Today we hit another huge milestone. We crossed the equator at 11:46 am and are now back in the northern hemisphere. Last time we crossed the equator we skipped the silly ceremonies and celebrated with champagne. This time there was no celebration at all. It was just too rough and we weren’t feeling festive. We simply counted down and then went back to what we were doing once the big moment had passed. Some shellbacks we are.
Sea conditions are still identical as reported for the last 6 days — absolutely miserable. We try to be grateful for the fact that conditions are not hellacious, like the first three days we were at sea, but it is hard. The good news is that our bodies have finally adjusted. We can read and watch movies again. This definitely helps make the time go by faster, though even with entertainment, the days still drag on painfully slow. It is still very difficult to walk around the boat, and yes, we still need to hold on with two hands at every moment to stay steady. Being in the bathroom is the worst. It takes two hands to pull your pants up, and in the two seconds it takes to pull, you are inevitably slammed against the wall. You also are not holding onto the boat when you wash your hands, and once again you are invariably slammed hard against the wall. And we won’t even get into the creative use of elbows for leverage while you are on the pot. Showers in and of themselves aren’t too bad, thanks to the seat in the shower. But toweling off is precarious and spending a lot of time in the bathroom encourages seasickness.
We had only expected to be at sea for 8 days and now we are at day 12. Last night we ran out of all of our heat and serve (whether oven or microwave) meals in the fridge and freezer. Don’t panic — we aren’t starving. But we have been reduced to eating canned foods, which isn’t our favorite. We’re also eating up our precious stores of Clif and Lara bars and other meal replacement foods that we normally save for day trips where we are not 100% sure of restaurant availability.
And time for answers to a couple of blog questions:
Q: What is the name of the corrupt president you wrote about in Welcome to Kupang, Indonesia?
A: The corrupt president is named Suharto (we have also seen it spelled Soeharto). During his years as president, he and his family and close business associates acquired huge business empires, supported with prime government contracts. Examples are Suharto’s children won construction contracts where millions were skimmed off the top and school children were required to wear shoes manufactured by a company Suharto’s grandson owns. They also controlled many monopolies. They are still prominent and powerful today.
Q: You didn’t mention East Timor is Catholic in Welcome to Kupang.
A: In a later post, we briefly mentioned that both the islands of Timor and Flores were originally colonies of Portugal before the Dutch seized control of Flores and the western half of Timor. The Portuguese made huge missionary efforts and as a result, the largest percentage of the population of all the islands they occupied are Catholic. The Dutch never tried to disguise their greed with piousness, and they made absolutely no missionary efforts until shortly before WWII. They succeeded in converting a smattering of people throughout Indonesia to Protestantism before losing the territory to Japan. The western islands had active trade with India from the beginning of the trade days, and many islands converted to Hinduism early on. With the rise of Islam in India, many Indonesian islands again converted to Islam, though not all, such as Bali. The many Chinese who have moved to Indonesia have held on to their Buddhist roots. And many islands in Eastern Indonesia have never converted from their original animist religion practiced prior to the introduction of other religions in the area. As you can see, Indonesia is incredibly diverse religiously. The islands with the densest population centers, such as Java, are all Muslim, so there is a huge concentration of Muslims in a relatively small geographical area.