January 3, 2022. 82°F/28°C
Our planned stop in Nicaragua (between Costa Rica yesterday and our arrival in Los Cabos Mexico on January 7th) was cancelled just after we left Florida, and not reinstated. On November 15th 2021, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega was re-elected. On December 18th there was a 3.1 magnitude earthquake. Covid’s resurgence is not the only thing on Nicaraguans’ minds.
Instead of disembarking to visit the beautiful old city of León, and the UNESCO world heritage designated colonial-baroque Metropolitan Cathedral (also called the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of León) we’re spending the day at sea, bypassing the northwest Nicaraguan deep water port city of Corinto which was named after the ancient Greek city of Corinth.
This means 4 sea days in a row – never my stomach’s favourite prospect, but as long as the ocean and I both stay “calm” there’s lots of onboard enrichment, an opportunity to do a bit of laundry, nightly entertainment, books to read, and of course always food! There were repairs done to our ship’s satellite antenna while we were in Puntarenas, so checking in with friends will also be easier during this stretch, and I took advantage of a (too) short FaceTime chat with my BFF in Hudson, Quebec. Note for my other BFF and faithful reader: you’re next!
As we sailed, Ted got some great shots of Nazca Boobies from the vantage point of our Deck 3 balcony. We were unsure as to whether they were Masked Booobies or Nazca, but Wikipedia suggested “In the eastern Pacific off the coast of Colombia and Ecuador, the masked booby is replaced by the Nazca booby”, so there.
Today at 11:00 in the theatre was the first of Executive Chef Pascal Mullier’s live cooking demonstrations, assisted by pastry sous-chef Ernesto. Chef Pascal’s goal was to “keep it simple” for all of us, so he demonstrated Boeuf à la Bourguignonne while Ernesto created a classic tiramisu. Simple? I guess it’s all in the perspective. “If this sous-chef can do it, YOU can do it”, says Chef Pascal.
There are always lots of great hints when learning from a real chef. “No veal stock? More wine!” As always a big part of the show is the dynamic between the 2 chefs on stage: no Chef Ramsay style yelling, just good natured camaraderie and teasing. (“You think people at home have THAT?”, as the pastry chef pulled out his laser thermometer to check the temperature of his sugar syrup.)
The stage is set up with 2 induction stovetops, all the beautifully prepped ingredients, a stand mixer, and a rear table that doubles as used utensil storage and imaginary invisible refrigerator and oven that created much hilarity in their use. “Put it in the oven! The OVEN! Use a towel! It’s hot!” Plus there’s a huge overhead screen where key parts of the process are projected.
Sadly, our noon update from Captain Lars confirmed 18 COVID19 cases in isolation: 13 passengers and 5 crew. Apparently even in the middle of the beautiful blue Pacific we can’t totally escape this pandemic.
In the afternoon, Ted and I joined another couple – Stella and Gary from England – for afternoon high tea. It’s so lovely to begin getting to socialize, even if we sit well-spaced apart.
After an uncharacteristically slow dinner service in the main restaurant, we left before dessert in order to catch our cruise director, Aaron Syfert, performing his vocal cabaret “Walk The Line”, singing Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Cash hits, accompanied by the Viking Band.
Another good day. Now if only Covid would wear itself out.