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31 December 2000 Year in Review

January-February: We celebrate New Years' 2000 in Antigua with  champagne and dancing and the harbor lit up with fireworks at midnight.  Ed's Aunt Esther dies at the age of 92, and we fly to the US, sorry  to see her go, but enjoy visiting everyone.

 

March-April: Trinidad for Carnival. The limbo is unbelievable /  impossible with dancers going under a bar balanced on coke bottles.  Nothing but their feet touch the floor. Lots of "people floats":  people dressed in fabulous costumes so elaborate that they're on  wheels. J'Ouvert where we dress up in old clothes and spend the night  dancing in the streets ducking mud and paint which is liberally tossed  at anyone who stands still for more than a second. In the wee hours of  the morning we troop to MacDonald's for a little bit of home and  sanity. Then to bed to sleep until the next night's festivities. What  a ball! What fun! What noise! Would we do it again? We doubt it.  Trinidad is really part of South America that broke off not so long  ago and is now separated by a gulf. The flora and fauna are South  American including the birds, the butterflies and the howler monkeys.  They have bird sanctuaries, trips to see flocks of scarlet ibises come  back every evening, beach sanctuaries where giant turtles come to lay  their eggs every spring, hikes into the mountains every Sunday, and one  of the nicest swimming beaches in the Caribbean.  The cruisers get together for parties, or to help the locals.  English is the common language, but boats come here from many  countries, displaying a wide variety of flags to look up.  Food is delicious, and inexpensive. We can eat a good meal out  for Trinidad $30TT, less than $5US. Boatwork is inexpensive and the  workers are competent.  In late April we haul the boat and...

 

May-July: fly to Europe to see the midnight sun. We spend a little  over two months and have a wonderful trip. London in a heat spell.  We're not sure we saw any Londoners. Everyone we talk to is a  tourist and just as lost as we are. A train to Edinburgh, Scotland  through golden fields of flowering grapeseed. As we go farther north  the fields become stone and the grapeseed turns to yellow flowering  gorse. In Edinburgh they still drop a ball from a tower at noon  everyday so the ships in the harbor can set their watches. The town is  stone. Everywhere and everything is stone.  A train south to Newcastle to catch an overnight ferry to  Bergen, Norway where we get on the mailboat to Hammerfest, the  northernmost city in the world. We're north of Barrow, Alaska. A  lake, 200 feet above sea level, is still frozen and there's lots of  snow in the hills. Our room faces north and the midnight sun shines in  all night. There is never a twilight or any pink clouds. We rent a  car and drive to Nordkapp, the northern most point in Norway where we  watch the sun glide over the Arctic Sea at midnight.  After a week in Hammerfest, we take the mailboat back to Bergen and  catch a train over the mountains to Oslo. Up and up we go through  tunnel after tunnel (107 by the time we're finished). More and more  snow until we're in six feet of snow and there are glaciers all around.  We go over the top and it's spring. Green, flowers, sun. Oslo is in a  protected bowl and the climate is lovely. There's a ten foot yellow  rose bush in the park across from our hotel. The sun sets here and we  have four hours of twilight with a luminous blue sky.  The ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen is the largest ship we've been  on. Copenhagen is a mixture of beautiful old buildings dating from  1000AD to the very modern with a sprinkling of decay mixed in. People  told us that it was full of drugs and we had to be careful, but as  usual we walk around everywhere and no one bothers us.  The train to Basel, Switzerland crosses to Germany on a ferry. We  spend three days in Davos, three days in Zermatt, and three days in  Montreux. Davos is ski country. We take a cable car to the top and  walk down -- two and a half hours. At the bottom there's a little  restaurant with the best ice cream. As we eat a cowherd comes down the  road followed by his cows with all their bells ringing. The Glacier  Express train takes us to Zermatt which is famous for the Matterhorn.  Three cable cars to go up to the Little Matterhorn where people are  still skiing. Snow covered mountains surround us. Another train  through mountains to Montreux on the east end of Lake Geneva in French  Switzerland. A micro climate keeps the weather mild enough for  oleanders to bloom. The walk along the lake is a flower garden. This  is our favorite place.  A train to France and Paris where we spend six days. The  collection of art in the Louvre leaves us in awe. The Picasso gallery  a few blocks away stretches the imagination and a day up the Eiffel  tower stretches the view over Paris. We had begun to learn our way  around, walking along the river Seine. Another place we'd like to  spend a year or so.  We catch a train to St. Malo and rent a car to see Mont Saint  Michel with the tide racing in.  A ferry to Poole, England and then a train to Liverpool. England  is fields with little towns scattered around. We never see a  megalopolis. Cities end and fields begin. Liverpool is on the Mercy  River which is a beautiful protected harbor. We board a freighter at  night and the next morning we're locked out of the harbor. The  Atlantic Ocean looks like the Chesapeake Bay on a calm day. We're  allowed the run of the ship and spend a good part of each twenty four  hours on the bridge, especially when a pilot is on board. When we go  up the James River to Richmond, the pilot never once looks at a chart.  As we go around one S bend the pilot tells the helmsman to make 43  course changes.  We leave the ship, rent a car to drive to Maryland, and start our  US visit.

 

July-August: We drive from Maryland to North Carolina to Alabama to  Florida visiting family: Amy, Halle, and Ruth in Maryland, Shelby,  Emily and Andy in Fuquay Varina, NC outside of Raleigh, Dale in Bryson  City in the mountains, Elizabeth in Birmingham who surprises us by  getting married, Joe and Shirley Cain in Tallahassee from Goddard past,  and then Wendy's brother Gerry and Marianne in Pompano Beach.  September-October: We fly from Miami to Trinidad on Sept. 7 and spend  two weeks getting the SPACESHIP Earth ready to sail again. With new  bottom paint we sail up and down the west coast in the Gulf of Paria.  At anchor one morning the boat bumps up and down several times as if we  were being lifted then dropped. A 6.4 earthquake somewhere in the  island sent 5 or 6 shock waves that raised and dropped all the water  and the whole island -- what power! So now we've had a volcano and an  earthquake. What next? Wary of pirate stories in Venezuela and off  Honduras we sail out the Dragon's Mouth and go north, up the Windward  Islands.

 

November-December: A beautiful overnight sail seventy miles to Grenada  where we spend a month anchored off Calivigny Island protected from the  sea by outlying reefs. Farther north to the Tobago Cays, a lagoon with  the Atlantic booming on the reefs.  On to Bequia where we suffered the swells of Lenny last year. No  Lenny this year.  Back (home?) to Antigua for another Christmas. It's all still  here. Green hills surround Falmouth Harbor, Pigeon beach with happy  people, the champagne is still cold, and to our surprise everyone  remembers us from visits in the past. To the west, the belching  volcano on Montserrat Island still animates the view and mixes its  wonder with the passing puffy tradewind clouds.  We on board SPACESHIP Earth hope that you have sailed gentle seas  with rainbows over your bow and that you are looking forward to  unwrapping the package that is your future.

 

Happy New Year!

Love, Ed and Wendy

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