Today it rained in Spain, sandy rain from Africa. Lyra now has watermark patterns in red dust on her lights and deck. It started before daybreak and there were flashes of pearly light at the portholes followed by dawdling thunder. Contrary to expectations the rain persisted for most of the morning, so we stayed below and reveled frugally in our new months Internet allowance. It was chill too. We had tinned tomato soup for lunch. After lunch we went across the dock to the Museum of Underwater Archeology. We walk past it daily, the name proclaimed in huge metal lettering all along the side, and have been promising ourselves a visit. It is always the same with things close by; they are usually the ones you never quite get around to doing. Not in this case though and we very much enjoyed it.
It was more modern than many of the museums we have visited, with a beautiful space and interactive demonstrations designed to engage. The building echoes the shape of a ship’s hull and, once inside, the displays are in the basement below sea level, accessed down a long slope. Though subterranean it was light with lots of space to wander round the dramatic presentations of artifacts and well conceived models. First the history, morals and practicalities of underwater archeology were put forward in a number of tabletop displays. Then the science of conserving and dating material recovered from the sea was explained, using examples from a pair of Phoenician boats recovered from outside the harbour here. Then came artifacts and models of a series of wrecks from different eras, each wreck put forward as a time capsule and used to paint a maritime history of Spain. This spanned from before the Mediterranean was a Roman Sea up to an embarrassing incident of the nineteenth century, when we Brits fired on a group of ships entering Cartagena, when we were supposed to be at peace, pirating what we did not sink. There was plenty to read in Spanish and English and I learned a lot. The life sized models, including three cross sections of hulls hung on the wall, and the many “push the button see what we mean for yourself” displays made it a place you could enjoy with children. Not easy making a child friendly museum elegant enough to appeal to adults, but this one manages it.
Afterwards John cooked a piece of ham, which we ate on deck with potatoes and mushy peas. Then we settled down to listen to the England match. We will never learn.