Anyway, I thought that it was time for an update after my very brief email from the Seychelles. Needless to say my time there was incredible. The first day was a nightmare both for us and for the islanders who suddenly had to deal with what was essentially 10% of their population descending on their homeland all at the same time. To make matters worse we were a) – American (only 1000 North Americans visit the Seychelles per year!), b) – college students (I don’t think the Seychelles is your typical Spring Break, Let’s go party and be wild destination)and finally c) – half of these college students being bald. (Neptune day shenanigans – will explain more later….) Anyway, there were semester at sea students EVERYWHERE and it was complete madness. I got off the ship with a friend of mine and headed for a ferry terminal to go to another island, only to be told that all the ferries were full. So we decided to head to the coast and go snorkeling. What we found on the north coast of Mahe was a re-enactment of Spring Break, with students frolicking, loving the whole topless beach scene, and generally making a lot of commotion.

At this point, I was just thinking to myself – “get me out of here” – The Seychelles is supposed to conjure up images of secluded beaches with white sand, nothing to hear but the sound of the surf, right? I therefore proceeded to spend the next two hours on the phone with travel agents, airlines and hotels before I finally found a room on Le Cerf Island for 3 people, and was guaranteed that the island was very secluded and unpopulated. I signed up and promptly dragged a couple of as yet homeless students off of the beach and headed for the marina. By the way, I have to mention that the Seychelles is not the kind of place where things get done “in a hurry”; these people are on island time, baby. I had issues with the telephone, then issues with getting a cab – I was told that you can’t hail cabs, you can’t call cabs, you just have to wander, and then maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have one pull over for you. OK. We did eventually find a cab and made it just in time for the boat to Le Cerf.

It was everything I had imagined, a beautiful little white cottage with gardens, a pool overlooking the cove and sandy beach. Le cerf was also located in one of the marine national parks and so it was supposed to have great snorkeling opportunities. I spent the next two days relaxing, (I even sunbathed naked at one point on a deserted beach – I swear there was no-one there!!) and went out on a few scuba trips. Our guide was French and very sexy. He took us out to numerous coral reefs and I saw a variety of amazing tropical fish, stingrays, eels, sea horses, turtles and coral. The water really is as clear as they show on documentaries – I could see for at least 100 ft down. We even ventured out to some deeper areas of water and that’s where I observed some reef sharks ominously circling below me. That was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. We also saw an entire school of eagle rays, each one measuring about 3 feet in diameter – they were magnificent.

So, that was my time in the Seychelles. I was still sad we didn’t go to Kenya, but I was comforted by the fact that I was one of the lucky few that had already been.

I don’t want this email to be too long so I’ll just cover a few more articles of news. Yes, I did shave my head on the 24th of October. It was the day we crossed the equator, and about 150 of the students did it. Apparently it is British Naval tradition to shave one’s head the first time one crosses the equator on a boat. I had been toying with the idea ever since our itinerary change, and I have to say that it was extremely nerve racking. However, this voyage has taught me to see past social and cultural boundaries, and I could think of no better physical expression of that, and the personal journey I have undertaken, than parting with my precious curls. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I just had to keep reassuring myself – it will grow back, it will grow back. Why is hair so important to me anyway – I kept asking? Why does it represent so much of who I am? (I know, I may be getting a little philosophical here) That day was really hard to understand, it was complete madness on the ship. We started the day with being “anointed” for the head-shaving ritual by being doused in fish guts before diving into the pool and getting fire-hosed down. It was the most grotesque smell- I can’t describe how vile it was. A friend of mine shaved my head, and I had decided to shave it to a ¼ inch, but she forgot to put the guard on the clipper and so took an entire chunk off of the back of my head. Its funny now, but I can tell you it wasn’t then. It looked so bad; I just decided to shave the whole thing to the scalp. Anyway, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my new look, so I hope you’ll all be understanding when I get back….

So, that’s it. We should be arriving in Cape Town, South Africa early tomorrow morning, and believe me, many of us are more than ready to get off of this boat!! We’ve been sailing for 8 days, and other than crazy Halloween celebrations (I dressed as an African Witchdoctor) I’ve been studying and taking exams most of the week. It is easy to fill one’s day on the ship, but sometimes you are just seized with longing for a change of scene other than seven decks. I can’t complain though – I am being seized with pangs of distress at the thought that this voyage is nearly over! I can’t believe it – Japan feels like years ago!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos, and this letter – apologies for the length.

I’ll write again probably from Cape Town.

PS – For those of you who don’t know, I have been accepted into the BFA Theatre Performance degree program at CU for the Spring!

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