National Geographic Orion
After a delightful late evening of entertainment by the crew of National Geographic Orion , a morning at sea is most welcome, letting us gather our spirits before the heart-wrenching separation and the return to "normal" life, at least for a while, in wait for the next cruise or expedition to come back to exciting discoveries about our fellow travelers: the animals, plants and people that inhabit the same piece of rock traveling through space, going its way around the sun at close to a thousand kilometer per hour, our private star itself moving through space with our galaxy, in a very long galactic dance which tempo escapes our intuition. How little our daily lives squabbles, our lofty ideals and grand machinations seem when compared to the scale of the universe and what we have learnt in the last century. They are like the waves on the surface of the ocean our ship traverses, seemingly infinite and yet necessarily encountering the shore at some point of their travel, their weaving patterns may appear regular and predictable, and yet the seasoned navigator has learnt not to be lulled in the false security of familiarity. My mind keeps going back to the first sailors that took to the waters in search of new routes in these parts of the world, what paradigm shifts they were facing, forced to replace a world-view where the local had an overriding importance and arbitrary rules often constructed on crude observations and simple belief systems shaped the perception of the universe. Wandering minds and thoughtful expressions could often be observed today, as guests and staff started exchanging email addresses to keep in touch, packing bags, returning the borrowed snorkeling or diving equipment. There was an underlying sadness to those mundane tasks, reminding everyone that the expedition is nearing its final destination. For a while, our minds were transported to different worlds by Chris Rainier on his presentation “In Search of the Sacred,” and then by Carl Safina introducing an award-winning episode from his PBS series “Saving the Ocean” about Pemba Island in Tanzania. After lunch, our taste buds were challenged by Kristy Leissle playing Dr. Chocolate, who presented us with chocolate samples including some from Madagascar. The evening opened with a slide-show presented by David Cothran, featuring all the photos contributed by the guests on the expedition. Much rejoicing was had by all, as moments of the trip were highlighted by everyone’s photos and fond fresh memories and emotions were brought to the fore. The Captain of the National Geographic Orion , Lyubomir Garciyanov, invited us all for farewell drinks and then a farewell dinner was served.