Notes of a Shellback: Equator Crossed!

Wooooohooo!!! It just really happened! The ship’s whistle blew as we went through the 0-0 point. The ship had to change its course so that we could do it. It was so fast, and still – equator crossed!!


Today is Neptune day, the Crossing of the Equator day, the Sea day. It started at 7:30 in the morning, when the sound of drums and whistles woke everyone up. These were the members of the crew walking down the corridors, dressed up like Neptune’s servants, with drums and whistles and shields and swords. After the breakfast everyone gathered by the pool on deck 7, waiting for the procession to arrive. And it did arrive, followed by Neptune himself (our own captain Jeremy, skin painted dark green, in a wig and with a trident); and the Sea Mistress (dean Eddie, in drag in a dress and with bright makeup all over, also in a blond wig and carrying a trident). As soon as the noble guests were seated the celebration began. Professors and life-long learners, dressed in long white robes and with sea attributes, formed two lines on both sides of the pool. After a short introductory speech, dean Rita started reading an oath that we had to repeat. For me it was more like repeating sounds than words – it was really hard to hear stuff in this crowd. And then the ceremony started. So mainly that’s what you had to do:

– Get wet from this warm greenish fish something that they pour on your head

– Jump into the pool

– Get out and kiss two big fishes (real smelly fishes)

– Kiss the rings of the Sea Mistress and Neptune

– Get “dubbed”

– Receive a title of a Shellback

– [optional] shave your head.

I didn’t feel like doing all this for various reasons. Firstly, I was still not feeling too well, although doctor Dave, whom I visited in the morning, told me it was just a light virus that would go away on its own. Secondly, because I didn’t want to miss any of my characters doing it. Thirdly, I am allergic to fish. But Ashley persuaded me anyway, and I’m grateful for that… It was fun. But no, I did not shave my head. Five years of growing my hair – and then just shave it off? No thanks.
I love the footage I’ve got today, I really need do edit it well, because it’s awesome. I’ve got people jumping into the pool in groups, kids running away from kissing the fish, people shaving their heads, dancing, screaming and having the time of their lives.
After the ceremonial was over, everyone just jumped into that pool, and would’ve stayed there for the rest of the day but for the staff kicking them out. The pool got drained and cleaned, yet the party went on. After half an hour, the group of most devoted people (and I knew all of them) still was rocking the boat with their moves. At a certain point I put my camera down, and immediately got dragged into the dance. So on we danced, and suddenly it started pouring, and then raining, and the warm raindrops were running down our faces, and it was amazing. As soon as the rain stopped, I left to catch my breath and get a quick lunch; when I came back, my friends were still dancing.
I went to my cabin to back up all the filming and have some of these fried platans that I stocked up with in Ghana. And then the announcement reminded us that we were crossing the equator in a couple of minutes. So I grabbed my camera, and pulled Rachel with me to the front of the ship. It was so windy, and there was nothing except the deep sparkling blue of the ocean ahead; however, when the ship whistle sounded, announcing that the equator was crossed, everyone around must have seen the invisible line in front of us, or a ribbon – you know, like at all these competitions – being torn.
The magic was over, but the good sunny day went on, followed by the gorgeous sunset. We had a group picture taken today, yelling “Happy 50th anniversary, Semester at Sea”. And – now bold is the new trend aboard, like Moroccan shirts and Ghanaian pants.
I finished my day with a shipboard family dinner and a cozy cookie hour with my favorite guys. Trying to remember to move the clock one hour ahead tonight. Sleepy again, but that’s my most normal state at the end of a SAS day. I can’t even tell you how happy being here makes me. I literally can’t. It’s – wait for da word – inexpressible.

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