A Life on the Ocean Wave

Trip Start Jul 29, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
La Posada

Flag of Uruguay  , Río Negro,
Saturday, September 14, 2013

Latest news . . . 
After four and a half weeks at sea we finally landed in Montevideo yesterday morning. We kicked our heels for a couple of hours waiting for the officials to process paperwork and then we were free to go. Having sweltered at 30 degrees in Buenos Aires last Tuesday we came down to earth with a bit of a bump as the wind has changed and cold air from the south has brought low temperatures and rain.
Together with Gerhard and Karin from Germany, with whom we had travelled from Hamburg, we made our way east along the Uruguayan coast, in search of a campsite. Having tried several we had to accept that, as it is still only very early Spring at this latitude, the campsites are not yet open and so we checked into a small hotel for the night. We were the only guests and it was very clear that the rooms had not been aired since the end of the previous season, but we were glad to have a bed for the night and a hot shower in the morning

A life on the ocean wave
Our floating hotel, for the past month, was the Grande Senegal, a 300 meter cargo ship of the Grimaldi line. There were 27 crew, one third of whom were Italian and the rest Filipino, and 10 passengers, of whom 4 were German, 3 French, 1 Dutch and ourselves. We had the best of fun with the Germans, meeting them after dinner each evening for Casino Time, when we variously played Whist or Rummy. The crew could not do enough for us and we only had to make a request and it was attended to immediately. We had not expected this level of attention, given that the vessel was carrying cargo worth around 60 million Euros. We had thought that the passengers would come quite low in the order of priorities, but it certainly did not feel like that. We were told to make ourselves at home and we had guided tours of all the different parts of the ships with explanations of the whole enterprise.
We were always made welcome on the bridge where the Captain and crew were generous with their time and made a point of sharing information with us and explaining some of the technicalities of navigation and the intricacies of merchant shipping. We became used to checking the speed, wind direction and strength; watching the radar for other activity in the area; looking at our position on both screens and charts; and listening in when contact was made with ports and pilots.

Accommodation and Entertainment
Our cabin was quite comfortable and adequate and it quickly felt like home. The steward cleaned it daily and made the beds and he also waited on us at meals. There were laundry facilities for passengers and we had the use of a table tennis table and exercise bike. When in port we watched cargo being loaded and unloaded. We both read several books and we watched a couple of TV series. As we passed close to the Canary Islands we were delighted to hear by email of the safe arrival of Liam's twin grandchildren, Adam and Luisa. Our German friends joined us in the evening to wet the babies' heads.

We made it a priority to learn a bit of Spanish almost every day. We had two sets of tutorial CD's. From the Paul Noble set we learned to say 'donde esta el camping' (where is the campsite?) and from Michel Thomas we learned to say 'tiene un opinion de la situation politico y economico en Argentina' (what is your opinion of the political and economic situation in Argentina?) While the second method left us in a great position to start a conversation, it has not yet really equipped us to understand any answers we might get!!

The ship made very good time until we reached the mouth of the River Plate (between Uruguay and Argentina.) Then the Captain received a message saying that there would not be a berth for us in Zarate for a further 7 days! So the anchor went down and there we sat for a week. If this had happened earlier in the voyage we might have been very disappointed, but as it was, we had established a good routine and it was not difficult to maintain the momentum, surrounded as we were were by blue skies and rocking gently on a calm sea. The Captain told us it costs the company 20,000 Euros per day to keep the ship at anchor and we saw dozens of ships at anchor at each of the ports we visited. One of the engineers told us he had been on a ship that was anchored off Singapore last year for two months. The mind boggles when we try to compute how much money is literally floating about on the oceans!

And now?
Our experience of the voyage has been very good. It was so relaxing and great to have that time to feel our way into the next stage of this adventure. We are now in Fray Bentos, the site of the oldest of Uruguay's meat processing factories. We are staying in a beautiful posada. In our next post we will write about our day in Buenos Aires.

Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch by text or email or by commenting on the blog. Your support and encouragement mean a great deal to us and we love to have news from you.


Liam and Naomi 
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Chris & Liz on

Love all the photos of your smiling faces on the ship. High times on the high seas! Keep the blogs coming :-)

Gillian Faulkner on

The trip sounds amazing fun and love the casino royale !! Actually it sounds a lovely relaxing way to travel. And now ur adventure starts ..... Seeing ur mum later will try to print the blog - somehow. Have fun next few days trying out ur interest on the economy !

Julie and Bill on

Hi guys. The photos are great and enjoyed reading your blog. You seemed to have made good use of your time on board. Learning Spainish, learning to navigate the seas, improving your cards skills and chilling out!!!!!
Looking forward to the next episode.

Pat Houston on

Morning, good to hear from you after your long voyage. The photos are all great - when's the book and the film?? Enjoy the rest of the big adventure. All fine here, except for the weather - rain and gales. x Pat

Ruth on

Great to hear from you guys and to see the photos. You look like your having a blast. Bet your not even thinking of the joint co ordinators meeting tomorrow ...... Some people have it all. Glad to hear of safe arrival of the twins too. Stay safe and enjoy the adventure x

Mide on

Fantastic to hear you have arrived safely!! And many congratulations on the birth of Adam and Luisa;-) stay safe;) xx
Mide & Kev

Ann A. on

Glad to hear that you are on dry land again. You both look so well and your "cruise" seemed to have been good fun !Congrats to Liam about the twins. Take care and looking forward to following your travels.

Geraldine and Brian on

We have just got back from two weeks away and delighted to get the updates from you both. Congrats Liam on your twin grandchildren. The boat trip sounds great and your accommodation and service quite palatial, certainly seems to have set you well for the further adventures. Really looking forward to the next installments especially your impression of Buenos Aries. Stay safe and keep enjoying yourselves, i can,t think of a couple who diesrve it more. Love Geraldine and Brian

Dave F on

Glad you got there with no sea sickness then. So now the adventure starts for real, mind you I was suprised you went to Fray Bentos being vegeterian an all. Have fun, look forward to the next one.

Laura on

Just finally go on to your blog, seems you are having real experience on the ocean waves. Congrats on the twin arrivals, you have gone to a deal of expense to get out of baby sitting duties!! Will try and keep following and post plenty more photo's of your travels. Best wishes and safe journey onwards

Jochen Riehn on

Glad to hear you made it safely across that bit of water. Between the casino, the language lessons & the visits to the bridge you probably didn't have time to get bored during the four weeks. Looking forward to regular updates with lots of pictures now that you're back on terra firma.

Looking at the picture of youse "wetting the babies' heads" I'm surprised the twins didn't drown !!

brigette on

well you look so well it was great to see your photos and read about you so glad twins arrived they are lovely hope to get up soon and see them soon well all my love to both of you brigette and peter

Doreen and David on

Great to see all the photos and read about your adventure so far. Looks like you are having a wonderful time . looking forward to the next chapter.

brigette on

liam i forgot to say rose mcilhone got in touch with through facebook she was looking for your number to say her uncel joe was very ill i told her you where away now i got word this morning to say he died last night just thought you would want to know

Jennifer Marquis on

Love the photos! And belated congrats on the twins, Adam and Luisa. Love the names. :-)

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