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Whispering sweet nothings.

Daver6

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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?

View attachment 161241
Not a tourist trap...well at least the ladies in the dresses and head wear. This is typical attire for the Herero women of Namibia.
 

turtlemichael

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After 4 hours of going backwards and forwards on search and rescue we found nothing and have been released by the Portuguese Navy. We are now heading for our next port. Four people have been confirmed dead and 4 are missing but 52 have been rescued. So some good news when it clearly could have been a lot worse. https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/...
 

turtlemichael

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Not a tourist trap...well at least the ladies in the dresses and head wear. This is typical attire for the Herero women of Namibia.
Yes, I understand that. Sorry, I may have used the wrong description for a manufactured tourist situation.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 111 Apr 27 Takoradi, Ghana

We are now in Takoradi in Ghana. For us, it is a substitute port. We were scheduled to go to Lome in Togo just down the road but this got canned a couple of months ago because of security concerns. There has also been pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast. In fact, it is currently the worst place in the world. So we are on pirate watch which, for the next two nights, will mean that the decks are closed at night and lighting is kept to a minimum.

We've been to Takoradi once before. The port itself is uninspiring but, apart from some decent beaches, the main attractions of the area are the slave castles from which slaves were transported to the New World. We aren't going again but have recommended it to others as a great and moving experience. We just plan to go into the market later in the day. The ship has been fairly quiet after the incident off Sao Tome.
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Bit of a problem here.

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Our dock.
 

drron

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A pity.Sao Tome and Togo were 2 of the highlights of our cruise up the West coast of Africa in 2013.
 

turtlemichael

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A pity.Sao Tome and Togo were 2 of the highlights of our cruise up the West coast of Africa in 2013.
We cruised here a few years ago but Sao Tome and Lome were not on the intinerary. I'm sorry we missed them this time, particularly Sao Tome, but it is understandable.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 112 April 28 Accra, Ghana

More accurately, at Accra’s port, Tema which is about 45 minutes from the centre of town. It’s just a short sail from Takoradi to Tema but it is pirate territory, so precautions were taken overnight and all the decks and verandahs were closed for the second time. No pirates were encountered.

Upon arrival at Tema we were greeted by the sight of a Turkish power ship. It was a first for me. Google tells me there are two in Tema but we only saw one. They are mobile power stations meant as short term solutions to shortages. Together they apparently supply more than 10% of Ghana’s electricity. They run on diesel and are connected into the grid. We were glad the wind was blowing the other way. Apparently, the crew was all Turkish but there is a considerable security staff, who are Ghanaian as they are considered a potential terrorist target.

We’d been to Accra a few years ago but had not seen much more than the road between the airport and the Holiday Inn and then on to the cruise port. We were taking a cruise to Barcelona. So we decided to take an orientation tour but I think we made a mistake in what we chose to do.

First, we had a huge and imposing bus which travelled around the narrow dusty streets of Accra and, in particular, the old town of Jamestown. It was clear that we were unusual as everyone looked at us as we crawled past. 25 white faces peering out got a lot of attention. Soon we had people raising their fists at us and shouting. When we tried to stop near the old lighthouse to have a look we were told in no uncertain terms we were not welcome. It became quite threatening.

With hindsight I think we were behaving culturally irresponsibly as we were there, in the locals view, to gawk at their poverty. While the tour organisers should have recognised our inappropriateness, I did feel a bit guilty.

We went on to the impressive Kwame Nkrumah Memorial which is very run down and in a park which, strangely, was locked to locals on a Sunday. Only tour groups were inside. There are few enough parks in Accra. One statue of the first president had lost is head in a riot when it stood outside parliament. The other one had him dressed as a Roman emperor. We also saw a coffin maker who makes unusual coffins which is apparently a niche but growing business in Ghana. I can’t imagine being buried in a Ghana Airways plane.

All up it was an interesting day. The poverty is evident everywhere sadly.

Now it is three days at sea as we head up the West Africa Coast to Banjul in The Gambia.
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drron

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Things must have changed a lot since our visit of the Explorer in 2013.six of us hired a car and driver from Avis and basically sounds like the same trip and included a couple of local markets.We had no problems.In fact the locals welcomed us.
 

turtlemichael

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Things must have changed a lot since our visit of the Explorer in 2013.six of us hired a car and driver from Avis and basically sounds like the same trip and included a couple of local markets.We had no problems.In fact the locals welcomed us.
I'd hope ours was an isolated incident. The market we visited in Takoradi the day before was fine.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 116 May 2 Banjul, The Gambia

We are in the homestretch now. Just over two weeks to go out of 19. It is going to be hard to leave.

The Gambia is shaped like a small snake along the banks of the Gambia River in West Africa. It is, except for its Atlantic coast at the river mouth, totally surrounded by Senegal.

This visit to the capital, Banjul, was our second. We were here five years ago when the country was under the iron fisted rule of Yahya Jammeh who had been in power from the early 1990’s when, as a 24 year old lieutenant, he led a military coup. Since then there had been some elections which had been universally seen as a sham. He always one with unbelievable proportions of the vote. Somewhat surprisingly, eventually he lost and was thrown out in 2017. He managed to do a runner and now lives in another bastion of democracy, Equatorial Africa. He did manage to take planeloads of cars and consumer goods, and a cool billion from the Treasury.

There have been some slow improvements under the new man, Adama Barrow, but there is still high poverty, homelessness and illness. There is a long way to go. We had a good day, but it is disturbing to see so many kids of early school age not at school and begging from tourists. It’s how you have to make a living. Apparently, school is not compulsory.
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Getting ready to make a design.
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At the National Museum.
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School kids being briefed before their museum visit.
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In the market.
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A West African crocodile at a small crocodile park.
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Apparently they won't eat you. Some said they were drugged. I declined to try.
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Soldiers out for a run along the highway causing traffic chaos and getting tooted by the motorists.

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turtlemichael

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Day 117 May 3 Dakar, Senegal

I found this place quite intimidating the last time we were here. The traffic was chaotic and the touts were everywhere and very persistent. With the unemployment rate through the ceiling and just no jobs it is not surprising that white tourists with all their signs of wealth are the target. The polite ‘no thank you” never worked.

But it is marvelous what a difference 5 years can make. I found the place much less aggressive, more cosmopolitan, less dirty and not as intimidating. It’s probably more likely that it was me that had changed or at least had a good night’s sleep.

The day got off to an ordinary start. They had told us the night before that the ship had to be refueled, which takes 5+ hours, but that couldn’t be done at the dock we were at. Silver Whisper had to move to a bunkering station with therefore no passenger access on or off for the duration. We were doing a 4 hour tour around town and they had extended it by 3 hours to take in a few more sites and to now include lunch. No problem for us. But others who had decided just to go ashore for a few hours on their own had their plans disrupted unless they were prepared to extend to 7 or so.

Mutiny was afoot but there was not much that could be done. I heard one old chap (Australian sadly) abusing a staff member that his day in Dakar was ruined. Pretty classless really. In the end, to make it worse, the start of the bunkering was delayed so some people had to wait on the wharf for a couple of hours having returned from their outing before the ship. We waited about 45 minutes before the ship docked so we could rejoin. No big deal and you learn quickly that ship happens at sea.

The tour of Dakar was interesting, and the place has some things going for it. It is streets better than its neighbour Banjul and in many ways is like a big provincial French city. It is one of the decent cities on the West Coast.DAK1.JPG
Masks for sale in the market.

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In the market.

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Organ in the Catholic Cathedral.
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Entrance to the mosque.

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Public art seems to be appearing all round Dakar.

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Fruit looks great.

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Selling I think limes to drivers who get stuck in traffic jams.
 
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turtlemichael

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More from Dakar.

.DAK11.JPG
Dakar Traffic.

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Kids playing in the fishing nets after school.

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Beachside rockpool.

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The Monument to the African Renaissance. It cost US$27 million and has been much criticised as a waste of money and in bad taste.

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It's a long way to the top.

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Goats at a beach market waiting to meet their fate.
 

turtlemichael

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Day 121 May 7 Casablanca, Morocco

We decided to go to Rabat rather than spend our time in Casablanca. The first time here we’d seen a good bit of Casablanca and also visited Marrakech. Rabat was about 90 kilometres up the road, a decent highway, but it still took the best part of two hours to get there because of traffic. It was the first day of Ramadan and the guide told us it was relatively quiet. Rabat itself came as a surprise. It is well maintained, loads of greenery and very attractive. Pictures here are of the Roman ruins at Chellah Fortress, nesting storks and in the Casbah.

RAB1.JPGRAB2.JPGRAB3.JPGRAB4.JPGRAB5.JPGRAB6.JPGRAB7.JPGRAB8.JPGRAB9.JPGRAB10.JPG
 

turtlemichael

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Day 123 May 9 Seville, Spain

After about 6 weeks that is Africa done and dusted for this time. Not much of it has not been interesting and all of it is challenging. South Africa remains one of our all time favourite pllaces and we want to spend more time there. At the moment I can't see how that is going to happen.

As we left Casablanca both of us came down with yet another lurgy. As we got it at the same time we think we know the guilty party! That is twice this cruise and both of us will usually only get something every few years. The cause of course is the close environment and the fact that selfish people will still continue to mix in lounges, bars, restaurants and tours when they should be in their cabins. The doctor tells us that people won't come to see her until they are at death's door because they don't want to be quarantined in their suite and thus miss what they have paid for. So we are spending most of the time in the cabin and avoiding the crowds. We have cancelled the tours we have arranged. From Seville we were due to go to Cordoba but pulled out. Turtle 2 retired to bed and I went out for a walk alone in the afternoon around Seville. We also pulled out of a special event - Silversea had a tent at the Seville Festival in the evening.

The approach to Seville is interesting. Most cruise ships dock at Cadiz or another port and you have an hour or two on a bus to get into town. We were just small enough to sail up the near 140 kilometres of the meandering Guadalquivir River to the centre of town and through the lock. The Romans had used this river as a trading route to get into the interior of Spain. Even now there appears to be a small thriving port here.

The photos here are of the sail in and my wanderings around town. Perfect weather.
SEV1.JPGSEV2.JPGSEV3.JPGSEV4.JPGSEV5.JPGSEV6.JPGSEV7.JPGSEV8.JPGSEV9.JPGSEV10.JPG
 
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Pushka

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Seville looks fascinating. I’m sorry to hear of the continued health issues. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery and that karma happens for the selfish ones. I picked up a really nasty illness on QM2 that kept me sick for a few weeks and I never get colds like that. Thanks to someone at our dining table who continued to come to dinner even though later his wife said he had been very poorly for days, when on that night he was not well enough to attend.
 

love_the_life

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Sorry to hear you are both not well again. The closed confines of the ship help to share around any bug unfortunately. I would be interested to hear whether you feel that the length of the cruise has been a factor as well in this. I think I would find that it is just too long to be with (almost) the same group of people. But I know a lot of others love the extended world cruises.
T2 seems to have come off worse in both cases. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for you both.
 

turtlemichael

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Sorry to hear you are both not well again. The closed confines of the ship help to share around any bug unfortunately. I would be interested to hear whether you feel that the length of the cruise has been a factor as well in this. I think I would find that it is just too long to be with (almost) the same group of people. But I know a lot of others love the extended world cruises.
T2 seems to have come off worse in both cases. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for you both.
Thanks for the kind words. We are coming to the end of a bad bout of illness. T2 was eventually diagnosed with Influenza A and me with a chest infection which wasn't the flu. Every drug known to man is inside us! Thank heavens we are both a good deal better - just in time to get off the ship in 3 days! In answer to your question I think that, fairly obviously, the longer the cruise the greater chance of catching something. But I think the progression is probably more arithmetic than geometric. It is probably made worse by not having a flu injection because of the timing of our departure from Australia and that people get on and off all round the world with exposure to "new" things. But the main thing is that people do the wrong thing - food hygiene, not self-isolation when sick etc

On a regular cruise people won't see the doctor because of the cost. It can be astronomical but that is what insurance is for. On a World Cruise, when seeing the doc and medicines are at no charge, they won't go until they are very ill because they might get quarantined in their cabin. I think there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk depending how far you want to go (hand-washing, avoiding buffets, keeping clear of people who have coughs and colds etc) It is almost inevitable because of the close environment that you are going to be ill. Overwhelmingly, most people have had something at some stage of these 19 weeks. Would we do it again? Well, we are booked in 2021 and we'll see how we travel in the meantime.
 
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