Sunday 10 February, 2002
Sunday 10 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 southeast winds blowing at 06 mph, air temperature was 83 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity was 65%, barometric pressure was 30.10 inches of mercury and steady.
"Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour, I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days, I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage, I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame, I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court." Mark Twain, (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)(1835-1910)
Mark Twain was a smart 'ole sailor; I wonder if he ever visited Puerto Rico?
I tend to write of Puerto Rica (rich port) as if it is a foreign country and that is not so. Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, and became a U.S. Commonwealth on July 25, 1952. It is governed under a constitution; the people celebrate July 4th as Independence Day and have most of the rights and obligations of other U.S. citizens. The wonderful people here in Ponce are treating us like family, too and the city is proving to be a wonderful place to stop. All reports confirm that cadets are having a wonderful time and my association with local leaders and maritime professions has been excellent.
Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493, and Ponce was founded in 1692 by Ponce de Leon's great-grandson. It has been going strong since. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to preserve the historic significance and ambiance of the city. The center of Ponce dates to the 17th century and the plazas, fountains, and architecture are as beautiful as any in the Caribbean. The Carnival is the focus of local entertainment this weekend and much of the activity is occurring in and around the Plaza de las Delicias, and an historic wooden firehouse that continues to serve the local neighborhood.
Many cadets will spend the entire weekend in this area and at the beach and be very happy to do so. However, many are out seeing the sights. Puerto Rico is mountainous and a range (3000 feet high) nearly divides the island east to west. They are situated more to the south and Ponce is only a short distance from the summit of El Vigia. One may see nearly the entire town from there and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding ocean. The hilltops are bathed in cool refreshing sea breezes,(trade winds) which may explain why El Vigia was once the home of a powerful family who became wealth producing Don Q Rum.
The terrain and tropical weather combine to produce very lush vegetation and Puerto Rico is the site of the only Tropical Rain Forest in the entire US Parks System. EL Yunque is located about one hour to the northeast of Ponce and many cadets are there today. The forest and the watershed offer spectacular waterfalls and deep, inviting pools as rainwater rushes down the steep hills. Much of it is pure enough to drink and perfect for swimming. Tropical rain forests are home to plants and animals that we will never see in frosty New England. Huge tree ferns, colorful orchids, and giant mahogany trees, line the hiking trails and shade the picnic areas. Tiny tree frogs (coquis) and songbirds are plentiful and there are no poisonous snakes. I like that! I would imagine that the mongoose, introduced to control rats, have likewise controlled some of the snakes. Another hot spot, particularly for our "crunchies", was recommended by Captain Jose Rivera, an accomplished Harbor Pilot who put us on the right track in everyway. That is the Rio Camuy Cave Park. It is located in the mountains to the northwest and is said to be the third largest cave system in the world. The huge underground caverns and surrounding gorges were formed by the erosive action of the Camuy River hundreds of thousands of years ago. I am sure that everyone will enjoy a relaxing walk through the unique park. I saw several of the caverns most famous inhabitants on television not long ago, a totally blind species of fish that dwells in the permanent darkness.
Captain Rivera also recommends traveling to the southwest corner of the Island. That area is more arid and cacti actually grow there. So, as I said, there is something here for everyone; rest, relaxation, parties, eco tourism... Puerto Rico has it all and we are just glad to be here. Lunch awaits.
See You tomorrow from a friendly place called "Back at the Grind".
QUESTIONS FOR MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2002
MATH: Two cadets went to the watch the bullfights. Cadet Williams departed the pier at 1100, drove at 50 MPH, and arrived at 1400. Cadet Hansen rode his bike, started at the same from the same place, and averaged 15 MPH. At what time will Cadet Hansen arrive at the arena?
SCIENCE: A rule of nature that sums up related observations and experimental results to describe a pattern in nature is a_____________. In science, a testable prediction is called an___________. An explanation based on many observations supported by experimental results is called a ___________.
GEOGRAPHY: A narrow body of water between two large bodies of land is called a strait. What is the name of the strait between the United States (Florida) and Cuba?
HISTORY: During the colonial period in North America, a trading pattern was established between the American colonies, Europe and Africa. Guns, ammunition, and manufactured goods were loaded onto ships at British and French ports. These ships sailed to Africa where the cargo was exchanged for Africans. The ships then sailed for the Caribbean or North America with their human cargo. This is known as "the middle passage". The Africans were sold at Caribbean and North American ports. Then cotton, tobacco, and sugar were taken aboard and carried to England and France where they were processed and refined for sale to other countries. What was the name of this well-known trading arrangement where human beings were a part of the cargo?