SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
32° 0.2’N x 16° 22.3’W
South of Madeira Island in the Eastern Atlantic
Clear and Cool
Happy Halloween from the Cramer! Today is our belated celebration of Halloween on the ship as we head for the Canary Islands from Madeira. We’ve spent the last few days in Madeira and have had a wonderful time there, and now we head for the Canaries. We spent some of our time in Madeira touring the island, visiting some of the inner mountain ranges and then heading for several cities on the Northwestern side of the island. Our tour guide was extremely amiable – she was well-versed in several languages and gave us a very complete picture of Madeira’s history and the current challenges the region faces.
On the cultural side of things, I noticed that unlike some of Spain’s autonomous regions, Madeirans are very proud to be considered Portugese. When we visited Mallorca in the Mediterranean, there was a sense of pride as Mallorcans first, Catalonians second and Spanish identity came in third. (Do remember that Mallorca is also a part of the Catalonian autonomous region which currently has an increasingly powerful independence movement.) In Madeira, there seems to be more of a connection to Portugal directly and a corresponding sense of nationalism. In fact, we can consider the history between the developments of the two regions and can try to put the pieces together as to why this is the case. Catalonia has generally had a long history of tension with Madrid, with revolts and rebellions that have occurred over the years. Catalonia even has a national holiday remembering when they gave up their independence to the Spanish. Madeira, on the other hand, was discovered by the Portugese in the early 15th century, and has enjoyed a consistently pleasant relationship with Lisbon. The most fascinating aspect of this is how it changes the day-to-day interactions that not only the Portugese have with each other in Madeira, but also how foreigners (including me) interact with the people there.
On the fun side (not to say that the culture or history isn’t fun!) of things, we visited a whaling museum on the southeastern side of the island yesterday. We learned a lot about some of the biological sciences occurring in Madeira in attempting to estimate distributions of cetaceans and their continuous monitoring program. We also learned about the history of whaling and the clear connections to current caetacean populations. Today, during our belated celebration of Halloween, I went ahead and dressed up like our captain and the ship had class in costumes and had a trick or treat boat check. A decent amount of mini-snickers made the afternoon a particularly pleasant one. Stay tuned for more details about our last few days in phase III of our voyage to the Canaries!