Approaching Hanga Roa.
- Valparaiso, Chile to Papeete, Tahiti with Easter Island, Pitcairn, and Moorea as intermediate stops.
- Worldcon in London and Eurocon in Dublin with Wales in the middle.
- Lisbon to Rome via Gibraltar, southern Spain, the Balaeric islands, Sardinia, and Corsica.
- Barbados to Barbados via Martinique, St. Lucia, Grenadines, and Tobago. I still dream about this hotel in St. Lucia.
- Hawaii. Four islands. One ship.
- Rome to Venice with intermediate stops in Sicily, Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia.
Exercise for the reader
- Buy an iPad (or pretend to have) for T-Mobile’s network.
- Try to sign up for a plan on T-Mobile’s site that is a Simple Choice plan without buying another device. Hint: start here.
- With this non-existent opportunity, you will get free international global data roaming. Isn’t that special?
Exercise 2 for the reader
- Buy an iPad configured for T-Mobile from Apple.
- Wait extra fucking weeks to get the damn thing because T-Mobile.
- Activate your 200MB free data. Woohoo!
- Oh. You want to travel. Add a paid plan.
Guess what? Your international plan, even though it costs the same amount of money, will not get you international data, and that is not disclosed.
Leave the country. Visit a capital city of another country. Note that you do not have data roaming. Contact T-Mobile support.
Hello Deirdre, I reviewed your account and I do see it set up correctly with no restrictions. Unfortunately we are not always able to guarantee full functionality while overseas.
Even. Though. The. People. With. T-Mobile. Voice. Plans. Are. Having. No. Issues.
Come home. Contact T-Mobile support before your new trip.
Get the following e-mail.
Our apologies but for Pay in Advance accounts (including your prepaid data plan), international data roaming is not available at this time. We do hope to see this change in the future, but for now, you would be unable to use your iPad internationally on a Pay in Advance plan.
Even. Though. It. Costs. The Same. Amount. Of. Money. As. The. Other. Plan.
This from a company that doesn’t even believe in plans.
And, from another e-mail.
In order to use the tablet while internationally roaming, we would need to have this attached to a postpaid voice line […].
Which — it does not say on the page I linked to, does it. Maybe that’s the way to “patch” the current non-functional plan I have, but, if I bought my device directly from T-Mobile, I’d be able to have, for the same amount of money as the plan I did purchase, a plan that covered international data.
Because the thing I really want to do when I’ve been jerked around by a company is give them more of my business, right?
There’s nothing polite I can possibly say here.
I’ve been busy as a bee, and hope to have an outline posted for So You Want to Travel the World before we leave for Really Remote Places. But, there’s another free perk for everyone who’s contributed $10 or more: an ebook I’m writing about our recent trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It’s called Coffee & Canopy.
Wanna see the cover? Of course you do.
The book will be free for everyone who contributes (or who already has contributed) $10 or more to the Indiegogo campaign for So You Want to Travel the World. Otherwise, it’ll be $2.99 all by its lonesome through the usual outlets. I’m almost done. Can’t wait.
Every book should feature unexpected venomous sea snakes, right?
The cover photo is one I took in Nicaragua at the Masaya volcano crater rim. The stairs leading up to the cross in the upper right have dissolved enough through years of corrosive volcanic emissions that they are now off-limits due to structural damage.
I’ll let everyone know when it’s available through the usual venues.
Montserrat’s a beautiful place. As you sail in, it looks like many other islands in the Caribbean with some nice mountains with clouds surrounding them (as is so often the case with islands). We landed at Little Bay, which is at the north of the island.
We tour the local sights, including the proposed location of the new capital, and hear about how so many thousands of people on this tiny island have had to flee; over half of it is still in an exclusion zone, though there are (apparently) multiple, nested, exclusion zones.
The island has some lovely flora.
And, as we drive to the south, lovely mountain views to the north.
It was once a huge tourist destination where the rich and famous vacationed. Where a number of famous albums were recorded, including Jimmy Buffet’s song Volcano. Before that, it was one of the locations of many Irish slaves and indentured servants. In 1768, on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish slaves revolted, but slavery was not officially abolished until much later.
At present, it’s known for how greeen it is.
Our buses trundle along, and our driver says she doesn’t think we’ll get into the exclusion zone. It’s Christmas Day, after all, and the police have to open it up, and they’re home with their families. We pull to the side of the road right before the first locked gate, aka the first level of the exclusion zone. Cruise staff go to a building near the gate with a couple of locals, and voila, we have a key.
Clearly, something was arranged in advance.
So we head up into the exclusion zone, but most of the homes look, well, normal. Like places that had been abandoned, but not in bad shape.
When we drive over a ridge and finally see the first real effects of the volcano at Belham Valley. It doesn’t look so bad. A small river of dirt, right?
On our way down to Belham Valley, we see an abandoned house. The driver pauses for a moment to point out that the volcanic gases have dissolved the steel roof over the last 18 years, and that every single building we’ll see has similar structural damage that may not be as visible.
We take the road in through the second exclusion zone gate and pull up to a well-traveled spot. We’re warned not to walk off the path where people have driven because the ground isn’t as settled as we think it is. The volcanic ash is much, much deeper than we think.
Was three stories tall. B.V. Before volcano.
You can walk up to and (if you’re brave and/or stupid) stand on the second story roof.
It’s not hard to see the volcano damage to the details of the structure.
We drive further into the exclusion zone, through a third gate. Some houses are really obviously damaged for good.
While others don’t look so bad unless you look more closely.
We climb through what used to be a hillside hotel, but is now a lookout point. Some of the houses look almost normal if it weren’t for the river of ash in the background.
Then, turning to the left, you see just how much ash there is, burying everything at least 2-3 stories for miles.
The lower half of the island is just a plain of desolation that used to be a capital city. The ash is not particularly compact, so in some cases it’s not even a little bit traversible.
It’s the weirdest thing. It doesn’t feel safe, yet it doesn’t feel as unsafe as it actually is. I had that experience in Hawaii, too.
Interior turbine photos. Dude.
Air Tahiti Nui released the jawdropping behind-the-scenes footage of its operations to celebrate its 15th anniversary. It was created by Matthieu Courtois, a 32-year-old technical engineer from Tahiti who has been working for the airline since 2007, with the help of pilot Ludovic Allain.
More in this story from Kate Schneider — including the awesome video. (Sorry, Ooyala video is annoying to embed….)
Isn’t the ending of that video amazing?
Soundtrack tune is Daybreak by Overwerk. Which I bought immediately.
Guess where we’re going next month?
First four maps are from Aperture.
This one’s from gcmap. Here’s the gcmap version with all airport and distance information.
New Countries and Territories
I started the year at 70 Countries/Territories on the TCC list. Ended at 88. I will make 100 with already-booked travel in 2014. Woohoo!
- Japan (UN 48, ISO 62: JP) (2013)
- Thailand (UN 49, ISO 63: TH)
- Sumatra, Indonesia (UN 6, ISO 7)
- Vietnam (UN 50, ISO 64: VN)
- Guam (UN 1, ISO 65: GU)
- Micronesia, Federated States of (UN 51, ISO 66: FM)
- Marshall Islands, Republic of (UN 52, ISO 67: MH)
- South Korea (UN 53, ISO 68: KR)
- Sri Lanka (UN 54, ISO 69: LK)
- Maldives (UN 55, ISO 70: MV)
- Malaysia (UN 56, ISO 71: MY)
- Myanmar (UN 57, ISO 72: MM)
- Bulgaria (UN 58, ISO 73: BG)
- Romania (UN 59, ISO 74: RO)
- Ukraine (UN 60, ISO 75: UA)
- Alaska (UN 1, ISO 1: US)
- South Africa (UN 61, ISO 76: ZA)
- Isle of Man (UN 4, ISO 77: IM)
I’ve been to four on this list (1, 4, 5, and 8).
- Maldives, 2.4 meters, Indian Ocean
- Tuvalu, 5 meters, South Pacific Ocean
- Cocos Islands, 5 meters, Indian Ocean
- Marshall Islands, 10 meters, North Pacific Ocean
- Cayman Islands, 46 meters, Caribbean Sea
- Turks & Caicos, 49 meters, North Atlantic/Caribbean Sea
- Gambia, 53 meters, Africa
- Bahamas, 63 meters, North Atlantic/Caribbean Sea
- Anguilla, 65 meters, Caribbean Sea
- Niue, 68 meters, South Pacific
- Nauru, 71 meters, South Pacific
- Vatican, 75 meters, Europe
- Kiribati, 83 meters, South Pacific
Yet it’s indirectly related to both those things.
Here’s an example. Seabourn had two small ships, carrying 112 passengers. Seabourn was sold to Carnival, and those small ships were replaced with three larger ships with more than double the tonnage carrying 208 passengers. That’s not a bad size.
Except those three ships are now being replaced with 32,000 ton ships that carry 450 passengers. So, a periodic doubling of passenger capacity and a concomitant loss of intimacy.
Seabourn’s original two ships are now owned and operated by SeaDream. We love them. Sure, it’d be nice to have something a bit bigger, but their ships are really great, though designed before good wheelchair-friendly designs came out. (As a mobility-impaired person, it’s a bit challenging at times, but I manage just fine.)
When we first arrived on SeaDream, they knew our names, knew I needed gluten-free food, and so on. On our second cruise, most of the crew was the same, and they all remembered us. You can’t get that kind of intimacy on a large ship, and every time Carnival goes through another iteration, it’s to make things bigger.
Another point about gluten-free food and SeaDream: they mark every menu with what is gluten-free and what is not. They are very careful with it; I’ve never gotten sick from food aboard. Their food is truly world class.