Snail Races

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Location: Upper Canada

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Carl and Annie - back in the Americas

Sunday, April 9
Dear Friends and Family--Just a quickie to let you
know all is well. We have some free internet time this
morning so thought I would take advantage. The sail
from South Africa across the South Atlantic was smooth
and easy. We had a commemoration day about half way
across to honour the memory of all of the Africans who
died on the slave ships coming to the New World. Not a
pleasant part of history, but a part none the less and
it was special to have a ceremony. Over three million
came to Brazil, and here in Salvador the population is
mainly black and mixed. Lots of music and fun.

We actually arrived in Brazil a day early because one
of the students had an appendicitis attack and they
really picked up speed on the ship. Normally we go
about 17-18 knots and they had it cranked up to 30. We
were flying. Taught everyday as we sailed, and it is
really a wonderful experience. My last few classes
have just been like the students cannot talk enough
about the academic side as well as all they are
experiencing. If anyone ever has a chance to do
something like this, for sure take advantage. I know
that for our Nathan, Chella and James--this voyage
will one day be a part of their lives.

Today I am going to try to call London and talk with
Dan about family--but bottom line is baseball. Not
sure if we can get through easily but we shall see.
Right now, just sitting on the dock of the bay and
getting ready to go out and see this large, diverse,
mix-up country. Annie and I are going for a couple of
days to a nature preserve and an area which is one of
the major pottery making places in Brazil. Mainly
looking forward to getting outside and running down
some deserted country road. It has been a while. That
is it from this end, will write about the Brazil
experience when I get the chance. Only three weeks
left, we arrive in Florida on April 28 and should be
with Karen and Bernie for a day or so shortly after
and then on to see Jay and Grace in the North part of
the South country. Our lives are blessed for sure.
Take care you all you good folks. Love, Carl and Annie.

Thursday, April 14

Dear Family and Friends--Brazil is warm, humid and at
this time of year a bit rainy. We were a day early in
arriving so taught my two classes while sitting at the
dock. We were off the ship early the next morning
(Sunday, April 10), Annie went on a city tour of
Salvador with some friends and I arranged to have an
office at the shipping centre to make a five hour
phone call to London, Ontario and talk with Dan and
all about fantasy baseball. It was wonderful to be
with him, Annie even got a chance to talk with
MaryFrances. Nathan not at home, so missed him. I
think I got a pretty good team in the baseball draft, watch
out Dan Boone!!!! We went out to a student reception for
all of the ship and it turned into quite a party--too
much beer for everyone!

The next morning Annie and I were up early and on a
bus with 24 other passengers (about 50/50 with
students and adult passengers) to go for a three day
trip to an island in this bay called Boipeba. A quick
bus trip to a ferry, an hour over to an island called
Ixtapica (not sure of the spelling) where a bus was
waiting to take us to another boat. About a
three hour trip through some beautiful countryside and
we stopped at a small village, where all of the
residents are involved in pottery making. Our guide,
Charles, is an ex-pat from the U.S. and he has been
here for more than 20 years (he also owns the little
hotel where we are going). No tourists come to this
little village except when Charles brings the Semester
at Sea folks. We are quite a curiosity. People here
are wonderful--they are poor but it is not a grinding
poverty, they make ends meet. The children are healthy
and in school, quite different from some of our other
spots. The pottery making was superb, we bought a few
things to lug on home when the time comes. The people
work hard, it is a physical chore to shape all of the
clay and throw the various pots. They get the material
right from the river so everything is self contained.

On to a nice lunch at a friend of Charles and then
to the town called Valenca where we caught a slow boat
for the two hour sail to Boipeba. All we could think
of was the "African Queen." The boat was old and slow
and needed constant attention to keep going, but make
it we did, chugging and spewing all the way. The trip
down the Inferno estuary was just fantastic, all along
mangrove swamps with birds everywhere. It is a
brackish river--with tides from the Atlantic that make
it quite shallow in spots, had to pick our way. Had
some rain, bags a bit wet, part of the adventure. And
then at the end of the river, this little paradise set
right on the Atlantic Ocean--tides up and down, warm
water--kids jumped right in and swam. Small houses
that make up guest quarters, a little village with a
thousand or so residents. All turned out to greet us.
It was so special. The whole place reminds me of
something out of a novel where Westerners go to get
away from it all and just hang out. Charles and his
brother Mark run the place, and they are very
gracious. There has only been electricity here for
five years, so all is kept at quite a low key. No
motor vehicles of any kind, really a step back in time
but with good food, nice places to stay, and just
sweet people. A great special dinner in the thatched
room restauant, good wine from Chile. We had a music
and dance get-together with the local folks, many
young boys and girls in school and anxious to show us
their finery and their music and dance. It was all so
special, just like out of a dream. We were on the
beach late and then finally to our little cottage for
sleep--a good shower and bathroom were welcomed.

The next morning a breakfast of home made tapioca and
quiche and fruit. We are spoiled. We are beginning a
12 km hike to the other side of the island, up and
down over hills and valleys. First part though the
little village where we are greeted with smiles and
the ever present good day, bon dia. We stopped at a
very small and basic "bakery" where the old woman who
runs the place showed us the equipment. They do manioc
and tapioca--that is it and it is special to see the
good food that comes out of the care she puts into her
work. On to another little "factory" where with a
donkey and a large cement wheel, an old man extracts
the oil from palm nuts for cooking. It has been done
this way for decades, but will probably die out when
the old man dies because there are now some packaged
oils that come to the market. But, change is slow and
the old life remains.

One of our guides knocked down some coconuts and we
drank the sweet milk before heading out into the
jungle for the hike. It is mainly sand here, but
things do seem to grow. Had to take off our shoes
about five times to ford huge puddles from the rain,
often up to our knees. Finally just walked along
barefoot. One village where we had a beer, but mainly
just walking along and having Charles tell us all
about the flora and fauna. Hot, but Annie is really
feeling well these days and had not trouble with the
exercise at all. The "around the world" agrees with
her. After about four hours, we were at the ocean on
the other side of Boipeba, had a lunch waiting for us
and then out into the ocean where we found a sand bar
and all got off to swim. Annie and I walked and walked
out on the bar with water around our ankles, it is
paradise of an old variety. Kids swam and just loved
all of this adventure. Took the old boat which met us
back to the camp site, tired but fulfilled. We had
some down time and then another wonderful meal with
all of us just excited and tanned (burned) from the
hot day in the sun. The young folks went into the
village for more activity, music and dancing. Annie
and I stayed at the "resort" and played some bridge
with a couple of the senior passengers. We were pretty
exhausted and in bed early. Wine is good and we sleep
well--not much more to ask for.

Next morning I was up early--a heavy rain for about an
hour and then I ran on the beach with a rainbow as my
guide. Played with a puppy as I ran--felt a little
like I must be on a shipwrecked island. We packed up
bags for the trip home, but first a snorkel trip and
some time on the beach. Even found a few shells. Met
two Italian women who came to visit and just
stayed--it is the style here. The tide was going out
and our trip back to Valenca was pretty adventurous.
The boat got stuck on a sand bar about an hour out,
and five students got out to push and finally got us
under way again. The African Queen conquered in the
end and got us back to civilization. Sort of a rainy
day off and on, nice for travelling in the cooler
weather. Once again our bus waiting for us and we made
out way back to the ferry, this time a catamaran made
the quick trip to Salvador. Arrived after dark, but in
time for dinner on the ship. Some wine with friends, a
bit of a movie, and into our bed in our home away from
home. We had just a wonderful three days, and this
morning we are off to roam around the city before we
leave this evening for the next port. I give exams
next week, never a dull moment. About two weeks now to
go, it has been just difficult to describe all we have
seen and done. I hope this gives you some of the
flavour. Love and Aloha, Carl and Annie

"If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean, you are lucky enough"


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