Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I slept late this morning and soundly. I did not hear the bridge announcement that we were docked and the tours were departing. When I went on deck, just making the buffet line as the food stations were being closed, I had never seen the ship with so few passengers in the public rooms. I am sure that there were many, like me, who did not go ashore, but were sick abed in their cabins. At the concert last night the ship’s doctor announced that a mild stomach virus was going around but he felt that all was needed was a day of bed rest and lots of fluids. So far it has not caught up with me, but I expect it will eventually.

I was pleased with my decision to turn in my City Tour Ticket for today. It was oppressively hot, with not a breath of air, and the buses were not air conditioned. I also was sure that my upper thigh muscles were not up to climbing those fifty steep stairs down from deck five or back up. It took me almost two days to recover from the Manaus excursion.

I brought along my book to read in the only shady and relatively cool spot I could find on the pool deck (the pool was still empty because of the mosquito problem) and planned to settle in for a quiet morning. Suddenly, John, the lapidary man, showed up with “There’s Jackie.” When he left me the last time he said he would be on the lookout for me, as he was interested in getting the address of a WEB site I had recommended to him on gemology. As we chatted I learned more about his future plans. He had retired from his position as a traveling salesman for a photography studio and was currently enrolled in a geology course at a University in New Jersey. After completing two year of study he planned to go into thermal geology or open his own mining company. I knew little about thermal geology or its purpose, and was surprised to learn that it was a way of finding and capturing thermal heat as an alternative energy source. As he described it, it was like creating a nuclear power plant without the use of uranium. Greenland is one of the best areas for this type of exploration, but there were many other areas around the world as well.

Before he left we got into a lengthy discussion about the Cargill Corp. which had come into the Santarem area and cut down the forest to establish large soy bean farms. Right off the bow of our ship, adjacent to the dock was a huge Cargill soybean processing and shipping plant. Until two days ago I had never heard of Cargill and the controversial harvesting and exporting of soybean. During a recent lecture on Santorem, an ecologist described how Greenpeace has been actively protesting and campaigning against Cargill for destroying the rainforest. Greenpeace is devoted to saving the environment, the ecologist was unhappy with the project for additional reasons—Cargill had promised to improve the economy by developing job opportunities, but this did not turn out to be the case, as so much of the harvesting and processing was automated. What is had done is displaced the native population, destroying their homes and way of life by destroying the food supply in their forests.

Cargill is taking a lot of money out of \Brazil, but like the robber barons of the past, may not be contributing enough to the economic welfare of the country. This is a serious problem and I would like to learn more about what is happening in Brazil because of deforestation. I am sure in the next several days there will be more lectures on this topic.

After he left, I headed inside to find a cooler reading area, and stopped to say hello to Ann, my fellow airline passenger, who was talking with the husband of the Utah genealogist I had met the other evening. The man, a Southern Baptist, who joined the Mormon church when he married, was an encyclopedia on the Mormon Missionary project in Brazil. He had gone through a Missionary training program on the history and culture of Central America (he knew all the dates and events in Mexican Indian history to almost prehistoric times and offered a brief course in the Aztec religion as viewed by the Mormon Church.) I am fairly knowledgeable about the history and culture of Mexico’s indigenous people—and I could see that his facts were accurate, but the conclusions he drew from them of course were colored by the thinking of the church and somewhat different than what I had been taught—but I listened to him patiently and offered no comment. He also talked a great deal about the Mormon proselytizing in the rainforests of the Amazon and his opinion regarding the future of the native population and the treatment it was receiving from the Brazilian government. Ann, who is from Minnesota added her comments on the history of our Indian tribes in local reservations, how poorly they had been treated in the past, and their return to prosperity because of their gambling casinos in Minnesota.

This was truly a day of exploring the thoughts of fellow travelers. This evening, at dinner, I was seated with a husband and wife who were both ophthalmologists. He came from Toronto, she from Mexico, and living in the Washington, DC area. He has three grow children, also in the profession. This was his second marriage and he had met his wife when she was a student in one of his classes in a University in Washington where he still teaches. They both share a private practice. This evening I not only learned a lot about ophthalmology, I found out more about the Canadian medical system, which is not working well, and what could be done to salvage our own failing system. I had planned to eat early to make the 7PM national geographic movie “Amazon. The land of the flooded forest” , but he was such a delightful conversational that we did not leave the dinner table until long after the movie had started.

This has been entirely like no other cruise I have been on. In the past I made sure to select trips which offered landfall almost daily. The thought of spending long, uninteresting days with nothing to see but the vast ocean and nothing to hold my interest (ice carving exhibits, art auctions, napkin folding, food decoration, an occasional movie, the casino, the Vegas style entertainment) bothered me. These days I look forward to our days at sea because they have been so stimulating. Tomorrow is another full day of lectures and good conversation.


  1. Dear Jackie,

    I enjoyed every moment of your experience yesterday. How did you chose this tour?


  2. i read your blog and think about how amazing this trip must be, and yet it is so different than any other trip i remember you having taken. i am happy to hear that you are enjoying the solo travel the way that you are! maybe this wont be jackie's last hurrah afterall. maybe another one is in store for next year?