Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wrapping up

It's time for me to wrap up this blog, and I can't do that without a personal thanks to all the people, American and Spanish, government and academic, who made the last week such a wonderful, intense experience for me.

First, many thanks to Scott Glenn, Oscar Schofield, Josh Kohut, Courtney Kohut, and the dozens of faculty, staff and students at the Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory who have given me so much to to talk and think about, and so many great memories, not just this past week, but since I first came to Rutgers in 2004.

Second, thanks to Dean Robert Goodman, and to Dean Richard Ludescher, who made it possible for me to go to Spain last week.

Third, thanks to the six young people who spent a lot of time with me last week and were really good sports: Colin Evans, Nilsen Strandskov, Dakota Goldinger, Pilar Timpane, Chantal Eyong and Lizette Gesuden. Colin, Nils and Dakota helped fly the glider and rode with me while I got them seriously lost in Vigo searching for the Investigador, bearing up with good humor. Pilar, Chantal and Lizette were Dena Seidel's video crew in Spain. Here they all are together on the Investigador last week. They're posing with Pedro Ortiz Gabellanes, a seaman on the vessel.

I also want to recognize Dan Crowell, diver and underwater cameraman, who worked on the documentary, much of the time underwater. Here's a pic of Dan aboard the ship last week.

Finally, I want to say thanks to the people of Baiona, and I take as their exemplar Don Manuel Ramon Vilar Martinez, the deputy mayor and former mayor of Baiona. Considering that he turned up just about everywhere we went in Baiona, I should have a better picture of him than this, but he was so engaging and charming that I usually put down my camera down and just talked with him. This is my best shot of him, and it isn't very good.

At the mayor's reception, we chatted in Spanish about the difference between Gallego and Spanish. He was graciously complimentary about my Spanish -- and complimenting my Spanish requires a large store of grace, indeed. As he walked through the old part of town (the local definition of "old" is really, really old), he pointed out things the tour guide didn't bother with, and that I wouldn't have noticed on my own: that the houses were built in contour with the rocks; that the windowless old wall we walked beside was part of a Dominican convent, still in use, dating to the Pinta's time. Finally, rounding a corner, he pointed to an old (again, we're talking seriously old) two-story house, somewhat the worse for wear. "My grandmother's house," he said. "She was born in that room on the second floor. I used to come here all the time as a kid." It had nothing at all to do with the glider, or Rutgers, or any of the official reasons for my presence, and I record it here, unapologetically, as my main reason for wanting to go back.

In the meantime, from the crows nest of the Investigador, safe and snug at her pier in Vigo, I'll wave goodbye to you all.