No, Thank You. I’ll Pass on the Tear Gas and Paint Instead

Day 86, Grand World Voyage

Thursday, March 30, 2023; Dakar, Senegal.

As we waited in one of the lounges to disembark in Dakar, Senegal, on a private tour, the voice of the captain came over the public address system. We would not disembark in this port. The news was full of stories about political protests in this capital city, and police used tear gas yesterday to disperse the crowds. Getting tear-gassed was not the African experience I wanted. It became a “ship” day, even though we remained moored in the port.

Dakar dock

We expected eight containers of ship and food provisions, but they never came. Perhaps the protests in the port area delayed them. Perhaps someone wanted more money to release them. Whatever the case, the captain told us he hopes the shipments will catch up with us in Europe. Meanwhile, they are working to procure new food provisions in Tenerife, our next port in the Canary Islands.

The captain reassured us that – while we might notice shortages of some specific food items – not to worry, as we have plenty of wine and toilet paper. Some meals remind us a bit of the Food Network show Chopped — the chefs open the limited pantry and become creative in designing the menu.

Normally about the only food shortages I notice are when the fresh blueberries run out. But lately there are some pretty large gaps. The extensive (and wonderful) salad bar is completely devoid of lettuce and salad greens.

It wasn’t a run on salads that led to that shortage, but rather a case of an apparently contaminated shipment. It turns out the gastrointestinal illness that has plagued the Zuiderdam for a few weeks is not a virus, but apparently the result of bad food. Speculation had been rampant – bad oysters on a shore excursion, the filthy pier we walked across in Walvis Bay, the once-dreaded norovirus. Perhaps it was the spinach.

At the same question-and-answer session when Henk, the hotel manager, said the GI culprit seemed to be bad food, he had some good news on a separate subject. When we arrive in Fort Lauderdale on May 12, technicians will come aboard to install equipment for the new Starlink satellite internet access system from SpaceX. Earlier this year Carnival Corp., the owner of Holland America, announced it will expand Starlink to Holland America and other brands. It seems the Zuiderdam and the Zaandam will be the test ships. The May installation will be too late for the Grand World Voyage, but I will be on board until late July and hope it will be operational before then.

Not a minute too early in my opinion. Today as I write we are again without internet service. It has been hit or miss for days. I had today blocked it out for taking care of business, finalizing some tour details for my subsequent cruises and ensuring all my medication orders are, well, on order.

Robbed of the ability to waste time going down internet rabbit holes, I’ve been catching up on watercolors. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques in the sea-day classes led by Deb Arts, and so instead of fast sketches, I’ve filled my sketchbook with more complicated paintings.

Add to that the new daily drawing classes on board, led by our Artist in Residence Benjamin Sack, and I wish my day had more hours for art. As it is, I haven’t been to a lecture, port talk or non-art activity in weeks. With a port-intensive April (only five sea days all month), something may have to give.

A word about Ben Sack. He joined us in Cape Town and jumped right into teaching drawing. We started with circles and have moved on to squares. I think he is trying to sneak in perspective. This isn’t his first Holland America world cruise, and I hope it won’t be his last. In addition to teaching the class, he is apparently working on a large-scale drawing of our journey. It promises to be stunning.

Check out his website to see what I mean.