Day 13 – 30th December
We are just off Mauritania, and should be in Dakar by tomorrow afternoon, but at breakfast I was told that we would be at anchor for 3 days outside Dakar. We can only enter port on the 3rd.
This doesn’t bother me at all, we are enjoying being on board and it also means we avoid being in port (and therefore alcohol-free) for New Year’s Eve.
I’m not normally a big fan of New Year’s Eve but hey, in these circumstances, any break from the routine and excuse for a party is worthwhile. The separation of the crew, officers and passengers is odd, and hopefully if we are at anchor for a bit and have another party, we might be able to get together a bit.
I’d be really interested in talking to the crew, who have a tough life, working months on end without seeing their families. There was a typhoon in the Philippines just after Christmas and one of the Filipino officers told me his roof had been blown off, but luckily his wife and 7-year-old son were OK.
From the few discussions I have had, I get the impression that the choice to go to sea for long periods for both officers and crew is one taken by those who perhaps didn’t do so well academically or didn’t have the opportunity to do so, and certainly the level of English amongst both groups seems limited. I suspect this may also contribute to each keeping to themselves.
I’d love to learn more about the Philippines, but opportunities have been limited. One of the Filipino officers did tell me that most people in his village support the president who they believe is genuinely cleaning up drug trafficking, which according to him is on a massive scale, and addiction high amongst young people. He claims the president is tough but fair, offering full amnesties to all who surrender, and he says that “60 or 70” from his small remote village took this offer up. It’s certainly a very different narrative from the one we are used to hearing from the UN and the US, and I’ll admit I know very little about it. But having lived in Mozambique and read the international press which was sometimes so different from reality, I find it interesting unpicking different narratives. Maybe a bit heavy for New Year though!
We haven’t actually been told whether we will mark New Year or not. At Christmas we were told to save our crackers for New Year’s Eve, but then another time one of the officers said no party because everyone was too busy. I guess like Christmas, where we weren’t told until the day, they don’t want to tell us much in advance in case things change.
One thing I do know, though: Saturday is pizza night, and today is Saturday!