After spending an amazing seven days immersed in the marvellous Moroccan culture, Class Afloat set sail towards the Canary Islands, towards our parents. The anticipation was unreal. After the amazing adventures in Morocco, both students and staff were reluctant to leave. Nevertheless, the thought of seeing parents for the first time in two months made us willing to be back on the Gulden Leeuw again. We unpacked our bargained goods onto the ship; sea chests filled up with Moroccan pottery, spices, clothing, and possibly, but probably, illegal dates (illegal as there is no food allowed in the dorms).
However, although we were all excited, the first signs of traveler’s diarrhoea started to show. We were warned in Morocco to be careful with soft shelled fruits, but the abundance of apples and oranges and bananas and mangos were too hard to resist, especially since we live on a ship where fresh fruit is a luxury. Thankfully, all but one student was fine during port, but more and more of us showed symptoms once we got back to the boat. I gave my sympathy to those who were sick, and felt lucky that I wasn’t one of them.
Alas, my luck did not last. That night, I ate at least half a pound of dates. When I woke the next morning, I was hit with a horrible wave of nausea. I didn’t take too much notice of it, as I usually got a little bit seasick during the first day of the sails, but that nausea didn't fade as it usually did. In class, I threw up my breakfast. Fortunately, I felt better afterwards, but only until I ate again. My sympathy for the sick quickly turned to empathy, and I swore that I would never buy dates from random kids on the streets again, ever (no matter how cheap it was).
During my delirious three days of having the stomach flu, students sat through class daydreaming of the comfort and love and showers and beds that we would receive from our parents. Although we tried to give our teachers our full attention, our brains were already in La Palma. We were fully aware that parent-teacher interviews were going to take place in parent port, and that we should have been on our best behaviours leading up to that, but we were too distracted.
The teachers were understanding of our scattered brains, as they too had parents visiting in the Canaries. To provide distraction, but more importantly, guidance, Megan presented to us the countless possibilities of our futures. She showed us how university was not the only path, and how we should follow our hearts, not society’s standards. This topic of post-secondary education tied in with the seminars presented in the grade 12 English class. These seminars gave us a point of concentration, and the students of English 12 were able to focus on debatable topics. The classroom grew passionate as students discussed education, death, reality, technology, and genders. These meaningful conversations provided both great insight into the world, and great distractions for those that who were anxious to see their parents.
During the last two nights of the sail, full watches were in session, triggering a series of complaints from the student crew. However, the delicious night snacks mades us slightly more willing to go to watch. On the second night, we prepared the ship for the parents: deep cleaning the mess, galley, charging station, foulie closet, and every other corner imaginable on the ship. It was a tiring but productive night, and we all went to bed full of anticipation, as we would see our parents when we woke the next morning.
By this point, my stomach flu subsided. The nausea lasted 3 out of the 4 days of the sail, but no matter how sick I felt, I knew I would see my parents soon, and that made everything better. On the fourth and final morning of the sail, which was also arrival day for La Palma, my stomach flu was completely gone, just in time to greet my parents! The ship buzzed with excitement that morning. Although it was only two hours of sailing to La Palma after we woke up, it felt like the Atlantic crossing. Two months is not a long time, but for most of us, it was the longest we had ever been without our parents, and we missed them more than anything.
Two from each watch climbed aloft in preparation for arrival. The biggest sails were set to put on a show. As we slowly motored into port, the tiny dots waving in the distance turned into figures, then into our parents. Tears shed from both on and off the ship as families and friends reunited. I never have realized how special the power of family was before then. Daughters greeted mothers; sisters greeted brothers. I could practically see everything else melt away around them, as if nothing mattered but their love for each other. Out of all little moments we’ve had on Class Afloat, this was definitely the most memorable of all.
Written by Class Afloat student, Alice Yang
Featured image, Photo credit: Marilyn Tourangeau