At Sea, Heading to Mainland Spain

There was a saying in ancient Greece. When the gods are angry, the Mediterranean is like an ocean; when they are happy, it is like a pond. As we began sailing west towards Spain last night, the gods must have been very angry with someone for something. A violent electrical storm in our wake lit up the dark sky with dazzling natural fireworks. “It’s the most spectacular display I’ve ever seen” was the comment of one of our guests. And it truly was magnificent and humbling at the same time. But fortunately for us, the gods remained happy with the National Geographic Endeavour. Our night passage into the open waters of the western Mediterranean was tranquil, as the storm we had witnessed for about an hour off our stern never caught up with us.

The dawning of the day brought us a full plate of weather. A brief, multihued sunrise yielded to cloudy skies then to intermittent rain ranging from a gentle mist to a deluge accompanied by with some hail. Gusts of 40 miles per hour buffeted our ship from time to time, and the sea rose to four-meter waves and then settled down to a more moderate following swell. Nature provided something for everyone!

But the fickle weather did not deter our hardiest guests, who began the morning with their usual stretching exercises led by Gil, our wellness specialist. Our daily schedule also included three lectures by William, Robyn and me. We also had our first disembarkation briefing and an extensive recap of the last several days. In between these events, our ingenuous chefs surprised us with a Swedish lunch along with a song to our health thrown in as well. Teatime between afternoon lectures provided another Swedish taste treat – traditional pancakes with every imaginable topping!

But for those who wanted time alone to reflect on the wondrous things we have seen or to think about Granada ahead, there was the luxury of a whole day at sea. Today offered a pause for all who wanted one. There was time for those postcards that we had forgotten to write, for that book we have been reading in fits and starts during our busy itinerary, and for some moments to begin to process all that we have seen and learned. Our day at sea afforded opportunities for those precious interludes of solitude and contemplation all too rare in our respective “real” worlds. In its own way, our day on a sea of many faces was uniquely special.