Saturday, August 4, 2012

And now... for a major recap.

Hm, it seems time got away from me somewhat, and now the cruise is done, we made it to shore, had a great time, and I've already been back in the US for 4 days...

So what all happened at the end, you ask?

Well, we can start with the crossing day... (dun dun DUNNNNNNN) 

I didn't really sleep the night before the crossing day, combination of channel fever (sleeplessness when you know you're on the way home) and excitement for crossing day I expect.  I woke up sometime around 5:30 and was trying to get back to sleep, but around 630 I started hearing the sound of ripping tape, and heard someone putting something on the doors... So naturally I got up, and found that a subpoena from Neptune's court and a name tag had been taped to everyone's door.  My 'wog name' was 'Pyscho Killer Wog', stemming from my lack of remorse for killing the denizens of Neptune's realm... I may have also offered to work as a hired assassin for Neptune on my application form... there are some bad tuna out there... baaaaad tuna... :D

I was one of the only people up and about before 7 am, and it's a good thing too - I got a chance to get dressed in the 'proper' wog attire (shirt on inside out and backwards, and underwear worn outside), eat a bit and get myself 'ready' for the day since right at 7 o'clock, the over the PA system comes a military-type alarm followed by an announcement that all wogs must report to the bow ASAP.  

Nearly all of the science party (~30 people!) were wogs, joined by 3 of the crew, which surprisingly, was the Captain, the Second Mate, and the Second Engineer.  hahahaha.  

Several 'Hail Neptunes' and bows and getting hit with the saltwater hose later, we were lined up and taken up into the Mess, where we had to stand 'quietly' and watch the shellbacks eat breakfast before we were allowed to eat - without silverware (no oatmeal that day~!)

After breakfast, groups of Wogs were assigned different tasks around the ship, hosing down the decks, washing up in the galley, etc.  I was assigned to sweep one of the smaller labs, which went pretty quickly.  

We then gathered to have our crimes read to the court by Davey Jones, and have a defense presented by the lawyer.  It was all rather hilarious - with the Wog names being based on peoples' crimes, and the guy playing the lawyer used to be a journalist, so he was rather creative with all the defenses.  But everyone was guilty (or VERRRRRY Guilty in my and some other cases), so we would all have to pay penance for our crimes against the realm. 

We then got a break to prepare for entertaining Neptune's court.  I had spent 3-4 days working on a skit entitled 'The boy who cried DDAs' as a parody of our research goals, the troubles we've had, and poking fun at particular scientists.  For example, the villagers went to the 'sleeping technician' for advice... who was played by my lab tech, who is known for always sleeping.... It was quite an involved skit, with 14 people in it (including someone playing the river plume - hahaha) but went over rather well.

The Brazilian scientists put together a demonstration of Capoeira, and then the remaining scientists had created a rap... which was awesomely hilarious.   I heard comments from some of the crew that it was the best skits/etc that they'd ever seen for a crossing ceremony.  What can I say, ANACONDAS rocks! :)

After lunch came time for our 'punishments' for our crimes... for which we had to go through whatever it was blindfolded.  The captain went first, and the Chief Scientist went second, and I jumped up to go 3rd.  It had been suggested to me before the cruise that if at all possible, I should go through the line early rather than later... TOTALLY A GREAT SUGGESTION.

The first stop was the 'electric chair'  which was accompanied by a surprise bucket of ice water.

This was followed by a visit to the 'barber' who did have a rather convincing act of buzzing peoples' heads with an electric razor that made you feel like they just took a random patch of hair off your head... followed by normal accoutrements of shaving cream, chocolate sauce and gatorade... 

And then came the belly of the whale.  Let us not speak of what exactly was in the belly of the whale, suffice to say that I was glad that they didn't make me actually go all the way on to my stomach... they'd kind of forgotten that part... teehee...

Nevertheless, I was still covered in a lot of rather unpleasant foodstuff afterwards, and needed a good rinse down as my first act of being a shellback.  

But afterwards, it was mentioned that, well now that you're shellbacks, you can help 'punish' the others... and thats when things got fun... people were getting doused with multiple buckets of water, the cook gave us a tray of eggs... and people were made to seriously roll around in the belly of the whale.  Shenanigans!

All in all a rather entertaining day... the next day we had a BBQ on the fantail of the ship, where we were presented with our certificates and cards proving that we are shellbacks. Huzzah!

On the 28th, we spent a good few hours loading up our shipping container... which for me meant climbing up a jungle gym of boxes inside a metal box in the blazing sun trying to fit all the puzzle pieces together.  It was really really hot in there.  But we made quick work of it, and were all ready to arrive in port...

Pulling into port on the 29th, I was actually up and about for a change to see us arrive in port and watch the crew secure the ship to the dock.

After finishing what loading needed to be done that morning, we quickly ventured out to the local watering hole(s) ;)  where we got much needed refreshments and snacks.

Jake trying flying fish for the first time...

This was soon followed by a game of beach volleyball.... I think I got a little overzealous... because there was a lot of diving into the sand ... laa la la...

We returned to the port later for dinner and the post-cruise party at the port bar... which we followed by discovering a soca (soul-calypso) music concert going on as part of the summer festival season.  Imagine a group of 10 white people (plus one asian) dancing in the middle of a sea of Bajans... it was rather awesome.

We followed this by commandeering a flatbed truck to take us all to our next destination - Harbor Lights bar and nightclub for more dancing and some much needed swimming.  Great day!

The next morning, I got up early again, and went out for a few dives with some scientists and crew... Awesome diving there:

We all moved off the ship, mostly towards the popular St. Lawrence Gap area and met up later for dinner and more fun.  It was a great way to conclude the trip. (except for the part where my hotel screwed up, didn't have a room for me, and I had to make them get me a room at a hotel down the street)

All in all this has been a great series of cruises. The people have been amazing, and the crews we've worked with on the three different ships have all been stellar.  A big thank you to to my lab tech, whose been on all three of these cruises, and to Jake, the undergrad on his first trip, for their efforts.

As I head back into the lab now, I can definitely reflect on these cruises as major events that have had an impact on my life.  Between the people and the science, they've all worked to shape my vision for what I want to do after my PhD and so on.  I'm about to start an intense several months leading up to my eventual dissertation defense next spring, but it'll be okay.  I've got a lot of data and several stories to tell.

Now it's off to the lab and to my computer to wrap up my dissertation before heading out to my next adventure.

So until next time... Cheers All~~!