Indian Ocean

For the last couple of nights, we've slept on the deck in sleeping bags with a blanket of twinkling stars overhead. But tonight the wind and chilly evening air prompted us to pitch our tent.

Another remarkable sunset over the Indian Ocean

Muslims celebrate the holiest month of Ramadan as Christians celebrate Christmas and Jews celebrate Chanukah. This crewmember, with an old scruffy voice, wished me a Merry Christmas and I wished him Ramadam Kareem.

Jim and I enjoyed delicious gingerbread Santa Claus cookies as we relaxed and read during the day.

I've often heard how Pakistani bus and taxi drivers lavishly decorate their vehicles, but my first impression of bright, primary colors came via the magnificent wooden boats at the Gwadar port.

Loading ice onto a fishing boat

More onlookers at the Gwadar harbor

Once we moored at the Gwadar port, locals took keen interest in the contents of our dhow. I've told Jim repeatedly how amazed I am each time we pull into a port and find scores of men and boys just idly standing around with plenty of time to watch the doings of our vessel.

Day three to Pakistan. Last night we arrived too late at the Gwadar port, a scheduled stop before our arrival in Karachi, so we slept anchored at sea. Here the crew pulls in the massive anchor.

25 December 2000 – Riding to Karachi on an onion boat looking out to a far, far away shore of rugged cliffs. The Indian Ocean is calm today, but yesterday the water looked to almost come to a boil with waves moving back and forth, up and down, but never spouting into a white-capped creation. The beaming sun along with a steady cool wind tousled my dirty, stringy hair.

During the last two nights I've slept on the boat’s wooden deck – first night (23 December 2000) in the tiny captain’s room where a thin layer of aged carpet softens, ever so slightly, the wood. A bright light beamed through the center, back window into the square room making restful sleep nearly impossible. Plus a strong wind whistled through one of the two sliding doors that remained open all night, allowing the crew to view the simple navigation system.

The other night of sleeping (24 December 2000) we took directly to the ship’s open deck in our sleeping bags and cheap, thin Mickey Mouse pillows bought for this journey. Tears thick like glue welled in my eyes as we listened to the BBC broadcast of King’s College Cambridge’s organ and choral performance celebrating Christmas. Under the twinkling stars of Orion’s Belt and the Milky Way on a rock-hard, damp wooden deck complete with onionskin and a few roaches, we sang carols before burying our heads into our sleeping bags hoping to avoid mist and chilly winds. Through the night, I woke several times with dew settled on my hair, pillow and sleeping bag. Inching down into my bed I smelled Wadi Halfa (Sudan) since my sleeping bag was washed last there. (Indian Ocean water smells remarkably better.) Several times when turning over onto my other bruised hip (from the wooden deck), I lowered my sleeping bag so I could look up and revel in the glistening stars and brilliant sky on this very special night.