Friday, March 4, 2011

In a new ocean

We spent an entire day passing through the Panama Canal, and then we were in the Atlantic!  I had a free morning in Panama so I went to the beach with a couple of the English teachers onboard.  In Cartagena, Colombia I visited a dance school that teaches low-income kids to become world class dancers, and in Trinidad (Trinidad and Tobago) I went to a steel pan factory and learned how that instrument is manufactured.  I haven't had time for blogging, but you can read my articles about the ports and more on Peace Boat's website.  Now we are crossing the Atlantic, heading for the Canary Islands.  In a few days we'll be at the mid-way point around the world.
Due to the war going on in Libya, we won't be stopping there, and we will instead spend an extra day in Naples.  It looks like things have settled down in Egypt and we will be able to go there, and if everything works out with visas and government permission we will also make a quick stop in Saudi Arabia!
Onboard, I'm busy with events and writing articles.  I gave a talk on migrant farm workers a few days ago.  Also, I have a volunteer Japanese teacher (classes started last week), and amazingly I have a lot more opportunity to practice Japanese here on the ship than I ever did in Japan.  I try to go to dinner by myself rather than with other volunteers.  That way I get seated with passengers, and they are always happy to try to chat with me in Japanese.  I've been improving at making basic conversation.  Many of the passengers are retired people, and since older Japanese people tend to speak less English, and they have lots of time, they make good conversation partners for me.
Here's a picture of a performance at the dance school in Cartagena, and one of me climbing up on the top deck of the ship trying to get a good shot of the Panama Canal locks.

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