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September 2, 2009

Arguineguin, Southern Grand Canary. Wednesday, September 2, 2009

BY: Jose Peñalver


©OCEANA/ Eduardo Sorensen


Seven twenty-five a.m. I know this because the daily alarm on my cell phone started to spit out the tune from the soundtrack of the movie The Sting, perhaps attempting to sting me to my feet. But even that didn’t work. Sometimes the ship jostles you until you get up. The bad part is that it usually does it from the time you go to bed the night before. I clumsily pressed the “5 minute snooze” key, trying to get my brain to go back to the off position as quickly as possible, thus chiseling another chunk out of the night.

Seven thirty a.m. Same story. Several times. Until I can’t hold it off any longer and I dreadfully drag myself into the kitchen to load the coffee pots, heat up the milk, squeeze juice, honey, pastries… Well, I guess that that’s what I do until I have a cup of very strong coffee, I smoke a cigarette, and then I’m really awake. Good morning.

Today I’m going to prepare something simple: hamburgers (Bos taurus domesticus) with french fries (Solanum tuberosum). These species are usually found at depths from between 20 and 30 centimeters inside the cooler. As you can imagine, it’s a protected area.

After breakfast begins the hectic daily activity. It’s a really interesting and absolutely coherent job. Although sometimes, seen from the outside, it is not different from any scene from a Marx Brothers movie: Siscu shouts “ballast five up” while Charlie answers back “ballast five up”. The sailors and divers wield a sort of yellow hose like a small squadron of lazy firemen while Pitu and Nuño talk about courses, drift, currents and that “you’re leaning hard on me, over”. A cacophony, presumably orchestrated, as Riki and Ana’s eyes widen while they are speaking in Latin. Gorka and Carlos Minguell document it all just so you don’t think I’m making it up.

Twelve thirty p.m. I’ve got to start fixing lunch.

As I select the ingredients, I wash them, cut them up (I know, I know, today they’re hamburgers and they don’t give me much work). I put the clean pots away in the cabinets, I wash the dishes or prepare a mid-morning snack. I like to think about the small pleasures that may await me at the end of the day such as a nice hot shower when we dock: that big, dark room where you can see the latest movies while you eat popcorn… Or was that the movie theater? Anyway…

One o’clock p.m. I’ve got to start fixing lunch.

But today I feel like writing. Come here. As I usually do when I ship out, I have brought my binoculars and four field guides on birds. The bird sightings have been really poor: shearwaters, seagulls and a little more than that. This means that my ornithologist’s gear is being given the same use as shampoo or a comb. Better luck tomorrow.

I’ve got to make lunch now.