Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ship Shenanigans

 That day in the middle of the Indian Ocean when the captain fired up both engines to show us that our normal cruising speed of 13-14 knots was not as fast as a full throttle 27 knots. It was a nice recess from morning study hall.

 There be pirates in the Indian Ocean. Our ship can out run them, but just in case, hoses were ready to blast them away. This is the fifth deck where I like to jump rope and walk for my evening exercise. 

 Neptune day in which pollywogs become shell backs in honor of having crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere. This is an old naval tradition. It involves being doused in green water (instead of slime and entrails used in some rituals), jumping in a pool, kissing a fish, kissing Neptune's ring and then being pronounced a shellback with sword taps to the shoulders.

Will went twice.

One other tradition for Neptune Day is to have your head shaved. A few women did it too.

The splash from a flying fish.

 Sea Olympics day. Eight Student teams and the faculty, staff and families team compete in events like team cheer, team banner, synchronized swimming, volleyball, dodge ball, charades, chess, lip sync etc. Joel and Will competed in the frozen t-shirt contest where competitors have to thaw--by using body heat-- a solid block of water and t-shirt to the point they can then wear it. Joel also performed (he has some cool moves) with others from our team in the lip sync.

Being told that their team was first to finish. Will is wearing the once frozen t-shirt. Unfortunately our team was penalized with additional minutes because they started out the event by soaking the ice block in the wading pool (one other team did it too until both were told it was against the rules) which helped speed up the process. When asked why they chose that tactic, the boys and the one father on the team noted that the rules did not say it was against the rules to use the pool.

 synchronized swimming

A Day in Mauritius (Will's Report)

I teach on A day mornings from 8:00-9:15 (world geography) and then from 10:50-12:05 (political geography). I teach on B day afternoons from 1:00-2:15 (global cities). In between I work on course prep and grading. Marie's job is to home school the kids on A and B days from 9:00-11:15 and to then help with ship kids activities in the afternoon. It has been a challenge to keep Will engaged and so for the past two weeks I have been in charge of Will on B day mornings. Rather than go up to the dinning hall with the other kids, Will and I hang out in our cabin and work on his math workbook, cub scout requirements, writing (8 sentences a day) and social studies (yesterday we learned about apartheid and Nelson Mandela) followed by 30 minutes of reading time for him. (Marie does science later using home teacher provided powerpoints.) We also walk the 5th deck quizzing each other on spelling words. In between times there are moanings and groanings, protestations and down right belligerence (hence the decision to share the task). Math and writing are his two least favorite topics. He is very good at math and can often figure things out in his head, but writing it down and showing work is something he does not enjoy doing. Writing in general is not his favorite.

On the day after Mauritius, I assigned Will to write a report about our one day adventure (on a SAS field program of about 30 people) on a lovely island. I gave him a map to look at and that was all the help I gave. Here is his transcribed report--eight sentences exactly--which he did without protesting:

For Mauritius we climbed a mountain. The mountain was called Le Pouce. We started at 9 and ended at one. It was hard to climb. After that we went to a really good home with really good food. It was amazing. We went to the beach after. I got to snorkel. I saw a lot of cool fish. It was called Flic en Flac Beach.  

 Morning arrival in Mauritius. Capital City Port Louis (pronounced Louie) is in the center with the peak of Le Pouce (the thumb) rising above the city. It is the third highest mountain on the island (2,664 ft). Second highest Pieter Both Mountain (2,690) is the peak on the far left. 

 Port Louis and Le Pouce, the peak to be climbed that morning.

Our goodly guides.

 Marie got a little faint after the first initial climb. She rested and drank some water under the care of one of the guides while I went ahead with our energetic kids. About two thirds of the way up, slow and steady Marie rejoined the group and then we all climbed to the top. Pieter Both peak is in the background. Charles Darwin climbed Le Pouce in 1836.

 Sugar Cane fields.

From the summit looking down on Port Louis

 There was just enough room on top for the 30 of us. The final assent (with the help of ropes) and the drop off from the top reminded me of hiking Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.

 Our delicious lunch of seven different Indian curries and fresh na'an was cooked and served by an extended family in their carport.

 Many of the corals surrounding Mauritius died in the 1990s due to pollution, dynamite fishing and other man made causes.  The boys and I snorkeled out about 200 meters in calm shallow water to the breakwater where eventually we found live corals and beautiful tropical fish.