Day 10 |
Oct 18, 2011

At Sea en route to Cartagena, Colombia

By Claire Allum, Anthropologist

Weather: overcast but bright, hot and humid
Air Temperature: 28 C / 82 F

For breakfast I had pickled herring and lox with some sour cream and capers washed down with some strong coffee. It was to be a day at sea and it was packed with things to do.

I began my day with Claudia’s lecture on “Gulfstreams and Hurricanes: The Weather and Climate Caribbean.” She showed a fascinating animation of cloud movement, air pressure movement and how they correlated with tropical forest and desert parts of the world. She claimed the video gave her goose bumps every time she showed and watched it. She ended her talk predicting that given the general increase in earth temperatures, there would be an increase in the violence of tropical storms in the future. I made a mental note of when “hurricane season” occurs—between June and late November.

At 11:00 I went to the Panorama Lounge to watch Executive Chef Christian and Pastry Chef Anacleto create Gravad Lax and Kaiserschmarren. Christian is a natural on stage. While drizzling honey all over the large salmon fillet and piling on sugar with his hands, his wry off-hand explanations had me laughing. I learned that citrus fruit slices, such as lemon or orange, should not be placed directly upon the salmon meat as it destroys proteins and will turn the flesh mushy. Christian also suggested flavouring both steak and fish with unusual marinades such as vanilla and coffee to produce exotic and delicious barbeques. I intend to try both when I return home to Canada.

Despite its decadently sweet taste and the rum and raisin sauce, Kaiserschmarren must be fairly healthy. It’s a Germanic variation of a crepe or pancake and basically eggs, milk and flour. According to our Austrian on-board botanist, Hans-Peter, it is often eaten as a main course for breakfast or as a “comfort food” when the weather is cold. Chef Anacleto, of course, made the final product look as if it had taken several hours to prepare. The sample plates handed out to guests to taste, looked like miniature art pieces.

At 2:00 in the afternoon Robin, our onboard marine biologist, gave a talk on “The Amazing World of Sharks.” I think my favourite shark was the Fort Jackson shark with its “nutcracker” teeth. I too love a diet of crab and lobster when I can get it. I also found Robin’s images of shark skin with its thousands of tiny teeth or denticules, very interesting. It might explain why, when I was six, and found a dead shark on the beach in Honiara, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, I went home to my mother with a bleeding leg and hands.

Great excitement! Just before teatime, a guest found two small birds on the outside deck of the ship. Patricia, the ornithologist, and Claudia, the climatologist, managed to identify them as a Prothonotary Warbler and a Philadelphia Vireo. They were very small passerines and probably flying from island to island and just taking a little rest on our deck before continuing their voyage. I joined the guests at tea to talk about our little hitchhikers.

After tea, Christian, our historian, gave a talk on “The Spanish Discovery and Use of the Caribbean and Central and South America.” He showed some beautiful old maps to illustrate his talk. It brought home how valiant these early explorers were—heading out into uncharted, or far worse, badly charted waters to find treasures or trade routes for their monarchs.

I watched a brilliant sunset—all white-pink light and curling, convoluted towers of grey cloud before heading for dinner. It will be an early night for me as we have an exciting trip planned for tomorrow in Cartagena.