Towards Guam

Feb. 19, Sunday. 2:45pm. Very hot for our excursion today. 88 degrees and 60%humidity. We had to protect for sun as well as Zika. That means sunscreen, insect repellant, long pants, long sleeves(for El, I took a chance with short sleeves), hat, sunglasses. I did not see ONE mosquito, not one, but came close to dying from heatstroke with all that clothing on. Go figure! This is a very poor and trashy country. The people are very, very dark skinned. Very African looking, but some have a gene that gives them blond or red hair. Many, including children, have very red lips and teeth from chewing the Betel nut. It’s a narcotic much stronger than coffee. The result is that everyone is high and happy and friendly. Whoopee! The down side is that you can’t swallow the saliva(juice) and must spit it out somewhere. Like chewing tobacco. Ugh!! Another downside is a high rate of throat cancer. Both our guide today(female) and our van driver(male) were both high. Needless to say, we had a happy trip. She even showed us how they husk the outer shell with their teeth to get the nut out. The nut looks whitish and a little hairy about the size of a large marble. She pops it into her mouth and starts chewing then takes a mustard stem, dips it into a pouch of slaked lime(a white powder substance which is calcium hydroxide) and chews that with the nut. Everything then turns a pretty deep red. Sounds good, doesn’t it? She says you can buy this stuff at the market. This is interesting, the nut is the fruit of the Areca Palm. Guess who has one of these palms on their property in Florida? I can’t wait to get home!!!
These poor countries would not be as trashy if they didn’t use plastic. Bags and wrappings all over and they don’t pick them up, for some reason. Too hot, I guess. Other impressions of Rabaul; LOTS of little kids; very friendly; they wave to our vans like kids wave to the trains at Cozy Cove. Our guide says no crime in Rabaul but some in Port Moresby; lush and tropical; volcano cones all around us. Last one erupted in 1994 burying this town under 8 feet of ash. Destroying it completely. New capital built 20 miles away. Still WW2 relics around. Wrecked planes, ammo, and Japanese tunnels and bunkers. We visited these places, heard little kids sing “Shee bee comin round dee monten, when shee comb,” at one of these sites (unbelievable); saw hot springs; visited a seismic recording station (no big spikes on the graph paper today, whew!! ). Got to get ready for dinner and showtime. Bye.
Feb. 20. Monday. 1:45pm. Well, ahoy again. I thought, today, I would outline a typical “at sea” day for us. We get up around 6:30 and go to the buffet breakfast at 7:15. At 7:45 we go set up for pickle ball and play until 9:45. Some days, we have to stop at 9:15 to go to an upcoming port information lecture. Most days we can play till 9:45. We then come back to the room to freshen up(shower, deodorant, etc.) then usually attend a presentation for an hour at 10:15. Today it was the last presentation on the battle of the Coral Sea. Tomorrow starts the battle of Midway. From 11:30 to 12:00 we go to buffet lunch. After lunch, El and I play ping pong for about 30 minutes. (Look out boys! Your mother’s gonna be able to whip your butts!! ). Around 1:00 o’clock we go to the card room and play a card game called “Skip Bo”. For the rest of the afternoon, El rests with heat on her back for about an hour. I work the blog or practice my uke songs or we read, check emails, check finances, fight (NEVER!!). Now throw in things like doing a wash, checking or changing excursions, reading USA, trivia, happy hours, listening to music by the pool, checking photos (the ship photographers take pictures constantly: at dinner, on excursions, places all around the ship etc. They then post them on big photo boards for everyone to peruse and buy, if they want to. Now at 4:00pm, we usually have cheese and crackers in our room. (Wine for her and Coke for me). One, or both of us, (not together, remember the shower size) usually showers so we can dress up for dinner at 5:15. Dinner with our same table mates goes from 5:15 to around 6:30. After dinner, we get ready to attend a production(show) that starts at 7:30 and goes for an hour. We usually come back to our room and hit the sack around 9:30. Some people go dancing or gamble in the casino until the wee hours. Not us!! So this is a typical sea day for us. The photos today are the Betel nut; the singing kids, and the crater that pretty well destroyed Rabaul in 1994. Oh, we crossed back into the Northern Hemisphere today. Signed, Captain CookKids sang She'll be comin round the mountain.JPGCrater 1994.JPGBetel nut.JPG