Indian Ocean, Pakistan

  • Date
  • 25 December 2000

Riding to Karachi on an onion boat looking out to a far, far away shore of rugged cliffs. The Indian Ocean is calm today, but yesterday the water looked to almost come to a boil with waves moving back and forth, up and down, but never spouting into a white-capped creation. The beaming sun along with a steady cool wind tousled my dirty, stringy hair.

During the last two nights I’ve slept on the boat’s wooden deck – first night (23 December 2000) in the tiny captain’s room where a thin layer of aged carpet softens, ever so slightly, the wood. A bright light beamed through the center, back window into the square room making restful sleep nearly impossible. Plus a strong wind whistled through one of the two sliding doors that remained open all night, allowing the crew to view the simple navigation system.

The other night of sleeping (24 December 2000) we took directly to the ship’s open deck in our sleeping bags and cheap, thin Mickey Mouse pillows bought for this journey. Tears thick like glue welled in my eyes as we listened to the BBC broadcast of King’s College Cambridge’s organ and choral performance celebrating Christmas. Under the twinkling stars of Orion’s Belt and the Milky Way on a rock-hard, damp wooden deck complete with onionskin and a few roaches, we sang carols before burying our heads into our sleeping bags hoping to avoid mist and chilly winds. Through the night, I woke several times with dew settled on my hair, pillow and sleeping bag. Inching down into my bed I smelled Wadi Halfa (Sudan) since my sleeping bag was washed last there. (Indian Ocean water smells remarkably better.) Several times when turning over onto my other bruised hip (from the wooden deck), I lowered my sleeping bag so I could look up and revel in the glistening stars and brilliant sky on this very special night.