Traveling

Lughnasa                                                 Waxing Harvest Moon

Another fine day with that clean blue sky we borrow from our Canadian cousins this time of year.  When my family used to go to Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Festival, I came to associate these skies with those crown topped highway signs, the ones that always told me I was in a foreign country.

Canada was my only foreign country visited until 1989 when I joined a group of folks who went to Bogota, Colombia in search of better ways to finance the work of the poor.  Not long after that trip I met Kate.  We honeymooned from the south of Europe to Inverness, Scotland and have been many places since then.

Cruising has its critics, but the upcoming one will be our third and I’ve become a fan.  Yes, it’s true that there is only a brief and often very casual encounter with the countries on the itinerary, a shore excursion or a visit to a local market, perhaps a meal.  And, yes, the travel itself does not take you through a country’s particular geography (except in the instance of the Panama Canal and the river cruises in Europe and those lecture/trek based cruises like ones put on by the National Geographic or a University) though the coast line does offer some sense of the particularity of place.  Yes, you’re traveling in the company of a large number of people, though the actual size varies depending on the ship.  All these things are true.

There are, however, compensations.  A cruise ship at sea moves through the waters of the world ocean, a primal experience not available in any other form of travel.

I discovered on our first cruise that if I got up at 5:30 or 6:00 am, I could visit any part of the ship alone; especially, the Crow’s Nest, a bar/lounge on all Holland American ships set in the bow.  It provides panoramic views as the ship moves ahead, water curling away from the bow and often nothing in view, neither ahead nor behind, to starboard or port, just ocean.

While at sea, too, I find the experience of being on board very calming, a certain zen time that allows for that other aspect of vacation, relaxation, that I so often miss on treks to museums and busy hikes, meals, historic places.  This long voyage will allow for a great deal of calm, a time to purge the system.

Then, too, on this particular trip the ship traverses the wonderful Chilean southern coast line, filled with small islands, glaciers and historic passages like the Straits of Magellan, the Darwin Straits and below them all Cape Horn, places for which a ship is the best way to travel.  As Magellan knew.

It is also time for Kate and me to focus on our life together, dining and relaxing, just enjoying each others company.

This is a trip where the conveyance is a major part of the experience.

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