Land Ho! (x3)
File under all colors for confusion. This post is an example of why keeping a blog under ship conditions is like aiming for a moving target. I wrote the first intro to this post almost two weeks ago. I updated it coming into the next port. Today I will attempt to post it.
Sept. 12, 2013 — Tomorrow we are all allowed off the ship again. We are porting in Antwerp, Belgium for two days, and then the ship heads to LeHavre, France. Many of us will be overland travelers between these two European ports – with train tickets for Paris, Amsterdam and other “must see” destinations. Mine is to Putten, a small town in central Netherlands where I lived with the family Vrijdag for a year in the early 1970s. I had just finished high school and was taking a ‘gap’ year before that term came into common usage.
I will have to get used to my land legs again.
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Sept. 21, 2013 — Yesterday we were allowed off the ship again. We ported in Dublin. My first order of business – of education really, not business – was to lead the eighteen students in my Experiential Writing class on a day of field work. Our first stop was the Old Library at Trinity College, to contemplate the Book of Kells and the Long Room. We had lunch with a Trinity professor of history, Eunan O’Halprin, and one of his graduate students in the student cafeteria, the Buttery. Then it was off with a most knowledgeable city guide to the Chester Beatty museum for some thought provoking views of ancient manuscripts from around the world, for example, Egyptian papyrus remnants of the gospel according to St. Mark from circa 250 AD.
Walking in the dim light (to protect these ancient writings) I felt the ground swaying under my feet again.
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September 26, 2013 – The Explorer has been rolling and swaying for several days after leaving Dublin. The horizon dips out of view ithrough the porthole in my cabin and out the dining room windows. It returns again slowly, a flat blue line, except at night, when all to be seen are the whitecaps. The ceiling rattles.
Will the ground rock under me in the same proportions tomorrow in Lisbon? I’ll try to let you know.
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It’s a little known fact among most landlubbers that the wobbly walk of someone accustomed to walking the decks of a rock and rolling ship has a down-to-earth counterpart stride. After multiple days at sea, a sailor (or voyager like myself) after walking down the gangway and hitting solid ground again, often finds that sea legs turn into land legs.
Touring a Russian cathedral with stone floors and stone steps (262 spiral ones at St. Issacs) I had the distinct sensation that the floor beneath me was moving. I was pretty high above St. Petersburg, and at first thought nothing of it. After all, I’ve been in skyscrapers that sway – tall modern buildings are engineered to do this, after all. But then I realized this church is solid all the way down and has been for centuries.
The sensation of still at sea is thought to do with how the brain interprets what is happening in your inner ear(s) and the fluids there, a comparable but opposite reaction to the cause of sea sickness. Meclizine, the free seasickness remedy dispensed on Deck 2 outside the Medical Clinic, is essentially a strong anti-histamine which dries up so much fluid in the inner ear that the nausea from a wobbly sense of balance subsides. I have not yet taken any meclizine. The only time I did during my previous voyage it made me too sleepy to function. Thankfully I have not needed yet on this voyage.
In Germany, I traveled away from the ship to stay with close friends Helen Gibson and Niko Mikac in a four-story house with distinctive slate tiles outside and original solid wood beams inside. Built in 1685 but architecturally redesigned and renovated in 2010 to create modern apartments, its gleaming bamboo wood flooring still swayed beneath me for days.
In 2011, after only two and half months on the Explorer I was still experiencing the sensation of wobbling on the sidewalks of Charlottesville. What will happen after more than four months at sea, I wonder?! At least one web poster suggests the sensation lasts in proportion to the time spent on the sea. We have really only been on the move for nine of our nineteen days (or sixteen out of thirty-three now) since leaving Southampton. Our European ports are ever so close together. That will change as we begin to visit African ports.
There is still much to come.