A different Christmas


By Miri

Snowy landscape, the smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies, going to church, spending a nice evening with your family and seeing their happy faces when they open the present you carefully selected for them: that’s what the 24th of December is normally like for most of us. But this time, almost everything was really different.

On 24th, we had a really good breakfast in the harbor and had a little bit of a Christmas feeling because we put up a plastic Christmas tree, some palm tree leaves and our advent wreath that is made up of twisted ropes and some electric candles. We didn’t sing any Christmas songs, but we packed something for lunch, got our backpacks and left to discover different parts of Grenada in groups of four or five.

First of all, everyone got transferred to the town, that was on the other side of the harbor bay, by our dinghi drivers and searched for the main bus station. When we finally got on the right bus the first big adventure of the day began: riding an old, small bus at an extraordinary speed across the whole island while listening to loud reggae music! We had nine groups, the people and their destinations were drawn out of a hat, and I was put together with Freya, Marc and Gero. We started from St. Georges in the south and went all the way to Sauteurs in the north where we climbed up a coconut tree, got taught how to open it the ancient Indian way by an inhabitant and got on another bus to Belmont Estate, which is a chocolate factory that produces 20 bars each day. There we went through a production hall straight to the shop and bought “the best chocolate I have ever had”, as Marc said, as well as chocolate tea balls and some powder. Then we already had to leave because we wanted to be back in the harbor as soon as possible to be able to call our loved ones on Christmas Eve. While we were waiting we “borrowed” some fresh bananas from the nearby plantation and finally got on another bus. When we arrived at the harbor, luckily we still had 15 minutes left that we used to wish our families a merry Christmas before we had to get on a dinghi in order to be transferred back to the Thor Heyerdahl.

After putting away our backpacks and putting on some beautiful clothes, we had a Christmas dinner with decorated tables, sung some Christmas songs and – the best part of the evening – the letters from Germany were distributed! You sure see why we went to bed late, and some stayed up even later to finish their presents, but this evening was still not nearly as special as the next day…

The 25th began early in the morning. We went to one of the many local churches and attended a beautiful and different Christmas service. We got welcomed very friendly and sung “Oh du Fröhliche”, a German Christmas song, at the end of the service. It was an almost magical moment. We happily returned to the Thor and had a Christmas brunch with yummy pancakes and a little Santa Claus out of chocolate for everyone.

Then the preparations began: the day watches and everything else was organized, a really luxurious dinner was cooked, the ship was cleaned, pieces of music were practiced one last time. The main deck was decorated with fairy lights, the tables were coated with long white sheets of paper. When it slowly became darker, the atmosphere started being more festive and reverent. All of us put on their most beautiful clothes and when the time finally came, we gathered on the poop deck. Our moderators, Fabulous Finn and Tremendous Theresa, announced the first events and our Christmas started with the magical voice of Julia singing “Hallelujah”. Ruth read out a Christmas story, and Lara, Finn, Alea and Jasper performed the “Friesenrock”, a really powerful and fun dance. Then we went to the tables on the main deck, sat down and listened to Valentin playing the piano and our Captain Detlef reading out the story of Daddeldu.

Meanwhile the first dish was presented and we ate salad with lots of vegetables, listened to Marc playing the violin and our flutes as well as the brass band. The main dish consisted of lots of red cabbage with clove, a dumpling and roast pork or some roasted vegetables for the vegetarians which we enjoyed very much. One of the highlights was the dessert: A Tiramisu with speculoos and berries! As soon as all the tables and the cutlery were in the galley, the father Christmas (or in our case mother Christmas) flew down from the heavens with water wings and brought our presents! She called all of us out in pairs of two, let us unwrap and present our gifts and happily left again one hour later.

All of us worked together and soon the main deck was as clean as the dishes and all of us sat together once again to sing some songs, not only Christmas songs, but anything that came to our minds and was printed in one of the songbooks.

That’s how we spent this Christmas on the Thor Heyerdahl, without a snowy landscape but with lots of fluid water around us, without the smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies but with the smell of saltwater. But even here, on the other side of the world, far away from our loved ones, we went to church, spent a nice evening with our new temporary family and saw their happy faces when they opened the present we carefully made for them.