Searching for the Vikings

Monday, August 7 - Day 6: Red Bay, Labrador, Canada

Looking out the sliding glass door to our balcony this morning, we saw water, a few low hills, covered with a large quantity of no trees, a few small buildings, and some fog. It was not raining. I repeat, it was not raining. We washed, dressed, brushed an occasional tooth, swallowed a few old-age prolongation pills, and went to breakfast. After breakfast we went to get tender tickets. There wasn’t a long line, maybe since it was later than our last tender port experience, but we think someone must have complained about the previous disaster, since the announcements over the PA today were calling just as many red numbers as blue numbers. Then again, the red people, remember, the high-mucky-muck Mariners, wouldn’t have complained, and the cruise line would have ignored any complaints from us blue peons, so we don’t know the reason for the change.

Anyway, we got onto a tender and were in Red Bay, Labrador around ten o’clock. As we got off the tender in Red Bay, it started to drizzle a little. I’ll wager at this point you astute readers are anticipating what’s coming. You’re probably right, but be patient.

Red Bay, Labrador has a population of 230. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “How could that be?” I hear you asking. I imagine it went something like this…

…Long ago in a galaxy far away…  No. Wrong story. Sorry. Let’s try again… A while back in tiny little Red Bay, Labrador, the entire town were gathered in the Civic Center, which also happens to be Cousin Jim’s General Store, Barber Shop, and Fish Guts Processing Center, and were discussing the town’s serious economic problems, namely the lack of an economy. Since the market for Processed Fish Guts had taken a downturn, things were not going well. At one point in the heated discussion, Uncle Dudley interrupted with an idea. “I have an idea,” he said. His idea, which he said would save the whole town from starvation, poverty, and complete not-niceness was to turn the town into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “How are we going to do that, Uncle Dudley?” the townspeople asked, in unison and 229-part harmony. It turned out that Uncle Dudley’s great nephew, Josh, had a job as a computer programmer in UNESCO HQ. Uncle Dudley contacted great-nephew Josh, by driving ten hours to the nearest pay phone since Red Bay was lacking in cell-phone towers and land-lines at the time, and asking for help. A few minutes of unauthorized computer hacking later and presto, Red Bay, Labrador was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nobody in UNESCO noticed. Shortly thereafter, Cruise ships started arriving by the dozens, the economy of Red Bay grew a zillion percent, and the story had a happy ending, except for poor great-nephew Josh who got cocky and started hacking into bank computers and is now doing 10-20 in Federal Prison.

Ok. That whole story is a fabrication. In reality, Red Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the Basque Whalers who were here. You heard me, Basque Whalers. Now, if I remember correctly (we have no WIFI today, I can’t Google anything), the Basque are people who live in the mountains on the border of southern France and northern Spain. How in heck did they end up in Red Bay, Labrador, whaling? All right, I admit it, I didn’t read all of the writing on the walls of the Red Bay Interpretive Center, so I don’t know. Interestingly, an Interpretive Center, as far as I can tell, differs from a museum in that in a museum you wander around looking at things you don’t care about, whereas in an Interpretive Center, somebody stands there and explains things to you that you don’t care about .

We got off the tender (you remember, we were on the tender, going to Red Bay, Labrador. I may have digressed a little bit here), and as we did, it started to rain, just a little, a slight drizzle, nothing too terrible. So we put on hats and put up our hoods and did other things of a protective nature and started walking around Red Bay. There was the Store and the Restaurant, which both happen to be in the same building, in the same room in fact. There was the shack. There was the other shack, and up the hill there was the Interpretive Center.  As we were walking up the hill to the Interpretive Center, the rain started coming down a little harder. Aha, you anticipatory readers are smiling now, aren’t you? We were starting to get a little moist. So we went into the Interpretive Center. The rest of the passengers of the M.S. Rotterdam were already in there .

Now, I’ll bet that you have already realized that the Red Bay, Labrador Interpretive Center is not exactly a large building. You are correct. Also, most of the interior of the Interpretive Center was occupied by a small rowboat looking thing, which was the recovered hulk of one of the Chalupa’s (That’s what they called them. I can’t help it if Taco Bell stole the name) which was what the Basque Whalers used to ride in to harpoon a whale which was a hundred times the size of the boat. Crazy-Ass Basque Whalers . So, there was not a lot of room in the Interpretive Center for wet, dripping M.S. Rotterdam passengers.

It was very crowded, and very humid, and, you guessed it, intrepid, anticipatory readers, it started to rain heavily outside, which we could see through the windows. So after sweating a while in the Interpretive Center, and realizing that we weren’t going to be taking any more pictures in Red Bay, and also realizing that we already seen all of Red Bay, Donnie and I forced our way out of the Interpretive Center and walked down the hill to the tender dock, in the rain.

Since this pithy, incredibly erudite and well written narrative is already a bit long, I will omit much of the description of the crowds of wet, unruly people waiting in the small, very overcrowded room in the building next to the tender dock, refusing to leave the doorway area for the larger, empty room right beside it, in case somebody beat them onto the next tender. Nor will I fully describe the scene of the very heavy downpour outside which we witnessed as the M.S. Rotterdam security person, wielding his security person walkie-talkie, informed us that the tender at the dock would not be leaving any time soon due to the heavy seas and fog. Neither will I fully elaborate the details of the mad rush out of the building when the security person finally allowed people to board the tender. I won’t even describe the fun as the tender was bobbing and heaving in the heavy waves as we went out to the ship. As somebody on board said, you have to pay extra for this at an amusement park. I will however briefly touch on the fact that the tender was leaking and dripping from the roof in several places, the most interesting being the one that dripped directly down my back and onto where I was sitting.

We arrived back on board the ship and dripped our way back to our stateroom. My waterproof walking shoes, which I had brought along expressly for this kind of occurrence worked fine. My socks were dry. That was the only part of me that was. The water dripping from the roof of the lifeboat had formed a good-sized puddle directly under my rear end. My pants were soaked through. My underpants were soaked through. The water from my underpants had, by means of something called capillary action, for those physics buffs among you, wicked it’s way up through my undershirt and also my outer shirt.

We both stripped naked and took hot showers. Actually, since everybody else who had just gotten back on board were doing the same thing, they were really hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold-cold-cold showers. The showers were not just an attempt to get warm. They were also to wash off the insect repellent. Perhaps I forgot to mention that they had announced several times to put on insect repellant because of the mosquitoes and nasty, biting black flies that are the curse of Red Bay, Labrador.

So, to summarize our little excursion… The weather was… interesting. Red Bay, Labrador… wasn’t. Our few pictures are probably unattractive and boring. But, here’s the thing, we have been to Labrador… Red Bay, Labrador, Canada. How many people do you know who can say that?

After stripping off wet clothes and showering and dressing in dry clothes and hanging various and sundry wet things up in all the nooks and crannies and hooks and horizontal and vertical surfaces in our stateroom to dry, we went to lunch and then came back to our slightly more humid stateroom and are relaxing and writing you our respective poetic masterpieces.

(… time has, yet again, done it’s timey thing…)

It is now later in the afternoon. We heard an announcement over the PA system that tonight we must set our clocks ahead again, one-half hour. This will make us one-hour ahead of Nova Scotia time, and so we say goodbye to the silly half-hour-off Newfoundland and Labrador time zone, and also goodbye to Red Bay, and goodbye to Labrador, and goodbye to Canada, until September 4th when we return to Newfoundland. So, we’re in our room, writing furiously when we notice that we are having some difficulty walking around the room without bumping into walls and/or furniture. The floor seems to be doing funny things. Oh, yeah, we’re on a boat, moving through the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean. The Northern Atlantic Ocean. Wind. Waves. That stuff. Yeah. Not only that, but we started to hear the foghorn again.

(… time went skipping merrily by on it’s way to the future…) (Oh, brother. These things are getting harder and harder to come up with)

It’s now after 11 PM. We had dinner, where we shared a table with two couples again. This time they weren’t crazy people, as far as we could tell. They were, however, frequent cruisers, like everybody on the ship except us. During dinner we learned a few interesting cruise facts, but most importantly we learned from our dinner companions that Donnie’s theory was correct, most of the cruisers on this ship (of a certain age) do go to bed immediately after the 8:00 show .

After dinner we went to the 10:00 show, we’re of a slightly different “certain age," where we saw a ventriloquist/comedian. Ventriloquists have been out of favor for quite a while, but I think they are making a slight comeback. This one was an African American gentleman, or wait, I’m wrong, he was an African Canadian gentleman, and he was pretty good. The dummy (sorry, he said that they don’t like being called dummies anymore, they are now Mannequin Americans) was good too.

After the show, we set our clocks 30 minutes ahead, (bye, bye, Crazy Newfoundland Time Zone) and then Donnie checked the pedometer app on her iPhone. She is obsessed with this thing. Sadly, it read 1.9 miles walked today. Damn! She absolutely could not go to bed with her pedometer reading 1.9 miles. She had to get it up to two miles, so she went up to the Lido Deck to get some ice water to put into her travel mug. Good. Whatever keeps her happy. When she returned a few minutes later, there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that the pedometer still read 1.9 miles. The good news is that she brought back two pieces of cherry pie.  I’m really glad now that I hacked her pedometer app.