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Whispering sweet nothings.

turtlemichael

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Day 95 Apr 11 Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo, the former Lorenzo Marques under the Portuguese, came as a bit of a surprise. It was a busy, large city with lots of building underway. Their new pride and joy was a billion dollar Golden Gate-like suspension bridge linking one side of the river with the other. It only opened a few months ago. Like so much else in this part of the world, it has been largely funded by the Chinese via a 20 year loan at 4%. So far it has been a financial disaster as the tolls appear to be too high for the locals and it is poorly used. We saw a truck only every few minutes and virtually no cars. These debts will be called in by China one day.

We did a walking tour of the city. We started in a street which looked like something out of New Orleans and was ripe for development. The guide told us not to photograph the ladies on the street as they might react as they were “working”. By the number of encounters we saw, business was pretty good. The old fort was impressive as was the railway station which had been renovated and was clearly a tourist attraction. The trains, however, had seen better days. The station roof was designed by Eiffel.

We also visited another market. I do like doing this. For once it was very clean with the fish area not too smelly. The ladies in the pic here were de-veining prawns.

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Pushka

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I’ve often heard the line of not to photograph the ladies as they are ‘working’ but it’s perfectly acceptable for them to solicit for sex on a public street. Quite quaint.
 

turtlemichael

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I’ve often heard the line of not to photograph the ladies as they are ‘working’ but it’s perfectly acceptable for them to solicit for sex on a public street. Quite quaint.
I think the advice not to photograph them was more for our own safety.
 

Pushka

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I think the advice not to photograph them was more for our own safety.
Kind of like when I was in Copenhagen and visiting Christiania and saw all the Green signs so I started taking photos innocently, thinking I was visiting a vegetarian village! A burly guy immediately sprang from nowhere so camera hastily put in bag. And the hash industry was very much alive there. So many varieties to buy.

I think that was where I took the photos of your ship before your Baltics cruise while we were on ours.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 96 Apr 12 Richards Bay, South Africa

We got to our first of four South African ports early in the morning then sat offshore. The Cruise Director advised that the Pilot boat had broken down and they were trying to source another. Two hours late the pilot arrived on a naval vessel so off we went on the sail into Richards Bay. The pilot was, for the first time in my experience, a woman.

Richards Bay is a fast growing very industrial port with a lot of industry and, by the look of it, not too many air pollution controls. It didn’t affect us too much as we were planning a tour to the St Lucia National Park to see, in their extensive wetlands, hippos. As well, there would be Nile crocodiles and birdlife though this had been diminished greatly in the very bad drought last year.

As we’ve done safaris before, and loved them, we decided that this would be our only animal adventure this trip.

It was about an hour from the port heading north. We arrived to an amazing sight. There, grazing on the grass verge was a mature juvenile male hippo apparently oblivious to the growing number of people taking pictures. At the same time, a wetland barge, which we were to go on, was discharging people so that soon there were well over a hundred people there.

The guides were starting to get apoplectic as the beast decided to walk into the carpark and were shouting at the crowd to move away slowly, not to run. Apparently, after mosquitos, hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal. It’s more than 3000 a year. The preferred method, if they feel threatened or you are in their territory, is to charge and take a bite out of their target. They can run at 45kph.

We were in a potentially serious situation that could have easily got out of control. Fortunately, the hippo decided to head back to the water rather than towards the plainly insane few who seemed set on taking selfies with it despite the shouted warnings. These are wild animals people!

One of the photos we took showed leeches attached to the hippo - one on his back and one just below his eye.

The trip on the water was very interesting. We saw a couple of basking Nile Crocodiles, about 2-3 metres in length. They can grow up to 7 metres. Wesaw literally hundreds of hippos. I will be able to now answer any Trivia question about hippos or crocs. We ended with the almost compulsory visit to a mini-market selling fruit and knick-knacks.

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turtlemichael

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Day 97 Apr 13 Durban, South Africa

We have been to Durban quite a few times to watch the cricket at Kingsmead. We’ve also done most of the tourist things. There are quite a few here. Therefore, today we decided we’d just do a walk along the Promenade and have some lunch. The Promenade is 6 kilometres long and very safe to wander. It backs an excellent beach. Durban has lots of good restaurants in all price ranges. It was a perfect day with temperatures in the mid 20’s and little humidity. For the cricket we’d always been here at the beginning of the year with high humidity so the absence of it was a pleasant change.

The Promenade was busy as it was a Saturday. A large Zulu group were doing some energetic drumming and dancing busking for tips.

For lunch we found a fish café. It was cheap and cheerful with great fish! I had a piece of Dorado (aka mahi-mahi) and T2 had a dozen large prawns. Both were superb as was the price. Before tip, and with two beers, it came in at around AUD19.00.

Back on the ship we watched a couple of local groups dance, leap, play and sing. Great entertainment and a good day again.

Day 98 Apr 14 East London, South Africa

Basically, today we did nothing. Most places were closed, it being a Sunday. We drove to a shopping centre on the outskirts of town and came back. The town centre looked very depressed.

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turtlemichael

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And so ends Segment 7 of the cruise. Now it is on to Segment 8, the longest, with only one more after it to come.
Map Seg 8 Cape Town-Lisbon.JPG
And it is goodbye to the Indian Ocean, hello to the Atlantic, and good morning to Cape Town. It was a chilly 12C as we came in but it turned out a very pleasant day. Three days here coming up.
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turtlemichael

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Day 100 Apr 16 Cape Town, South Africa

100 days since we left San Francisco and only 32 to go until we get to London. I can hardly believe it. Day 100 is the first of three days in Cape Town. It’s the first time of about 5 trips that I’ve been here, and the prime purpose has not to be to see cricket. I felt as if I should go hunting for a late season match though the last time a year ago was the infamous sandpapergate match. Less said the better.

The time here is still very brief and a bit has been arranged for us by Silversea. We are taking a train with 180 of our newest friends tomorrow to the Winelands for a slap-up lunch in a winery. On the third day we are going to Robben Island. We are to have exclusive access to it in the morning.

Therefore, today is going to be up to our own devices. First are a few essentials, haircuts, post a few cards and letters, shop for an outfit for the leaving Africa Dinner in a week or two and do something we haven‘t done before – go to the Zeitz MOCAA museum. This is, specifically, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art of Africa in the V&A precinct. It opened in later 2017 so was operating when we were here last time, but we didn’t have the opportunity.

The museum is in a newer area of the V&A near the cruise terminal. It has loads of cafes and restaurants, bars, hotel and apartments. If anything, it is less touristy than the part of the V&A to the north – sort of like an upmarket Docklands in Melbourne but one that has actually worked!

The museum is in a converted silo and has already won architectural prizes. I thought it was interesting but didn’t really like the amount of raw concrete. It did have a good lunch restaurant on top. The artwork was contemporary and certainly not to everyone’s taste. But we are glad we went.

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Morning arrival into sparkling Cape Town.

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A local band to welcome us. They were energetic and loud. They had us bopping.

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And later in the day the butlers to welcome us back. I need a butler at home. :)
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Table Mountain from the V&A precinct.

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turtlemichael

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Day 101 Apr 17 Paarl, South Africa.

Having had experience of Cape Town’s main railway station when going to the cricket at Newlands I was a little apprehensive how 180 cruisers would deal with the very local railway station. It was one of the few places I’d felt intimidated in cape Town. The other place was on the train. There were no problems however as we were taken to a siding track just a short way from the ship and boarded our renovated early 20th century steam train. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the two engines.

The style of the train was described as Great Gatsby. Some of the interiors had been replaced with period sofas and lounge chairs and others were simply renovated to match the period. The trip out to Paarl took just on an hour and a half and we were entertained by musicians and magicians. There was a continuous supply of champagne (at 9.30am), oysters and snacks.

After a presentation by Nelson Mandela’s PA of 19 years standing, where she recalled some anecdotes, it was off to lunch at the KWC Co-op winery in Paarl. We ate in the Cathedral vault surrounded by wine barrels. Wines were Laborie vintage chenin blanc, chardonnay and cabernet merlot. The chardonnay was excellent. Lunch didn’t start until 1.30pm and wound up around 4.30pm. The menu was Cape Malay Bobotie cigars, Klein Karoo Springbok Carpaccio, South African beef and reef and a very decadent desert of some white sticky thingy. I’ll upload pictures of the first two items in the next post. I have to say it was amongst the best meals I’ve had in South Africa.

The entertainment was the Tygerberg Children’s Choir accompanied by an incredible 15-year-old soprano. They got and deserved a standing ovation. The bus trip back to Cape Town was quick as I slept most of the way.

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The magician.
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The oyster shucker.
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The monument to the Afrikaans Language at Paarl.
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turtlemichael

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Day 102 Apr 18 Robben Island, South Africa.

We’d been to Robben Island on a previous trip but decided to go again. It turned out to be a perfect day – not too hot but sunny.

The island had been a prison of one sort or another for centuries and had even been home to lepers and the mentally ill. In Apartheid times it of course became the detention centre to house black political prisoners as well as black prisoners sentenced for serious crimes such as murder and rape.

The tour is well worth doing as an illustration of the evils of Apartheid.

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The Leper graveyard from the 19th century.

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The view from Robben Island back to Cape Town.

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Our guide. He had been a Robben Island inmate imprisoned for 7 years in the late 60's.

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A propaganda photo released by the Apartheid regime that backfired.

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Mandela's cell for 17 years.

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The room in which family met inmates for 30 minutes each 6 months.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 104 Apr 20 Walvis Bay, Namibia.

In a majority of ports there is no Immigration inspection. Officers come on board, look at and stamp the passports in the office, and give the all clear. In some places, there is a face-to-face inspection in the cruise terminal and this can range from something very cursory to a full blown interrogation like on arrival by air in the US or Australia. Singapore has been the worst on this trip. It took 3 hours for some people.

In Namibia’s case a team of officers boarded and wanted to interview everyone so we duly trooped through the lounge. They had no computers and just stamped our passports without even looking at the photo page. Then 15 of them went off for breakfast in the restaurant. Good luck to them as its a very good breakfast.

Namibia is a first time for us. We had two things we wanted to do. First, was a dinner in the desert. Second, the next day was to be a Namib desert trip. Not being overly brave we decided to forego the 4x4 buggy drives up and down the sand dunes.

Walvis Bay is the main port of the country and is quite uninspiring particularly when everything was shut for Easter. No people, no cars anywhere. But rearing up behind the town are the magnificent sand dunes ranging up to 300 metres high and stretching for miles. Those who did the buggy trip loved it.

The desert dinner was okay in a lovely setting. With a 100 metre sand dune overlooking you it could only be spectacular. The entertainment was good but we felt we’d lurched into a tourist trap. Camels and ladies dressed in grand dresses?

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turtlemichael

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Day 105 April 21 Namib Desert, Namibia.

This was a fantastic day. 12 of us headed off in a huge 4x4 van, which could have seated 25, into valleys and along dried river beds in search of desert plants and animals and views. This is one of the driest places anywhere. 10cm or rain is a good year. The animals and plants get their water from the massive fogs which come in off the sea 200 days a year and stretch inland up to 120 kilometres. They burn off usually by late morning. They are caused by the cold current up the west coast of Africa, originating in Antarctica, meeting the warmth of the land in this tropical region. A whole ecosystem of plants, lichen, animals and birds survives as a consequence. Isn’t nature grand?
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Flamingoes in the lagoon on the edge of Walvis Bay.

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100 metre high sand dune.

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Ostriches on the run.

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The rather ugly wellwitschia plant which survive up to 2000 years. These two are around 500 years old. The plant has only two
permanent leaves. These have been shredded by the wind.

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turtlemichael

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Some very sad news. Just prior to the time we were to anchor at Sao Tome, we were advised by the Maritime Authority of an incident that was taking place between Sao Tome and Principe. A ferry carrying both cargo and passengers was reported to have sunk with a large number of passengers on board. We are now on our way to the scene and should be there in an hour. A Portuguese Navy vessel is already there and has reported bodies in the water.
 

Pushka

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Some very sad news. Just prior to the time we were to anchor at Sao Tome, we were advised by the Maritime Authority of an incident that was taking place between Sao Tome and Principe. A ferry carrying both cargo and passengers was reported to have sunk with a large number of passengers on board. We are now on our way to the scene and should be there in an hour. A Portuguese Navy vessel is already there and has reported bodies in the water.
Best wishes for all concerned.
 

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