Crossing the Line

When we got up this morning, we noticed that the Braemar was barely moving and that the water was definitely a light ‘muddy’ colour – we were at the mouth of the Amazon!

After breakfast Trevor got his handheld GPS and we went up on deck.  Sure enough, the GPS reading showed that we were 00° 03′ South – so we were now in the southern hemisphere! 🙂  This now makes us “Sons of Neptune”, or Trusty Shellbacks, the old Naval nickname they have given to sailors who have crossed the Equator.

The ship dropped anchor as we had to wait for the pilot from Macapá to board the vessel, and for the ship to be cleared. This meant we spent a good couple of hours at anchor, which allowed us to take in our surroundings.

Macapá is a town at the mouth of the Amazon that lies exactly on the Equator.  It boasts the only football stadium in the world to be on the Equator, where the two halves of the field are in two different hemispheres.

The weather was hot and sunny and we decided to do some sunbathing, so we returned to our cabin for our swimming things and books.  Then we sat up on Deck 8 by the pool in the Equatorial sunshine.  We could see the lush, dense greenery on either side of the river.  Small boats and barges were going to and fro, and Macapá looked as though it were quite a busy place.

I decided to have a long, cool mojito and (briefly!) thought about what I would have been doing if I’d not been on holiday.  Sitting at my desk in front of my computer, no doubt, looking out at the cold, grey English weather.  Instead I was sipping cocktails on the Equator – unreal or what?!  🙂

At lunchtime we decided to go and get out of the sun; “mad dogs and Englishmen” and all that, so we headed back to 7054 to change.  On the way back, we spotted something black moving in the water, and stopped for a closer look.  It was a dolphin!  Every now and again its dorsal fin would break the surface of the water before it went deeper, no doubt looking for fish.  We watched it for a while before going for lunch.

Mid-afternoon the Braemar gave a single blast of her foghorn and started moving again.  It was very pleasant watching the jungle scenery at the riverbanks, interspersed every now and again by small villages consisting of mainly wooden buildings, some on stilts.  Also, because we were no longer in the open sea, the ship’s movement was barely discernible.

The dress code for this evening was “tropical”.  This gave the men the chance to wear their most garish Hawaiian shirt, and the ladies to dress up with bright colours and wear flowers in their hair.  We noticed that the sunrise and sunset in the equatorial regions gave approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness, so it was around 6.30pm when the sun went down.

With the darkness came the creepy-crawlies!  As the darkness fell in the rainforest, every manner of flying bug was attracted by the bright lights of the ship as she glided through the muddy waters.  We could see the lights on deck through the windows, and they were black with moths, flies and other insects.  The decks were covered in them!  When someone opened the door to come in, a cloud of mozzies followed them.  We would certainly not be leaving our balcony door open tonight!  🙂

The show in the Neptune Lounge that night was entitled “The Heat Is On” and featured the Braemar Show Company, singing sunny, summery, tropical songs and dancing.  It was certainly cheerful.  Well, it was the tropical themed night, after all.

Then, in the Skylark Club, the quiz was based on tropical subjects, so asked a lot of questions about the Caribbean, such as which group of islands does Tortola belong to?  Answer:  British Virgin Islands.  We did quite well in the quiz as we’ve been to lots of places in the Caribbean, but we were narrowly pipped at the post by another team, so no bottle of wine tonight.  😦

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