Having left Tenerife, sailing South West we encountered some of the other Canary Islands at some distance.
The next day we sailed through the Cape Verde Islands, including an incredible volcanic mountain that rose straight out of the Atlantic. It is amazing that the view we had was no different to that of the explorers 400 years ago as they sailed South along the West African coast. It is also incredible to imagine the lifestyles of the inhabitants of these islands, so remote and seemingly pristine.
By the time we were into day 3 of the crossing I knew that Cruise Holidays were the way ahead for me – there is something very relaxing about not having to think any more than you want to….. and on a cruise it seems that you certainly don’t have to!
On Molly’s Birthday, 2 October, we crossed the equator. I tried to explain to Molly before hand that this would be a big event but she wasn’t so sure – she seemed to think it was about as fascinating as Trainspotting, Planespotting or reading the technical specifications of motorbikes - I just don’t get 10 year old girls!
Anyway, as a 10 year old, she was uncertain, but having turned 11 and joining the faithful few who volunteered to parade with King Neptune to gain the ship passage south of the equator, Molly soon realised that this would be a special occasion making for a very special birthday.
Firstly we were ushered away to the privacy of the ships top floor disco. Then we were painted in a way that made us a look a little ridiculous and a lot different to the rest of the passengers. Then those burley men amongst us were handed a flag to carry and off we went to parade with King Neptune, his maiden and a particularly ugly looking squid. The entire ship watched on as we escorted Neptune to the pool, were baptized with champagne, kissed the squid and then awaited the Captains offerings……………
Firstly Neptune felt the ship was not ready to cross, so the faithful were doused with milk. Still not ready, the Captain offered to cover us with flour, then vegetable shortening (think really smelly, greasy, fluffy cream). Then tomatoes, still not ready so time for cocoa powder and then raw eggs.…then we were ready. Not really the pool party you want to be a part of but fortunately the pools on the ship simply flush out and then refill from which ever sea or ocean we were sat in. By the evening there was a clean pool and mostly all clean passengers again.
Our first sight of Brazil was not the mainland but a series of 3 islands named the Fernando de Noronha, 345km from the mainland. The main island is reasonably substantial but still no more than a few kilometers long and less than a kilometer across. Clear traces of the volcanic origins exist in the from of vertical plugs of rock towering above the rest of the island, yet the golden beaches were obvious and I guess the absence of black sand shows how old the islands must be. The life on these islands, as with the Cape Verde Islands, must be both idyllic and maddening at the same time – for me they look to be the perfect place to visit on a 40 foot yacht.
Next stop, Northern Brazil!