MMAwave picture space picture Saturday 09 February, 2002
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Saturday 09 February 2002

At 1200, EST the Training Ship Empire State was moored starboard side to pier three in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The sky was clear with east northeast winds blowing at 11 mph, air temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity was 70%, barometric pressure was 30.13 inches of mercury and steady.


"You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."

Mark Twain

We were welcomed with wonderful hospitality yesterday by the officials and the people here in Ponce, on the south coast of Puerto Rico. Ponce is Puerto Rico's second largest city with a population approaching 200,000 and it is called "La Perla del Sur" (Pearl of the South). The cadets are finding that this city is really a gem, packed with things to do. It is the busiest port in Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean. Much of the regions, tobacco, coffee, sugar cane and rum is shipped through here. But I doubt that barges and bales are much on the minds of many today.

Shortly after we arrived, many of the cadets beat their little feet to the Plaza De Las Delicias and joined the carnival. The Ponce Carnival is very similar to New Orleans' Mardi Gras, complete with street fairs, clowns, bands, and traditional cultural attractions. I haven't received many reports this morning but it is early( what would they tell me anyway). I know that they enjoyed every moment from the lively discussions that occurred on the brow last evening.

Today, the sun is shining brightly, the trade winds are ruffling the fronds of the high palm trees and "Liberty call, liberty call" has been piped throught the ship. The exodus of tanned young people carrying backpacks stuffed with towels and bathing suits surging down the gangway has begun, like the Israelites fleeing Pharaoh.

Unlike the group that went ashore yesterday, today's pilgrims are armed with information gleaned from listening to the late night tales of their bunkmates. Although the cadets in division 1 were on watch until after midnight, they knew sleep was impossible as those in the two liberty divisions flopped into the narrow bunks next to them. Animated hands and arms spoke loudly of the wonders of the city, the beautiful latin women (or handsome latin men), the nightlife and the beaches. Stories, already embellished after only a few hours, were whispered in the dark of the berthing hold. Whispered just loud enough for the restless watchstanders to hear and envy. " She was so beautiful..." or "The place was wild with everyone dancing, and then she...". In payment for their sacrifice of sleep, the tired watchstanders of yesterday now have the names of the best clubs scrawled on scraps of paper. This gang has a map and directions to El Tuque beach with the best hottie quotient written in red ink. They intend to waste none of their precious liberty time lost amid the streets of this city. No, they will squeeze every drop of life from the minutes alloted to them today, and the stories they will tell tonight will be even better than the ones that kept them awake last night. Ah, the bliss of being young and a traveler in a foreign land!

3 friends: 1/c cadets Beth Quitadamo (Holden,MA), Jen Gillis (Dorchester,MA), and Katelyn Ladden (Warminster,PA).   NOW we're having fun! fishing: so much to do... so little time. Those fish better bite quick, we've got places to go and things to do!

Lest you think that when we pull into port we all get changed into civies, run ashore, turning out the lights and locking the door behind the last youngie to leave; work, that four letter word of the sea term, continues unaffected by the beauty that surrounds the ship. The chief mate loves port calls. Not because he is a liberty hound, but because he can take his work gangs ashore to paint the hull. He can put a lifeboat on the dock for repairs and he can tend to work that can't be done at sea because of the movement of the ship or the necessity to keep ladders or passageways open and gear available for emergencies. Yes, the chief mate is a hated man on sea terms... and on this trip we have TWO chief mates: one homegrown (Cdr Jim Taddia) and one borrowed from New York (Cdr Chris Zolla). Double the pleasure, double the fun... double the amount of work done. Here's photographic evidence that all in port is not fun and games. Note that you don't see many smiles... wait until they get off work tomorrow though! Then it'll be their turn to rock and roll!

the view: from here is not as beautiful as it may look when you're holding a paint roller in your hands. the flare of the bow: is one of the hardest areas to paint, best done when in port. hanging over the side: are we having fun yet? passageway: 4/c Brendan Ledsworth (Portsmouth,RI) enjoys his first day in port...NOT! scrub: a dub dub. You can never please the Mate... that's the rub. daily grind: stick em up: 3/c Zack Leo uses his needle gun to bust rust on one of the davits. sittin on a dock: in the bay watchin our cares drift away... liberty tomorrow, lookin forward to that day. A formation: "Hey, from up here I think I can see someone havin fun on the beach ...