SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 17, 2014
36°31.9’ N x 006°17.2’W
Docked in Cadiz, Spain
There are not many better ways to wake up on the Cramer than to French toast and the promise of CADIZ. After coming into the port in dense fog and slightly rainy but very picturesque weather, we docked around 1030 Spanish time. Everyone enjoyed a quick recuperation and shower hour before setting off for our very busy day in southwest Spain.
We met our tour guide shortly after a lunch and immediately set off for the Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Historico Centro de Arqueologia Subacuatica, an underwater archeological facility. The center was a gorgeous spa turned laboratory right on the sandy beach. The structure was raised on stilts, leaving about 20 feet of space below the sand. Old mosaics of Venus remained over the arched entrance of the building which was open and airy. The walls were all white-washed and a small entry way led to an open air atrium that held rows of large white tanks and open doors facing the beach below. Ancient artifacts raised from shiprwrecks, including boxes for tobacco, amphora-like jars of olives (mostly still sealed), and barrel staves carrying residual cochineal dye were bathing in a special freshwater solution to coax the salt off without damaging the materials. We were also shown two special lab rooms; one contained a cannon retrieved from a French warship that sank in the Battle of Trafalgar, the other housed a small pile of silver ingots. The smallest piece of silver was about the size of a dinner plate and weighed at least 40 pounds. It was an incredible experience to hold actual 300-year-old Spanish treasure. We were then led to the roof of the building which had an astonishingly breathtaking view of the bay. On either side of the water were the remains of old forts, while in the postcard-worthy aquamarine water a collection of mismatched rowboats drifted slightly offshore. A smattering of locals sunbathed and swam on the beach below us. Not a terrible place to work in my opinion!
We continued to a garden near the lab which included sections of dense overgrowth trees and vines, as well as a cave, crocodile and dinosaur sculptures, some duck houses (complete with very friendly and hungry ducks), and a small section with a gravel promenade and meticulously cut topiaries. The whole area had a certain Jurassic Park theme to it. Our professor Mary explained to us this park housed plants and animals brought to Spain by Columbus and other Spanish voyagers in the 1500s.
Our action-packed day continued as we set off by public bus to the University of Cadiz’s science building. The center features state-of-the-art facilities and we toured a fish and phytoplankton culturing lab, a bridge simulator used for training ship captains, the rooftop view (Cadiz loves rooftops) and then retired to a classroom to meet other Spanish students and attend lectures by professors from the University.
Our night ended with a Flamenco performance in a classic Spanish theater. We bought tickets at the door and attended the showing as a class. I can speak for all of us when I say we were all blown away. I interviewed our residential dance and Flamenco expert, Jennifer, and she responded with vigor about the show. Jennifer stated she was “so gratified to see it was as good a performance as Flamenco can be. Because the performers were so passionate and utterly present in each moment they were moving, I think they really connected with everyone in our program.” Jennifer is doing a report on the heritage of Flamenco which UNESCO has designated as important “intangible cultural heritage.”
Jennifer described the dance as “cross cultural on a human level”—the man and woman dancing “were virtuosos: you move your body not just for entertainment, but for you. You have to.” We agreed the human connection through the dance came from the obvious passion of the performers and their ability to make the whole audience feel it. In regards to the male dancer, our Moroccan shipmate, Mohammed, said it best: “He wants to transmit a message. Life is not easy. We fight with life, in the end we have to be strong, we are here.” A good message to carry at sea and in life.
PS- Hi Mom, Dad, Jules and Liv! Miss you all but thinking we should relocate to Spain? Input appreciated. Love you!