Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Travel Blogging XV

Re-crossing the Equator cruising downstream toward the South Atlantic: Today the shellbacks (us) initiate the pollywogs (them) into the sea-going society of line-crossers, cruise-ship style. The ones being harassed are crew, not pax; for us 'tis as painless as MASH's dentist.

I've been musing about things in the Amazon that were not "as expected." One thing I expected was that the terrain of the rainforest would be virtually flat - no hills or mountains. I was half-right, there are no mountains. There are occasional hills, rising perhaps 100 feet or a bit more, including some that border the river. I didn't expect hills.

Another unexpected thing is there are more substantial river towns, even cities, than we thought we'd see. They are still the exception rather than the rule, but they exist, perhaps a half-dozen meaning one every 100-150 miles.

We've experienced very few bugs, essentially zero mosquitos. The DrsC were liberally sprayed with deet but many in our midst were not, wore shorts and short sleeves and didn't get bitten either.

I'm thinking the fact that we kept moving in various river craft was a big help. Mosquitos like still air. However when we stopped moving to fish for piranha up a shallow side channel I saw no one slapping away bugs then either.

Holland America Line normally attracts an older crowd, older than the typical not-young cruisers. This trip, however, seems to have a slightly less old group, possibly because of the tough visa and yellow fever shot requirements. We have fewer walkers and electric power chairs on this trip than is typical on HAL.

HAL ships tend to have less spectacular atria than Princess or Royal Caribbean, quite tame in comparison. They also run to Indonesian crews, about 50% on the Prinsendam.

However, those aboard who handle liquor may be Filipino, as Indonesia's mostly Muslim population is supposed to take a dim view of alcohol consumption. I write "supposed to" because Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim country - produces and consumes much beer.

Princess ships tend to have Filipino crews, reflecting the U.S. colonial experience in that nation. Royal Caribbean hires many Caribbean blacks for its crews, logically enough. I wonder if MSC and Costa cruise ships hire Europeans, perhaps from the poorer East?

A cynic would write that cruise ship crews are "plantation-like" with third world workers and mostly first world managers and officers. The shops tend to have European staffing, and often the casinos too. Maybe a better analogy would be a British India colonial army with indigenous enlisted and NCOs, white officers and specialists. Whatever ... it works.