South of Panama, North of the Equator

Fall New Moon of the Southern Cross

We will spend the next lunar cycle south of the equator so I’m choosing the iconic southern constellation, the Southern Cross, to name its moon.

This day, drizzly and gray, upset one of our fellow passengers, “I’m so disappointed with the weather,” she said, in what I’ve come to recognize instantly as an Australian accent. Not sure how you can be disappointed with the weather. The weather just is. Your hopes about it, your wishes for it, those can be disappointed, but not the weather itself.

Myself, a sorta gray skies and gloomy weather guy to begin with, this counts as good weather, the sort that encourages me to stay inside and write or read. In fact, I’m sorry I’m missing the fall transition toward winter just for that reason. But, understand, I’m not sorry enough to go home.

Thoughts on cruising. Think of a really nice hotel in which you have stayed. Not five stars, but maybe 4. Good food, attentive staff, interesting public areas and a good gym. Add to that several swimming pools, a theatre, a casino, a library with comfortable chairs, clothing, liquor and jewelery stores, a basketball and tennis court, a quarter mile wooded track. Now float all of that on an ocean. That’s a cruise ship. The hotel, a nice hotel, remains constant no matter where on the journey you are.

Now add in the ocean as a constant companion, 11,000 or feet of it where we sail right now, north of Ecuador headed south. The ocean gives the hotel experience a special character, changing it from very nice to special. That, too, is constant.

Also, the hotel moves from port to port and from country to country, culture to culture. Here the advantage lies in the number and variety of countries and cultures experienced, not the depth of the experience. I’ve now been to Santa Marta, Colombia and Panama City, Panama, both places about which I knew virtually nothing and came away from them realizing I would enjoy seeing them more. I also have a fleeting sense of their culture, their daily life, but a fleeting sense rooted in concrete experience rather than travel books or documentaries.

From this point forward Kate and I will collect similar impressions of six more countries: Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, with multiple stops in Ecuador, Peru and Chile. At the end we will have, I’m sure, a gestalt of South America. It will be fungible and impressionistic, but it will have its roots in on the ground experience.

Cruising of this sort, then, provides an overview of a continent, say, with all the limitations of an overview, but with the utility of a solid overview, too.

Back to you after we cross the equator and celebrate Neptune’s realm.

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