Archive for October, 2005

October 23, 2005

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE CARDS AND LETTER!!!
TOO MANY PEOPLE TO NAME BUT THANKS SOOOO MUCH.
I AM HAVING A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY THANKS TO YOU GUYS.

Love you sooooo much.

October 22, 2005

I can’t even explain how much I love India. I have been having such an amazing time here but I only have time for a quick update. We worked with Global Nomads (www.gng.org) for a couple days and became really close with 6 medical students from the Sri Ramachandra Medical College. We spent a couple nights with them and then this morning Aashna came and picked me up so I have been spending some time with her. It was so nice to talk to Nani, Shilpa Masi, and Bobby today! Also, I can’t forget to give a big THANKS to everyone who sent me mail to this port (and to Kenya because it was forwarded to us. Chamz, Tejal, Ronak, and everyone at home and in NJ. Thanks SO much for the birthday album too- it almost made me cry! Ok well I probably will do a BIG India/Burma update because we only have 1 day in between.

Thanks again for all the birthday wishes!
Missing you all lots!!

October 19, 2005

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The gorgeous view from the Coco Villa.

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Ice cream time!

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From the glass bottom boat- look at the drastically different colors of water.

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Me on the last day at Coco Villa

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Feeding the monkeys.

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A red-eared terrapin!!!!

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Tortoise at the reserve.

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Crocodile at the reserve

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Tea tasting at the Bois Cheri tea plantation.

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Mandee and I at the Grand Bassin temple.

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BERING SEA POLAR BEARS!!!

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The lovely boys dancing. Glenn, Grover, and Jed. This picture doesn’t do their amazing performance justice.

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Me and Whitney all Bering Sea’d out! We were like spirit leaders…lol

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Our 2nd place winning mashed potato sculpture.

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Gray and denim- our bering sea colors. Those are claw marks on my arm and a paw on my face. Michael, my RD is sitting next to me.

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Michael dressed as our mascot

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Our UM picture

October 18, 2005

October 11th, 2005

“You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”
– Mark Twain 1896

What an amazing country. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I should preface all of this by saying that I believe that the decision we made when we got off the boat was the best decision we could have made. Me, Shane, Lyn, and Mandee packed our backpacks for 2 nights and decided to get as far away from Port Louis as possible. Not that it wasn’t a beautiful city but we knew that if we stayed here we would see nothing but SAS students for 3 days straight. In a country with a population of less than 2 million, 700 additional people in a relatively small port city is very noticeable. Anyways, so we took the water taxi from the ship to Port Louis ($1 and it was only 2 minutes) and went to find a pay phone so we could call some of the places from Mandee’s Lonely Planet. We had tentatively decided to go to a city called Mahebourg because it was pretty far down South and it looked interesting enough. We found a grocery store and bought water because we needed change for the pay phone. We decided to sit down somewhere for a little bit and figure out what we wanted to do so we found this cute little park and just sat on a bench looking through the Lonely Planet. Doug, the video editor and his wife Erin ( they’re really young) were thinking of going to Mahebourg too so we just decided to go together. We called the “Nice Place Guest House- owned by a lovely elderly Indian couple” and asked them if they had room. They said they did so we told them we’d call when we got to Mahebourg.

We found our way to the bus station and it took us a looong time to find the bus to Mahebourg. The stop was at a building a couple blocks down from the actual bus stop. Somehow we found it and as soon as we got on the bus it left- lucky us! Too bad we didn’t even know what the bus fare was, we just got on. The ticket collector came around and the price ended up being 23 rupees- less than $1! The trip took about an hour and a half but that’s because it wasn’t an express bus so it made stops every now and then. I like taking public transportation because you can see more people and more scenery. Mauritius is gorgeous- so many different types of landscape and it’s such a small island that if you had a week you could really explore the whole of it. Anyways, we got to Mahebourg which is a smallish town on the southeastern coast. We found the Nice Place Guest House but decided to check out Aquarelle and Coco Villa because they were right on the beach. We stopped at Coco Villa first and just decide to stay there. It was kind of like the Towne Hotel of Mauritius haha. We got 1 big room with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a small kitchen with a fridge. It wasn’t dirty but it wasn’t clean either. I guess it wasn’t that bad for $11 a night! We had a nice balcony overlooking the ocean though so that made it worth it.

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The view from our hotel.

We threw our stuff down and went out to find some food because we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast on the ship! It was Sunday so most of the places were closed but this one Chinese restaurant was open- Monte Carlo I think was the name. I got vegetarian fried rice that was really good. After dinner we walked back to the hotel but not before picking up some provisions. The hotel had a lounge with a pool table so we went to go sit there. Guess what movie was on TV? Yuva. I only recognized it because I had seen it before I left. I thought it was a pretty good movie but it dragged at the end. The ideology behind it was good though. I watched that for awhile because it reminded me of home…haha. Everyone went upstairs and the movie was almost over so I stayed. I made friends with a nice taxi driver while we were watching- I think he was kind of contracted to the hotel so he just hangs around until someone needs him. He was really nice and we had a nice talk about Bollywood. After the movie was over I went upstairs to go to sleep but everyone was still up so we sat around and talked for awhile. I went to go to the bathroom and there was a HUGE cockroach in there! Shane nicely came and smushed it and put it in the shower for us to wake up to the next morning. The shower was a spectacle in itself. It was described in the Lonely Planet as “electrocutioner style” because you have to turn the shower on and the turn the water heater on. If you want high pressure you have to take a cold shower.

Monday- We woke up today to cloudy skies and rain. Mandy and I decided to go over to the school across the street just to see if we could look around and visit. We sat outside the principals office waiting for an audience with him- we kind of felt like kids that got into trouble. Anyways, we met with him and just told him that we were from the US and were interested in the education system. He was so surprised that we wanted to see his school because he didn’t think it was anything special. He showed us around to the library, some classrooms, and the field. We met the librarian because Mandee wanted to meet him and one of the librarians gave us gulab jammun! 🙂 The headmaster then asked us if we had lunch yet and we said no so he drove us downtown in his car. He got Mandee, Shane, and Lyn these sandwich things but they had chicken in them so we went on a quest for vegetarian food. I had some dal roti thing from a street vendor that was really really good. We walked through the market while we were eating and it was pretty intense, to say the least. It was more of a produce market so it was reallly crowded. It was fun to see though. We walked back to his car and then he drove us back to Coco Villa so we could change for the BEACH. He drove us to Blue Bay and then went back to school. We sat on the beach for awhile and then we decided to take a glass bottom boat ride. It was GORGEOUS. The color of the water was just amazing and we saw all types of coral and fish.

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Look at the differnce in the water color.

We came back and tried to get a taxi back to our hotel. The first guy we asked said it would cost 300 rupees. We decided to wait for the bus. We waited for a loong time and another taxi came by so we decided to ask again just in case. He said it would only be 50 rupees. Great. We got back to Coco Villa, changed and then walked down to the market again. We went to this one place and got fresh fruit juice and Lyn, Mandee, and Shane got chicken briyani at another place. Ooh yeah Mandee and I bought these really pretty skirts from the market- they jingle!! On the way back to the hotel we stopped and got ice cream from a really colorful truck. Vanilla ice cream with nuts and coconut on top- it was soo good.

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Me, Mandee, Shane, and Lyn

We walked back to the hotel and had nap/reading time and then went down to the little Chinese restaurant downstairs to have dinner. We figured out what we were doing the next day and slept kind of early.

We woke up around 8am on Tuesday so we could catch breakfast (bread and Laughing Cow cheese). We then went over to the school to see Kim. He thought that we were going to stay for lunch so he told all the teachers to make a dish for us! They just packed it up for us to take. It was so unexpected and so nice…we didn’t even know what to say. We talked to him for awhile and decided to meet him back at 5pm. We rented a taxi for the day so we checked out of the hotel and went on our way. Our taxi drivers name was Malleck- he was Muslim and it was Ramadan so he was fasting all day! We wanted to share our lunch with him but he couldn’t eat until sundown. The first place we went was a Textile store- it didn’t really have any historical significance it was just cheap knock-offs and our taxi driver probably got commission so we humored them for a little bit and then left. We went to the volcano next which was awesome. We had to drive around the rim to get to the top and once we got there it just looked like a huge crater but there was an amazing view as well. The store we went to next was really cool considering our situation…it was a factory store that hand made model ships. We got to go upstairs and see the people actually making them. It was really interesting. We went to the Colonial House next and strangely enough they had a miniature Eiffel Tower on the grounds. I don’t know what the significance of that was? On the way to the temples in Grand Bassin we stopped for lunch. The food they made was delicious- puri, rice, pumpkin something, something that looked like khichdi, cabbage, a dal type thing, and kher. We were so stuffed afterwards. The temple we went to was gorgeous and they had these huge statues in the water- it was really interesting architecture.

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Mandee and I at the temple.

We did aarti, looked around and left. Next we went to Bois Cheri tea plantation which was fascinating.

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Tea tasting.

They had a museum and a factory tour. Unfortunately the factory wasn’t up and running when we were there but we still got good explanations of everything that went on and we got to see some of the processes. For some reason I think mass production is very interesting. I love seeing the factory process and how everything is automized. I don’t know- it’s a weird fascination. Ok so after the tour they had tea tasting! We tried the 5 types of tea that they made there- exotic fruit, earl gray, mint, coconut, vanilla, and black. They also had a loose white jasmine tea which was my favorite. We bought tea (and a children’s book about how rum is made) and left. The last place we went was this Crocodile Reserve which was AMAZING. We had an awesome guide who really knew what he was talking about. We saw crocodiles, monkeys, tortoises, koi, carp, bats, and a lot of other things I can’t remember. But i do remember seeing TERRAPINS. They had “Red-Eared Terrapins”!!!!!! I had my MD hoodie on too. 🙂

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Red Earred Terrapins!

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Feeding the monkeys! They’re not mean like they are in India.

They also had this amazing collection of insects and butterflies- mounted ones I mean. My goodness some of these butterflies were so gorgeous. We finally headed back to Coco Villa, chilled for a little bit and then left with Kim to go back to port.

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Coco Villa

He drove us back a different way than when we came so we got to see some other parts of the island. We discussed so much in the car about anything and everything. It was so great. That’s what I wrote my paper about actually. Here, maybe I should just post it. The assignment was to imitate the style of one of the authors we are reading so I chose to mimic Byron who incorporates conversation into his analysis of a country. Ok so real quick- we drove back to port and rushed on board to pack up books from the library that we were donating to their school. We also wrote him a quick thank you note. We walked back to his car with a few boxes of books and said our goodbyes. It was interesting to hear about everyone’s experience in Mauritius but I’m still glad we left Port Louis. OH Tejal- guess what movie some people saw while they were here? NO ENTRY! Oh my goodness…we saw the preview for that when we went to go see The Rising and it just looked like it would be the worst movie ever. I think that’s what the consensus ended up being. Ok, so here’s my paper:

Mahébourg, October 11th. – We drove back to Port Louis from the southeastern coastal town of Mahébourg with a new acquaintance we made over the course of our stay in this lovely town. For two days we woke up to the easily carried sound of screaming and shouting boys. Lo and behold, right across from our quaint oceanfront hotel was the Emmanuel Anquetil Mahébourg State Secondary School. On our first morning in Mahébourg we made our way over to the school in hopes of meeting a teacher or student who wouldn’t mind showing us around for a few minutes. In retrospect, we should have rehearsed a response for the questioning that ensued. We also should have realized how difficult it is to explain the concept of Semester at Sea to people who have never previously heard of it or anything similar. We sat outside the headmaster’s office for about thirty minutes waiting for an audience with him all the while feeling like students who were sent to the principals office for getting in trouble.
“Hello, do you need something?”
“Yes, we were just interested in visiting your school.”
“For what purpose?”
“Oh, we just wanted to learn more about the education system in Mauritius.”
“Are you teachers?”
“ No, we are students.”
“ So why are you interested in our school?”
“ We just wanted to talk to some of the teachers and students.”
“ Oh, I see. What are you doing in Mauritius?”
“ We are traveling on a ship that is going around the world.”
“A ship?”
“Yes, we docked in Port Louis.”
“Are you working on the ship?”
“No, we are students.”
“What are you doing on a ship then?”
“We are taking classes on the ship.”
“So you are students.”
“Yes.”
“Why did you stop in Mauritius?”
“Well…you see, we were supposed to go to Kenya but there was a travel advisory for maritime vessels traveling off the east coast of Africa so we came to Mauritius
instead.”“Terrorism?”
“Yes, terrorism.”
“That is unfortunate.”
“Is there terrorism in Mauritius?”
“ nobody even knows Mauritius exists.”

Eventually we were given a tour of the school by the headmaster and we soon realized that he was so inquisitive as to the nature of our visit because he was in shock that people actually wanted to visit his school. He didn’t believe that there was anything special about it. It was indeed dilapidated and in great need of repair but that was not what attracted us to it. Somehow we saw past all of that and simply saw it as a school. On the way back to port we had a good time conversing with the headmaster on a variety of topics.
“We noticed that all the boys have to wear uniforms.”
“Yes, we do have uniforms but I do not like it.”
“Why not?”
“If a child does not wear the uniform it is not his fault but his parents fault.”
“So what do you do if you see someone not in uniform?”
“Nothing.”
“Nothing?”
“How can I punish the boy when it is obviously the parents at fault?”
“Are most schools single sex?”
“No, there are some mixed schools as well.”
“Do you prefer all boys?”
“Not at all. Girls and boys have to work together eventually. Why should we inhibit something so natural?”
“Don’t you think it hinders their ability to concentrate?”
“No, of course not. Both sexes do better when they are together.”
“Really? We believed the opposite.”

The headmaster conveyed all of this to us with such conviction and insistence that it was easy to tell that he was passionate about the subject and obviously frustrated with the state of his school. We therefore decided to change the subject and talk about his family instead.
“What does your wife do? Does she work?”
“Oh heavens no! It would not be fair to her.”
“How so?”
“She already has to take care of the baby, the house, my needs, the household needs and all of that. If, on top of that, she has to work and bring home a paycheck every
week? This is not fair to her, you see.”
“How high is the divorce rate?”
“Not very high.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“No it is not.”
“Why?”
“The domestic violence is very high. Husband and wife fight. Also, there is the mother-in-law. You understand about the mother-in-law? Everyone in the world
understands this.”
“ Yes, we understand very well.”
“Why is there so much divorce in America?”
Silence
“People get married too fast. They jump the gun and think they are ready for anything”
“I think it is because you have too many lawyers.”

What was most interesting about our exchange was that since the language barrier was at a minimum the appeal came from the exchange of ideas as opposed to confusion and misinterpretation. Our conversations were humorous due to the richness of the content and not the lack of comprehension.
At last it was time to say our goodbyes at Port Louis. We exchanged the standard niceties and promised to keep in touch.
“You all must come back.”
“Of, of course we will.”
“I can find you a nice husband.”
<laughter for lack of a better response

October 12th, 2005

I’ve done it again. Overextended myself a little bit. Oh well, it’s just like being at home! Haha no, jk. This is just a crazy crazy week for everyone. Thank goodness I’m only in one event now for the Olympics (the Academic Bowl). I was triple booked because the basketball tournament and musical chairs were at the same time as the Academic Bowl. I wasn’t really stressing about musical chairs, but I was going to get some basketball coaching from Brandon. Last night, however, I got a call from Michael (my RD) and he asked me to put together a talent act for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. I guess I could do a dance but it’s not going to be any good and we’re going to be judged on this! I’m debating whether I should do a goofy dance ( e.g. guys dressed up as girls) or a serious dance ( Jiya Jale maybe? that’s the only dance I really remember right now). THe Olympics are in TWO DAYS. Eeeeks! On top of that, I have 3 papers and 1 midterm in the next few days. Not to mention a presentation for Film class, charity poker tournament, Myanmar trip organization. Aaaah. I’m going crazy. No sleep this week for me! Oh well, it’ll be fun hopefully. I love being busy. There’s somethign wrong with me. I just don’t like being idle. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be bored. I’m not saying that I’m doing more work than anyone else, I’m just saying that I’m very restless! haha I’m also kind of sad that this is the last of our long stretches at sea before Japan. Right now im in global studies and we just had a lecture on India’s history. It was interesting. I just perk up when anyone talks about India. Maybe that’s why this week is so much fun for me- everyone’s all about India this week. Haha
The choir is learning the national anthem and some other songs I believe-Raghupati i think. I met the two interport students from Chennai this morning. All of our interport students from now on are girls and we finally have a female interport lecturer. The girls are nice. Maybe I’ll ask them to do this dance for the Olympics. Hmmm…

Today is Coming Out Day on the ship. I think the national one was yesterday but that was too soon after port so they planned it for today. Jed went to look for ribbons in Mauritius but they didn’t find anything sufficient .Instead, they just put up signs for people to wear white either to show solidarity or to come out. They have an Open Mic session tonight so that should be good. Somehow I signed myself up for the poker tournament tonight…Mischa organized it as a charity event. He organized it really well because he got the ship to deduct the $10 donation from shipboard accounts. He raised about $400 and is donating it to Missionaries of Charity Orphanage in India. (note to self: look up Roots of Peace)

I’m beginning to feel a little bit like I did this summer when people would get mad at me for being busy. I can’t even expain why I’m so busy but I always seem to have something to do. Likewise, people on the ship are like ” what on earth are you doing that keeps you so busy?” I think it’s just a combination of things. I don’t even know. I think people think I’m mad at them because I’ve been kind of MIA lately but that’s not it at all. There must be something wrong with me. I don’t know how to divide my time well. Time management…what an important skill to have.

October 14th, 2005

Eeks. It’s almost 4am and I just finished studying for my Anthropology of Food midterm tomorrow. Actually, it was 3am but we had to advance our clocks. Today was exhausting too. 8am class and Global Nomads was filming me and Lily for one of their segments. Too bad they didn’t tell us before so we looked horrible. 8am classes are bad enough anyways. The rest of the day was fine, studied like crazy in between classes. in phil and film we watched aparjito- the second in the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. I really liked it but the room is so stuffy and congested so it makes me sleepy. You know what? In the Apu Trilogoy he marries a girl named Aparna. How weird is that? Yeah so after that I studied until our Bering Sea meeting. We learned our chants (i’ll post it) and high fives and talked about the Olympics. We had dance practice after that and it looks like it’s just going to be me, Moriah, Jess, and Whitney. That’s perfectly fine with me. They’re only doing the first minute or so and then just improvising in the back while I have a solo kind of in the front. I really don’t want to do it by myself but we definietly don’t have enough time to do it any other way. The end of the dance is going to be great though 🙂 both Glenns (hopefully), Jed, and Grover are going to wear skirts and dance to Sajna ve Sajna (the Usher “Yeah” version). It’s only 45 seconds so I’m just going to teach it to them tomorrow. This whole talent show act is so haphazard and put together so quickly…it’s really not going to be any good but it’ll be funny at least. oh yeah, did i mention how hard it is to dance when the boat is rocking like this?? it’s crazzy. whitney did a full roll today on the ground when we were practicing. I hope its not this rocky tomorrow. ok this is cutting into my 3 hours of sleep for tonight! will write later
love to all!
I MISS HOME SOO MUCH. I haven’t talked to Mom since South Africa!! toooo long.

October 17th, 2005

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I LOVE THE BERING SEA! Our awesome dance group.

These past two days were probably the best days of the whole voyage. I would say the best days of my life, but my standards are ever-changing! Saturday night was the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and all day Sunday were the Olympic events. I live for this. The Opening Ceremony was great. Each sea had to put on 2 talent show acts. One of our Bering Sea acts was our dance and the other was an impromptu skit that was put together after the singer in our sea lost her voice. 😦 Ok, so our dance turned out much better than I thought it would. I didn’t expect the type of reaction we got at all. We did Jiya Jale because I remembered most of it from when Jess and I did it for the Taal show. I cut out parts of it because I only had one day to teach everyone! Teaching was a lot harder than I thought it would be but these girls picked up so fast. It was just me, Whitney, Moriah, and Jess so that was good. In the time we had, I was only able to teach them the first minute and a half so the rest of the song they made me do it solo! Aah! I’ve NEVER dance solo before so I was much more nervous than I let on. I also thought that we needed some comedic relief so I added a minute of Sajna ve Sajna (mixed with Usher’s Yeah!) and coerced Jed, Glenn, and Grover into dancing this last part.

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These boys were awesome.

We wanted it to be kind of ridiculous and funny so we made them wear skirts and makeup and stuff their shirts. I choreographed the short part of Sajna ve Sajna with a little bit more girly moves so they would stand out even more. It was HILARIOUS. Roll on the floor laughing kind of hilarious. I taught the boys the dance at 6pm the night of the talent show…they were awesome. Yeah, so when i say we “made them” do all of this that’s not relaly accurate. They were more than happy to do it. I just wanted them to wear skirts. Stuffing their shirts and wearing make up was their OWN idea. I love it. I guess that’s what happens when you stick 683 extroverted people on a ship together So the act went really well and all night people were coming up to me and telling me how they were so surprised I could dance like that. “Where did that come from?” kind of reaction. I think it’s funny because I’m not really a good dancer but it’s all relative. For some people on the ship this is the first type of Indian dancing that they’ve seen so it’s all new to them. Yeah, so that went over realy well. We had an awesome dance group- I’m so glad that everyone is so sporting. Let me try and remember the other acts (with their respective colors):

Arabian Sea– Tal’s dance and Adam’s song
Red Sea– Mark’s “SAS’d” skit, Facebook
Caribbean Sea– Get Low and SNL skit
Baltic Sea– “blue ballers” and they did kind of a whole group dance thing to a mix of songs. it was really really good and they got a lot of their sea involved
Aegean Sea- jazzercise and opera
Vitamin Sea– video and kids skit
Bering Sea– dance and skit
Mediterranean Sea– SNL skit and comedian
Yellow Sea– Brian’s song and and girl with guitar

They were all fabulous. Tal and some girls choreographed a dance to a song from Moulin Rouge complete with chairs and sultry lighting. The Red Seas acts were amazing, they did a parody song about Facebook which was hilarious. I should ask them to post the lyrics. The Caribbean Sea ( Pirates) did the “Get Low” song that Natalie and I wrote on Neptune Day:

To the tune of “Get Low” – start with ” 3..6..9″

88th time
each country in line
cruising round the world
in a ship so fine

walk slow
walk slow
walk slow
walk slow

from the union to the halls
we slam into the walls
I wish I could crawl
Less sleep sleep every crossing
More sleep sleep in class
Less sleep sleep every port
More sleep sleep in class

Should be drunk
4 tickets
For me
Any more and Dan’ll be after me

In the line
Did u sanitize?
Ready for potatoes and salad this time?
Can K Murph say things just one time?

Ok so let me explain a little bit. 88th time means that this is our 88th voyage, the Union is like the student union, we slam into the walls because the ship is rocking, we get less sleep every crossing because we have to advance our clocks all the time, the limit for pub night tickets is 4 and Dan is the “Corrections Officer” on the ship who is always looking out for people who try and buy tickets off of other people, outside the dining halls there are hand sanitizing stations because cleanliness is so important on the ship, every meal there is potatoes and salad, and finally K Murphy is our Global Studies professor who has a very interesting lecture style that can easily be mocked.

The Caribbean Sea’s other skit was a spoof of that SNL skit with the guy and girl cheerleader(spirit check, etc.). The Baltic Sea ballers did kind of a whole group dance thing to a mix of songs. it was really really good and they got a lot of their sea involved. The Aegean Sea ( their color was white so their cheer was off the rap song ” white tee”) had a girl sing opera and their second talent was a jazzercise routine to that song ” Call on Me”. It was great. The Vitamin Sea which is made up of staff, faculty, kids, and adult passengers made an amazing video about semester at sea and pretended that the whole thing was a farce. they said all of them were actors and they had to audition for their positions. their second act was a skit by the kids which was great too. They yellow sea had two singing acts, one of them included an interpretive dance by Emmanuel and the Animaniac’s country song by Brian. The Med Sea did another SNL spirit skit which was equally as funny and they also had a stand-up comedian who was hilarious. The theme of tonight could been Prof. Murphy because at least 3 of the seas incorporated him into their skits. He was a good sport though.

In conclusion, the talent show was absolutely amazing. There are so many talented people on this ship and I think everyone was truly surprised at how the show turned out because we only had 2 days to prepare for it. The rest of the night was fun, I tried to do some journaling but just ended up hanging out and then eventually going to sleep kind of early. I had to be up the next morning bright and early. So I woke up yesterday, looked out my window and thought that they were washing it (and by they I don’t mean people-I mean the automatic window washing spray thing…people don’t really climb out onto the side of the ship in the middle of the ocean to wash our windows ) but it was actually just RAIN. This is maybe the second day it’s rained while we’re at sea and it just has to be on the day of the Olympics. Hmph. I made a sign that said ” Don’t be sad because outside it’s gray…the polar bears kinda like it that way.” For the Bering Sea our mascot is the polar bear and our color was gray so we just played off of that. Yeah so I got a quick breakfast and then went to Michael’s (our AWESOME RD- resident director) room to get “pawed.”

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Whitney and I all Bering Sea’d out.

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Our mashed potato sculpture.

He had gray face paint so we were painting paws on all the Bering Sea people who walked by. I did that and then went up to the Academic Bee. Our team was me, Glenn, Ben , and another guy. Guess what? WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a geography, trivia, and spelling bee. The rules of the game kind of evolved as the game went on so it was a little frustrating but whatever. I could really only contribute to the spelling part of the game…my trivia skills are non-existent. It was A LOT of fun though. We had a really good team because we each had our own strengths. What’s even better is that the Academic Bee was worth double points. It was the first win of the day so we were all so PUMPED. Aaron ( one of our sea reps) came in at the end and told us he got first place in Monopoly too. Let’s see how many of the other events I can remember. We got second in lemonade pong (thanks to Pete, Grover, and Brandon), first in Pictionary, second in limbo, second in mashed potato sculpture, second in Legends of the Hidden Temple, third in scavenger hunt, third in Texas Hold’ Em, second in Twister, second in Musical Chairs, fourth in relay race. I don’t think we placed well in Checkers, Scrabble, Push Ups/Pull Ups, Synchronized Swimming, or Tug of War. Our strength was a bit more on the intelligent side rather than brute strength. haha jk. Oh, so Synchronized Swimming wasn’t really synchronized swimming because it was raining so they couldn’t fill the pool. They did it in the Union instead and the teams had to do dry runs of their routine. Most teams just changed them to make them as entertaining as possible and believe me they were VERY entertaining. Guys in bikinis and even one-piece suits…oh man, it was just so funny. The mashed potato sculpture contest was great too. Each team had to make a replica of the ship with mashed potatoes and any other decorating supplies that they could gather in 15 minutes. We got 2nd place! They put so much detail into their ship- complete with showers by the pool. Whitney and I were running back and forth between mashed potato and Legends of the Hidden Temple. It was similar to an old show on Nickelodeon I think. Our team was AWESOME- Glenn, Tyler, Jess, Jackie, and another girl. They won the first round and then lost in the finals because of some stupid puzzle. Grr. I went to watch Lemonade Pong and Limbo for awhile which was great too. Whit and I ran around “pawing” people and touching up their paint before the closing ceremonies. We watched synchronized swimming, Pete and Melissa’s hip hop dance, and then…they announced the winners. It was between us and Aegean Sea and neither of us could gauge who won because all the events were weighted differently. WE GOT SECOND!!!!!!!!!!! Out of 9! I was happy but I thought we deserved first…haha but then again so does every other sea. Too bad we don’t get anything for being second…first place prize is getting off the ship FIRST in San Diego. Aah! That would be awesome but it’s ok. Haha it felt like Raas Chaos all over again….we were all so nervous when they were announcing the winner. Dissapointment again but whatever. Seriously the best two days of my life. I was honestly in my element these past two days. Just something about the whole thing…cheering for our sea, getting people excited about events, helping out , running around EVERYWHERE, just being involved in everything and being so spirited all day. I loved every minute of it.

Oh yeah, our cheers:
the first part was a cadence that Aaron made up but I don’t remember the words. We retired that cheer because nobody could remember it.
Awoo. The Bering Sea. That is my heart’s desire.
Awoo. The Polar Bears. I love em’! I love em’! I love em’! I love em’!
And you repeat that 3 times

Another one:
I said BRR! it’s cold in here.
There must be some polar bears in the atmosphere.
I said BRR! it’s cold in here.
There must be some polar bears in the atmosphere.

And our favorite (if not morbid) one:
We eat baby seals.
Yeah we eat baby seals.
We club em, we beat em, and then we eat em.
We eat baby seals.
Yeah we eat baby seals.
(Put your hands up and shrug your shoulders questioningly and say this matter of factly)
We’re polar bears.

Yeah so our cheers were awesome. Michael even dressed up as a polar bear of sorts. He made a head out of cardboard boxes and painted his whole UPPER body. We serisouly have the best RD, he was a camp counselor for little kids so he’s full of energy and is not afraid to do anything. Yeah so after the Closing Ceremonies there was a Dessert Bar up on Deck 7 which was amazing. The line was so long and I was too hyper to wait in line so I just went around and talked to people. I don’t even know what time we went to sleep.

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Gray and denim- our Bering Sea colors. To the left of me is Michael our RD.

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Polar bear mascot!

October 18th, 2005

It was Tejal’s birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEJ!!! I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH. SORRY I COULDN’T CALL BUT I WILL WHEN I GET TO INDIA. HOPE YOU HAD A FABULOUS BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

So yesterday was A Day- my worst day. My 8 am was fun though because we were talking about V.S. Naipaul and Theraux so I found it interesting. I got my Mauritius practicum back and Prof. O’Brien wrote on the last page ” Very good work. Your dancing was also very impressive.” Haha it was hilarious. I tried to do work after Global Studies but got stuck online trying to get things organized. We have free internet until tomorrow so EVERYONE is online. It is terribly terribly slow…eh oh well. I got on AIM and were talking to a few people but it was almost 3am and midterm week so I guess most people were studying. I talked to more people when I got online at 2:00am because it was a more reasonable time back home. Yeah so I just wasted time until Film class. Today we watched Salaam Bombay!– Mira Nair film. I’d seen it before but I really like it. I didn’t know that the little boy was not an actor but just some boy they pulled from one of the reformatories (Chiller Rooms as they are referred to in the movie). When he went home afterwards he told his family about the movie and they didn’t believe him so they beat him. After class I grabbed a quick dinner with Lyn and Kyle (which has kind of become tradition now…after film class we just go to Deck 6 Dining Hall and reflect. haha) and then ran to my Intercultural Ambassador’s Meeting. We were having a dialogue with the 2 interport students from India. It’s 2 girls this time and they are really sweet. Mansi and Sindhiya are both from Chennai and we hung out a couple days ago. Global Nomads has started taping me, Brian, Eric, and Lily so they came to the Ambassador’s meeting. I’m not used to a camera all up in my face but I think it’s something I have to get used to. After the meeting we booked it to cultural pre-port and Global Nomads had reserved seats for us in the front because they wanted to tape again. Cultural pre-port was good this time- panel discussion, Alicia’s slide presentation, and fashion show by Feminists@Sea on “What Not to Wear” The fashion show was hilarious- Jed was one of the hosts. I was supposed to be a “model” but I had class till 7pm so I didn’t have time to really practice. I just told them to find someone else. After pre-port I was going to go do work but I forgot it was A day so there was salsa! Now it’s getting more serous and they are putting together a team to perform at the SOS Auction. I think I’m going to do it. It was so much fun yesterday. We learned a choreographed dance that they had been working on that evening. We did this for about 2 hours while pub night was going on. Tonight’s theme was “Freaks and Geeks” or “CEO’s and Secretaries”. It’s actually supposed to be “CEO’s and ” haha A good amount of people dressed up so that was good. I went up to pub night after salsa all sweaty…too bad they were done playing music. Oh well, I talked to Kyle and Daniel for awhile and then went inside to watch Princess Bride! I love that movie so much. I caught the last half of that and watched it while reading for Food. Around midnight our room was the party room again and people were just coming in and out (most were slightly intoxicated). It was entertaining I guess. At 2am or so we all went upstairs to use the Internet. The computer lab was PACKED (as was every other place on the ship where you got good connection) but it was fun because people were playing music and all that. Once again, the browsers were slow but AIM was working. I text messaged mom to get online and she did so that made my night! I definitely went to sleep around 4:30am…I got back to my room and couldn’t sleep so I started watching Born into Brothels which was coming on TV. I want to watch the whole thing eventually. Whew. And now I’m in Global Studies (well, in a satellite room actually because I woke up 10 minutes late so I just brushed my teeth, threw on a hoodie, and ran down here). I’m DONE after Anthropology of Food but I have SO MUCH to do today it’s not even funny. I am SO excited about India. It’s so bad to say but I think I just want to relax a little in India and not be stressed out to see everything possible. I’d be content just sitting in a coffee shop (drinking tea) all day just reading and journaling and having some alone time. Maybe that’s what I’ll do on my birthday. haha we’ll see. Don’t be mad if I don’t have crazy experiences in India like I did in some of the other countries to write about. 🙂 I’m excited to see Aashna and all!!!
Ok that’s it for now- Global Nomads meeting in a little bit. Sorry ther are no pictures but the Internet is way too slow. I’ll try and post some from India!

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Our UMD picture.

October 12, 2005

Mauritius was absolutely amazing. I will try to update this week but I doubt I will be able to.

Hope all is well at home.

October 8, 2005

October 4th, 2005

I hope you all enjoyed my obscenely lengthy South Africa entry! Just a note about my journal: this is really my only record of my voyage as I don’t have time to keep a paper journal in addition to this one. Therefore, my writing may seem harsh, spontaneous, crude, uncensored, etc. at times. I honestly don’t mean to be judgmental or overly opinionated but I just type as it comes to me. I truly apologize if I have offended anyone in any way. Ok, now on with the journaling!

Mom- “lol” means “laughing out loud”, it’s just a shortened version that we use for some strange reason. Just thought I would put that in here in case anybody else was wondering. It’s part of my typing vocabulary now so I tend to use it often. Sorry!

Chris- SORRY for not calling you!! I didn’t have your number with me at the moment. Sorry sorry sorry.

Leaving South Africa was more emotional than I ever thought it would be. Somehow we all became very attached to the country and its people in a short span of 7 days. Maybe it was because we were there longer or maybe it was the fact that there was no language barrier….I don’t know but this is the first port where I’ve seen tears fall as we were departing. It took me awhile to get acclimated to being out in the ocean again, I put on my wristbands right away in hopes that they would prevent seasickness. It’s funny because I know that the effect of the wristbands is purely psychological on me but it still works even though I know it’s just mind games. I tried to do some work at night but the ship was rocking too much so I just went to sleep.

Our class scheduled was revised a bit so we started yesterday with B Day. Luckily I only have two classes on B Day and I am done by 12pm. After lunch Natalie and I went to Lindsay and Drea’s room to exchange pictures and all that. Somehow we wound up spending the WHOLE day in the room- journaling, organizing pictures, and just talking. It was fun but not academically productive at all! haha After dinner Shane and I went up to the piano bar to actually do some work. We found a nice little nook in the corner (where the classroom usually is) so we sat there and studied. It was a good place because you could see everyone walking by and they could see you but it was too far in to walk over and start talking. haha study tactics on the ship. I actually got A LOT of reading for Global Studies done so it was successful. After study time me, Kyle, Lyn, Jess, Rafi, and Fernanda played Trivial Pursuit. I love playing that game because I like learning all those random facts but it makes me feel so stupid at the same time. I realized that my knowledge of pop culture is pathetic. I guess it’s because we never had cable or were big on entertainment in general. I only knew random things and most of them were about India; where the Rajneeshee cult poisoned people with salmonella (Oregon), what company was responsible for the disaster in Bhopal (Union Carbide), what holiday was protested by the Indian government (Valentine’s Day). Those were all questions from yesterday’s game but none of them directed at me unfortunately.

So that was yesterday. Today is A Day so I had an 8am class…no good. I have Phil. and Film in 30 minutes so I guess I should do my reading. To be continued! Ooh, today was Taco Day!! Everyone’s favorite day…seriously you should have seen the line!

October 5th, 2005

No class today!! I think this is our only day off for a WHILE. It was so nice to sleep in this morning. Last night was fun even though hip hop classes was canceled because it was pub night so there weren’t enough people. We went and watched Napoleon Dynamite in the Union for awhile and then I unsuccessfully tried to do some work. Lindsay, Shane, and I ended up watching a movie on TV instead. We started it in the middle of it and then we waited until it looped so we could watch from the beginning. It was called Nowhere in Africa and I really liked it. It was about a German Jewish family who escaped to Kenya right before WWII started. They worked on a farm there for awhile but were interned by the British (Kenya was still a British colony at the time) because they were “enemy aliens. It was interesting because I didn’t even realize that happened. Anyways, good movie.

Heat Wave -www.moderndayclassics.com – the movie Pete is in, just a note for me to look it up later. I could write it down on a piece of paper but I’ll probably lose it. http://www.rootsofpeace.org just something else i have to look up that Mischa told me about

Anyways, didn’t get much work done today. I finished reading for Global Studies and now I’m just going over my lecture notes. It was GORGEOUS outside today- the weather was perfect, it was sunny and not too windy. We were sitting out there for awhile until I realized that I wasn’t being very productive. BBQ dinner today on Deck 7, it was pretty good. Their Gardenburgers are excellent and they had potato skins today. I met with Chris, David (Global Nomads), and Liz to try and get stuff organized for India. We’re frantically trying to get people…it’s hard because most people have big trips planned already. Today was a run-around kind of day and I don’t even know why. Our phone rings off the hook and half the time the calls aren’t even for us but for people who are usually in our room. It’s funny that our room has become like the hub of excitement…everyone just kind of gravitates to it. It makes me happy. 🙂 It also makes me more motivated to keep my room clean. Shane and Lindsay are in my room right now watching Shark’s Tale and I’m transcribing my global studies notes…good times.

I love my roommate. I think I have just been blessed with great roommates and the streak seems to be continuing. I don’t know if I can deal with Jess next semester though…haha JUST KIDDDDDING.

We watched a documentary in Global Studies today called Left Behind. It was done by this guy who went to Nairobi and volunteered at an AIDS clinic. But he also delved deep into the roots of the HIV/AIDS problem in the slums. Besides being interesting, it was emotionally painful as well. These young kids, most of them born infected have to live with it without the support of parents or even their community. They showed the graveyard full of the coffins of all these children. One of the more educated boys even said that they believed condoms were infected with HIV/ AIDS on purpose so they didn’t use them. Ah I can’t even explain. You should have seen everyones reaction after it was over. We were just sitting there dumb-founded. Some people were crying and some were just sitting there crying on the inside like me. We all walked out of there so quietly and completely lost in our own thoughts. The worst thing is that we have to continue on with our day with this feeling of helplessness. Not only in the fight against AIDS but everything. We learn about all these things on a ship in the middle of the ocean. Part of me wants to be frustrated but another part of me realizes that awareness is the first step in the fight. Maybe this trip will serve as a catalyst for change. We can only hope. It seems futile to write about how amazing it was to sit outside on deck today but I guess it puts things in perspective. That’s how this voyage is going. Learn about atrocities, go sit out on deck and reflect on it, write in your journal and go on with the voyage. As frustrated as I sound in my journal sometimes, I assure you I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. What’s that quote? Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present. I honestly wake up happy every morning. Waking up is still hard to do (especially when you lose an hour every night) but I feel like it’s easier on the ship because I have something to look forward to. Not that there’s nothing to look forward to at home, it’s just different. I definitely miss home but not enough to want to come home.

Christof Putzel is the guy who did the documentary.

So, here’s the new ship gossip. Some people got sent home from South Africa for a variety of things; testing positive for drugs, alcohol infractions, pregnancy. I’m not sure what the whole story is so I don’t want to say anymore. Ok I really have to stop getting distracted and write my film paper.

Quite an unproductive day after all. I went up to Deck 7 and ended up talking to David (GN) instead of doing work. We met for Vicarious Voyage and it was dinner time before we knew it. After dinner we met for a Global Nomads blogging picture (www.gng.org and just look for a group picture and click somewhere near there) and I tried to do some work before Encore. Encore tonight was actually pretty interesting. We went to the Myanmar session and Dean Tymitz and Prof. Easemen basically had a question and answer session about whatever we wanted to know. I’m so excited to go to Myanmar. I’ve always been curious about Burma ever since I read The Glass Palace (good book, read it). What’s even more exciting is that we are the first SAS voyage to go there! Dean Tymitz kept emphasizing that we are on an educational trip and that is our purpose for visiting Burma. We are there to learn all we can about the country and take back what we wish.

” Wherever you go, you will receive impressions of the places you see and the people you meet. Do not forget that those people will receive impressions of you.” – Broughton Waddy and Ralph Townley- quote from today’s Dean’s memo

October 8th, 2005

Yesterday was crazy. It was A Day so I had an 8am…ugh. I woke up in time though and actually got through Global Studies without nodding off. Global Studies was pretty interesting today because we had a couple different speakers so it was easier to pay attention. We learned a little bit about Mauritius from Prof. Sernau so that was good. Ok so here’s where the real fun starts. A few days ago I sat and read through all the Global Issues and Port to Port (our two texts for the class) articles and took notes on my laptop. The next day I transcribed all of my lecture notes on to the same document because I learn by repetition and merely reading over my notes doesn’t do me any good. I have to actively do something with them, whether it be to simply type them up like I did or re-write them. I know it’s strange but that’s honestly how I learn. Anyways, so I typed up ALL of my lecture notes from every Global Studies lecture from Brazil to yesterday and put them in the same document with my article notes. It was a 14 page document single spaced and I was going to print it out to study from so I put it on the public folder UNDER MY NAME and went up to the computer lab to print it (don’t worry I printed it double-sided so it was only 7 pages). I didn’t even think twice about putting it on the public folder because 1) it was in a folder called Aparna and 2) I just put it up there so i could print it out. People put up their documents all the time so they an print them from the lab. Ok so I go to Film class (which, keep in mind is from 3:45pm to 7:00pm) and Kyle and Daniel both come in and say something about my notes. Daniel even showed me a piece of paper that some girl had given him with the location of the document (public folder–> student work files –> Aparna). It was really weird but class was staring so I didn’t even have time to think about it. I guess I should have taken it more seriously because when we got out of class at 7:00pm my notes were ALL OVER the ship. No joke. I bet about 300 + people (Jess thinks more than that because a LOT of people had it on their computers instead of on paper) had them at that time. The computer lab RAN OUT OF PAPER because of me. The worst part is that it was 95% my fault for naively leaving it up on the public folder. In my defense, however, it was under my name and they were obviously MY notes that nobody had a right to print out and use for their benefit. People honestly think that I put them up their for everyone to use and were thanking me. I didn’t even know how to respond. I was so upset though. I went to the lab to take it off the public folder but I couldn’t because it would only open a Read-Only copy because even if one person had it open on their computer I wouldn’t be able to delete it. The public folders are accessible from all over the ship. Also, people had copied the document on to their own computers, some of the computers in the lab, and even other folders on the intranet. It was all so ridiculous. Then the rumors started. Multiple people came up to me and told me that Prof. Murphy was furious. I started feeling even worse and went on a frantic search for him to talk to him before review session. I couldn’t find him so I was incredibly stressed out and worried that I had done something wrong. It didn’t help that everywhere I went people were giving me looks, thanking me for my notes, etc. Someone even came up to me and asked me if I could clarify something for them. Ridiculous. I can’t even think of a better word. I can’t believe it blew up like it did. The way news travels on this ship is incredible. I was honestly running around trying to find him but I found Dean Bev instead and told her what happened. She told me that I had no reason to feel bad and the only people who should feel guilty are the ones who printed it out. That kind of put my mind at ease but not really. Jed, Shane, and I finally went to the 6th floor dining room and sat in a little corner away from all the people. They were like my bodyguards last night! haha I know as I am explaining this it seems petty and stupid but it was honestly a big deal on the ship last night. We went to Review Session early so I could catch Prof. Murphy before it started. The room started filling up and he wasn’t there yet. I didn’t want to talk to him in front of everyone but that’s what I ended up doing because he came in late. I went up there to talk to him and apparently he had NO IDEA. Rumors rumors rumors. He seemed kind of confused when I told him and he asked me how widespread they were dispersed. I didn’t know at the moment but a second later someone shouted my name and the whole Union did the wave. Don’t make me say ridiculous again. Aaahhh. Well at least I wasn’t in trouble. I don’t see how I could have been. Serves me right for being too trusting. The rest of the night was just a mess. I was too stressed out to study. You know what else? My notes aren’t even that good. It’s just becaues they were typed up and looked nice that people got excited. My lecture notes were actually pretty pathetic. I truly feel like I did the whole Global Studies class a disservice because my guess is the majority of the people who printed them out were the ones who never came to class and didn’t have plans to study in the first place. I still feel terrible about it. I definitely learned my lesson though. I know I didn’t do too well on the exam today because yesterday was so stressful and concentrating on studying was IMPOSSIBLE. It ended up hurting me the most. Ugh. What a bad situation. Pete and Jess wanted to do a story on it for SeaTV and interview me so I could explain to people that I didn’t mean to put those up there. I kind of wanted to end it last night though and not let it go any further. Apparently people were still talking about it today. Mandy told me at lunch that she even heard people complaining about my notes. She said she set them straight though. Someone even told me yesterday that I should charge people for using them!

Possible results of this fiasco:
1) People think I’m a big nerd.
2) People think I’m stupid because I didn’t proofread my notes before I put them up and some of the shorthand only makes sense to me.
3) I will make a lot of new friends. Random people came up to me last night and said they would buy me drinks at the next pub night. I hope by drinks they mean a smoothie…haha.
4) The average score on this exam will be higher than the first exam. This could be for various reasons and it’s definitely a stretch. My notes were honestly not that great.

To be continued…study time before a BUSY night.
Meet with Global Nomads, Spectrum mtg, Bering Sea dinner, Feminsts @ Sea mtg, Pre-port, Bering Sea Olympic meeting, salsa lessons
HAHAH that sounds like one of my away messages back at school.

Great day today. Global Studies exam went well- I got a 90%. Better than my 88% from last time :-). Anthro. of Food today was interesting because Prof. Michalak explained and demonstrated wine tasting to us. When he went to spit out the wine into a cup he ended up getting it all over his shirt! After that, I just laid outside with Lyn and Shane because it was gorgeous. A little too hot though and for some reason it wasn’t windy at all! After lunch I did a little bit of work and a lot of cleaning. I wanted to clean up my room before port because in port we tend to just throw things around. Bering Sea dinner today was fun- met new people in my sea so that was good. After dinner we stood outside and watched the sunset in hopes of seeing the “green flash” (I’ll explain some other time). No luck. Tried to study before pre-port but failed miserable. I went to the Feminists @ Sea meeting instead because Jess was telling me about it today in class. They are trying to plan this event called “Take Back the Night” which is kind of a march, speak-out, informational event for victims and allies of domestic and/or sexual abuse. I really want to help out with it because I think it will be great to have something like that on the ship. We talked about a lot more than that but I’m too tired right now to type. Pre-port was OK, I was so exhausted so I started dozing off. oops. After pre-port we had our Bering Sea meeting to sign up for Olympic Events. The Sea Olympics is a competition between the different seas on the boat and the winner gets to disembark the ship FIRST in San Diego. That is an amazing prize- well for us at least. 🙂 There was some slacking in the event sign-up so Grover (one of our sea reps and my across the hall neighbor) made me sign up for more. As of now I am doing Musical Chairs, Academy Bee, and Women’s 2 on 2 Basketball. The only thing I might be good at is Musical Chairs. Even with that I don’t think I’m aggressive enough. Aah! It’ll be fun though I guess. Caitlin and I are going to get coached by the boys for basketball and I don’t even know what I’m going to do for the Academy Bee. It’s actually Glenn’s fault that I’m signed up for that. He yelled out in the middle of the meeting “Who thinks Aparna should sign up? C’mon guys don’t pretend like you didn’t benefit from her notes yesterday.” Great. haha Anyways, after the meeting I went to salsa lessons. I love it. Too bad I have really bad balance- not just on this ship but in general. Oh well, all in good fun. 🙂 After salsa I just cleaned some more, talked to Shane for a looooong time and now I’m going to post this and go to sleep. I would wait to post this but I don’t want to put it with my Mauritius journal because then it will really be too long.

Love to all. I will definitely try and call from Mauritius…I hope it’s cheaper than calling from South Africa!

October 4, 2005

September 24th, 2005

Last night the view out of the window was absolutely breathtaking. Jess and I were in Lyn and Jed’s room and all of a sudden we looked outside and the moon was shining brighter than we had ever seen. It illuminated a path on the surface of the water; a path defined in such shimmering tones that it looked like something out of a fantasy novel. We were moonstruck! 🙂 The other weird thing was that Jed has a glass cross stuck to his window and I looked down for a second and the shadow of the cross was falling on my chest- right above my heart. It was quite a poetic moment. Ok I’m done. Sorry you have to suffer through my ramblings.

Anyways, we had to advance our clocks again today so we went to sleep soon after that. Natalie and I woke up EARLY so we could get good seats in the Union. We were there at 8am for our 9:20 lecture! Archbishop Tutu was our lecturer in Global Studies today so we really didn’t want to be stuck in the back. It was actually more of a panel discussion than a lecture. The panel consisted of 3 students (Emanuel, Tal, and another girl) and 3 faculty (Strumpf and two others I don’t know). It was great. Jed and I were talking last night and we don’t know how so much goodness can come out of just one person. He has made an indelible impact on each and every one of us in the most humble and inspiring way. What amazing things he has done. I will definitely transcribe today and yesterday’s lecture when I get a chance. There is no way I can summarize his words because they will lose all their eloquence and meaning.

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Archbiship Desmond Tutu and his lovely wife.

After the panel discussion, Dean Tymitz came up to the podium bearing some bad news. WE’RE NOT GOING TO KENYA ANYMORE. The State Department heightened their travel warnings for Kenya and the East Coast of Africa so Kenya is off the itinerary. We will still reach Cape Town and Chennai as scheduled but where we are going in between is up in the air. Everyone is pretty upset- especially the people who did independent safaris because they are losing some of their money. Not to be heartless, but SAS did send us an email advising us not to do independent trips in Kenya and Myanmar that require a deposit because there were existing travel advisories for these countries and our plans were always up in the air. We will be reimbursed for any trips planned with SAS. Honestly, I am not that upset about Kenya because I’ve been there before. I know I would have a completely different opinion of it now but I’m not as torn up about it as I would be about South Africa or Vietnam or something like that. Also, I think it’s kind of exciting. Maybe we’ll land up in some random place. I’m looking at my map right now and some people were saying that we could be diverted to the Seychelles Islands because apparently SAS has done that before. Maybe we’ll go to Madagascar or Mauritius or Sri Lanka? Anything works for me. I hope people don’t get too worked up about it though. I completely understand why people would be upset but one of the most important attributes we need to have for this trip is adaptability. I’ll post as soon as I hear any news. Although, it will probably be up on the message board before we even find out! haha Oh I meant to mention this before but I think Dean Tymitz was really an excellent bearer of bad news. He said it so tactfully and explained it so well. We left feeling like this decision was justified and in our best interest. He looked like he was about to cry as he was telling us…

My goodness the waves are higher today than any other day. They are hitting my window a little bit and I live on the 4th Floor! It’s crazy. I’m just waiting for the nausea to ensue.

I’m sitting in the Union right now waiting for our Bering Sea meeting. We just had our cultural pre-port and now we’re having a Movie Night for our Sea. I don’t think we’re staying though. Game time 🙂

Love to all.

September 26th, 2005

Hello from South Africa!!!! We docked EARLY this morning and now we’re just waiting to get off the ship. Let me backtrack though. Logistical preport was actually quite entertaining- especially the song from the medical clinic staff (post from public folder).

Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Words by Bob and Christi Cooley

Stumble, stagger, trip and fall
Throw up, Puke, we’ve seen it all
Beatings, muggings, STDs
All are possibilities
Please drink wisely if you must
And drink with the ones you trust

If you get drunk and fall down
Makes for bad times in Cape Town
Break an ankle, get sent home
And no more the globe to roam
Keep your wits, don’t be so dumb
Careful with your cokes and rum

As for sex hear what we say
It’s the same day after day.
Play it safe, don’t get surprised
Keep alert, open your eyes
Sex is not just fun and games
Foolish choices can cause pains

Cover up, don’t be a fool
Wear a condom, keep your cool
Bring back pix and memories
Souvenirs, not STDs

Natalie and I presented Dr.Vawda and Mikhail with gifts for being interport guests. We had to dress up nicely ( we wore the same outfits from the first day..haha) and say some words of thanks to each of them in front of the whole shipboard community. It was fun. I was so nervous but it went well. We finally had a hip-hop lesson after pre-port. It was a LOT of fun but kind of chaotic because there were so many people there. The rocking boat didn’t make it any easier either. After that I walked by the Piano Bar because I was looking for Ashish and them to play Trivial Pursuit with. Turns out they checked out the Canadian edition….lol. I went downstairs to shower and by the time I came back up they had switched it for a Genus (or Genius as I like to say? hahah Aman, Chris, Ronak anyone remember?) Edition. Me and Jarett teamed up and played for awhile and then I went back down. We had a sleepover tonight because we had big plans to wake up to watch the sunrise over Cape Town. We did wake up but it was FREEZING cold outside so we watched the sun rise from the staffulty (staff +faculty) lounge on the 7th deck. My goodness it was so cold outside. I’m always cold anyways so you can imagine how I was feeling. We sat up there for awhile and then went down to get breakfast and showers.

There was no embassy briefing today so we disembarked around 10:00 am. The line was so long to get out…people who don’t understand the concept of lines frustrate me. There were people who just came up the stairs next to the 5th floor exit and snuck their way right to the front of the line. Ugh. haha sorry. We finally got down to the gangway and stepped foot in to Cape town, South Africa!!! What a gorgeous city. The backdrop of our ship was Table Mountain…absolutely amazing. The port is an interesting place…I feel like I’m back at home. It really feels like Baltimore Harbor. Everything is in English and their are shops and restaurants everywhere. It’s a weird feeling. Me, Lindsay, Natalie, Nessie, and Ashish walked around to find pay phones and an information center. I finally called home. It makes us so happy to call home- Lindsay and I were talking abut that after our short conversations with our parents. It really made my day. After that we just walked around some more and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the ship. I had this amazing brie panini…mmmmm. Oh, there’s an Indian restaurant right near the ship. 🙂 I might have to check that out before we leave.

We went back to the ship to get ready for….SKYDIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah that’s right, I went skydiving. Mom- sorry for not telling you on the phone this morning. I didn’t want you to worry!! Can you believe it? I can’t believe I actually did it. Me, Drea, Lindsay, Natalie, Lyn, Shane, Tania, and Ashish went together. We did it through SkyDiving Cape Town- a reputable group (you can look it up online if you don’t believe me). We met them near the aquarium and got to the place around 4:00pm. The anticipation was crazy…just waiting around and getting more and more nervous as time goes on. Oh before I forget, we watched Red Dust in Phil. and Film yesterday. It was a really great movie. I don’t think it’s come out in the US yet, but when it does you should definitely go see it (Hilary Swank, the guy from dirty pretty things, and the guy from gods must be crazy,). It’s in English and I just thought it was an excellent film. Ok anyways, so we had an odd number of people so I went last and got separated from our group. 😦 Everyone else went and I went with Maddy and Kelsey -two other girls from SAS. They were reallly nice so it worked out well. The plane ride up there was insane. For some reason i thought it would be a bigger plane with seats and a big door to jump out of. NO. It was a TINY tiny plane that was being refueled out of an oil barrel as we were walking up to it. We sat on the floor in between the legs of our tandem jumper. It was only 6 of us in the plane and it took us about 20 minutes to get to the altitude we were jumping from- 9,000 ft!!!!!! Sometime in between my guy told us that we were halfway up…I was ready to jump from there lol. Why go the extra 4500 ft? Haha i’m jk. The view from the plane was amazing- ocean, sand dunes, Robben Islands, houses, the dock. Anyways, we kept going higher and higher and finally it was time to JUMP. My jumper checked my harness and gave me instructions for the jump: grab on to my harness, put my head back on his shoulder, stick my hips out forwards, and kick my legs back between his. He opened the door ( and by door I really mean this plastic covering…) and told me to stick my legs out. I was sitting on the edge of a plane 9000 ft in the air with my legs sticking out of the side flapping in the wind. It was insane. All of a sudden I hear him saying ” Bring your legs back inside!” I think something was off with the wind direction or altitude? I don’t know. But that false start made me even more nervous. He opened the door again and I guess the conditions were ok so we JUMPED. Thank goodness I went first because I think if i had seen someone else do it I would have psyched myself out. The free fall was as scary as it was exhilarating. I have never felt like that in my life. I think we flipped a little bit but I can’t even remember. He pulled the chute and we jerked upwards for a second until we settled into a leisurely descent. I had my camera duct taped to my wrist so I took some pictures and video but I was too preoccupied to take a lot. The memories are all in my head. They didn’t offer the videotape/picture service because they were too busy. The descent and landing went really smoothly and I was back down in what seemed like a few minutes. It went by SO fast. I’m writing this and I still can’t believe I did it. First canyoning, then paragliding, and now skydiving. What’s next? The one thing I could never do is bungee jumping. I don’t think I could physically make myself jump off of something. With this I didn’t really have a choice…I was strapped to someone who was going to jump anyway. Oh, so when we landed I was expecting everyone to still be there but apparently there was an empty van so they made them leave. I wanted them to videotape my landing 😦 Oh well! I hung out with Maddy and Kelsey and her parents while we were waiting for everyone else to jump. They had this cafe type place outside and I found my Lipton Mango Iced Tea!!! I have been looking for it since I had it in Athens a couple years back. haha ok so that was exciting for my and nobody else. The last 6 people came down and we got back to the ship around 8:00pm. We walked into Purser’s Square and they had big signs up with an update on our next port: SAINT LOUIS, MAURITIUS!!!! And…WE’RE STAYING IN CAPE TOWN FOR TWO EXTRA DAYS!!! We are here until Sunday now- a full 7 days!! Then we are at sea for 7 days and our stay in Mauritius is 3 days. Too bad I know absolutely nothing about Mauritius…I’m going to go up to the library later to check it out. I’m so excited!!!! A lot of people are mad about the new developments. That, in turn, makes me kind of upset. lol We’re not going to Kenya. Nobody on this ship is going to Kenya- you’re not the only one who is upset. It’s time to get over it and realize that there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s for our own safety that we’re not going there. A voyage of discovery. To discover is not to have everything planned out beforehand and expect it all to work out perfectly. Some people are even saying that the main reason they came on Semester at Sea was to go on a safari. If that was their main reason they just wasted about $15,000. Ok I guess I’m being a little too harsh. Sorry.

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Me and my tandem jumper- Nicky or Nico or something. I was too nervous to remember.

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Ready to jump!

Anyways, after all that excitement we got ready to go out (But not before napping for half an hour or so…). Me, Lyn, Shane, Lindsay, and Mandee went to this great little German brewery near the Clock Tower. It was called Paulaner. I was the only one who hadn’t eaten so I got this delicious noodle dish- spatzle I think it was called. Well the actual name was a lot longer but that’s all I can remember. Mandee explained to me what it was. I also got guava juice which was soo good too. Dinner was a lot of fun. We were sitting there for a couple hours just talking. There were some SAS guys right behind us and one of them (we remembered each other from the message board later) turned around and asked me if I was from Cape Town. ” No, Semester at Sea” – while pointing at the SAS hoodie I was wearing. lol They told us about some club called Cool Runnings on Long Street that they were going to later. We ended up just heading back to the ship though because we were exhausted. On the way back we passed this Cantina restaurant right next to our ship and they had a DJ and good music playing so we went inside. There were a few groups of SAS students here and there. We didn’t stay there for long but it was fun. We got one of the security guards to pretend like he was drinking. I think being around drunk people gives me more energy- I feed off of their drunkenness. It is kind of getting to me now though. I’m feeling a little bit like I was in the Bahamas. If it’s going to be like this for 7 days- everyone going out drinking every night- I’ll go crazy. I love everyone when they are sober. That’s why I like our time on the ship because everyone is sober pretty much the whole time. Alcohol changes people and makes them act ridiculous. It’s one thing to act like a drunk fool at home and another to do it in a country where you are their guest. You are an ambassador of your home country. I can’t even imagine what kind of impressions we are leaving in our ports of call. Granted the majority of us are responsible and respectful but all you need is one incident to make people forget the positive and dwell on the negative. I feel so guilty and so stupid. I see the looks people give us and I don’t even want to know what they are thinking. I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m crazy and that I live in a bubble at home. I think my reactions to drinking are too harsh because I’m just not used to it. For one thing I’m not 21 yet so I’m not really in this type of environment too much at home. There is no such thing as social drinking because when you are underage you have to drink in the confines of your dorm room or someone’s apartment or whatever. I’ve never been bar hopping or any of that so this is totally new for me.

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Natalie, Lindsay, Lyn, and me at Paulaner’s brewery. I’m just holding the beer for effect, promise. Or for shock value I guess.

September 27th, 2005

We woke up at 8am today and got ready to go to the aquarium. Yay! It was me, Amy, Natalie, Lindsay, and Jed. We just got back a little while ago and I wanted to take a nap but I also wanted to update my journal. Journal wins. I’m so exhausted though. Last night after we got back things got kind of crazy. I didn’t get to sleep until 3am or so. Ugh. Ok I don’t want to get started. lol. I’m not going to pretend like this is going to be 100 days of absolute bliss. You can’t stick 680+ college students together and not expect petty drama, controversy, gossip, etc. It just so happens that a lot of it comes out when people are drunk. Oh, so ship gossip is pretty amazing. It’s like playing telephone with 700 people. Did I mention that there was a rumor before that either me or the other Aparna was going home? lol Anyways, the aquarium was pretty cool. It was smaller than the Baltimore aquarium but I still really liked it. On the way to the aquarium we were walking on the waterfront and we saw one of our lifeboats out in the water. I guess they do test runs on them. Ok I’m going to try and sleep for 20 minutes or so before our Township and District 6 visit.

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A very contemplative penguin.

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Planet Earth’s Most Dangerous Preadtor. How true.

TEJAL- Thanks so much for the letter!! Lindsay knocked on my door this morning and brought my letter inside b/c it was on my door. Mail call is probably the most exciting thing in port. haha. Thanks again. Love you and miss you!!!

The air here seems so much cleaner and fresher than we are used to. It’s almost like you can taste the difference. Haha too bad we are in one of our more expensive ports for a week. I’m going to spend a good amount of money here…without even trying. The prices are comparable to the US but we are doing a lot of things in a short amount of time so it really adds up.

Ok so I just got back from a crazy night. Let met write about the Township Visit first. We went to the District Six Museum first which was fascinating, I wish we had more time to spend there because I didn’t get to see all of it. The guy who was talking to us used to live in District Six so he was giving us a first hand account of all that happened. Here is a brief history of it (taken straight from the brochure):

District Six was named the sixth district of Cape Town in 1867. Established as a vibrant mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, it was closely linked to the city and port. By the beginning of the 20th century,the process of removals and marginalization had started. The first to be “resettled” were “Africans”, forcibly removed from the area in 1901. As the more prosperous community members moved to the suburbs, the district became the neglected ward of Cape Town. In 1966, under the Group Areas Act f 1950, District Six was declared a “white” area. By 1982, the life of that community was over and 60,000 people were forcibly removed, their houses flattened, by bulldozers, to a barren outlying area aptly known as the Cape Flats. The District Six Museum was born on December 10, 1994, to work with the memories and experiences of those affected.

After the museum visit we drove through a few townships. It was so weird because we hadn’t even gone that far from the port and already the socio-economic disparity was evident. The townships varied in “grandeur” so to say. We first stopped at a handicraft cottage industry type place. They explained that they are teaching such things as pottery, metalwork, etc. to people so they have some way to support themselves and their families. The next place we stopped was an actual township. As soon as we got off the bus we were swarmed by kids. We were told not to give them any money or gifts or anything because they didn’t want to teach them to be beggars. They all wanted their picture taken and then they wanted to see it. It was great at first but I felt a little strange about the whole experience. I felt intrusive and it seemed like we were only there to take pictures and leave. I couldn’t even bring myself to pull out my camera too much outside. I did take video from the bus though. Our tour guide, Ivy, told us that the people of the township don’t mind at all but I still feel unsettled about the whole thing. We saw two households in this township. The first was a tiny room for one family and the second one was a more modern place with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room complete with TV switched on to MTV. The funny thing is that these 2 places were not more than 50 feet away from each other. I guess the difference in rent (20 Rand a month to 200 some Rand a month) says it all. It was interesting to see. We drove to another township and walked around for about 15 minutes. We visited another house and I met this little boy who said he was 14 but didn’t look a day older than 7. I guess he gauged my reaction when he said 14 because he then explained that he had a brain tumor and the chemotherapy had stunted his growth. He even showed us where the incision was from when they removed it. He told us all of this so nonchalantly and then he went on playing. Another interesting experience. As I am writing this I feel like I’m not being appreciative of the opportunity we were being given, but that’s s not it at all. Imagine taking a big tour bus into Northeast DC and getting down to take pictures of people, their houses, their kids, etc. I know it’s different but I was just trying to clear it up a little bit.

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Township visit.

Ok so we got back from the township around 6pm and we had to be ready by 6:30 so we rushed and cleaned ourselves up. We were going to this show called Bouncers. Jed set it up for us- he would make a really great trip leader! 🙂 We had 30 some people going and somehow he collected all the money, bought the tickets, and made sure everyone got there ok. The theater was called On Broadway and it was small but really nice. The show was FABULOUS. It was these 4 incredibly talented actors doing little vignettes from one night out. They acted out different sets of people; bouncers, girls night out, guys night out, etc. It’s really hard to explain but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life. Well maybe at the comedy club in NYC last summer (good times right girls?). Anyways, after the show was over we hung out there for a little bit and chatted with our waiter Matthew. We decided to go out afterward to a club called Cruz so we walked there but it was closed. We went to another one close by called The Bronx I think. We were in the gay district of Cape Town so the experience was interesting nonetheless. I’d never been to a gay club before….this trip is all about new experiences right? haha Liz and I had fun dancing by ourselves. At least in a gay club you don’t have to be afraid of sketchy guys- they’re not after you after all. It was fun for a little but but it was kind of a trashy club so Liz and I left after an hour or so. Matthew kindly came back with us in a taxi and we just stood outside and talked for another hour or so. It was a lot of fun because not only was he a really nice guy but while Liz was on the phone he was telling me his opinion on the current government and all that. It was good to hear the other side of it. In my opinion, our knowledge of South Africa is a little bit slanted. He was also telling me how they have affirmative action in South Africa that creates just as much if not more controversy between the races. Ok so I came back to the ship and hung out with Lyn and Jess until we all fell asleep. Os so I thought this was funny: in the club they had music videos playing on big screens all around and I looked up for a second and guess what video was on? Jay Sean- Stolen. There was no sound because they were just playing videos to add to the atmosphere I guess (Prithvi- I did think of you though)!

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Me with Jess’s floppy hat. 🙂

September 28th, 2005

I slept in today. It was bad but I really needed to catch up on my sleep. I met Lindsay, Drea, and Natalie at 12:30 to go to Robben Island. We bought our tickets on the first day in port because the spots were filling up quickly. We walked over to catch the ferry to the island and the tour started once we got to the island. Robben Island was a prison and most people know it because it is where Nelson Mandella was held for 18 some years during the apartheid era. The first part of the tour was basically a bus tour around the island where we saw the rock quarries that the convicts worked in, some of the cells, a school, church, etc. The view of Cape Town was really nice from the island because you could see Table Mountain in the background and the city underneath it in a completely different perspective. The second part of the tour was led by a political prisoner who was actually interned on Robben Island for 7 years. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for him to give tours of this place day after day and all the while reliving his experiences as a prisoner. At the end of the tour he told us that the reason some of the prisoners choose to do this is because they don’t see any point in holding a grudge. He even said that they reconciled their differences with the former wardens and guards as well. It’s a miracle that no civil war ensued after the ANC took over the government. Granted they still have their problems today but they are only 10 years into it.

On the second part of the tour we got to see the actual cell where Nelson Mandela was held. Our guide was really good and explained a lot about prison life and conditions. After the tour was over we walked over to the edge of the island to see the penguins! That was cool but we had to catch our ferry back so we didn’t get to hang around much. We got back to the ship around 5pm to clean ourselves up before dinner. Me, Linz, Lyn, Drea, Natalie, Ben, Chris, and Amy went to this South African restaurant near the clock tower for dinner. It was pretty good. I had an African omlette with all kinds of vegetables and mushrooms and all that. After dinner we went to Mitchell’s bar. We pretty much hung out there all night and just got back a little while ago. It was fun I guess. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t stand everything being about alcohol. It’s like people are so suppressed on the ship that when they go out they really have to live it up. I’m not judging I swear. I just wonder what people think of us. The security crew who watch people stumble up the gangway steps every night- do they laugh and say ” oh I was a college student once, I know how it is” or do they roll their eyes in disdain and say ” these kids should make better decisions.” Apparently some girl today got alcohol poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital. I hope she’s ok. Yeah ok well it’s almost morning and I’m sleepy.

September 29th, 2005

Today has been pretty relaxed so far. Lindsay and I just walked around the waterfront and took care of the little things we had been meaning to do for awhile; postcards, internet, phone calls, etc. I promise I’ll send postcards from here- I’ve been really bad about it so far. I checked my email and looked up some information about Mauritius- more than 50% of the population is Indian! I’m excited. 🙂 I also got a really nice email from Rob’s mom which made me want to post in my journal more often. We made our way to the CD Warehouse near the Aquarium because I wanted to find the Amandla! CD. I found it but it was reallllly expensive and I’m 99.99999% sure I can find it on Amazon. It’s one thing to buy souvenirs and things that you can’t find at home but it makes no difference to me if I buy this CD now or later. I swear I’m not being stingy I’m just trying to be practical. I also made a new friend today at the CD store 🙂 His name is Yasir and he’s from Surat, well born in South Africa but Gujerati.

Fun night tonight!! We were supposed to go to Mama Africa’s but we couldn’t get reservations until 9:45pm so we decided to go to Quay 4 instead. I wasn’t very hungry because I ate on the ship but I still managed to eat onion rings and half a slice of cheesecake. 🙂 Dinner was a lot of fun- there was a live band and they were singing really good songs. We left there around 11pm and went to Long (Lang) Street. We had plans to meet Matthew our waiter from On Broadway at Cool Runnings at 11pm but we were a little late and we couldn’t find him or contact him. No cell phones for us. haha people always ask us how they can reach us and there really is no way. Ah…we are back to how life was before the advent of the cellular phone. I think it’s good in a way. Anyway, Cool Runnings was pretty empty so we went to a club called The Fez near Green Market Square. They were playing hip hop so I was happy. I got all my dancing out of my system- well not really…I was still dancing on the way home. I don’t know why I’m so hyper today! It’s 2:40 am right now and I can’t sleep for some reason so I decided to update my journal and then finally post it! Amy and I are going to try and crash Project Hunger tomorrow. If that doesn’t work we’re going to go to the winelands for the day or wander around Long St. We’ll see 🙂 Ok I guess it’s bedtime. Or maybe I’ll go read. I just started reading God of Small Things, it’s good but some parts are hard to get through. It’s written in an interesting style to say the least. I think I just have to read more to really get into it. Hope all is well at home.

September 30th, 2005

My big plans to post this journal last night didn’t seem to work out so well. I was just finishing up when Brandon came by Purser’s Square. We started talking any all of a sudden it was 4:00 am. Good times. Probably the best part of my night! I just love getting to know people- more than just the “hi, how are you” stage but a deeper understanding of who they are and where they come from. Anyways, Amy and I decided not to do Operation Hunger today because we were both so worn out. We walked down to Long St. instead with Jed and Lyn. We had a good day just wandering around, in and out of stores. I finally bought something! I bought a purse from this place called Out of This World. It was one of those impulse purchases that you just know you would regret not making. It’s this weird patchwork kind of bag that I absolutely LOVE. It’s also one of those things you say ” Oh this would be a lot cheaper in India…” but then you can’t find it. Yeah so I was happy with it. 🙂 Other than that we just went to some thrift stores, internet cafe, and we had drinks and dessert at the Manhattan Cafe in Waterkant (the gay district). We walked back to the waterfront and Jed and I went to the mall to look up movie times and buy stamps. I finally sent out my postcards today! Expect them in a month or so…

We went to St.Elmo’s tonight for dinner. It was SO good. Drea and I shared a vegetarian pizza that was delicious and we also had some amazing dessert. It was some warm chocolate brownie cake thing with whipped cream and ice cream. The one thing that is cheaper here is food. My whole dinner (half a large pizza, drink, dessert, tax, tip) came out to less than $9. Excluding food, everything else is comparable to the US if not more expensive. After dinner we went to Mitchell’s pub again. It was fun but I decided to come back early tonight because I am drained. The South African guys we met the other night came back tonight so that was fun. I talked to Rick for a LONG time too and I really enjoyed that. I was on my way out and Rick made his roommate walk me back to the ship, it was really sweet. The ship was really not far from the bar and there were a lot of people around but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m sure some more interesting things happened today but right now I am too exhausted to write about them. Plans for tomorrow: University of Cape Town, Table Mountain, movie. We are hoping for NO rain. Ok Good night!

October 1st, 2005

I forgot to mention that last night we met these 2 guys from the states that weren’t on SAS and one of them happened to work at some club in LAUREL. What a small world! Anyways, so today we woke up around 9:00am and me, Natalie, Lindsay, and Carri went to the University of Cape Town. We met up with Natalie’s friend and she showed us around for a little bit. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and I could definitely see myself studying abroad there. I would LOVE to do it but I would also like to graduate on time. Eh…minor details. 🙂 It reminded me A LOT of CP strangely enough. I think it was the architecture of the buildings, the high columns, and the sporadic fountains! After we walked around the upper campus she took us down to the res halls. There are two “American houses” where the students from the states stay. The houses were amazing and the rooms were SO big. We met some other people who were staying in the house too. Haha oh yeah when we were on the upper campus we saw all these signs for an “American Toga Party” The flyers were hilarious- they said it would be “just like in the movies” and on the bottom of the sheet had instructions for how to put on a toga. Ok so we were there for a couple hours and then taxid back to the waterfront. We had an amazing lunch at the fast food St.Elmo’s in the mall- cheese and garlic sub and a chocolate milkshake. After eating we took a much-needed trip to the Pic N Pay grocery store inside them mall. Did I mention how much I LOVE grocery shopping in other countries? I’m fascinated by all of the different things that are offered and I honestly could spend hours just looking around (stop laughing). Since my grocery bag is right next to me (oh yeah, you have to pay for grocery bags- a novel concept that I believe we should take to the US) I’ll tell you what I bought. Choc-Kits- the greatest cookies I’ve ever tasted…kind of like Samoas if you remember them?, spiced Dutch cookies, passion fruit creme cookies, mango creme biscuits, Tinkies (filled with bubblegum blast, strawberry tingle, chocolate potion, caramel swirl, cream soda bubble, and vanilla whiz!), Tuc biscuits (I have been searching for these since Finland!), a six-pack of Mango iced tea, and passion fruit juice boxes. Hopefully all this will last me until India. Rumor has it that this is the last port where we will be allowed to bring food on the ship? As of now we are only allowed packaged food but apparently that is attracting bugs to the rooms. We’ll see about that. I think it’s just a rumor. We lugged all of our groceries back to the ship and got ready to go to a movie at the Cinema Nouveau theater in the mall. Me, Lyn, Shane, Natalie, Rafi, Courtney, and Kyle went to see “Boy Called Twist” a South African movie based on the Charles Dickens’s classic “Oliver Twist”. It was good I guess. Not as good as 2 Flhas de Francisco but I don’t think anything can beat that.

Sometime this evening I made the best purchase of the day- a 50 Rand phone card. 🙂 I called home and then Ronak, Tejal (who didn’t pick up), Jess, Poonam, Arpit (who also didn’t pick up), Kavit, and Dipak Kaka. The card was only supposed to last 15 minutes but that was a lie thank goodness. I tried to call people who lived with other people so I could kill more birds with one stone. Arpit didn’t pick up but I did get to talk to Karen. 🙂 Good times. Talking to you all made my day.

Anyways, after the movie we went to Harrie’s Pancakes near the Clock Tower for some excellent crepes. Mine had butternut squash, feta cheese, and sweet pepper sauce in it. We came back to the ship and Lyn, Shane, and I tried to find a comedy club nearby but we were too late and all the shows had started already. We all went to Mitchell’s instead. It was more fun tonight because 1) nobody was drinking too much 2) there were some different people there so I met new people and had some good conversations. We left around 12:30 and stopped by KFC on the way back to the ship (it was the only thing open). For some strange reason we were all craving french fries. Craving satisfied we headed back to the ship and now I am just writing my journal and debating posting it. I’ve waited this long and said that I’ll post it every night so what’s one more day? Maybe if I do it tomorrow I’ll put up some pictures too.

October 2nd, 2005

AMAZING last day in South Africa. I woke up this morning to go have coffee (tea actually…but it doesn’t sound the same) at the CD Warehouse. I got back around 12:30 and me, Lindsay, and Al went up to Table Mountain. We found our same taxi driver from yesterday to take us there so that was nice. Everyone in Purser’s Square was telling us that it was too cloudy and that it wouldn’t be worth it to go there. WRONG. I’m so glad we went. The drive there was great in itself; nice houses and a great view of the city as we were climbing up to the base of the mountain. We took the cable car up which was a great idea because it was a little bit chilly today. The floor of the cable car rotated so we could get a 360-degree panoramic view. When we first got to the top it was clear so we had a great view of the city, port, ocean, etc. After a few minutes we could literally see the clouds moving towards us and they were moving pretty fast! It was such an amazing thing to see the cloud cover from such a unique vantage point. I was so click-happy today! It was so peaceful at the top of the mountain and it turned out to be a great way to spend our last day here- reflecting on the whole experience. We walked around for a while and somehow ended up on a trail that was going down the mountain. We turned around and headed back towards the cable car but it was hard to see due to all the clouds so it was a little bit more difficult to find our way back. No worries though, we got back safe and sound but very cold. Silly me decided to wear flip flops because I didn’t think we would be hiking at all. It wasn’t bad though, my flip flops seem to have good traction! Hiking up Table Mountain would have been awesome but I’ll save that for when I come back and have more time. Yeah that’s right, I am DEFINITELY coming back to South Africa.

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Me on top of Table Mountain.

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Al jumping off the edge of the world.

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A beautiful view from the top of Table Mountain.

Anyways, we got back to the cable car around 4pm and we took a taxi back to the waterfront. We went to St.Elmo’s again to eat because we wanted something fast and cheap. I had a creme soda milkshake today that was neon green but really really good. We split up after that as we all had to take care of our own little things. I definitely needed some time to myself too after such a crazy week. I walked around the waterfront for a while and then into the mall to use up my spare change. I found a great little beaded AIDS ribbon pin at some store. Did you know that approximately 1 in 5 people in South Africa have HIV. We would joke about it sometimes this week but I realized its not really a laughing matter. Pete organized some trips to an AIDS clinic near here and just to hear about their experiences is heart-wrenching. This really makes me want to get more involved in SGAC, One and organizations like that when I get home. Prevention is just as important as treatment. I wonder what I can do about it?

Concluding thoughts about South Africa:
I love it here and definitely want to come back. The people here are incredibly friendly and helpful. I never really felt like I was being cheated or swindled by anyone. I am amazed by how this country has evaded a civil war in light of its history (which isn’t really history if you consider how recent it was) and I am curious to know what it is about this interesting mix of people that has allowed them to live relatively “peacefully” in the post-apartheid era. Oh, something we noticed while we were walking around is that even though this country is VERY diverse it is not very diversified. There are people of all races but you do not see them hanging out together. It is very segregated in that sense. Racism is still rampant here and I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. On a more light-hearted note, the men in South Africa are very good-looking. Especially the Indian ones. I think it’s because they dress and act more European. You don’t see anyone here scrubbin it in sweats or even baggy pants.

Ugh. You know what I just thought about? I’m missing GARBA!! You all will have to live it up for me. Pull out the Raas Chaos moves. 🙂 I’m thinking of having a garba lesson on the ship just so I can get it out of my system. There’s only one other guju on this ship and I don’t think he knows how to do garba ( no hard feelings because I didn’t do garba until last year…) so it looks like I’ll be doing it all by my lonesome. Oh well! At least I have enough garba music to last a lifetime. Yeah, so have fun!!!

Well I have 7 days at sea so I’ll try to post one or two times in between. If not, I’ve given you more than enough to read!

Missing everyone at home. Love to all!

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This is what I look like when I’m writing in my journal. All wrapped up in my beechwood blanket! Well, at least I match.