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Entry for September 24, 2007

There has been a delay of maybe one or two days before we can load the ship and install the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Our shipping crates (aka vans) with all our gear are not yet ready for clearance through Philippine customs. A little frustrating because they are here in Manila, but we cannot get them. So we are waiting and using the extra time to complete last minute shopping and planning. Thanks to the U.S. embassy here in Manila for providing a vehicle and driver and booking us into the Traders Hotel, since the ship is anchored in the harbor and will not come to the dock until we begin loading.

View of Manila

Manila is a tropical, bustling, sprawling city of 15 million people, which now includes our expedition members preparing and waiting for the voyage to begin. Even early in the morning there is a layer of low brown smog blanketing the sky of Manila. The smog lies just above the palm trees, motorcycles, buses and rusted, flat tin roofs of buildings in poorer sections, and along the tops of the shiny new buildings and sky scrapers of the nicer areas of town. From my hotel room on the 17th floor, I can also see thousands of swarming dragon flies.

Manila is at 14 degrees latitude, which means it is about 700 miles north of the equator. Our deep sea study site in the Celebes Sea is close to the equator and a world away from the busy streets of Manila. The abyss, remote environment of the Celebes Sea has not seen the light of day for 3.5 billion years, the approximate age of the oceans. But for now, the sun shines brightly on the streets of Manila. Let’s hope our scientific research gear and ROV are soon cleared through customs soon so that we can begin loading the ship.