Saturday, 19 December 2015

I Made It

After a mild hiccough in my travel plans I managed to make it home 3 days after leaving the ship. The most traumatizing part of the whole experience was arriving home Wednesday night and realizing I hadn't showered since Sunday. It was bad.

I saw this sign in Amsterdam and had to take a picture because it was so relevant!
Then I saw this in the paper and was a little distraught at the fact that the sun goes down at 4:42. That just seems wrong. Thankfully I don't have to worry about security on Beach Rd. after dark. I went for a run at 6:30 last night. No worries at all.

Once I got home I started doing things right off the bat: I went with my mom and a couple of family friends to see Cinderella on stage that same night. I am sure I would have enjoyed it far more if I hadn't been so tired and my feet hadn't been so itchy that my whole body was having spasms (mosquito bites).

Then the next night I got to meet my niece! It seemed to odd to have a baby around and to see my sister as a mother, but that is the new reality of my family. 

I also met my brother's child:
Her name is Abbey and she is a cane corso. She is so energetic she was literally jumping on my parents' dog, and we was not impressed. He was very patient with her though and didn't get mad or anything. He just looked annoyed at her craziness (typical old man). 

It has been unseasonable warm, but last night the snow was falling as I ran. As long as I am dressed for it, I don't mind the cold at all; I am thrilled not to sweat everytime I step outside. 

That is all for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Winter Wonderland

You might remember this post from last year about Winter Wonderland. This year I decided I want to sell something and have my own table. I stick with what I know, so cupcakes it was.

Due to the fact that I am little crazy I decided I needed to bake alone-ish. I say alone-ish because you are almost never alone on the ship. Like I said last week, that means I would need to do it late night or early morning. I did both. I went to the crew galley at 9:30pm and there were a bunch of people in there so I turned right around. I went back at 10:45ish and the same people were still there. I knew I had to get started because I was too amped up to go to sleep so I wouldn't be able to get up really early. I started at around 11:00pm and finished decorating and cleaning at 4:30am.  It was very nice and peaceful. The only downfall was the headache I woke up with on Saturday after sleeping for 5 hours, and I didn't get rid of it until today. Oh well. 

The actual event was quite fun. It was just challenging when people started selling out and packing up. It was mildly reminiscent of the circle incident. I felt like I was standing there, with a million cupcakes leftover and a piece of me was dying. Dramatic? Perhaps, but I take things personally, because I put my heart into everything I do. I think the issue was less about the product itself and more about the amount of other people who had a similar product. Also, my price point was a bit higher than the other options because everything was from scratch and there was lots of butter in the icing, which is expensive. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that. I did get some really positive feedback though, which was really nice to hear. 

 In other news, I will hopefully be leaving for home tomorrow; if Air Madagascar cooperates and I get my passport back today. It went to Tana to get a visa put in it, and it should be on the bus right now. Here's to hoping.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The "Normal" Days

What exciting things happened today? I can't give you big news every week, so this time around it will just be an ordinary post. Today I went to the market to grab a few last minute gifts and on my way out of the port a portly (ha ha I didn't notice that until I proofread it - port/portly) Malagasy man made a gesture to suggest that I was fat. Well, sir, I don't believe that is really going to help your cause, and don't you think that is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black? I was confused. Moving forward. The market was fun, as always. During one transaction I was bargaining with a lady and then another vendor came over and gave his suggested price (half the price the lady gave in the first place), and then another man came over and completely took over. I ended up just walking away because the 3rd guy was insulting my other purchases in order to make his seem better. Inside the market building I am now careful not to walk down the aisle full of vendors selling raw meat. First of all it just smells unpleasant, and second of all it looks scary. Oh, I almost for get to tell you that on my way to the market I saw a little boy herding goats down the street. I kids you not, he probably had 20-30 goats.

That was my excitement for the day. Next weekend is Winter Wonderland, where crew members can sign up to sell whatever they choose (mostly crafts and food) and other crew members buy what they like. This year I am being brave and selling cupcakes. In order to avoid the chaos of the shared kitchen my plan is to wake up super early on Saturday morning (5 am) and get a good amount done before people start to wake up. The joy I get from baking is easily squashed by too many cooks in the kitchen. Also, I am kind of crazy about making everything as fresh as possible, so although I could bake the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them, that would make it too easy for me. Sometime doing things the hard way is just better (and in this case, more delicious).

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Science Fair & Exciting News

I got to go to the science fair. When you have such a small school it makes it possible to have almost all of the students present their projects. What en excellent opportunity to practice public speaking! I was surprised that the majority of the kids seemed quite comfortable in front of a room full of people. I certainly felt for the kids who struggled, because that was me at that age; I absolutely dreaded public speaking. Thankfully I have grown out of it and into a place where I am a bit more comfortable, but the butterflies never seem to go away. Grades 1-3 had their projects on display at the back of the room and the rest of the grades did full presentations. I was asked to mark the presentations with a rubric the science teacher had developed. It was quite thorough. They had strict time parametres and criteria such as elocution and body language. The presentation topics ranged from electric circuits to forensic science and mummification. The mummified fish was a little smelly, but the dissection, and lengthy process to mummify the little fishy was pretty impressive. Poor dead fishy.

I also got some incredibly unexpected news that has me on a roller coaster of emotions. After studying for the LSAT in Durban and at sea, writing it in Madagascar, and completing the lengthy application process I got a response. I got into law school at the University of Ottawa. I got the e-mail on Friday after work and I was so excited I jumped up and down, and then I paused. I thought it was so early (just two weeks after getting the e-mail to confirm receipt of my application) so I got serious. I decided I need to double check before I told anyone, so I called the admissions office. The lady kind of laughed at me when I told her I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a mistake. She confirmed that I had been accepted and congratulated me. Then I got to call my mom. I am thankful I didn't see the e-mail until the end of the day here when everyone at home was already awake or I may have exploded. As I was talking to my mom on her cell phone my dad called her on the house phone so she got to tell him right away. Being my dad he wanted to know how soon I start (anything to get me home). The excitement lasted a few hours and then all the logistics started settling. Moving, going back to school, leaving the ship, leaving my family again. Then yesterday I realized that I would be starting school at 27 and wouldn't be done until I was 30. That seems really old right now. I started worrying about all the 21 year olds that would be my classmates. Kids with unlimited amounts of energy and 5 more years for neuroplasticity. Not fair. Luckily my family is keeping me excited. My brother is already getting ready to go apartment hunting and telling me that he is coming to visit. He has an excellent idea of where I shouldn't live (any of the buildings he lived in while he was in Ottawa). Funny, I am back to going to the school where my brother went, just like the old days. Well, I should say that I applied to one other school and am unsure whether to wait for an answer or just go with the offer from Ottawa. Once I get home for Christmas I can peruse the admissions package and decide. It seems like a no-brainer but I think that is partially because Ottawa is familiar to me. I have been there countless times, where I have never been to the other school or the city in which it sits. Thank you for all the prayers; they were answered. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, 15 November 2015


I saw these barricades on the stairs a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was a little dramatic. This is because I think that calling something a life hazard seems to imply impending doom. Now that I think about it, it might be really nice if these warnings showed up more often. As I have an aversion to making mistakes, having a little help steering away from danger, risky decisions, and actions that have not been fully thought out would be quite nice. Well, you might say that if you never encountered a challenging situation, or made any mistakes you would not really be living. It seems as though the best learning situation comes from making a wrong turn; saying the wrong thing, giving too much or too little information in answering a question, giving the wrong impression, and the list goes on. I hate coming up short. It makes me feel unprepared, inadequate, and like I failed. The other thing is that when I make a mistake it opens me up for criticism, and the next worst thing to making a mistake is having someone else let you know that you made a mistake. It is kind of ridiculous as I am incredibly critical of other people and their work. So, I know that everyone makes mistakes and that is why we have systems in place to catch and correct them. One of the difficult parts of life is when you are criticized for something that doesn't seem like it warrants criticism. The number of friends I have shouldn't matter. Where I choose to eat my meals shouldn't matter. Just because I don't do things the way someone else expects them to be done doesn't warrant a criticism of my actions. I will never ever be able to make everyone happy, befriend everyone, and solve every problem. I know that, but it doesn't mean that it sits well with me. I want to be everywhere, helping everyone, and I wish I were more charismatic, more charming, more friendly, more self-confident, more, more, more. I'm not. I know I often hear people's mere comments and take them as criticism when they were not meant that way. I am aware that I often that things too personally. It is not an easy habit to kick. My parents have been urging me to build a thicker skin for years. It may be happening but a a glacial pace.
Maybe the criticisms are barricades, made to steer you in another direction, not to keep doing the same thing that you are used to doing. In the past week I have heard the following a few times "Isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?" Perhaps we are there for one another to provide guidance and make sure we don't go insane. The challenging part comes with the presentation and the reception. It has to be done with love or it is doomed. The most well intentioned comment can ruin a relationship, someone's self-esteem, a mood and so much more if it is done from the wrong place. It hurts me to be wrong but often I can't be right without first being wrong. Also, I can't help other people be right if I myself have not gone through the process of correcting my own wrong.
There it is. I had a wonderful weekend full of laughter, tears, and memories (old and new). I hope that the week ahead is full of learning opportunities for me and for you.

With great love,


Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Other Stuff

Since Giulietta was really the only thing that mattered I failed to tell you about all the other things that went on last week.

I finally got to give blood! I signed up last year as well but the lab never called me. Well, this year was different. I got pre-tested on Monday and then I got a call on Wednesday that they might need me but weren't sure. I had to leave my office to go to a staffing call so I let the lab know just in case they needed me. Five minutes later they came and found me. I was so happy to be able to give blood to a patient in need. I know Canadian Blood Services isn't going to want my blood for a long time so I had better contribute while I can. 

I also got to have my bi-annual dental hygiene appointment. My hygienist was a fellow Canadian! She was chatting to her assistant when she mentioned that her dad was a water diviner. I let it pass but when I had a chance to talk I asked her what it was. She was surprised I had never heard of one before. It is someone who can find water underground without digging for it. Apparently he had a gift, and because he knew as much, he never charged anyone for it. She also said they always had the most beautiful, clean water to drink. 

What else? Well I was washing my hands in the washroom and I looked out the window and saw this:

I guess they were working on the motor so they had the prop submerged in a big bucket of water. I am not sure why but I thought it was so funny, but I just couldn't get over it. That is why I went and got my phone to take a picture. You know what is not funny? That clear water! It is beautiful. 

That's about it. We had a long weekend on the the ship and we had a new On Boarding group arrive on Friday, complete with a new member of the HR department. That means that someone left to make space for him. I wasn't happy to see her leave but I am very happy she is getting to go home to see her friends, get her hair done, and eat chips and queso. Speaking of eating, while I was talking to my grandmother today she invited me over for lunch tomorrow since I had no other plans. I wish! If I left now I might be able to make it. Enjoy your Sunday (and what's left of your Saturday).

Check out this rainbow that I saw on Friday! I think there must be some gold in one of the shipping containers!

Friday, 30 October 2015

A Baby!

Ahhhh! I am an aunt.

My sister makes me laugh because she looks perfect in the picture above. Baby delivery is no big deal. What a champ.

I have become that crazy aunt that shows pictures to everyone whether they are interested or not. So here you go:

How cute is my dad? I mean, look how huge his hand is compared to his very first grand-baby! I love it so much, it makes me want to cry every time I look at it. I am restraining myself though because I do not want to be labelled as the crazy aunt that moved to Madagascar to live on a ship, that Giulietta won't be able to visit unsupervised (I might already have that label). Giulietta Anne, born on October 26, weighing 7lbs 3oz. Congratulations Sara and Gerry! Also, because I am crazy I googled her initials to see if they mean anything. Well Merriam-Webster tells me that gam has the following definitions:
1. slang leg
2. a visit or friendly conversation at sea or ashore especially between whalers
3. a school of whales

I can't wait to meet her (supervision or not).

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Pickle Ball

Funny thing... this morning I was looking to see how the Blue Jays did on Friday and when I checked, the game was still going on! It was around 07:30 here so it made sense. I took a picture with my Jays hat on to show my support all the way from Madagascar and then when I refreshed the browser... it was done. Tough loss but a very exciting ride for them and the city of Toronto. I have no qualms about wearing my hat, even after the loss. Also, I am pretty sure that people in Madagascar don't care/ may be unaware of what the insignia represents.

Aside from that, I learned how to play pickle ball. A very strange name, but a fun game nonetheless. Apparently it is the fastest growing sport in America. I wonder when that claim was made and how long it held that title. It is played with a wiffle ball and paddles. The net is like a tennis net and the court is the same as badminton. What a combination! My serving was terrible but it was great fun. It didn't strike me until I was getting ready for bed but I was playing that game with people from six other countries: Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the United States. We were rotating the four people on the court so everyone would get a chance to play, but I am awestruck. 8 people from 7 different countries; that is spectacular to me. Somedays I just can't imagine not being here. That is especially true when the sun shines all day, and I get to have so much fun because there are always people around to join in a game. I think the vitamin D did me some good today! I'd like to share the sun with people who don't have it.

Also, I was reading about Hurricane Patricia and am so grateful to hear that is has lost its power. It was suggested that since it was so strong it could have made landfall, crossed over to the gulf side, and picked up strength again. Thank goodness that didn't happen.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

On Monday many of the Canadians on board came together for our own Thanksgiving celebration. We had dessert and tested our knowledge with some trivia. For example: Which province is the largest producer of cranberries? British Columbia. What is the name for a baby turkey? Most people thought I was kidding when I told them the answer was poult. It sounds kind of made up so I don't blame them.

Today I was sitting on deck 8 in my hammock (best investment) and noticed something. Last week I had looked up and seen that the Maltese maritime flag was looking a little tattered and I thought it was a shame and a little disrepectful. Well, when I looked up this afternoon, I saw a brand new flag flapping in the wind. Add that to my list of things that just "appear" on the ship.

If you look hard enough can you see the cross sitting on top of the mast? Many people who have been on board for ages only notice it when it is pointed out to them. A nice reminder of why the ship is here, even if people don't always see it. 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Bird's Eye View

This week has been a week of illness on the ship. According to the overhead announcement made on Friday over 10% of the crew are down with some sort of gastrointestinal issue (Ew. Where is the hand sanitizer?). Thankfully that hasn't hit me. I just got a regular old cold, and I am happy to deal with that. Apart from that, I finished my puzzle and now I am not sure what I am going to do with my spare time.

I suppose I could take part in one of the many organized activities that happen onboard. It is amazing to see the diversity of talents and interests that exist in such a small space. Last night was folk dancing, and I had a great view of the very cool formations that the group was making.

Tomorrow is Canadian thanksgiving and there will be a little celebration with the Canadians on board the ship. It is strange being away from home for celebrations like Thanksgiving. Just knowing my family will be in one place doing what they do every year, without me, was enough to make me homesick on Friday night. I think it is that and a few other things that are going on, that just happen to manifest itself as homesickness (or that is what I am blaming it on). 

Another wonderful tidbit (kind of like a timbit, oh sour cream glazed) is that today is the 35th wedding anniversary of my wonderful parents. 
Photo credit:
That is a lot of years. They have been together more than they have been apart and I am proud of who they are as people, and parents. There I go being homesick again. That's it! No more sentimentality for today. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Moments of Enlightenment

It has been a long couple of months. Yesterday night and this morning have been consumed with doing absolutely nothing productive. Nothing I was doing was contributing to making progress or getting things done. I was sitting and doing a puzzle that my mom had sent me for my birthday, all by myself.

As I was sitting there it dawned on me that someone else could look at me and think I was completely wasting my life working on this puzzle. I mean a puzzle really is an exercise in futility as you build it up only to tear it back down and put it away. It doesn't matter. I like doing puzzles because they occupy my mind, keep me calm, and because you can stop and start whenever you like. Well that last part isn't always true, especially when you have a dad like mine who thinks puzzles look messy and doesn't like them sitting around. I think that is one of the reasons I have said I would like a table solely dedicated to supporting a puzzle in progress at all times (this I how I rebel). All this to say, it got me thinking about how other people spend their free time and how critical I can be when I don't understand it. When I think it doesn't make sense or it is a waste of time (I my opinion) I get angry. That is silly. Everyone needs to decompress. Everyone needs their own time. It might be reading, watching tv or movies, exercising, browsing the Internet or a host of other activities. No matter what it is who am I to judge how someone else uses their time? This is just one of many things that have dawned on me in the last year. Perhaps I will call this the year of enlightenment.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

New Dawn, New Day

There was ship holiday on Friday. That means I had the day off! I had a list of the things I wanted to get done, because that is just how it works for me. I find it to be a little unnerving that on my list I wrote "get outside". When I get busy it gets so easy not to go outside... ever. Crazy, I know, but I can go to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, go to work, and go to sleep without going near an exit.

Today I had a great day; I am always happy when I get my laundry done early in the day because then even if I don't do ANYTHING else then I feel like I accomplished something. In addition to doing laundry I got to cook! Sure, cooking doesn't seem all that exciting, but when I get to learn something new I always get excited. I got to learn how to cook a delicious meal from a Malagasy. Not many people can say that. A chicken was killed in the making of this lunch. However, I did not eat said chicken, nor did I participate in its killing. Fresh peas! I got to eat fresh peas. I think that is part of the reason why I don't cook very much here: because I don't know how/where to get the good ingredients. Even if I did know where to go I would probably pay too much or not be able to communicate at all. So I am thankful that my teacher was able to gather all the ingredients himself. Something that I was reminded of today was that people can seriously surprise you. I mean look at this presentation...

Who knew that a plumber could be so creative and artistic? Maybe plumbing fosters a sense of appreciation for the beautiful things in life since there is lots of gross stuff to encounter in that profession. Who knows? I'm just making stuff up. 

There are some seriously beautiful sunsets around here. We have such a great view from the top of the gangway:

When I was making pasta today, (a big bowl of pesto covered fusilli makes me a happy lady) I was reading the back of the pasta bag. Take a gander:

Does anything stand out to you? How does Barilla get off claiming that it is "the pasta brand Italians prefer". How can they possibly know that? I thought that they could claim they are the best selling pasta brand (based on sales numbers) and that would be okay. That is not what they are claiming. Then I thought about how they could have polled a random sample of Italians. But what do you define as an Italian? Someone who was born in Italy? First generation Italians? Second? People with one Italian parent? Someone who holds an Italian passport? This is what happens. I find something and then I give it far too much thought. That is my life. Don't do what I do; you'll go crazy.

Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

A Plate of Plantains

When there is a plate full of golden, delicious, fried plantains, given to me by two different sources I know it is going to be good day.

Saturday was also a great start to the weekend with a beautiful, sunny, walk back to the ship after purchasing the second part of my flights to go home for Christmas! I get to go home and see my family, celebrate the marriage of one my dear friends, and drive! I don't like to devalue the present by filling my thoughts with the future but sometimes it is nice to have something to look forward to, especially when your current situation still doesn't feel "normal". Since the ship is full of coming and going you will often hear people talking about where they came from and where they are going next. It is often hard to hear people talk about what comes next for them and be thrilled about getting back to "normal" and get out of the craziness of the ship. It is especially hard when you are being left behind. I believe that is true of any situation; it is always hard to be the one being left than the one leaving. Anyway, I digress.Yesterday, the day ended with a birthday party full of dancing and laughter; a great way to set up a wonderful Sunday.

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend and I wish you a wonderful week.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

It is Just A Game

This weekend I participated in a young adult retreat hosted by some of the crew on board the ship. The topic revolved around a series by Andy Stanley called "Guardrails". There were six topics where we watched a video and then broke into smaller group to discuss content and thoughts. Along with the spiritual aspect there were lots of fun activities to get people involved. It was also really nice to meet some of the new crew and put faces to their names that I seen on paper for months.

Group games. I'm not a huge fan of these types of activities but I see the value in them. Yesterday we had three, one at the beginning of each "session". The first one I really liked, the second one I didn't mind, and the third one was a complete disaster for me. This was the premise. Everyone had a partner and was standing in a big circle. One person of each pair was blindfold and had to retrieve one of their partner's shoes (which were in a big pile in the middle of the circle). It doesn't seem so bad, right? Just a little chaos to have some fun. Well, this game devastated me. Yes, devastated. It was because my inadequacy was put on display for everyone to see. I know you are thinking that I am overreacting and that thought is a little excessive. Vulnerability is one of the most difficult things for me to deal with. I like to be in control, I don't trust people, and I am happy that I can take care of myself. Yes, I see that all of those things are areas I need to deal with, and are certainly a cause for discussion, but let's save that for another time. Putting on a blindfold and being put at the mercy of another person is a nightmare for me. Once I realized I was one of the last people in that circle, and there were 80 sets of eyes around me, I lost it. Why wasn't anyone trying to help? Why did everyone continue to make noise and make it more challenging to try an accomplish the task at hand? Why did people just push me away when I ran into them when they could see. I don't know why this hurt me so much, but every time I think about it I start to cry. I cry, and I can't stop because I continue to think how much we see each other struggle and we don't do anything to help. Conversely, we may try to help but our instructions send the person in the wrong direction again. Does that mean we shouldn't try to help for fear of misguiding or misleading someone? I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. Life hurts a whole lot, so I would ask you to take hold of someone who is going the wrong direction and help them in their decision as to which direction to take next. Please don't just push them away with a quick word and hope for the future; show them how to get where they need to go. You can be there to equip them, if you so choose. I understand that this is not always an option and it is hard to think about helping someone else when you don't have yourself together, but you never know the great impact you can make unless to reach out. Who knows? They might even help you in the process.

On a prettier note (because my messy crying face isn't all that attractive), here is a pretty sunset from yesterday. The bow lines are stretching across the water, keeping us from floating away.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Ta Da!

As I was sitting at a lovely table located on deck 7 (which is kind of like sitting on a covered porch) I thought about how the tables got there. They just appeared after the sail. I didn't see anyone doing it but someone tirelessly pulled them out of their sailing storage space and set them out so many people could use them to enjoy a meal, sit, chat, read a book and many other things. So, what else just "appears around the ship".

1. A fully made bed. When a new crew member first gets here their bed is made and there are towels and a treat waiting for them.
2. Food. Everyday food just appears in the dining room, ready to be eaten. We aren't allowed to go in the galley so we know there are people up there cooking but we can't see it.
3. Mail and packages from the container. Last week I got some mail and was told I could just go by the post office and pick it up. How did it get there? How many hands contributed to delivering it, unpacking it and processing it?
4. Toilet paper in the public washrooms. Thank goodness that appears regularly because you can't yell down the hallway at anyone to bring you some.
5. Cold air from the ceiling. I gained a serious appreciation for this during the warmth of ship yard when we didn't have any A/C.
6. Fast internet. I don't know how it gets hooked up, or who presses what buttons but all of a sudden we can use Youtube and Skype without any issues.
7. Birthday parties. I am very lucky to have many people on the ship who care about me enough to want to help me celebrate my birthday with a big family dinner.

Thank you to all of the people that contribute to making things appear on the ship, you are appreciated.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

What's that in the sky?

I love a good wake. I'd love it more if I were surfing on it, but beggars can't be choosers. This particular wake wouldn't be good for surfing anyway:

Isn't it beautiful? That is without any filters or enhancements of any kind! It is so mesmerizing to watch. Unfortunately if I look at it for too long my seaworthiness leaves me completely and I become a landlubber.

There will be no more wake watching for a while because we are in Madagascar!

As I was eating breakfast I could see some of the members of the deck department preparing for arrival.  

It is unclear to me what was attracting their attention in the sky but what do I know about mooring operations? It did make me think of my post from last year:  It was a serious process to get the ship all set up next to the dock. Even just to turn around (so we could back in) seemed to take forever. Last field service we had to move a couple of times to reset the anchors and the goal this time was to set once and be good to go. Hopefully things went according to plan so we can stay put. Being here has me very excited about reclaiming a routine and having the surroundings be familiar again.  Getting up early to walk, knowing where to find a quiet spot on the beach, having a chance to walk off the ship any night of the week and just feel free to roam, are all just nice things to know I can do even if I don't do them all the time.

Upon arrival many people immediately noticed that a ship with crew members awaiting trial for illegal exportation of rose wood was still sitting at the dock. They have been there for a very long time. I can't imagine how frustrating that must be, especially if you had no idea that someone was up to something. Maybe something great will happen soon so they can get back to their families.

This week is going to be a busy week! We are expecting A LOT of new crew tomorrow, and Tuesday is when all the day crew comes on board for their orientation. The ship is not going to be quiet anymore and the lunch line is going to be madness. It is all for the best though, because the hospital will open soon and lives are going to be changed (not just the patients').

Have a great week!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Game Changer

What happened last week?


Well, on Sunday I had a wonderful experience. Let me explain...
Earlier in the week someone had unexpectedly asked me to go to church. I was a little hesitant but thought I could not turn them down, so I agreed. On Sunday I woke up particularly unhappy and disheartened because of a few things that had gone down on Saturday. I really didn't want to go to church, especially when it meant I had to get up at 6:30, get dressed, and act like I didn't hate life. Well, the person that invited me to go to church didn't show up, but luckily there were several other people that were still going so I was still able to go; I hadn't woken up for nothing. I was incredibly skeptical but when I walk into the small church I was warmly greeted and ushered to the very front of the congregation. As worship started, I was thinking. Thinking about life, about loss, about what I haven't figured out, about what the point of all the hurt was, and I just started crying. Now, crying is not uncommon for me at church but this was not the best venue for me to have sad tears running down my face. I was with people from the ship I didn't know particularly well, in a church I had never been to before.  As I was watching the worship team sing and dance with such joy I eventually stop crying and I felt better. I wouldn't call it peace, but I would just say I felt better. I left that church with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, and it was real. It doesn't make complete sense but it was a turning point. At least it felt that way.

Other than that excitement, I got my annual TB test, so I got to sport this lovely circle for a couple of days (the pen didn't last very long despite my lack of scrubbing)...

Good news: I don't have TB! 

I also got an unexpected gift to remind me of South Africa and that people care about me!

The ship is still in Durban but we hope to head for Madagascar soon. Unfortunately I can't divulge any specifics but hopefully we will have more shareable information soon!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Trailer park

I think it was yesterday when I was thinking about the ship being out of water. About how we have to hook up to shore power, and how Mercy Ships has to pay lots of money to pump out all the grey and black water. It dawned on me that it is like we are in a trailer park. Sure we can pull away and travel around, but sometimes we have to stop and be reliant on the resources around us; we can't be independent all the time. I suppose that applies to all of us. We are free to roam around and make our own choices but we need something to come back to; where we can get recharged and pump out all the junk. They certainly have a sense of humour about the black water transportation vehicle:

Yes, it says "stool bus". 

The good news is that soon Mercy Ships won't have to pay so much to get rid of our waste because we are leaving Durban. The hope is to set sail for Madagascar sometime next week. The deck department worked some serious overtime today on the chain locker! I hope that they will have a good rest when we finally get back to Tamatave. Things never go as expected around here so when plans change it shouldn't be a surprise.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful week!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sweating Bullets

Excessive sweating is not something new for me. You are currently thinking I am offering way too much information and I have officially fallen off my rocker. Wait! Sweating is good for you right? Gets rid of the toxins? Well I should be toxin free given that I currently occupy a cabin that lacks airflow, and an office that is warmed by the beautiful sun all day (which results in a skin clarifying sauna by around 13:00). Despite those particular disadvantages that guarantee I will be sweating at some point of the day, I had not at all anticipated that I would end up sweating more in the coolest place on the ship than in any of the heat filled rooms that I frequent. I got a new duty in case of a fire and so now I get to muster on the bridge. Sweet! The bridge is air conditioned all the time (to protect the instruments) and when there is a fire drill you don't have to stand on the dock all bored and uninformed. Sounds great. WRONG! I must have been incredibly nervous because I had to wipe my brow on multiple occasions to make sure I didn't drip on the time sheet. Luckily the drill didn't include any fire simulations because I would have had more tasks to manage. Whoever decided to do a muster only was my personal hero that day.

This weekend was fairly quiet with the highlight being a big purchase at the mall: pencils. Sad? Well, it was more sad when someone invited me to go to dinner on Saturday night and what came out of my mouth was "I have to buy pencils". It was true! It was also true that I needed to buy leggings as well, but apparently I thought that buying pencils was enough of a justification. I am pretty excited about them because they don't have an eraser on the end and the outside is neon! What more could you ask for in a pencil?
If you hadn't thought I'd fallen off my rocker in that first paragraph surely you think so now! I get excited about the small things. 

What else has been going on? Well an update on the delay is that we are behind about two weeks. The good news is that the problem wasn't as bad as it could have been, which is great news! We should be back in Madagascar at the end of August, with the hospital and off site projects, up and running soon after. 

That's all for now! In a previous post I mentioned having to wear hard hats on the dock. Some of them are downright dirty but there are some pretty new ones like this: 


Sunday, 2 August 2015

This Seems Familiar

The ship was supposed to set sail tomorrow. Guess what? It isn't. For some that might seem like the worst thing that could happen, but for me it might actually be a good thing. You may be wondering why we aren't leaving tomorrow, and I think that is a very legitimate wonder. I will not pretend to know exactly what is going on, because I don't. I can only tell you it has to do with the same propeller that was having issues last year in dry dock. It's consistent; I'll give it that. Anyway, this delay might be a good thing for me because it will give me time to get used to a new job responsibility, and the new people that have arrived before we get a gigantic influx of people upon arrival in Madagascar. Just the influx we got this week seems to have upset my equilibrium. For some reason, after community meeting, the noise in the cafe was kind of startling. It wasn't a terrible noise, it was just the sound of people catching up after months apart, getting to know new people, making friends, and having fun. I just haven't heard that noise before. I do have to say that I have been given some more wonderful roommates this year, and I am very excited about it. The other exciting thing about it is that we are all from different countries: Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and the United States.

Considering this was supposed to be the last weekend in South Africa I had a full day on Saturday. I went to the Wedding Expo in Moses Mabhida Stadium in search of a bridesmaid dress, but instead I found this...

The interior of Moses Mabhida Stadium. A field that saw the games of the 2010 World Cup. A while ago I asked someone who Moses Mabhida was, and it surprised me. It surprised me that a country would name such a prominent landmark after the leader of a communist party. Upon further investigation he was more than just a leader to a party with a scary name. I'd encourage you to read for yourself:

Apart from the beautiful view, luck brought something else to do while we were there (since the expo didn't produce any dress prospects). That being said, there was one great conversation with a man who was selling magazines on behalf of the media company for which he works. He said he used to be a lawyer, and was commenting on education in South Africa and the unemployment rate. He thinks there are many people suited to jobs that they won't even be considered for because they don't have the right credentials. I fully agree. Just because you have the paper don't mean you will excel in a certain job/career. I liked that guy. Back to what I was saying. On the first Saturday of every month there is a market set up outside the stadium with stands filled with food, clothes, jewellery, and other treasures. It was a most incredible day for it and we walked around for hours.

I expect that we will know more about the delay this week, but for now I'm still on the ship and the ship is still in Durban.

Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Strange and Unusual

Being in ship yard means a lot of things are different. Let me give you a run down:

1. There are far less people on the ship than usual
2. There are no children allow on the ship during dry dock (so that mean all the families move off the ship to other accommodations)
3. You have to wear closed toed shoes all the time (because of the safety hazards). Consequently, my nude flats are starting to look quite dirty and my feet are always hot; it is a trying time
4. Lunch is served on Saturdays (usually no lunch is served on the weekends)
5. No air conditioning 
6. Fresh water is extra limited, so that means being really strict about 2 minutes showers and only one load of laundry per week. Yes, it can get smelly.
7. The ship itself is very quiet. I don't mean because there are less people around, but because there are less generators and engines running so there is literally less ambient noise
8. South Africa is definitely not as hot as Madagascar (that's really good- see number 5)
9. When the water gets turned off for the day we get food brought in from outside (last week we got amazing butternut squash soup)
10. When they spray for bugs we get food brought in from outside too (yes, there are bugs). I don't like to squish bugs; I like to rescue them and set them free outside but here that just isn't possible. Sometimes you are way too far from a door, and the windows don't open, so I have become a bug murderer.
11. The wearing of a hard hat needs to be factored into how my hair gets done (again, life is difficult)

Besides all that, we have 3 captains on board right now. Two are acting (one is handing over to the other) and one that will take the position in several weeks. 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Under the Sea

Today I got a tour of the depths of dry dock and I loved it so much I did it twice! Well, I actually had two sets of visitors today so I went with them, but I really did enjoy myself! It gives great perspective and it is amazing to see how huge the ship is from close up. My visitors were some staff (and family), and students from the place where I did my safety training. I am so glad I got to show them around so they can better understand what we do and how we do it. It is really hard to get it until you see it for yourself.

Apart from the dry dock tour I was able to show my visitors the bridge and the engine room thanks to several really wonderful and generous people who took the time out of their day to do so. I also got to see something I have never seen before: the view from the very top of the ship! 

Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful day. Last week I finished safety training and am so thankful that I got to do it. At the time, I was also glad it was over because I had gotten a cold and was not particularly keen to be studying, and working all the time. I am finally over my cold and am ready to battle in the office on Monday. 

Have a wonderful week!