 30, 2009

Britain's Penal Colony off the East Coast of India

Thursday March 26
Day at sea--Half the ship has a cold and I’m praying like crazy. Saw a pod of little dolphins early this morning. I think they’re happy to see us! The cruise line has brought in a professional choir director from England to help us. Pretty cool. We will be putting on another concert before Dubai. Getting that one hour walk each sea day helps keep the belt in the right notch.
Friday March 27
Port Blair Andaman Islands--The ship had guards posted out on deck while passing thru the straits of Malacca last night. This a spot for pirates we hadn’t heard about. We get a little primer on Port Blair culture before heading out on our tour at noon; this was once a penal colony when Britain was in India. Indian citizens proposing independence were sent here never to return. Our first taste of Hindu culture with cows everywhere around town and in the country. They don’t seem to have any owners they just wander where ever they want. There are a lot of wandering goats and dogs too. The miracle of the day is that our bus driver didn’t run over anything that was walking. I mean full speed on a mostly one lane roads shared by walkers, bikes, cars, trucks, and animals. Our trip took us through countryside reminiscent of Cambodia and Viet Nam on the squalor scale but more woodsy and not quite the ramshackle architecture. There is a lot of damage remaining from the December 26, 2004 tsunami tho. At our destination we pile on a 1930 vintage ferry that had the look of the African Queen. We ferry across to some small reefs off a nearby island. We are then transferred to a similar vintage glass-bottomed boat that takes us out over brain coral to look at some species of tropical fish. Our next adventure was putting on snorkeling equipment and walking thru a beach area where sting rays were spotted. I saw 2 myself and paid particular attention to avoid them. Murphy’s law put a snorkel mask in my possession with knots in the strap on both sides of my head. After 10 minutes of fun I heard two twangs and I end up swimming to shallow water with the snorkel in my hand. The local version of the DNR was there watching over us as this area is in Mahatma Gandhi National Park.
Saturday March 28
Day at sea. Recovering from a very hot day in Port Blair. Watch an academy award winning movie about life in the back streets of Mumbai—Slumdog Millionaire. Very good.
Sunday March 29
Day at sea. Got into a little hot head and foot canasta game. Watching the sea. Indian Ocean has been nice to us so far. Our new captain conducted church services for us.
Monday March 30
Day at sea Sue is learning Mahjong. Some more interesting information on Tsunamis from a passenger who was a geology teacher. We’re going to get the DVD on his work.

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