Saturday 30 July 2016


Cartegena, Wednesday 27th July

Zika Virus Health Advisory. We have been advised to cover up and apply insect repellent because we are now going into that zone.  Thankfully only 1 in 5 people infected experience nasty consequences including fever, headache, skin rash, joint pain, red eyes and in extreme cases Guillain-Barre syndrome.  We have also been made aware that it can be sexually transmitted.  No problem there then!

Having read that and considering I came here last year and how hellishly hot it is out there I respectfully decided not to go to Cartegena today.  Instead I chilled out on the ship, wandering around until I came across the maddest thing I have ever seen in my life. A large group of mixed age and sex people all playing Ukuleles, singing “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane”.  Ah! this must be the
“Common Interest Group: Intermediate Ukulele. Join you follow passengers to discuss a common interest or two“. 
I am yet to find the
“Common Interest Group: New Vogue Sequence Dancers.  Join you follow passengers to discuss a common interest or two“. 
I dread to think what this is all about.

Panama Canal, Thursday 28th July

Today is cooler, unlike when we did the Panama Canal transit last year, and it was possible to stay on desk to observe the whole spectacle.  We entered the first of three locks, the Gatun Lock, at 07:30, the second, the Pedro Miguel Lock at 13:30 and the last lock, the Miraflores Lock at 15:45. Hard to describe except to say that there were only a few inches lea-way each side of the ship which took precision driving.  Oh! And I was invited to take part in the Intermediate Ukulele Common Interest Group.

Mantra, Equador, Saturday 30th July

As we arrived at dawn this morning we could see all the lights from a multitude of tuna fish trawlers lining up to off load their catch.  Quite a sight. 

This village suffered a devastating earthquake in April.  My facts might be slightly dodgy because wifi is not good on the ship and I can’t check this statistic out but I’m sure our tour expert said 700 people were killed. 

We are the first cruise ship to land here since then so we were encouraged to spend money to help the local economy. Being the compliant person that I am I took the free shuttle bus into town where I immediately bought 3 panama hats. 

One little known fact is that although they are called “panama hats” they are actually made here in Manta but were originally sold to the merchants etc passing through panama before it became a canal otherwise they might have been called panama canal hats. I think I may call this cruise “My Hat Trip”.

I did dabble with taking a selfie of me in one of my hats but I look so daft that I decided not to inflict that image on anyone.  Hats really do no suite me, in fact not much does suite me.  But I did my bit for the village. 

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