We have crossed the prime meridien, the equator and are due course to Cape Town, South Africa!
Two days ago, Sepetember 17, 2011, was Neptune Day for us. This is the day we crossed the Equator and according to Maritime traditions or Semester at Sea traditions I am not entirely sure which one, but I believe its the former, we must pay tribute to Neptune when we cross the equator.
The pay tribute, we were woken up by the crew dressed in their greek togas banging drums and tamberines and knocking on our doors at 7:30AM. By 8:30AM they made an announcement asking everyone to head to the outdoor pool deck. Everyone was gathered around the pool and there were a few buckets with contents that were being stirred by some of the crew.
Then came the procession of the leaders. Our Captain was dressed as Neptune and painted in green, our executive dean was painted in green and dressed as the queen. They were followed by some of the faculty and staff and some of the crew. We were introduced to the process of initiation. We were to step into the shallow pool and get blue liquid poured on us (on some voyages they used actual fish guts or oatmeal), then we would jump into the main pool, climb out, kiss a fish (a real fish), bow to the queen and kiss Neptune’s ring. We could be further honored by donating our hair, meaning getting our heads shaved to donate our hair to charity (I did not do this).
After realizing that I needed to have a swimsuit on, I went back to my cabin to change and then came out and got ready to be initiated. All the while people were already initiated and began getting their heads shaved. The blue liquid was chilly, and I’m pretty sure it was just water with blue food coloring. The pool water was even more chilly, the line got long so I was in the pool for a while before I climbed out and kissed the fish, not thinking that countless people had already kissed it before me, I forgot to bow to the queen but I kissed the ring and was initiated nonetheless.
I then ventured to watch people get their heads shaved and saw many of my female friends bravely shave off their long hair. As this was going on loud and exciting music was playing and a spontaneous dance party kicked off on the pool deck and in the pool. It was great fun, and like one of my professors said in class today, we all learned that Semester at Sea students can party anytime, anywhere and we dont need alcohol to do it!
It was a great way to start off the day that was meant to be fully devoted to studying. After calming down from the high and after feeding myself with lunch I did go do some work.
It was a fun day, and definitely an exciting and good tradition to have at sea!