Final Thoughts - 2013

We’ve been back nearly two months, and I’m just now taking the time to provide a brief wrap-up. I apologize.

 

When we hit San Diego the morning of May 16, we hit with a jolt. After 129 days, it was BACK TO REALITY.  I'm an American, for better or for worse, and here I was back on U.S. soil. I tuned in a local radio station in Phoenix. The national news came on, and I was horrified by some of the things I heard going on in "Fortress America".  And the noise…there was noise everywhere. Video screens flicked from
every doorway. Cars swooshed. Trucks roared. Everything seemed to be vibrating, as if a large unseen generator running underground was about to blow a piston through its cylinder block. A Jimmy Buffett lyric ran crazily through my mind: "Where you gonna be when the volcano blows?" I felt like a modern Flying Dutchman, doomed forever to sail without touching the shores of the land of my previous culture.

 

Now the radar screen was blank on the bridge of the Amsterdam, just an irritating screech of white noise where recently my life goal had glowed so magnificently. We'd just experienced the world's best vacation - two years in a row - and now I was suddenly and unexpectedly experiencing the world's worst case of post-vacation blues.

 

I could write a book about every place we stopped: how friendly the Polynesians were, how sweet the gentle Balinese, how gracious the smiling people of Thailand. How long would it be before I sail back to French Polynesia, or Borneo and its orangutan-inhabited rain forests?  To Madagascar and its leaping lemurs?  To Africa and the naked, smiling drummers? Oh…and the 2-day African safari – unsurpassed & almost impossible to describe. Turn on National Geographic, and there you have it. New Zealand was pristine, with virtuous people to match. Australia was mesmerizing – so diverse in culture & landscape. The beauty of Bali - the food of Thailand, the stench of Manila & Bombay. There was the madness of Vietnam, the angelic children in moody Madagascar, the awful racism of South Africa, lovely St. Helena, mysterious Devil’s Island.

 

I'd felt so alive while onboard the Amsterdam! As if life itself were a sensuous, delicious electricity embracing my body, as if our engines weren't merely propellers but long magic wands connecting me directly to Mother Ocean. How can I explain what surfing atop the breaking crest of a 40-60 foot ocean wave feels like such as we experienced off South America?

 

Even the worst moments of our circumnavigation were riveting: the threat of pursuit by pirates in the Strait of Malacca - hitting Australia's Great Barrier Reef - being surrounded by violent thugs in Southeast Asia - the close encounters with Komodo Dragons.

 

More than anything, my greatest enjoyment was sharing all the special moments with my wife and best friend, Cheryl, and the many, truly wonderful people we met onboard. Indeed, all friends for life.

 

Now it’s over…until we sail again in January, 2015. Many new ports, places, & people. I’m counting the days – 548!

The Good...The Bad...& The Ugly

Most Beautiful - Most Inspirational

 

In no particular order, these destinations are a combination of beauty, cleanliness, friendly people, & inspiration.

 

Richard’s Bay, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Walvis Bay, Namibia

Auckland, New Zealand

Sydney, Australia

Albany, Australia

Hobart, Australia

Adelaide, Australia

Puerto Princessa, Philippines

Hong Kong

Singapore

Nosy Be, Madagascar

Maputo, Mozambique

Easter Island

Bora Bora, Tahiti

Rotorua, New Zealand

Napier, New Zealand

Bali, Indonesia

Perth, Australia

Devil’s Island, French Guiana

St. Lucia

Victoria, Seychelles

Nuku Alofa, Tonga

San Martin, Peru

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Aruba

Langkawi, Malaysia

 

Nice, But No Desire to Return

In no particular order, these destinations are adequate, and in some cases very nice, but are overshadowed & secondary to the ports listed above.

 

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

Corinto, Nicaragua

Ascension Island

Jamestown, St. Helena

Manta, Ecuador

Phuket, Thailand

Durbin, South Africa

Papette, Tahiti

Morea, Tahiti

Wellington, New Zealand

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Picton, New Zealand

Kangaroo Island

Columbo, Sri Lanka

Huatulco, Mexico

 

Dirty Surroundings, Urban Decay – No Desire to Return

Ujung Padang, Indonesia

Fortaleza, Brazil

Belem, Brazil

Manila, Philippines

Lima, Peru

Cartagena, Columbia

 

Extremely Rude Residents

Udung Padang, Indonesia

Fortaleza, Brazil

Belem, Brazil