A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER - My life on Höegh Trooper Week 4

life on Höegh Trooper
DATE 04.01.2024

Seafarers sure know how to throw a party! From very early in the morning on December 24 everyone was busy preparing sumptuos amounts of food and decorating the messroom. There was glitter, there were balloons, and there was even a photo booth, adorned with the logo of Höegh Trooper, so that everyone could have a postcard-like photo to send to family and friends. The ambience was merry and filled with laughter, even if the Christmas season without doubt is the hardest time of the year for the crew to be away from their loved ones.

Ever since I boarded Trooper at the end of November, everyone had been raving about the legendary Christmas celebrations on board, and especially the special Christmas games, a mandatory part of the party program. At last, I was to find out what the fuzz was all about.

Late in the afternoon we were summoned to Deck 5, and the games were finally on. But first, our new crew member, James, who signed on in Singapore, made us warm up with a short Zumba lesson. For once, I was not the worst dancer in the group.

The Zumba lessons were not everyone’s cup of tea.
The Zumba lessons were not everyone’s cup of tea.

I could have described the games in detail, but it would be near impossible to convey the roaring laughter of two dozen seafarers, forming a human dragon, striving to smash a balloon. A surprisingly large number of the games involved balloons, one involved a banana and a blindfold, and one mainly consisted of a pen and a bottle.

This photo needs no further comment
This photo needs no further comment

The egg game is apparently a classic: A raw egg is thrown between two participants standing further and further apart until the egg cracks. Since my team was winning anyway, I was allowed to throw the egg, as a sort of initiation rite into the Filipino world.

After a short break and some snack, there was time for the indoor games, a couple of speeches and prayers. Filipinos eat Christmas dinner at midnight, so while waiting for the suckling pig to attain the perfect color, and for midnight to arrive, we played poker. Then we ate, drank, sang karaoke, and danced until dawn, rocked by the ocean.

It was, without doubt, the most fun Christmas celebrations ever.

Passing the time playing poker while waiting for midnight.
Passing the time playing poker while waiting for midnight.

In fact, the weeks on board Höegh Jeddah and Höegh Trooper were some of the happiest of my life. I can’t really explain it. It was certainly not luxurious, and most days nothing at all happened. One day resembled the other. Internet was slow, the coffee was instant, and despite all my efforts, I never improved at playing darts.

And yet I loved every moment on board. I loved living in a small bubble at sea, far away from everything. I loved the monotony, the boredom, and the slow Wi-Fi connection, which enabled me to focus on my book writing. And most of all, I really enjoyed spending time with the kind and cheerful Filipino crew, who not only knew an astonishing number of balloon games, but who would transform almost every night into a small party. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

Sadly, on December 28th, I had to sign off in Yokohama, after spending seven weeks at sea, sailing from Europe, around the Cape of Good Hope and all the way to Japan in the footsteps of the Portuguese. Who could have known that fifty days on a cargo ship would pass so quickly?

A big thank you to Höegh Autoliners for supporting my book research by allowing me to come along as a passenger on your vessels!

Ito na. This is it!

Our chief cook, Pio, was the busiest man on Höegh Trooper during Christmas.
Our chief cook, Pio, was the busiest man on Höegh Trooper during Christmas.

The indoor games were even weirder than the outdoor games.
The indoor games were even weirder than the outdoor games.

The indoor games were seriously weird.
The indoor games were seriously weird.

Merry Christmas from Höegh Trooper!
Merry Christmas from Höegh Trooper!

The Christmas games involved a lot of balloons – also as color coded team identification.
The Christmas games involved a lot of balloons – also as color coded team identification.
All good things come to an end: On December 28th it was time to say goodbye to Henilito, captain Gary, Harris, JC and all the other crew members on Höegh Trooper.
All good things come to an end: On December 28th it was time to say goodbye to Henilito, captain Gary, Harris, JC and all the other crew members on Höegh Trooper.
Who could have known that 50 days at sea would pass so quickly?
Who could have known that 50 days at sea would pass so quickly?

The Navigator. A Journey through the Lost Empire of the Portuguese.

Over the course of 50 days, the renowned anthropologist and writer Erika Fatland, known for her insightful depictions in the critically acclaimed books "Sovietistan" (2014) and "The Border - A Journey Around Russia" (2017), will travel with two of our vessels Höegh Jeddah and Höegh Trooper.

The voyage will take her along the coast of Africa and across the Indian Ocean, all the way to Korea. This journey is part of her research for her upcoming book, "The Navigator. A Journey through the Lost Empire of the Portuguese." The title is inspired by Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese prince who financed maritime expeditions down the African coast in the early 15th century.

17 January 2024

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