Star Talk in the Sea of Cortes
By Stephanie Gallo, Expedition Guide on the Safari Endeavour
A few times a season, we will have theme departures onboard our ships. One of my favorite memories goes back to one wellness-themed week we had while sailing on the Safari Endeavor in Mexico's Sea of Cortes.
We had two guest hosts onboard that worked with our wellness team to offer specialized workshops on exercise, fitness, and nutrition. For one of the evening presentations, the onboard wellness team of Shela and Liz approached the guides to ask if they could lead an astrology-inspired stretch after dinner. I volunteered to help facilitate. Together we came up with a plan to start with some intentional movements inspired by the zodiac, and I would follow up with an abbreviated star talk.
The night came and Liz handed me a note with the zodiac signs they would highlight - she had planned for these to be the ones since they were currently visible in the night sky. Together, the three of us set up the top sun deck to make it into the star deck for the evening. We moved all the chairs and tables to the perimeter. We then laid out yoga mats in a starburst shape. Because we would be turning out the lights illuminating the stack and the ones around the awning, Liz and Shela had set small flameless tea lights at the top of each yoga mat. The soft yellow light glowed like lightning bugs around the deck.
After dinner, I invited the guests to join us for intentional movement and some star stories. We had an overflow of people sitting in chairs surrounding the yoga participants. Liz and Shela guided the yogis through a series of movements reflecting the characteristics of each constellation they chose. Taurus was strong and mellow. Leo was courageous. Cancer was thoughtful and intentional. At the beginning and end of the flow, they brought attention to the North Star, setting the stage for thoughtful attention. The North Star is a guiding light and is meant to bring the yogi back to thoughts of direction and growth.
The movements ended with guests lying on their backs, arms and legs outstretched into a star pose. We sat there in silence for a few moments.
I took over to talk about stars and the universe. We have a chemical in our eyes called rhodopsin. This chemical is what helps us see in the dark. We can build up our maximum amount of rhodopsin over the course of about three days. As soon as you see blue light, all rhodopsin is bleached from the eyeball and you have to start all over.
This tool was used by Anasazi (ancestral Puebloan) Warriors to overtake enemies. They would build up their rhodopsin indoors and attack just after nightfall. This was also used by pirates - eyepatches were not actually used because they were missing an eyeball. Pirates would keep one eye in darkness to build up rhodopsin, and when they went below decks, they would switch the eyepatch to the other eye. Now they could see in the darkness of the hold.
While our eyes continued to produce rhodopsin, I talked about the beginnings of our universe, the material our universe is made of, and where we may have come from.
I grabbed my green laser pointer, for the green wavelength reflects off dust particles in the air, allowing one to see the path of the light very clearly. Drawing a green line of light through the darkness, I was able to direct everyone to the sky and point out a few of my favorite constellations.
It was a very special experience to be able to see so many stars, feel a connection with our fellow passengers, and do some intentional movements all on the top deck of the Safari Endeavour. It’s impromptu things like this that make every UnCruise different and memorable for me.