Europe, 2009
 

February 19-20- Departure and Arrival!- Has it been crazy? Yes, it has.  Not expecting to sail, we were bit surprised
to hear we'd received permission to do so...the day before we were scheduled to leave. We hurriedly finished loading
the ship, strapped  everything down, readied the ship for the voyage, and contacted our friends and family in Sweden
that we'd be coming after all.  We departed Kge at 1500 on Thursday, and were inbound to Gothenburg at 0800 the
following day. There was plenty of snow to last both days, but the temperatures and wind were both mild enough as
not to make things difficult. We'll only be in Gothenburg for a few days, and set sail for The Netherlands this Monday.
 

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Harlingen, the Netherlands-  We only spent a few days in Goteborg before heading to our next port, Harlingen.
Harlingen is a beautiful little seaside village built in the Dutch style- many narrow canals running through town, and
footbridges over them every block. We saw the sun twice in our 11 days there, but after the freezing cold of Koge, I
wasn't complaining. Harlingen is the home to about 20-25% of Holland's wooden sailing ships, as well, and you see
evidence of that as soon as you set foot in town.  Those small canals are filed with 'sailvaarts'  stacked stem  to stern
two and  three deep all over town.  You can see a few pictures below.  Our ship wasn't blessed with the most scenic
berth, but town was a 15 minute walk, with plenty of things to see and playgrounds for the kids. Low prices (It's all
low compared to Denmark) allowed us to spend a bit and not hurt our budgets. The cheese shop was fairly popular.
 


 

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The Scheveningen Shibboleth-
  What is a shibboleth and what makes Scheveningen one?  Websters defines a shibboleth as
'a custom or usage regarded as distinguishing one group from others', and it has it's root in the Bible, specifically Judges 12; 5-6.
"The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite of Ephraim.  And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the  
men of Gilead would say to him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he said, "No," then they would say to him, "Say now, 'Shibboleth.'" But he said, "Sibboleth," for
he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him & slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim Judges 12;5-6"
As the Ephraimites could not make the 'sh' sound necessary to pronounce 'Shibboleth',  they were easily exposed as imposters.
More recent shibboleths were the American soldiers in WWII who used baseball trivia to smoke out German infiltrators, and the
soldiers in the Pacific, who asked suspected Japanese spies to pronounce 'lollapalooza'...a word unpronounceable for them. The
Lebanese used the Arabic word for tomato to ferret out Palestinians, who had difficulty saying it,  and the Australians are forever
asking New Zealanders what 5 + 1 is, as they pronounce it 'sex'. The more clever Kiwis always respond 'half a dozen'. Finally, any
Bsotonian who's traveled out of Massachusetts has been asked where he 'parks his car' when it's discovered where he's from. How
is 'Scheveningen' a shibboleth, you ask?  The Dutch have a funny way of speaking,  wherein many words are formed by slightly
'clearing their throat'. Gertrude becomes 'Hair-trude',  and 'good' becomes 'hood'.  They claim that only true Dutchmen could say
the name of this town, so if a person was suspected of being a German spy in WWII, a conversation would be worked around to
Scheveningen.  How you pronounced it showed what your native tongue was.  As for me, I can pronounce it well enough not to
embarrass myself, but Dutch friends tell me I'd have been shot in sight in 1940.  Here's an interesting list of shibboleths on Wiki.

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Schevinginen, the Netherlands-
Scheveningen is a smallish resort town on the outskirts of the Hague, the third
largest city in the Netherlands, and also it's diplomatic center. We arrived to clear skies and 50 degree temperatures.
After the cold winter of Koge and the gloomy weather of the last  two ports,  this springtime weather was a welcome
change. We've had an over cast day or two since arriving,  but as I write this, Sunday morning, there's not a cloud in
 the sky. We've got a beautiful location in the center of Scheveningen's harbor, and you can see the ship (or it's stack)
just about anywhere in town. I've taken a few pictures from the ship and the beach, only a block away from the ship.
At left is a photo looking forward from the stern, next to it a photo looking aft from the bow.  Across the street from
us is a line of surf shops, clothing boutiques and restaurants. Picture three is a decent shot of the ship taken from the
rampart see in the first picture. Our ship seems to be causing a minor stir & there are always people stopping to gaze 
up at us and take photos. We are one of the biggest ships to ever enter this harbor, and probably the biggest to berth
at this dock. I really like this town and reminded of my own past beach towns of Virginia Beach and Hampton Beach.



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24 March-  Dutch people always seem to be on the move. It took me three weeks or so, but I finally
realized the other day just how many people were on the move, and the many ways they used to get
there. I can't recall ever seeing so many different types of transportation being used in so small of a
country. every sort of design of bikes, moped, motorcycle, car, truck, & jeep seems to be on the road
here. Bikes are more popular in Holland than anywhere but China, & bicycle travel is one of the things
Dutch are known for.  A popular style is the 'carrier front' seen below left. It's often filled with supplies,
groceries, or children. I have seen many more disabled or elderly people traveling in some sort of tri-
cycle, motorized or not, here in Holland. If I took photos of every unusual form of transportation I have
seen since being here, It would fill up the page, so I'll just include pictures of the ones that sat still long
 enough to be photographed. In addition to the many 'tiny cars' I've seen here, I've also seen, strangely,
a number of American trucks and Cherokees.  A friend tells me it's only the 'rich' who do this, as they
 can afford the gas required to drive the big American 'gas guzzlers'. Chevy is their truck of choice, too.



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All Things Dutch-
 
Between Mercy Ships, Operation Mobilisation, and 5 weeks here, I think I've gotten a sense of what is
Dutch. Having traveled to over forty countries and hundreds of cities,  I find I am less interested in cathedrals, museums, and
parliament buildings than I am in what John Travolta called 'the little differences' in Pulp Fiction. Here's a few things I noticed
about the Netherlands, and Dutch people in general. First, you see a popular Dutch breakfast- a piece of bread with what we
call 'jimmies' or sprinkles on it. It is then eaten with a knife and fork, as Dutch normally do. Black licorice, usually relegated to
the jellybeans nobody wants back home, rules the candy heap here.  It is sold here sweet and, I kid you not, 'salty', dipped in
chocolate, doused with mint, as a gummi or hard; every version of candy you can think of, Dutch 'dropke's are so popular that
you'll even find them being given away on store counters. Picture three I just found unusual at the time. A bin of 'rookwurst', or
smoked sausage (kielbasa to you Yankee's) being sold out of a bin...in the front of a drugstore. Finally, you can't talk of Dutch
without the almighty Stroopwafel.  About the size of a coaster, this Dutch version of a cookie has won fans the world over. It is
basically a hard, gummy syrup (stroop) pressed between two waffles. While I am not a stroopwaffel fanatic like so many of my
friends, I find they are pretty delicious when they are eaten the traditional Dutch way...that is, warmed over a hot cup of coffee.
 
Here are a few things I saw walking along the streets. Most of the houses I saw had vertical mail slots on them...often 'blanked
off so they couldn't be used. Ok, not that unusual, but I needed something to post. What did strike me were 'NEE' & 'JA' signs
on many mailboxes. Junk mail is divided into 'occupant'  mail, or letters without addresses and filled with advertisements. The
other type of mail is the local free paper, which usually comes stuffed with circulars.  You can choose which to receive by NEE
or JA posted on your mailbox. Why we don't import this genius idea over to the states is beyond me. Dutch are well-known for
their permissiveness in soft drugs, and this poster I below exemplifies that. The poster at left asks ''Dutch drugs laws are bad?
Is America doing better?"
while the poster at right compares drug and alcohol effects and claims 'religious fundamentalism' is
what's driving the 'restrictive' attitude and 'laws made without democracy are a dictatorship'.  Finally, it's just a cat in a window.
    

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March 28- By amazing coincidence, Mercy Ships Netherlands was having a 'reunie & ontmoeting' of people who had served with
Mercy Ships in some capacity.  Marcel and Annette picked me up in Scheveningen,  and off we went to Gorinchem, a small town
on the outskirts of Rotterdam. There, I was blessed to run into all sorts of Dutchies (and others) from my 4 years at Mercy Ships.
To say they were surprised to see me is an understatement. We spent about four hours singing, watching presentations on what
the Africa Mercy is doing now, singing, and catching up. There were also short 'interviews' with different ex-crew members, and
even a funny 'trivia contest' for all of us, which I managed to answer a few questions, even though they were in Dutch! So many
old friends were there, I don't have space to list them all, but I'm sure eagle-eyed Mercy Shipper can spot old their friends in the
photos below. I even got to meet the mother of my friend Jan Tuinier, though Jan & Elizabeth were headed to her native island
Dominican Republic that day & were unable to attend.  Luckily, they'd come aboard the ship a week before so I got to see them!



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Scottish Roadsigns.com? Ok, not as interesting as signs from Africa, but I did see a few interesting ones. Warnings about airguns
seem to be everywhere in Scotland, from bus stops to bathroom walls.  I know that an airgun can get me a prison sentence, as I've
been reminded of that a few hundred times. I had visions of Ralphy from 'A Christmas Story' being thrown into jail for finding a Red
Ryder BB gun under the tree on Christmas morning.  Also here are a couple independence for Scotland signs on a wall on Clerk St.,
which remind me of the 'Britannia Waives The Rules' sign I saw when I was here last in 1996. Do Not Be Afraid'  was a bit of graffiti
outside a pub in Leith.  The most curious sign to me was a street sign reminding you not to use 'loan sharks at Christmastime', and a
confidential number to call if you did. The 'shark tree'  was a nice touch.  Finally, what in the name of Thor is 'Anti-Climb Paint'?????


April 6-
An old friend from Mercy Ships, Bunmi, came down to Edinburgh from Aberdeen. We spent the day schlepping around  
Edinburgh and the Royal Mile,  then took a bus to the ship so she could see what I do. We didn't go into the castle as we'd seen it
before, but had fun just nosing the streets. My Mercy Ships friends Greenfield, Moira, and Shonagh also came while we were here.


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Shopfronts-  shopfronts in the UK have always been fascinating to me. I don't know if it's the different ways they
find to decorate what is more or less the same 20-odd feet or street-front property that every one else has, or just
seeing bright and vibrant colors on a drably colored (but magnificantly constructed) building. Here you see a few of
the more interesting ones I saw.  My 'favorites' can all be seen along the bottom row, from the pink confectionary
complete with icing bag hanging to a lime green 'Curry Connection', a frame shop, and of course, the Captains Bar.
   
   
 

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April 13- Was another great day spent hiking around bonny Scotland,  specifically Holyrood Park right in Edinburgh. Holyrood
Park is a 650 acre park just on the southeast of Edinburgh city center. It has a wide
array of hills, lochs, glens, ridges, basalt cliffs,
and more hiking trails than you could do in a day.  The highest peak, Arthur's  Seat, rises only 250 meters (823 feet) above the city.
The hills are sprinkled with briar patches, making it heaven for the hundreds (thousands?) of rabbits that live there,  and it even
boasts some ruins, those being of St. Anthony's Chapel, a 600 year old monastery. Some friends and I started at the parking lot
at the base, and spent about four hours or so hiking from there to Arthur's Seat to St. Margaret's Loch and up Salisbury Craigs.

Clouds rolled in soon after we began, but by the time we got to the top, 45 minutes later, they had burned off, giving us a view
of Edinburgh that was unmatchable.  As we hiked through certain areas, the ground was fairly well covered in rabbit pellets, and
I kept my eyes peeled for them, spotting a few of the creatures. Of the 40 or so countries I've been to, Scotland has always been
at the top of that list, an honor it shares with Turkey.  Between today's hike and yesterdays, it has solidified it's place on that list!



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April 12- A friend asked if I wanted to take a day trip up north and see a little of the highlands after church. Perhaps do a bit
of hiking. I almost said no. I mean, we only had six hours or so, and we didn't have a plan, a route, or even a confirmation on
who was going. Anyways, I was going hiking the next day.  Still, it's always better to regret things you have  done than things
you haven't done, so I bit the bullet and said yes.  One or two dropped out, we picked up a couple more, and were over thirty
minutes late getting started.  We spent that half an hour forging some sort of plan by trying to cobble together seeing a 'loch',
seeing the highlands, getting off the highway, and doing a bit of hiking. We spent another 30-40 minutes in stop-and-go traffic
from Leith to the other side of the Forth Road Bridge, but once we were across, traffic opened up and we began a steady trek
 north. The suburbs soon gave way to rolling sheep meadows, like endless green carpets covered in white dots...some flat, but
most of them shooting up at impossible angles. I tried counting the sheep, but soon became drowsy and had to stop, lest I fall
asleep and miss the scenery.  The farmland itself gave way to sweeping desolate highlands,  each view more stunning than the
last. We managed to make a couple stops, squeezing out a few minutes at a brook by the roadside somewhere near Kingussie.

Another 30 minutes and we arrived at out destination, Cairngorms National Park. The name of the park translates as 'Blue Hills',
though the mountains are roughly reddish in color. We drove through the 'kickoff' town of Aviemore, which reminded me of the
many kickoff towns lying outside of National Parks back home, from Williams, Arizona (Grand Canyon) to Gatlinburg, Tennesee
(Smoky Mountains). We stopped long enough to map out a plan, as Aviemore was so crowded we literally had to double park in
the parking lot of a Tesco's to brainstorm together. After a few minutes studying the map (and a few annoyed drivers behind us)
we headed into the park.  We drove past campsites, caravan lots, and tourist traps like...I kid you not,  'See The Tame Reindeer'
Some things are universal, I suppose.  There was also a loch (err, lake) located at the base of the mountains that we stopped at
long enough to pretend to spot the Loch Ness monster. On the shore of the loch was a watersports center with visitors queuing
up to do some kayaking, windsurfing, and canoeing. After a 10-minute scenic drive in the lowest gear possible, we were at the
base of the mountains,  and there were people walking by in snowsuits and snow skis.  It's not often you go from windsurfing
 to downhill skiing in 15 minutes. Still, there was some snow on the ground, so we had a brief snowball fight just to say we did.
 
You can't drive to the base of a mountain and not climb it, so up we went, and time constraints be damned.  The Cairn Gorms
are actually a popular skiing area in the winter, and there were no less than a dozen trails available, with ski lifts towering over
our heads. We walked as far as we dared, keeping a mind on getting back to Leith in time for the ships evening Easter service.
Me, I would have hiked until the sun went down, slept under a rock, and hiked all the next day if I could have. After almost six
months in crowded European cities, most of it confined to a ship with a few hundred others, the Cairn Gorms were a breath of
fresh air, literally and otherwise. A two-meter high boulder about a half hour hike up seemed like a good place to stop, so stop
we did, and rested for another 20 minutes or so. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but a thousand pictures couldn't show
the beautiful desolation of the Cairn Gorms.  I've sized my pictures as large as will fit on your screen, but I doubt it's enough.
 
Few more pictures to squeeze in. From the rest stop to a staircase waterfall to the wonderfully named Poo Disposal Point.
   
 


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April 23-
It has been on my mind since we began sailing that this page is slowly becoming focused more on where
we are than what we are doing. The truth is, I have been so busy with my own tasks and responsibilities that I have
scant time to get involved in ministry. We work five days a week and take Sunday and Monday off as our 'weekend'.
Saturday is the busiest day- the day when we generally have the most visitors. We close on Mondays, always a slow
day and that's normally the day the crew gets to go explore whatever city we're in. Sunday is, of course, church day,
and by the time church is over and you've eaten lunch, the day is half over. So, Monday it is. If you are an officer or
stand duty,  there's a one-in-five chance you have duty that day,  which puts a damper on your time off in port. I've
had my share of Monday duty days since we started sailing. If I have duty on the 'weekend', I will usually put on my
uniform and head down to Deck 4 (our visitors deck) and say hello to the people. If I don't have duty, I use that day
to see a little of the cities we are in, or go out with a local friend, often an ex-Mercy Shipper.  During the work week,
I am usually in a dirty shirt and pants, and not the cleanliest officer to go walking around on Deck 4. Still, I manage
to squeak in a little ministry time be helping out where I can-leading a tour, meeting with local groups that come on
board, or speaking at a church like I did last night in Torshavn. I have a desire to get more involved in ministry, but
the current situation seems to hinder that a bit.  Our Deck Four people tell me how much people love seeing officers
in uniforms 'walking around', so I try to do what I can.  As I get settled into the routine of sailing and port visits, I'll
learn to eke out more time getting involved more in ministry. After all, it's what we on the Logos Hope are here for!

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Faeore Islands- I never even knew of them for my first 26 years or so. Heck, I doubt I had ever heard heard the name. When
I joined Mercy Ships for the first time back in 1996, I remember a friend telling me about them, the first time I'd ever heard the
words. When I rejoined in 2005, I met a few people from there, and friends who'd been there on the Anastasis in 2004 spoke of
the incredible hospitality of it's people, matched only by the beauty of the islands themselves. When I heard the Logos Hope was
headed there,  I was glad I'd finally get a chance to see them for myself.  I won't bother trying to put that beauty into words, I'll
just go ahead and post pictures of our current port,  Klaksvik. Starting at the top left picture,  you see what is more or less a 360
degree of the view we have. The pictures start on the port side, and go around clockwise, finishing up on the port stern quarter.

 
  

 

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Ministry?-
We don't seem to be doing much here. Most ports we go to don't know anything about the Logos Hope, so coming on
board is a new experience for them, and often it's their first real exposure to the Gospel. In addition, we go out to halfway homes,
drug/alcohol treatment centers, and 'troubled youth' homes, any place we can to help people by bringing hope. Here in the Faeroe
Islands, it's a bit different. This ship isn't new to anyone- they've all sailed on it before, back when it was a ferry between here and
Denmark.  The Gospel isn't really new to anyone either- a local friend tells me that 25% of  the people on the Islands go to church
every week. Not even Operation Mobilisation is new to anyone here.  Between OM and Mercy Ships, there are around 1000 people
who have served with one of the two organizations. 1000 may not seem like a lot,  but that number adds up to around  2% of the
whole population. Not the 'Christian' population, the entire  population. So, neither our ship nor it's mission are new to them, only
our ships crew is...and they have certainly taken steps to correct that. What does that mean for the Logos Hope?  It means that we
are getting our batteries recharged in a big way.  I doubt I could list all of the ways that the local people have blessed us, but I will
try. A line-up team is 3 or 4 people we send ahead of the ship to an upcoming port to 'line things up' with the port, local churches,
and the media. They did all of the line-up for us here and we didn't need to send out a team.  Two days after we got here, dozens 
of locals donated their time & cars to drive the entire crew around the island, sightseeing, hiking, & exploring.  Local ship captains
have been giving groups of us 'sailing tours' around the islands. Our 'sign-up' board is continually being filled by local people with
opportunities for us go to dinner with a local family, go out on a driving tour with them, do some hiking, visiting, or just get off of
the ship for awhile. We have being receiving so many donations of bread, cakes, and local sweets that the dining room often has a
line of them to choose from.  We have been getting random donations from them as well.  When I say 'random', I mean just that.
Three pallets of house paint in assorted colors. A pallet of candy. A pallet of 'electronic Soduku games', of all things. I spent a few
hours with Leif Erik Niekelsen, a local man who spends his time collecting spare food & merchandise from local shops, and giving
it to those in need. He has given us the bulk of our donations...even a pallet of tools, work clothes/shoes, and much needed flash-
lights. There's no shortage of local volunteers, either.  A group of a dozen or so engineers is currently rebuilding one of our main
engines.  Collectively, we are humbled by the seemingly endless generosity of the Faeroe people. They truly have servants hearts
and we're blessed to know them.  They have a heart for the ship as well- it is registered in the Faeroe Islands, and carries the flag
of the country on it's stern, with 'Torshavn' painted boldly below it. We are doing what we can to repay their kindness(es). We are
staying open later, having more church groups coming on board, and opening up as much of the ship as we can to them. Many of
us are speaking in local churches ( I went the other night ), meeting with local youth groups, and attending the many conferences,
missions nights, and concerts,  raising the awareness of missions, and possibly planting seeds in the hearts of their young people. 
Who know?  Maybe this trip to the Faeroe Islands will push that 2% number up to 3 or 4%!  So I guess in the end, it only seems
like we're not doing much here. No matter what, it was such a blessing for us to spend even just a couple weeks in these fantastic
islands, & we'll no doubt be talking of our time here for years. Please pray for a special blessing for them, for all they done for us!

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Grass Roofs-
  Quite a lot of them in the Faeroe Islands. It's traditional, of course, as you can see from the roof at left, the
one with the tourist sitting on it. It's also quite efficient, as the soil, grass, & roots join together to provide good insulation
against the longish winters and ever-present winds in the Islands. I'm not sure how they protect against a combined weight
of those three sagging the roof, but I suspect it's just 'strong beams'. You see them all over and they're only interesting the
first twenty times you see one. Always the smart-alec, I asked a local friend what they did when the grass grew long, mow
the lawn or just toss a sheep up onto the roof? He replied, "both."  They usually use sheep, but the sheep dislike it so much
being put on the roof, they often wind up just using a mower. The look on his face said he was telling the truth, but I really
have my doubts.  Finally, at bottom right...I'm a sucker for tradition, but I think grass on the doghouse roof is a little much.

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April 18- Bommel and I took a kayaking trip around Torshavn harbor. We borrowed our friend Paul's inflatable and spent a
few hours paddling around the smallish harbor. Strong winds kept us from venturing out much further than the entrance to
the harbor, but there was plenty to see inside, especially if you tie up the boat and walk, as we did. We saw some great old
building, a few monuments, and a great view of our ship. I made a note of what areas need painting & cleaning. Of course.


    

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Hiking in the Faeroe Islands- I've been able to do my share. As a matter of fact, I've been hiking 4 times in the past 2 weeks alone,
and those four hikes rank among the best I've ever done. The mountains of the Faroe Island seem to just thrust upwards at impossible
angles, as thought they rose from the sea themselves.  If I let it, this website could easily become FaeroeIslandsPictures.com, as I have
taken so many pictures since I've been here. They take up more than twice the space on my hard drive than the last 4 ports combined,
and half of the pictures I've have taken since joining the Logos Hope back in November are of the islands.  Pretty amazing, considering
I've only gone out less than three days, total.The beauty is such that you want to burn every into your brain so that you don't forget it,
and I find myself gazing out from various vantage points wondering how it is possible that a land could be so beautiful. Below you see
some pictures of the two hiking trips I've done.  They weren't very strenuous, both being about an hour and a half hike to the top, but
that's a steep ninety minutes.  The first row of pictures is from my day out with Ossur Andreason, who came to the ship and drove six
of us around all day, than to his house for supper afterwards. He, along with a few dozen other Faroeses, many of them ex-OMers and
ex-Mercy Shippers, have gone out of their way to bless us with everything from sailing trips around the islands to home-cooked meals!


These pictures below are of the ships current location, Klaksvik-at 5000 people, the second biggest city in the islands. Completely surrounded
by mountains, it makes for some great hiking right off of the ship. There's a view of the mountain top left, with a picture of the ship next to it.
I've got two or three dozen pictures just as amazing, but figured I'd just limit my post to eight. There's a webcam of Klaksvik, so If you want to
see the ship, go here. We will be leaving tonight around midnight-ish, (7 pm Eastern Time) if you'd like to watch our departure. I'll try to get
one more hike in before we go, possibly just around Klaksvik...which considering the steepness of these mountains,  is a decent hike in itself.

 
 


The Last Faroe Picture Post. (Possibly)- I had to get these last pictures out before moving on to Belfast. A local captain with
a heart for missions donated a few hours & a few gallons of petrol to take the deck department out on a sight-seeing boat tour of
the islands around Klaksvik.  The three pictures you see directly below were taken in sequence by me of some mountains we saw
along the way.  I tried to line them up so I could photoshop them together later, but my skills aren't good enough.  Suffice to say
That is how big it was...that it took three pictures just to fit it all in.  What I wouldn't give to be able to hike all of these some day.

Below left you see a smallish house in the middle of the mountains. I don't know if it was a place for the sheep to hide out when the
weather gets a bit much, or the same sort of thing for the sheep's owners. There were sheep all over the hills, though-no matter how
rugged the terrain or step the hills, you saw little black and white dots meandering around. The sheep even managed to get down to
the shoreline somehow and feast on the seaweed that grows along the waters edge. Locals tell me they like the saltiness of it, much
like horses have salt licks in their stables. I wasn't able to get a very clear picture from my distance. I was amazed at how they were
able to traverse the steep and rocky cliffs to get down to the seaweed. When winter begins to draw near, the shepherds will have to
round up all these sheep,  so they spend a few days (weeks?) hiking up and down the hills and valleys finding them.  When you see
some of the precarious locations the sheep manage to squeeze themselves into,  you appreciate how difficult a job shepherds have.
There's a sermon in there somewhere. Finally, the two pictures on the right show the 'bird cliffs' of the Faeroe Islands. Though hard
to see, each of the cliffs house hundreds and thousands of seagulls, cormorants, & puffins.  Puffins and their eggs are actually good
to eat, and Faroese often spend three days in the summer climbing up the cliffs you see in these pictures capturing the birds.  They
use a net on a shortish pole (much like a fish net ) and nab the puffins as they fly in and out of their nests.  There's not much meat
on a puffin, and I was told it takes three just to fill you up.  Puffins are seasonal, and begin migrating back to the islands in Spring.
We got to see one for the briefest of moments, before he got spooked and disappeared.  All in all, it was a great trip for us deckies.


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May 3, West Belfast-  While the name 'Ireland' may conjure up images of green, bucolic hills and quaint, charming villages,  Belfast
 brings to mind a less peaceful image of the country. It was in W. Belfast that the worst of 'The Troubles', as they're known, took place.
The fighting between the Loyalists and Nationalists has always held a strange fascination for me.  Ever since 1996, when British friends
recommended exiting the Irish pub in London we were drinking in before it got dark,  I wondered why exactly two peoples so similar
could hold such animosity and distrust towards the other. The pub, whose name I forget, looked like any other pub I'd been in, and it's
clientele no different  than any other I'd seen in my travels. Yet, my friends assured me it was very much an 'Irish' pub,  and our safety
wouldn't be guaranteed if we continued to drink there for more than an hour or so. Out we went and into the security one of 'our' pubs
to finish out the evening.  I have pondered the differences between 'Irish' and 'British' ever since, and movies about The Troubles have
ranked among my favorites, movies like The Boxer, In The Name Of The Father,  and The Devils Own.  I watched the informative BBC
dramatization 'Bloody Sunday' on the sail down, and upon reaching Belfast,  I really wanted to see little more than the places that I had 
seen and read about all these years. While the fighting is usually referred to as 'Catholic & Protestants', that's really a bit of a misnomer.
The truth is, what separates the two is whose rule they would rather be under. Unionists prefer to be under the flag of Great Britain and
that Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom. They are loyal to England and the crown (hence the term 'Loyalists') and are
generally Protestant. Nationalists are just the opposite. They want an end to British rule, prefer all of Northern Ireland to be under Irish
rule, and are mostly Catholic. The media usually just short-hand it to 'Catholics & Protestants', so I will too.  Both groups have working
classes, most of which live in West Belfast. The main thoroughfare for the Catholics is Falls Road,  while the Protestants have Shankhill
Road
to the north of Falls, and Sandy Row (to a lesser extent) to the south.  The pictures you see below are of some of the memorials
seen on Falls and Shankhill Roads. The first two are a kind of memorial park outside of the Rex Bar, which is located right next to what
was once 'Frizzell's Fish Shop'. The fish shop was the site of one of the more notorious bombings, known as the Shankhill Road bomb,
in 1993. Rex bar is one of the more popular Loyalist hangouts, & was the scene of several minor skirmishes itself over the years. Next
you see a memorial to the IRA's Bayardo Bar attack, which took the lives of five people back in 1975. You see next to that a mural that
condemns the '30 Years Of Atrocities By The IRA'.  Finally, a memorial garden put up on Falls Road, not too far from the headquarters
for Sinn Fein. Only 1 pro-Nationalist photo? I'm not taking sides or anything-I just saw more things worth photographing on Shankhill!
 

The Peace Wall is a 20-foot  barrier of steel and concrete separating the largely Loyalist  Shankhill Road from Falls Road, where most of the
Nationalists generally live. We assumed that with over a decade of peace, the wall would have come down, but no luck. We had to bike all the
way to Springfield Rd. to get past it. The wall itself was a thing of interest, as tourists from all over the world have come to it to write a thought,
a prayer, a call for peace on it. There were plenty of 'Make Love Not War' type of messages, even more versions of 'just have a pint together',
and a few funny ones, like 'F__k War- Let's find the leprechauns' and 'Irish Boys are cute- stop fighting'. There were a few Christian murals,
as you can see, and a few not-so-altruistic ones...'Queen Rocks- Freddie Mercury 4 eva' being my favorite. We biked along the wall until we
got to one of the gates and wound up on Springfield. From there we biked past shops & storefronts to Falls Road, the more 'Catholic Street'.
With a new era of peace,  there are now actually tours offered of the areas we saw today, many of which are given by former prisoners. 


Murals- Both groups express themselves through the use of murals, and I was told I there are almost 2500 scattered around Belfast.
There's even a difference in the murals the two groups paint. Loyalist murals tend to depict a certain military company or regiment, or
perhaps a past victory. They also commemorate fallen comrades, and a few pledge loyalty to the Queen, England, or Ulster. A few of
them were short 'history lessons' on the Protestant Reformation or Oliver Cromwell.  And of course, a number of their murals vowed
support for such paramilitary groups as the UDA and the UFF. The government's actually paying to have these type of murals painted
over...looking forward by covering up the past.  The more graphic and 'in-your-face murals' are slowly disappearing, and I saw much
fewer of them than I expected to. Nationalist murals tend towards honoring hunger strikers or their fellow 'Freedom fighters' in Spain,
Israel, and Central America. I took pictures of all that I saw (considerably less than 2500), & stitched them together using my meager
photoshop skills. Directly below are  the Loyalists murals I saw, most of which were scattered all around Shankhill Road & Sandy Row.


Here's a a stitch of most of the murals I saw along Falls Road. As you can see, the Nationalist murals deal more with hunger strikes and
other terrorists groups they support. There's also a mural honoring the left's favorite coward, Che Guevara, a charming mural of George
Bush sucking the blood of the Iraqi children, and a reboot of Picasso's 'Guernica'. While these are obviously more political in nature, the
fourth one from the right is a mural advertising the cab company that offers the 'Black Taxi Tours'. This stitch is actually one long string
of murals I saw on Falls Road. My photoshop skills put them together the way they were...ignore the horrible stitching of the sidewalks
and sky. If you're interested in these murals, here are links to sites about them, including info on the ones that have been painted over-
WebUrbanist        Wikipedia       Google Image       PeaceLineTours        GoIreland        Irish Times         Belfast Journal


And a few more... to finish up the post. The top row is a few more political ones, including a decrepit old
paramilitary mural near Sandy Row, 'Orange Just Isn't My Color' (orange tends to be the color of choice for
loyalists), and a few others. The mural at right honors hunger striker Bobby Sands, and is perhaps the most
well-known of Belfasts' murals. On the bottom row is some old Titanic sings. The ship was built here, and a
popular tour is built around the old shipyard. And a few other random pictures I took of Belfast, including a
warning not to drink, 'Sailortown', a cool-looking sports club, and the best sign of all, seen at bottom right.
 


*

June 6-  Yikes, has it really been a month since I updated this page? I guess so. Truth is, I was home for ten days towards the end of May,
so updating the website was pretty low on the list of priorities. It was a good time home, despite many little troubles that popped up. I had  
planned this trip home to be not just 10 days away from work & responsibilities,  but also a chance to stock up on the little things we like in  
our lives.  For me it was my favorite coffee ( Dunkin' donuts, of course), my favorite hot sauce (Frank's), of which I was down to to one last  
use,  a baseball glove, some work clothes, and an assortment of books & movies I had wanted.  For books I got Cormac McCarthy's Border
Trilogy and a couple by Stephen Ambrose, my favorite non-fiction writer, most known for his books 'D-Day' and Band Of Brothers. I also got
many of the newer movies out on DVD and some of the TV shows I had watched, but fell out of touch with when I left.  Finally, I got a few
documentaries from the library and made copies to watch while I am away. I find as I go along I like movies less and less and prefer seeing
documentaries. Watching car chases and explosions for 90 minutes seems like a waste of my time somehow, and after a while, you find that
you've seen it all before, anyways.  When it comes to watching documentaries, my tastes couldn't be more varied.  I'll watch documentaries
on any subject, from Che Guevara to the Chicago Fire.  Actually learning something is, for me, more interesting than watching Matt Damon
shoot someone, I guess. Funny that I was such a bad student in school, yet 20 years later, I love learning new things.                               
 The weather was unusually nice while I was home, and from what I heard, it rained in Dublin the entire time I was gone, so I picked a good
port and a good week to come home. Temperatures got up to 90F/33c while I was back, and every other vehicle on the road seemed to be
 a motorcycle. I didn't see too many friends while I was home, preferring to hide out and relax. I also used my time home to help my fellow
Americans by bringing back things for them, and I found myself hitting different stores trying to find a certain iPod or Lego set. I guess it's
impossible for me to fully relax...but it gave me something to do beside sit around the house copying movies.  Some sort of flu was going 
 around New England, so of course I caught it, which slowed me down a bit. I got back to the ship 8:30 Monday morning, and by 11:30 we
 were outbound Dublin, bound for Cardiff, Wales, where we currently berth. The weather here is phenomenal; it has been cloudless & warm
 every day, despite the rain we had coming in (that was a fun day...). This weather is so sunny and so nice I feel like we're getting away with
something. The baseball glove I brought back has been put to use several times already, and the outside project we've been working on for
 the past month has been kicked into overdrive. Crew members are in much better spirits, going off ship more, and I am seeing quite a few
sunburns around the ship these days. I did some biking with friends last week, and some Mercy Ships friends are coming tomorrow to get
me and do a bit of hiking around beautiful Wales. I've taken few pictures since I've been here, and even fewer while I was home, so I have
 none to add to this post. I will try to take a few in the next few days.  We leave this Tuesday for London, where we will be for three weeks.

*

Biking London- This is the third time I've been to London, and I didn't like it the first two times. That's probably because I was on a budget. This
is not the city to be in if you're watching your pennies. If, however, you are staying for free...say on some sort of ship, London can be explored on
the cheap. The cheapest means of travel being a bicycle, of course.  I've been on three bicycling trips around the city...two by myself and one with
a friend, Shama.  Below you can see some of the many pictures I've taken on these trips. I don't claim them to be in any kind of order, but I have
labeled them to the best of my recollection. At left is the steps of St. Pauls Cathedral, which allowed Logos Hopers to visit fro free, although I was
happy to just peek inside. I've seen enough cathedrals in my life.  Next to that is Shama & I in Greenwich Tunnel, a Victorian-era tunnel that joins
East London and Greenwich underneath the Thames. All of my bike trips started off with a trip to Greenwich, as the tunnel was only about a mile
away and a good way to start a trip around London. Here you see Shama & I standing in front of a statue of Nelson, outside the historic Trafalgar
Inn.  We biked a few miles along the Thames past a giant anchor and stopped for lunch on  the scenic grounds of the National Maritime Museum.

 

Here you see my riderless bike alongside a fountain at Buckingham Palace, me at Horse Guards, at Tower Bridge, the Millenium footbridge, and
finally alongside a statue of the Ghurkha memorial. Having worked with Ghurka's as Security Officer at Mercy Ships, I am quite familiar with the
history of the Ghurkha's and their relationship with England. They have been in the news in the UK quite a bit recently, as British actress Joanna
Lumley
(of Absolutely Fabulous) spearheaded a campaign to allow the many Ghurkha's who've served four or more years in the British army to
settle in the UK.  Less than two weeks before we arrived in London, the British government granted them the right to do just that.  The flowers
you see around the base of the memorial statue are most likely a way of saying thanks from the people of London,...and to congratulate them.

 
Here you see me in Picadilly Circus- the London equivalent of Times Square. I'm standing next to a kangaroo statue, of course. It was part of an
ad campaign put on by the Australian Tourist Board. They are claiming that 20 roos escaped into the capital city and challenged London travelers
to spot as many as they could,  the winner receiving a trip to Kangaroo Island.  I was reminded of that  'Chi-cow-go' exhibition a few years back,
when 300 or so life-size fiberglass cows were given as blank canvases to artists to design and display around Chicago. I was in the city then and
took pictures of a few of them.  Likewise, these roos were given over to local artists to design as they saw fit, and the one you see me with is an
amalgamation of dozens of road signs warning you of impending kangaroos on the road.  Despite there being twenty of these scattered around
the city, I only remember seeing this one. I guess I don't win that trip to Kangaroo Island. I also spent a few hours touring around the decidedly
'non-bicycle friendly' Kensington Gardens, and as there was a Neil Young concert in the park that night, the plethora of concertgoers and dearth
of bike paths kept me off of my bike as much as on it. Despite the many wide-open roomy paths available in Kensington Gardens, most of them
were closed to those on wheels. I did manage to circumnavigate the park, visiting a memorial to Diana, some nice statues, and Royal Albert Hall,
which you see below.  Of course,  all my bike trips finished up at the best tourist destination in London...home,  in the form of the Logos Hope!

 

For a page about my time in Denmark preparing the Logos Hope for sea, go here.