I am the first Englishman to dance with Yemeni fishermen. Actually I think the accolade I was awarded by the coastguard who gave me this video clip was that I was the first foreigner to lead a troupe of Yemeni fishermen in dance. Ever. Don’t worry I’m not being serious, even though the coast guard was. I was quite touched that one of the coastguard-policemen came looking for me to lead me up to Colonel Mohamed’s office to watch this clip. All ten policemen were huddled round a TV with a camera plugged in to it, watching this clip! The actual event was a leaving ceremony put on by Colonel Mohamed of Aden for the Vasco Da Gama rally and the fishermen were breaking out some traditional dance routines to a live band. I have to say they were excellent and the music was pretty cool too. Check out the video clip.
We return to Massawa and Liz, bless her, went down with the nasty fever that was spreading amongst the yotties. It was a shame because she missed ‘Fenkil’, which was the 20th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence. We had originally been told that all foreign yachts were to have left Massawa before the president came to do his speech but we later learned that actually the town would like us to stay and celebrate with them. What an honour.
This Christmas day the Vasco Da Gama rally participants and friends had a pontoon party in Hurghada Marina. Around 20 or so people took part in this ‘pot luck’ festive dinner. Liz and I were due to take part in the celebrations, and we did, but not without a hiccup (read a morning spent in the hospital A&E)!
The first night of the rally was pirate-themed, hence the eye-shadow. Somewhere in my tiny brain I thought perhaps I bore a vague resemblance to Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates…’, but then I do have to keep reminding myself that he’s not a fat ****, so I just ended up looking like a gay English lout.
Now I wouldn’t want you to think that we’ve been up to nothing but do-gooding these past weeks… Those of you that know us will be relieved to hear that there has been the usual amount of getting-up-to-mischief and having fun too! Now, where to start?
Lisbon is as cosmopolitan as Porto is traditional. This is apparent as soon as you hit the streets, which are bustling with travellers, hippies, performers, artists, musicians, Bohemians, and gays. Yes, it seems Lisbon is home to the hom. A wrong look in the direction of one of the many pretty boys here and you could find yourself in a tight spot. Literally.
After my watch and a snooze I’m woken to the sight of our first Portuguese destination, Viana do Castelo, which looks dreary and drab. How wrong I was! This town was just completing the four day fiesta Romaria de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia, or Our Lady of Sorrows. If you didn’t know the festival was called this you could have guessed by the local folk music that was playing from every bandstand and stage. Whilst the instrumental music is great it’s unfortunately accompanied by banshee wailing. This is normal, so I’m told, but it sounds rubbish.
Boy do the Spanish love to party! In the main plaza of La Coruna, Plaza de Maria Pita, a huge stage had been erected to host a number of Galician bands who played into the night: I think they eventually turned the music off at 1am, which is completely unheard of in the UK considering this was in the town centre.