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Published: October 3rd 2018
Hello from Ceuta, in Spanish Morocco, on the continent of AFRICA!!! That is a whole new continent for us and brings our total to 6. Can you guess which one is still missing?
According to the Internet:
“The Straits of Gibraltar separate Ceuta from European Spain. Ceuta is an ancient city - it has been continuously inhabited since its founding by Carthage in the 5th century B.C. Over the millennia, Ceuta has been ruled by Carthage, Rome, the Moorish Kingdom of Granada, Portugal and, since 1580, Spain. From 1912 until 1959, the city was also the capital of Spanish Morocco, a colonial protectorate created when France and Spain divided that kingdom during the "Morocco Crisis" of 1912. Generalisimo Francisco Franco launched the Spanish Civil War from Ceuta in 1936. Today, Ceuta boasts an easy-going charm and a cosmopolitan mix of cultures. The city is also a gateway for Morocco proper and the dramatic landscape of the Rif Mountains.
In antiquity, the Straits of Gibraltar were referred to as "The Pillars of Hercules." Ceuta faces the Rock of Gibraltar across the Straits, and some modern geographers insist the city's Mount Hacho forms the African Pillar as counterpart to The Rock."
We woke this morning and it was very foggy. In fact the captain later announced that it had been too foggy for us to enter the port upon our initial arrival and we had to go back into the strait and make another approach later in the morning. Once the ship was docked it broke the record for being the largest cruise ship to enter the harbor. In fact, the ship is longer than the pier, both forward and aft. We were told that if the ship had entered any further there would have only been 5 feet of water under the keel. The harbor channel was too narrow for the ship to turn around when we left during the afternoon and they had to back all the way out into the Mediterranean. So the bottom line is that we came to Africa and then later we successfully sailed away without any international incident or anything else happening.
We had previously swapped our excursion tickets for one that met at noon. This meant we had no hurry in getting up in the morning and could sleep in. We went to the Horizon Court about 9:30 and had a leisurely breakfast. Since we were going to be away during the normal lunch hour, we had a little larger breakfast and then took some yogurts and cereal back to the cabin to eat before we left. We had 90 minutes to rest in the cabin until reporting to the tour. Janet was able to use the remainder of her free internet minutes doing some banking/bookkeeping and David finished his 3rd
We went to the Explorer Lounge at 11:45 and got our excursion stickers. However our bus did not return from the morning excursion until 12:45, so we were a little late departing. We drove around Ceuta (total area is reportedly 20 sq km) with our guide explaining that this is one of 2 parcels of land which still belongs to Spain in Africa. It is a multi-cultural city with residents from many countries and many religions. They are trying to market it as a cruise ship port of call. Who knows how that will work?
After driving for a while we went to the top of a mountain which was supposed to have great views, but it was totally foggy and the bus did not even stop. We drove on to a 2nd
point and had the same results. Next we drove into town and stopped outside a central plaza where the key element is a church called Our Lady of Africa. This was a baroque church built in 1752. Unfortunately it was closed and we could not go inside. Finally we went to another church up on a hill called St Anthony of Padua. It was fairly small and up a steep ramp and steps, so Janet rightly stayed in the bus. After that we got back on the bus and returned to the pier to get back on the ship. Along the way we did see a couple of statues celebrating The Pillars of Hercules. Anyway, we did go ashore in Africa.
Unfortunately the bus did not get back to the ship until 3:00 and “all aboard” was 3:30, so David had to scuttle his plan to go shopping in town. He did get a few pictures of the ship from the pier and some from the ship of the town. Janet went to Tea Time and had tea and snacks at 3:30. David had a beer and got some nibbles from the Swirl Girls while watching our departure. The “sail away” party on the top decks today was a “back away” party instead. There were a lot of people out by the pool enjoying another warm day before we start heading north again – toward the UK. But we eventually cleared port and got started through the strait of Gibraltar on our way to Lisbon Portugal tomorrow.
David went down to the Internet Café and found how we can purchase more minutes for the internet. Hopefully this will last us until we reach Southampton in a few days and get a new supply of free minutes.
We changed for dinner and went to the dining room at 5:45. One of the couples at our table had been inside the church earlier and showed us some pictures of what we missed in the church that was closed. Tonight Janet had a crabmeat dip with little toasted baguettes and David had Shrimp Cocktail and a pineapple & passion fruit salad. We both had Fettuccini Alfredo as our main course. Janet decided to skip dessert and David had the NY Cheesecake. Then we went to the theater for a strange show by a comedic juggler. He was OK but nothing special.
However during his show the Captain interrupted several times with announcements that we were lending assistance in a “rescue at sea”. Apparently a small boat not too far behind us ran into trouble and needed to be rescued. According to the announcements we assisted them after they got in a rescue raft and we were waiting with them until the local authorities could send a more appropriate ship. But each time the captain came on the PA, the juggler had to stop his act until the announcement was over. His comments each time were funnier than some of his rehearsed jokes. This was another First Experience for us – rescuing a ship in distress. About 2 ½ hours after it started, some kind of Coast Guard boat came and took over the rescue. But we did our good deed!
That is about all for tonight. We get an hour back on the clock tonight so for some reason Portugal is not in the same time zone as Spain. Who knew? Or maybe it’s a daylight savings issue with one of them. Anyway, we will get an additional hour’s sleep tonight.
Sorry, but photos have become agonizingly slow to upload, so it will probably only be text the rest of the trip.
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