Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Journey Begins: Norfolk to Halifax

Our 4 month journey began well with no glitches in getting to the ship in Norfolk—flight was on time, all the bags made it (as well as the two boxes and one map tube sent ahead of time). We boarded the MV Explorer early Monday afternoon and immediately check out our room. At first, it seemed a bit small but 1) we were able to stow all of our stuff with room to spare and 2) after talking with a few others who had smaller rooms we felt very happy with our room 4100. I am guessing the dimensions to be about 10 x 16. There are two twin beds each with a night stand; a long credenza with drawers and cabinets and a small refrig. A relatively large closet with adequate hangars and drawers and a small safe is enough for our belongings. And, finally a small but functional bathroom with shower (that delivers nice hot water).

Our room, No. 4100

Every one obtains a pictured “key card” which, along with wearing clothes, is about the most important item to have on your body. It gets you on board, in your room, and pays for any incidentals (that specialty coffee, pizza/burger at the snack bar, or clothes and things from the bookstore).

All faculty and staff were on board by about 1500 (need to speak and understand nautical lingo) and the ship departed at 2300. The next two days we were at sea with windy rainy weather (and moderate seas). We were in “orientation” mode learning all aspects of the ship and the mode of teaching while at sea, and configuring our computers (and now having about 3 more ids and passwords to remember). While at sea we have access to both the internet and the intra-net. For the former students have about 120 minutes of free access while faculty have unlimited time. But, only 50 people can be signed onto the internet at any given time, so a KEY instruction was for people to properly sign off the internet, even briefly, so as to allow others to get on. Suggestions, such as drafting one’s blog (like this one) should be done in Word, offline and then pasted in while on the internet.

I write this first blog on Thurs—we arrived into Halifax at about 0800, creeping in amid fog and rain. Fortunately the rain stopped by early afternoon when Sandy and I, along with Dave the IT guy and Judy the Art prof headed into town to buy art supplies for Sandy and Dave. The two of them are going to audit Judy’s beginning drawing class—among other things, they will be drawing every day.

Sandy getting her art supplies in Halifax with Dave Weitz (the IT guy) and Judy (the art teacher)

The Life Long Learners, 62 of them, are boarding this afternoon. They technically are not students although some have registered for some classes. They range in age from 89 to 8 months (yes, the LLL can bring dependents on board—in fact, there are about 23 dependents on board). The LLLs may sit in on classes, space permitting; and, they participate in virtually all aspects of the voyage—not sure what that all entails, but I will find out.

Tonight, about 435 parents boarded for a great reception during which us faculty gave tours of the ship – followed by presentations by the Deans and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who boarded today). So, that is about it for this first entry. Do check back frequently as I hope to post something at least after every port, if not a bit more frequently.

Sandra in the Halifax gardens

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One week to go

On 23 August Sandy and I, along with other faculty, staff and spouses, will board the M/V Explorer in Norfolk, Va to begin our 4-month voyage.  Today, we both received confirmation of several land field trips that we had requested while in the various ports.  Sandy and I agreed that we would go through the wonderful and varied trip offerings deciding separately which land-based adventures appealed to each of us.

There are several trips on which we will be together, such as a two-day trip to Sevilla and Cordoba, while in Spain; a 3-day South African safari in the Kariega park; a trip to Ankgor Wat in Cambodia.  But, in other areas we will head in different directions.  In Morocco, for example, while Sandy heads off to Marrakech and a camel ride, I also will go to Marrakech, but then go to the Ourika valley. And, when we get to China I will head to Beijing for a few days while Sandy goes to Guilin and Yangshou.

More will be written on these and other adventures once we get underway, with photos, so check back to my blog often, starting on 27 August when we depart from Halifax with all the students on board.