Days 15/16/17/18 /19 – 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th January
We passed the first 5 days of the year at anchor off Dakar, amid a haze so thick we never knew which way we were pointing or which way was land. Occasionally fishermen would pass by close enough to wave, and some of our lunches were supplemented by their catch. I also managed to get a sim card off one, which worked occasionally. Today we finally got the news that we could dock this evening in Dakar.
The days passed with endless games of monopoly – Lauren still hasn’t won but her desire to play is sadly undiminished – uno and a card game called wizard with complicated scoring that the Germans taught us. Lauren also spent an inordinate amount of time playing with goo.
New Year’s Day was a fairly quiet one, for obvious reasons. No school, so we spent the day hanging out on deck and in the cabin, reading, watching a film (Beethoven, thanks Sive, she loved it), and playing Uno.
The temperature is in the low 30s, and very dry. The haze is constant – a common feature of this part of the world, with dust driving down from the Sahara – to the point where the sun is partly blocked out. We can’t see the coast, and our ‘neighbours’ anchored around us emerge and disappear as the haze waxes and wanes. A number of birds have discovered us and perch up on deck, reluctant to move when we approach. The cricket is still on board, and Lauren visits it every day. As far as I can tell it didn’t eat any of the lettuce she got from the galley for it. I’m hoping I won’t be arranging a burial at sea for it soon – not sure what a healthy cricket looks like but it hasn’t moved in days.
On the 2nd we ‘returned to school’ – always difficult after a break and we both struggled to focus, but we are making good progress and should have finished module 4 (of 8) before we disembark in Montevideo. Lauren is doing her French exam as I write this. I am taking my time with this module, and going over some of the concepts we may have skipped over quite fast in previous modules. After all, we have the time! But we are almost halfway the academic year and fully on schedule. Hopefully the next set of books will be waiting for us in Buenos Aires.
I have no idea what the 5 day delay will do to our eventual arrival in Montevideo – the schedule is definitely padded and more of a notional outline than an actual plan. The captain told me that he can cut two days off our journey from Dakar to Brazil by speeding up, at the expense of more fuel. I’m not bothered in the slightest, after all it doesn’t cost more if we stay on longer, so its effectively free accommodation and board for any extra days, all of which helps the budget. But I guess the people waiting for their containers and brand-new cars might be a bit annoyed. I bet if one of the Mercedes’ on board were for someone important in Dakar, we’d have got into port right away!
We can tell that the catering is suffering somewhat from the delay – one night we had a plate of plain boiled rice for starter, and there is no longer fresh salad. The only fruit now available are very old apples and oranges. We are all getting a bit sick of fish, slices of beef and pasta, and dinner conversations often revolve around what we’d like to be eating instead. We fantasize about chicken, fresh vegetables and anything spicy. To be fair, the food is well cooked and the chef does a good job with what he has on offer, but it’s all fairly bland and similar. One night we got chicken curry and it was wonderful to have something with slightly stronger flavours. Unfortunately, the piri piri is finished (I emptied the last scrapings over my plain boiled rice starter). There is still plenty of wine though.
The enforced quiet time has given us a bit more opportunity to chat to some of the officers on board. One of the few Filipino officers engaged me in a long conversation yesterday as I spent hours holding my phone aloft up by the bridge, at that time of day the best spot for a decent signal. The usual ‘are you a Christian?’ and ‘’where is your husband?’ quickly followed by ‘where is Lauren’s father?’ as well as a more philosophical discussion on the meaning of money and different mindset between us and Filipinos (acc. to him).
I am looking forward to Dakar, and hoping we don’t cut time in port too short so we get at least half a day to stretch our legs.