Tomorrow afternoon we are boarding for our 7-day cruise in the Caribbean! However, we were actually on a ship already on Monday – what a better way to start the week but with a cocktail party onboard a French naval ship? 🙂
We were invited (as members of the Alliance Francaise of Puerto Rico) by the French consulate , it was the third time we were invited to mingle with French marines, but this was the first time we actually could attend! It is quite funny to be on the French consul’s mailing list as a Swede and a Spaniard!
It proved to a be a very interesting and nice, but a little unsteady, experience onboard the “patrouilleur” La Gracieuse. The consul and the captain greeted us when we boarded, as always a slight linguistic confusion occurred when the consul spoke Spanish and I spoke French (he is French). The deck of the small boat, was already full of white uniformed marines, French expats and Puerto Rican guests.
We talked to an American who told us that he was the harbour pilot and I immediately made a fool of myself when asking “pilot of the air or sea?”. To my defense I didn’t know that what we Swedes call a “lots” (i.e a specific word for navigation on the sea) is “pilot” in English, and my dear O told me afterwards that he had been as confused as I (in Spanish the word is “práctico de puerto”). Despite my silly question, the pilot explained to us his job and told us that the harbour of San Juan is quite difficult to navigate and it is easy to get stuck if you are not careful. He also told us that the Norwegian cruise ship we had seen in the harbour during the weekend had lost power outside Puerto Rico and the cruise company had had to FLY home the passengers (sounds expensive, even if it was just to Miami!).
We also mingled with some marines, including one female (marinette we were told it was called in French!?); discussing life onboard, the different islands they have visited – the boat is based in Martinique, and the mission of La Gracieuse, which is surveillance of the international waters of the Caribbean – checking for drug trafficking, illegal immigrants etc. What a fascinating job!