February 23rd: Ship Day
All at sea: We’ve left Rio behind, and are currently sailing northwards towards Salvador. I confess complete ignorance about the upcoming ports of call: Salvador; Fortaleza, Barbados (apart from James Bond films); Curacao; Punta Arenas (a second one), Cartagena (I know how to pronounce this thanks to seeing Romancing the Stone), and Manta (from which we fly to Machu Picchu).
The captain has announced that there is a problem with a diesel generator which, combined with a strong opposing sea current, means we are losing time. Consequently we will be late arrivals in Salvador, and our arrival in Fortaleza has been delayed 24 hours, and we now berth on the 27th February. This leaves me wondering how, exactly, we catch up the lost day? No doubt the captain knows his business.
I’ve spent the morning sorting out photos, transferring money to our account and trying to photo the sea birds that accompany us. Possibly as a result of the generator malfunction, the gannets are flying faster than the ship, which makes it tricky to capture them on film.
Such is the nature of seafaring life for the Cruise generation that wine, music and women flow free. Mind you, if we use the “maid/mother/crone” spectrum, most of those on-board the vessel of my own gender qualify as crones, and if they’re flowing freely it’s at a sedate pace, virtue of the use of zimmer frames and walking sticks. I can however testify to the availability of wine and music at every venue aboard.
I have just returned from Spanish class, run be an extremely attractive young male Brazilian cruise employee, who in addition to being bi-lingual appears to have enormous tolerance for the idiocy and incomprehension of his students. We lumber from nouns to adjectives with enthusiastic and inaccurate fervour, mangling pronunciation as we go. Of course, the whole process isn’t helped by us currently being in Portugese speaking Brazil, where the natives ignore our pidgin Spanish with snooty incomprehension.
Our Spanish teacher has introduced the class to a reggae song. The purpose is to teach us a variety of nouns – the lyrics concern a person lying sleepless in bed, using a Hispanic version of sheep counting. The song, entitled ‘Me Gustas Tu’, lists the various things the writer likes, with the counter, I like you at the end of each line.
Thus, Me gustan los aviones, me gustas tu. (I like aeroplanes, I like you).
It’s an inspired way of learning the basics of a language, songs being a sure-fire way of remembering dialogue, and the song is cheerful and snappy. If anyone is interested in downloading this from Spotify, the performer is Manu Chao.