Faye Smith

Joined January 2018
  • Day35

    Cape Town South Africa

    April 19 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Cape Town , Day 2.

    Our second day in Cape Town involved a trip to see the Country surrounding, with much anticipation. Wine Tasting…and a visit to the beautiful town of Stellenbosch.
    Travelling from the city , in the early morning, we came upon the biggest and most desperate “Townships “ seen so far, tiny corrugated huts ,touching together ,crammed into huge areas on both sides of the highway, our impressions of Cape Town rather dashed…
    A sprinkling of very small tracts, with some very small “proper houses”, some older dwellings later, that had scattered poles for electricity ,most have nothing in the way of sanitation ,electricity or services of any kind..Stunned silence from us all really, the Guide trying to say better housing is being provided, slowly… Then saying in the next breath, they have rolling electricity blackouts, as they cannot generate enough power for the population… A large coal fired power station ,seemed to be sitting idle, and it wont be to preserve the environment, I’m sure…they have coal resources ,as previously mentioned, which they export. Very sobering viewing.
    Onward through beautiful countryside, vineyards abound ,and strawberries grown in abundance, on raised polythene beds. Healthy cattle in places ,green fields ,good to see, as they have had a huge water shortage , Cape Town was recently 19 days away from total shutdown.
    The Vineyards, on a large scale here, that have origins in the 1600’s, the vines russet with the beginning of Autumn. Backdrop of beautiful rugged mountains, such a picture.! Many Golf courses ,pristine, and un used on Good Friday. Some surrounded by gated communities with nice homes.
    Blaau Wklippen Winery, was down an avenue of Oaks, with the old Cape buildings , whitewashed ,and thatched, with tiled floors, dark and cool. They are a venue for functions, so a huge complex. Taken on the tour, all very interesting, they made many kinds of wine ,in one part, a darkened storage room, told they leave the spiders ,to kill the insects, many webs to be seen, did a quick detour on that one..I had already been scouting in case…!]
    All seated in a nice part ,with our glasses at the ready, spittoons, well not really, casks to receive what you didn’t like, an that was everything, except the Sparkling Rose’, and even then, not a patch on ours ,very acidic wines, it seemed ,quite a lot in the buckets from our 40 + group.. Our guide, an African man, named Shepherd was lovely, interesting, and had worked there for many years. Lastly they produced Brandy ,18 years in the making ,and a Brandy based liqueur ,so a purchase was made ,for when the neighbours come…It was really nice…
    Out into the grounds , a part with nice goats, well cared for and many of them ,so clever, waiting in case I may let them out, then watching carefully as the leaves fluttered from the trees in the breeze. Goats are very clever ,and it shows..have Kindergartens with one or two on duty…
    On to Stellenbosch , the day was clear, warm ,with brilliant blue skies, this smaller University Town is very old, so more of the thatch and whitewash, a picture around every corner. Sadly, all except Cafes closed , so nose pressed to the window, to see all the lovely things I could not have…! We had a good hour and a half ,to walk and see lots, very pretty place.
    Very mixed feelings of South Africa ,such a beautiful place in many respects, but a very troubled ,un equal society, but so glad we were fortunate to see all there was see.
    Today we have been into Lüderitz, Namibia, all be ready for Immigration to come aboard, at an early hour ,and no, windy ,so not able to use the tenders to go ashore ,waves mounting ,so we left ,for a day at sea.. We are in a strong wind with a following sea ,so its comfortable, to increase as the day passes. Back to the knitters.
    Had a Crayfish Salad Lunch ,Poolside ,with Margaritas ,to compensate ,and last night ,when we came down ,the Easter Bunny has been, leaving lovely things…
    New and interesting places ahead… Bye from us, far away on the West Coast of Africa.
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  • Day34

    Cape Town,South Africa

    April 18 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Cape Town , South Africa.
    First viewing of the Western Cape for me was 4am, seeing the beautiful silhouette ,as we came nearer, these are some of the roughest oceans in the world ,where the currents meet, and for us like a mirror .The colder current ,Benguela ,comes from the Atlantic ,and combines into the Agulhas current, from the Indian Ocean, so well defined, that the vast fields of Kelp beds, that spread around, come to a stop at Cape Agulhas ,at the Cape of Good Hope, the most southerly point of the African Continent, almost like a line drawn in the sea .A lighthouse ,that we passed in the evening.
    We waited outside Cape Town, on this perfect morning ,as the sun rose, there was a photography session with a helicopter ,for our Cruise Line, plenty of time for us to take in the spectacle of Table Mountain ,and the city below ,as spectacular as you may imagine.
    Into the harbour ,filled with birds and seals, the wildlife in these more temperate climes ,so obviously prolific. Our view of the city and Mountains beyond.. Perfect..
    Our tour was of the city and surrounds, and didn’t disappoint on such a glorious day. Cape Town ,the inner city, doesn’t look like the rest of Africa ,at all, it is modern, busy ,prosperous looking, some older traditional colonial places, do remain. We visited The Company’s Gardens, this is where the East India Company grew supplies for the ships sailing to India for the spices. So fruit and vegetables filled a large area, beautiful trees, like Lemon Wood ,one that is now endangered, shady avenues , filled with flowers and plants of all kinds, a lot that we grow. Squirrels, lots ,very friendly ,and a large rat type creature ,moseying around…Egyptian Geese, with their pink feet, clever containment of tiny ducklings, in a high walled pond ,with no escape, until grown, very good Mothering…! Rose gardens established in the early 1900’s. Huge statue of Cecil Rhodes, viewed with mixed feelings ,he did much for Africa ,but perhaps not for the right people, in his short life of 49 years..
    Unfortunately 2 of our number became lost ,so that required much searching ,eventually discovered at the beginning of our lengthy walk..This cruise intake ,in Durban, has been of many very elderly ,who in Africa, are a challenge, some have little or no idea, of the type of country they are in.!
    The setting for this city is superb , under Table Mountain, many want to rise to the very top ,on a precarious cable way, however hundreds of cars , a line that had over 2 hours wait, even booked ships excursions ,gave up[,it had been closed the previous 2 days because of strong winds..] me ..never in a million years…! Worse than Masada ever was.!
    Travelled through the very pretty houses, painted all the bright colours, and cobbled streets of the Malay Quarter, over Signal Hill, to the Beach suburbs beyond, the Rivera of Cape Town, very expensive , white sandy beaches, with huge flat rocks around. The water temperature is only around 15o, so it’s not for the faint hearted… even on this very hot, still day, hardly anyone venturing in..Felt we had a good look at the city, with much information provided..
    Not seeing the sad side of Africa here at all, and in the Shopping centre we visited for a quick lunch, many young Africans working.
    We walked the short distance back to the ship ,later, incorporating the beautiful Silo Hotel, waterfront, which featured in the Hotel Programme on our TV recently. Sixth Floor for drinks, superb, like being in a dream…The reconstruction, from several disused Grain Silos, is outstanding ,and very beautiful ,their staff are all African or from neighbouring countries. The first 3 floors are a gallery, which was closing ,so we couldn’t see that, but such a thrill see it and actually be in it..
    This evening we were privileged to have on board The Western African Choir, a large group from the University, studying music, who won ,last year, the National Competition, and hopefully will travel to the World Competitions. They came early, to practice and then to dinner in our World Café, to see their delighted faces , as they chose from such a selection, was very special. Their performance was wonderful, also the small band , with African designed instruments, was improvisation at its best. Our entertainment continues to be outstanding, so many talented people in this world..
    Our cabin attendant mastered the journey to the top of Table Mountain, and is still smiling, we were delighted for him, and all his mates so envious...!
    Cape Town, Day Two will follow.
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  • Day33

    Port Elizabeth,South Africa

    April 17 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Port Elizabeth ,South Africa.

    Today’s Port of Call was Port Elizabeth, not named for royalty, though they did visit ,years ago.This was for the 28 year old wife of an Indian Trader ,cherished ,who left a 7 mth old son, her husband built a pyramid in her honor, on the hill overlooking the Harbour..
    Manganese is an export of this community ,amongst other commodities ,changing over time, apples and fruit a great export of the past, ostrich plumes were a also exported in times past to Paris.. Coal, which is still a large earner, alongside Australia who also export millions of tons a year ,more than you would ever imagine..! A new Port has been built nearby, so progress is looking hopeful.
    This was a tidy place, they picked up any rubbish, people earning a small amount to do so, armed with a broom with hardly any bristles and a stick with nail, one had an old golf club, they gathered every shred…plastic bags the lot, so an older ,not pretty place, but clean, not like Durban where they sit amongst the rubbish…
    Lots of children in different school uniforms, so education for some is prospering ,African children and white. White women shopping, alone ,unseen in Durban. Only a small number of Africans sitting in the Town Square, although unemployment is huge, in these parts . Homes on a grand scale ,in leafy streets, heavily fortified.
    Large impressive boys school ,with beautiful grounds, swimming pools and rugby fields. Several good girls schools as well… Manicured .They are no longer Private schools, but seem to retain their traditions..Good Hospitals, Private ,the Health system in South Africa was second to none ,as we know from the first Heart Transplant, but now in tatters, sadly. Many solid homes in other areas, duplex with small gardens ,for African Families. Massive Soccer Stadium ,to accommodate the World Cup, would have cost millions..
    This was the region of the Boer Wars , a lovely memorial to the Horses of that, interesting analogy ,in so much cruelty..ours not to reason why…!
    Nelson Mandela was very prominent in these parts, his home and burial place ,was a long day trip ,in East London ,our last Port ,statues of him feature in Port Elizabeth ,one particularly nice, from younger days. Interesting to hear he was so well regarded by all, but he was in such demand, world wide, during his time as President, and left whom he thought to be his close allies ,running the country, sadly, they were not as honest as he hoped…From there a lot more troubles began..
    Apparently he said, as he walked from the prison, after all those years, he thought, I have to leave this all the bitterness behind me, otherwise I will be imprisoned forever…how wise he was..! Lets hope his dreams can be realised, although that is doubtful ,now it is White South Africa that is suffering and leaving in droves ,able to understand that so much more..
    Our guide was a German man, though he had lived in the County a long time, very hard to understand, and a bit boring, really ,they make or break the trips.,but always something to learn in a new place..
    During the morning we took at shuttle to the Beach/Boardwalk part, a small market and restaurants ,but nothing interesting. It is Autumn here, as for us, so a little cooler, as we head for Cape town..
    I don’t ever write as I go Raewyn,I do compose a bit in my head ,that I want to remember to tell you. When I get back, sometimes, I jot a few things down, but at a good time, I can sit and recall a lot, and just write ,reliving the day ,it doesn’t take long ,and something I so like to do…!
    Our new Knitting Group began today, hats for Senagal ,is the task, but I have also begun a shawl/scarf, for Mum, its complicated, you begin in one corner…so lots of increasing, an American pattern that uses very different terms, so I am into that, and actually enjoying knitting again…will find wool, hopefully, tomorrow ,for the Baby Hats..
    Had our Port Talk for Cape town, it looks and sound very special…
    Our seas are once again inhabited by many birds ,an albatross earlier, and many shearwaters, further North not a bird to be seen in Madagascar, not one gull ,the naturalist reckoned the eggs would be gathered and consumed, probably correct, you have to eat…
    Our time simply fly's, a month already..!
    Enjoy the Easter Break ,Love from us
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  • Day31

    East London,South Africa

    April 15 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    East London ,South Africa.

    Such a lot is simply wrong ,in South Africa ,a great struggle for both cultures ,but today we had an amazing time, to remember forever...!
    Our guide Deon, an older Afrikaans man, had many questions to answer and we learnt such a lot ,very impartial in a surprising way.
    Our journey was to Inkwenkwezi ,a private Game Reserve, about an hour away from our Port ,on a small river, in a long stretch of coastline.
    This Reserve covered 4000htrs.On arrival, after drinks of ,pleasing things ,we transferred into old Landrovers ,converted ,with high seating in 3 teirs ,rickety, but remarkably comfortable ,as we jostled over deeply furrowed tracks ,very slippery after rain ,steep in places ,rocky in others, and just a bog in more…
    Not seeing anything on the first ½ hour, we thought my previous track record could be an issue…THEN…on the hills many Impala’s and a pretty larger variety of the Antelope, a Blessem ,or the like… Spotted Rhino’s ahead ,and several Giraffes. In getting to them we saw lovely Zebra ,now everyone has a wish, mine was simple, to see the Zebra in their natural habitat… Thrilled to bits, very healthy fat ,large ones at first, their stripes between, almost yellow..Rhinos ,a Mother and daughter ,very placid, looked interested, we were close, then just settled down for a rest ,they have very poor eyesight. Here they surgically remove their horns ,to deter poachers.
    In certain countries in Africa there simply are none, or just a handful left , the statistics are horrendous…Now it is law to shoot poachers, for the Rangers, as so many of them have been killed as well..
    On to the Giraffes ,beautiful creatures, grazing on their favourite Acacia’s ,so serene ,all ranges of size, mostly male, and a young male that just gazed at us ,so intently ,with his beautiful eyelashes…They have unusual tongues ,with not many blood vessels, which enables them to eat the prickly thorns trees.. Nature is very accommodating. We had time to watch them closely. More Zebra ,as we climbed higher, one quite young inquisitive child, that was my favourite, so very cute…!
    Here they have White Lions ,rare and so huge..up close…. We drove very near to the pride of 7, resting in the grass. Very regal, the Grandmother very old ,the male looked techy, and was very close, surrounded on 3 sides by our jeeps, I could see he was unhappy ..[open vehicle ,no guns ,just our driver /guide ,Brandon] This huge male,stood up,and walked straight towards us, Brandon said ..do not scream, keep perfectly still , just stay quiet and keep your arms inside…it sauntered past ,glaring…he reckoned he knew its body language, from its eyes…! I was on the outside…Not so Keen.!! However beautiful creatures..they are vicious though, up near the fence was a pile of bones, a Giraffe was browsing over their side, and 2 males dragged it through, smashing the fence. Though contained, the Lions still live in huge acreage ,and feed themselves from the animals within……On our return we saw a large female Ostrich ,and more Blesse, a bigger antelope variety..
    It was all what dreams are made of, so amazing and what we came for.
    Our young man ,so nicely spoken is leaving after 7 years. His university education ,costing so much ,would have taken 70 years to repay,[His Father Paid] he said. He is going to Yellowstone US to work with the Wolves, that have been introduced in recent times..Very excited ,and he will marry a girl from the US. He told lots about life for a young person in South Africa, when asked, it is such a battle ,of course ,wages so low, and progress impossible, but he is a dedicated and so knowledgeable of all the animals .If he earns outside of Sth Africa he will be taxed 45% of what he makes as a citizen, there are moves to revoke this, but for now…!
    He quietly told the man sitting in front with him, when asked about his background ,his Grandparents were murdered on their Farm when he was a little boy…Dreadful details…What a tragic thing ,but it is still happening .High unemployment here, some areas have 90% in the townships, the official figures say 23%,but everyone scoffs at that ,and say It never counts those who have just given up looking for work, 65% quoted today..
    Interesting that our man Deon ,said today, he had worked for the Government all his life, but when every thing changed, he had to get off his backside and make a life for himself ,and it has changed him for the better. A very troubled economy ,in a quite beautiful country.
    Under sunny skies today we had such a wonderful African Experience ,never to be forgotten.
    Bye from us heading to Port Elizabeth.
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  • Day29

    Durban,South Africa

    April 13 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Durban, South Africa.

    On a perfect afternoon we arrived into Durban ,a harbour of great proportions ,in that it has 58 berths ,one of the biggest we have seen, with ships of all kinds .A huge MSC of 5000+ passengers manoeuvring past us ,at very close range, Sam reckoned 100mtrs, made some great viewing.! Very hot ,clear skies ,sunny.
    Our show, the first night ,was the local Zulu Dancers ,a great mix of enthusiastic performers ,some large girls, who were very agile , in pretty beaded costumes .A Taste of Africa.
    Saturday, a City Tour, which included lots of very troubled history, of almost unbelievable, demeaning, times ,sadly it’s all true ,a lot to understand, going back many years .Our Zulu guide ,very learned. A city of completely African people ,nobody else to be seen .It seems the inner city is used for markets ,lots of people with their wares ,just spread on the streets , people from the townships come in for shopping ,in mini bus taxis who all vie for the customers ,and it becomes a bit of a war, with bad driving…They polish them greatly, while waiting .
    We went to an Indian Market, that had security, and looked at lots of spices and various wares ,briefly ..A very nice centre square, with older stately buildings ,one a replica of Northern Irelands Belfast city building. Beautiful trees, one in particular with long tracts of orange berries, I need to identify. The Botanical Gardens are very special, huge old trees of all kinds ,so shady and cool ,a calla type lily of many colours, a shade house of gorgeous orchids, unusual ducks/geese, other birds . Many Families ,with children’s Birthday parties ,some white South Africans. One Family with Triplets ,little girls, so dark and simply delightful ,with African names ,for Love, Joy ,and Hope .A very proud Mother ,who , when I said “This must be a challenge…”,said..”Actually it feels insane at times…!”They were about 2.!
    Huge Sports Stadiums. Soccer, and Political meetings for the largest one, beside it Kings Park, playing that night, the Sharks and the Jaguares . The hills above, with large homes ,were all protected by electric fences. The nearby University has recently adopted Free Fees for students ,so those from outlying areas come , it seems such a great thing. Steve Biko University ,is a very large Campus.
    Huge poverty in this part of the world ,and I think you can understand when there are about 55 million people ,and only 4 million pay tax, that it cannot work. To pay tax you must earn 65000 Rd, and that is not great… So in nutshell, with 43 Parties in a coming election, making a difference ,will be a challenge. We saw some sad things ,the Market for the Herbs and Potions ,of shacks and shanties, many of the Indigenous people are healthy looking souls…one cannot change the world, especially this world…!
    Today we ventured into the Hinterland, with much delight, to see the rolling hills, thickly covered in vegetation , beautiful flowering trees, of bright pinks ,purple and orange in full bloom. So green and lush, some large and lovely homes .The Townships ,very large where the African people live, basic shanty type dwellings, water at a given point, to be carried, but no electricity, because they say, they cannot/will not pay ,so on it goes… Trying to make a difference apparently, schools being built etc… There are many more successful people , who live in good housing ,and are running the country ,of course. It is hard to put it all together really…A tangled web…
    They grow lots of eucalyptus trees, very successfully, in this excellent growing climate, chip them ,export to be made into chip board ,and imported back…We may well do the same…
    Our Journey was to The Valley of 1000 Hills ,we arrived early to our Native Village ,high on a hill over looking this simply beautiful spectacle, clear for a time, to see it in all its glory, what a beautiful place…The native huts with the amazing thatch ..a little lady lived in one, tucked away ,and was cooking raw chicken and other meat, over a very smoky , outdoor fire, with her bedding on the ground, behind her..!
    Dancing from the Zulu tribe ,and explanation of customs ,like polygamy ,the Chiefs and the King, have many wives ,and that is fine, but they are paid for in cows, cows cost a lot, so most people only have 2 or 3 wives ,hence many children to carry on the Families…They are very proud of this tradition. There is a fortune teller who makes sure the right Bride is found, they train for many years to perfect this skill..[Really].. A nice café and souvenir shop ,so I have lovely pictures..
    Later Crocodiles, many in tangled heaps, some huge ,some tiny, separate, many pens, yuk…when our lovely girl told us they incubate the eggs, for safety, I had to ask “How many do you want.!! She replied we sell them to the Farmers…. Then snakes of all kinds, the tiniest ones the most deadly ,some Tortoises ,[Humphreys relations Jo.]. and then the bigger ,roaming kinds, never sure what is what…in that field…
    So much to recall, and you will have given up reading, but we loved our day, learning so much about South Africa..as we go…Sam has loved the Harbour ,and all the comings and goings of ships from all over the world, to think we saw not one, all that way across the Indian Ocean ,and now, hundreds.!
    We have many new faces, and are sailing South ,to East London. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride, after weeks of calm…but nothing too untoward.
    I am a lot better ,still coughing ,a bit, but rigidly sticking to my medication and instructions… Bye from us , on a Safari tomorrow…!
    I have more pictures to share...
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  • Day28

    Maputo, Mozambique

    April 12 in Mozambique ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Maputo ,Mozambique

    Today was different ,being unwell ,Bronchitis ,[Acute] chest infection..so I am told ,I was advised to remain on board ,and because I am so keen to be well again asap, I did that.! I became ill quickly…and in my darkest hours I envisaged being cast ashore in Mozambique.!! Swift intervention was the key, the Dr is Russian, I think ..and so very good and kind…
    Maputo was really the stop for all those going on overland excursions to Kruger National Park, and some others. These were all booked out well in advance ,so not expecting too much from Maputo…
    One of the lovely things about today was the handing over of all the Cyclone Relief pallets, of all manner of things, as previously mentioned. Important people came on board, also the Red Cross ,to receive their generous donations ,including some of the Baby Hats .Those knitter’s present ,were invited to the Atrium Stairs ,to join the Officers ,whilst the Maputo TV filmed, so maybe in darkest Africa ,we are starring tonight…!!!We will never know.!
    Fortunately, I had ringside seats for the whole of today, Balcony view of simply everything. Many comings and goings, view over part of the City, the Railway Station ,from Colonial days, is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world ,I could see some of the outside.! The trains reminded of Michael Palins journey across Africa, by train, the green and white carriages ,of the older slow trains as they pulled out for far away places, was good for the imagination.. Mixed architecture from times past ,also quite modern city buildings. Called the city of Acacias ,as these are the pretty trees that grace the streets , look lush and so green.
    Portuguese from the 1500,s,later gold ,and a good harbour was made ,a resort type place back then ,where South Africans’ came for holidays, fine resorts and restaurants and beaches .Lots has changed, but the husband of a nice English /Australian friend ,wondered if the Nightclubs he knew ,were still going… He is 80+ so wishful thinking.!!
    Many ,many workers in the Harbour area, all kitted out in the world scourge of Safety Vests ,an epidemic even in Africa…a growth Industry…along with Road Cones…!
    Sam ventured into the interior ,with a city tour, chaotic in parts, especially the Rail/Bus terminal, but nice, leafy ,Markets ,and a few good sights. I shall extract his meagre pics ,when I can, I take 50 + he a spartan 5 or so.!!! Even Sam was impressed at the beautiful wooden crafts, walking sticks,[ ebony], masks, also colourful fabrics ,I will see them again I hope..
    A new and HUGE bridge one of the largest in Africa, has been recently opened, with little traffic it seemed, and not all its lighting complete, but so huge ,possibly China is involved, they are in undeveloped places ,and do bridges well. Since learned certainly China built, and a toll of $12, means, as the ferry is only $5, in a developing country, nobody much uses the new and wonderful bridge.!
    Of great interest was the removal of the ships generous donations by the Red Cross, in their very dilapidated truck, boards covering the holes in the deck, taking all day… 2 to help initially, but as night fell, just one chap on his own .Painful handling of the small, ancient fork lifting device ,on the wharf, as we left, several pallets remained ,and we feared night my cause them disappear..rapidly..! We hope they give someone ,better quality of life.. Honesty is not the greatest in these places.
    I have finished reading, Disgrace ,a shocking book of” Todays South Africa,” JM Coetzee ,a true story , really one needs to know both sides of the story ,and there are many…but this well…kept me awake at night…! Thelma ,a must…!
    Saying goodbye today ,to lovely souls met along the way. Charlotte Smith from my first BLOG, she has been such a highlight ,a delight to us all. Jim and Dot from, Lititz , Pennsylvania , salt of the earth people, so wise… Helga and John from Hawaii ,Helga said, learning about Finding Penguins was the best thing she did on the whole journey…she is taking it back to her Travel Club ,to show them all…That was nice. We are disembarking 340 passengers ,and 320 coming on board, so new faces to enjoy.
    I had my Drs appmt this morning , he declares I am mending well, but still 5 days of treatment ,I have to say that today is heaps better, I was unwell yesterday…
    Much to look forward to ahead, we will be in Durban later today. South Africa, a whole new world….
    Hope Mum is fine, and it is not getting cold just yet.
    Love from us, almost in Durban, where we have 3 nights.
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  • Day24

    Madagascar

    April 8 in Madagascar ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Madagascar

    An amazing day in so many ways, so much to process, a sensory overload really ,delight and despair, to be honest…
    Our Port of Fort Dauphin ,is run by Rio Tinto, so mining for a titanium product ,makes this an area of relative prosperity ,for some, housing provided, good jobs and good wages. Also money into the infrastructure of the area, with help for displaced children and more.
    Our first trip was to a reserve to see the Lemurs. A very bumpy ride, school bus, and the roads ,apart from near the Port, are bad, just dirt and bridges of question…A ride through the real Madagascar, little villages, of thatched huts ,very small, some have some wood and the occasional one with some tin .Primitive to the extreme, bathing in the creeks, washing the children and the clothes, no electricity in the main, no water, just carried from nearby. Cooking outside on open fires ,many, many children, running alongside the bus, happy in greeting, but later with outstretched hands.. Not appearing undernourished , Hospital birth encouraged ,gets a Birth Certificate, then vaccinations and schooling, so some things are progressing ,except some still live in the forest and are missing out.
    Cows are valuable, and every Family needs these, they are for food/milk, wedding gifts ,and sacrifice at times…I think not every Family has them, Brahman type, and plenty to eat for them, lush jungle growth. Stunning landscape, high mountains and huge rocks .Granite mountains ,some of these are dynamited ,early morning, and quarried in a primitive fashion , we could see the men working in the distance ,sold for building , in the towns ,everything is transported by a rubber tyre cart, pushed by several..In short ,they have nothing. However smiling and know nothing else of course .Hard to accept that you actually cannot change a thing, giving donations here and there, changes a day perhaps.
    The Nature Reserve was very good, many gardens cultivated with vegetables, and flowers, kept well, a crocodile, not sure why, Tortoise, healthy and endemic, many different hibiscus ,used for tea and other things. Huge trees ,and the Lemurs, first sighting elusive ,and we thought humm, not going to see them, but we did, and many of them ,so close, Brown ones, plain ,but some quite large ,then the white ones with tiny dark faces, they are the bounding ones, and can leap great distances, and the ring tailed, so very cute, huge long tails with 28 rings of black and white ,the tails are for balance .Some are fruit eaters some insects, but in Families of about 8/9, never interbreed ,and leave to go to a different troop to mate ,clever and very endearing… They do not eat the Lemurs, that would be evil,like eating the ancestors.
    Walked to a lovely shaded clearing ,to a dance group and some handcrafts being sold, with drinks and baking…Their embroidery ,perfect, the “guild” produce this ,told to me by a beautiful girl , in impeccable English , the work lovely, but very expensive. A nice walk back through a Bamboo Avenue, to the throngs waiting to sell tiny treasures , being kept at a distance by a Policeman with a little whip like stick ,he didn’t use it.!
    What a morning ,so much to see and we did really love seeing the real Madagascar. Their Capitol is 3 days drive away ,and sometimes longer in bad weather, non stop ,change of drivers…
    In the afternoon we took the tour of the town nearby, great guide, but not anything very pretty, huge markets of Food, Chickens and Ducks, [Their chickens are a very tall variety], clothing of all kinds ,and everything else imaginable…No refrigeration ,so daily shopping.. Oysters ,and Lobster pots for sale.
    Lobsters are a big export ,apparently with a French Company .[They were French until 1947.] Britain involved, independence, but while that seems good, it is often not so. However the French took slaves in great numbers ,the buildings are still there, a memorial of terrible times. That had to stop .! A troubled world ,and on it goes…
    Their fishing boats are primitive, dug outs and outriggers. Some lovely beaches, but lots are dangerous ,an exposed coast.
    There is a new PM ,with good intentions ,tourism a great hope..but a very long way to go. Felt so pleased there was the great collection of clothing and things given ,from the ship.
    It was hot, but not unbearable, an unforgettable experience. At some stage of last night I wondered ,did they have blankets, certainly no beds, and huts so tiny ,to fit them all…! Much food for thought.!
    Sailing to Maputo ,to disembark the Safari guests in 2 days time.
    Bye from us, in the Mozambique Channel..
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  • Day22

    Mauritius

    April 6, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Mauritius
    In excess of 30o today , so good time to BLOG…
    Arrival into Mauritius in the early morning, hot and humid, with the jagged volcanic peaks above, green ,very much so, as this side of the Island receives a lot of rain ,the other side ,of beautiful resorts is much dryer. Unforgettable as described in our Port talk, well, not quite what we saw ,but a wonder ,that was so on my list, was up to expectations and beyond.
    An independent nation since 1968,and colonised by many over time, Dutch, French, British, now of Chinese, Indian, Malay descent. Sugar cane its main export and earner in the past, now superseded by Tourism. The Local inhabitants do not like to work the sugar cane, so people from Bangladesh come for that. There are stray dogs, and quite a few, with pups, as it is in many parts of the world..so getting used to that again Not starving, seemed to be resident in the terminal area ,many more dotted around the city and surrounds…
    Rubbish everywhere ,simply how it is..A new waterfront part recently developed ,with modern shops ,a very nice Craft market ,beautiful fabrics, some hand painted, and clever work in bags and clothing ,woodwork of the inlaid kind , so clever ,so our early city walk was interesting .Tall very straight palms, line the streets ,and a few modern buildings, but a lot that is run down ,and very sub standard. China is here, building roads and bridges and much more and possibly a hand in the large Harbour development. Bright and beautiful flowers , huge growth in the climate, so keeping it all under control, is a challenge I’m sure..Fine looking people.
    We didn’t stay too long in the intense humidity, as we had an afternoon tour. Rain often on all day, misty showers, growing heavier by afternoon. We went off to the Pamplemousses Gardens ,seeing the suburbs ,some not good ,but some cared for, the rich dark reddish earth, was cultivated in many places, for small gardens. The sugar cane fields, lush and tidy. The Botanical Gardens were not carefully manicured, but had many kinds of palms, and spice trees of many kinds, bats, huge…but at that time of day not a lot of birds which was disappointing, a few very pretty ,smaller ones.
    Then we saw the Giant Water Lilies, which I had so wanted to see, huge, like big patty pan papers, of all sizes, so beautiful and worth coming for. !Such a highlight, we both loved them ,and further on the Lotus ponds, which were so elegant and lovely, as well…So very special ,and many photos later….!!! A tourist shop for a stop ,and full of cashmere ,in the heat ,unthinkable…Heavy rain ,so back to the comfort of our vessel, umbrellas waiting for us at the bus, bucketing down now, we still got wet, but its so hot, it didn’t matter.
    Those who travelled further afield ,saw some of the nicer parts, but we have to remember, there are far more people in this world ,who live in poverty, than live as we are so fortunate to live.
    A lovely meal and shared our day with several, one, the Financial Officer ,Rosa, from Uruguay ,who entertained us with stories of her Camper van adventures in N Z ,something lovely in every day.!
    This morning the Baby Hats have been set out, photographed ,then boxed ready for 3 destinations . The Captain and Officers came, took many photos, and we had cocktails. There will be a presentation tomorrow in Madagascar, a Church Group is being represented on board, on the huge screen will be our photos…as we will be on tours.
    There has been a collection of clothing and toiletries as well.
    Maputo, Mozambique ,are receiving more hats, and a donation of $50,000,plus linen and things, for their cyclone relief,2 days later, and further on in Durban ,the Hospital will get the rest of the hats…we are still knitting…. It’s a really nice thing to be part of.
    We marvel at technology, still …Cetrece enjoying Stewart Island, and all the Family ,catching cod today, and sending instant pics…! We loved seeing everyone, her weather is perfect.! Bye from us ,heading for Madagascar .
    [Sorry Mum ,not a Postcard to be found in Port Louis yesterday…]
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  • Day20

    Mauritius ,Indian Ocean. Almost there..

    April 4 in Spain ⋅ 🌫 7 °C

    Almost There….

    On our 8th day at sea, had some trepidation about this part of the journey, need not have been at all concerned, it’s been simply great, and we could go on ,happily.
    Our days are full to the brim, in fact need a list sometimes..so much to enjoy, and yet at times, evenings especially, in the warm spaces, on deck, starry nights and almost nobody else ,often passers by stop for a chat, including the Captain, last night, to point out the Southern Cross, and confirm we are completely alone out here, no other ships in our days, it’s a lonely ocean, as he put it. A friendly chap ,with a happy ship. We are constantly amazed at all that is offered. The entertainment is outstanding and surprising at times, a Harmonica Player…humm, I thought, how could that be, a tiny Malaysian girl, who played variations of this instrument, and made music like you could not believe.! Our Will Martin is the talk of the ship, he has performed again, and this evening will be in the Atrium for an early evening show, he sings unaccompanied at times, so will do it well, though they have the Piano .
    The Food is hard to comprehend,wonderful, evening Buffets of all kinds, Vietnamese , German lunch ,along with many other nationalities. Last night Indonesian, set up on the outer, aft deck, under the stars, the sea is so calm, for many days now ,in the Doldrums ,so sometimes a shower ,early morning ,and hot sunny days . Mirror calm..
    We swim, I have braved the depths, the Infinity Pool Aft, is divine ,only us ,sometimes… it’s a little hard to access, steep steps ,so I think quite a large bracket may struggle with that..
    Our Craft Group is going from strength to strength ,and it is so informative, very nice Frances ,lived in Sth Africa for 25 years, British, since living in Australia, may have mentioned, tells me everything about the state of the Nation, and such a lot we have no idea about, the real South Africa, some is tragic of course ,and seems un fixable ,so a huge learning curve ahead. We have our Assistant Purser ,Roderico, who has joined to learn, he is gorgeous and so dedicated, proudly displaying his work to the noon gathering of Officers ,on the Pool deck, without a hint of embarrassment, I said, [in group,] you may even be able to knit a hat soon, he beamed and said in in such seriousness, I so hope I can…! So do I…! The Staff, from the cleaning group ,to the Officers, are a delightful bunch of people.
    There are Art Classes, I have a fancy to dabble in, but fitting that in is a challenge..some of the work produced is very good..
    Yesterdays Port Talk on Mauritius ,fills us with great anticipation ,so really this is the part we have come for, though we have loved every day…so far. Other lectures, some on the Geology of the region, we have both so enjoyed, something to learn every day.!
    Walking on deck, on the ship, is an experience, you are close to the sea ,Deck 2, hearing it and feeling the power as we surge ahead, there are rules, like all traffic goes one way, in the past that is not the case ,and someone here.. always going against the flow, but all this works well , often not many out there. No deck chairs ,there are plenty of other places for that. Schools of flying fish, sometimes, flying like little flocks of birds ,over the waves..and our wake streaming behind, quite exhilarating .!
    Sunrises and sunsets ,cloud formations, unique to this ocean, as we head due west ,are very pretty ,rainbows brighter than we have ever seen, in the mornings sometimes , the crew taking great delight in these. Each Ocean has its own special “look” I think..
    Enjoyed the Movie ,Green Book, very much, reading and enjoying recently, Amanda Prowse, Anna and Theo ,separate books, finished A Little Love, sounded not great, but was ,going now for Cry The Beloved Country, read long ago ,but a refresher ,and Disappointment ,a recent insight into today’s Sth Africa.
    Off to breakfast and onward for all today has to offer..
    Hope Mum is well, and reading along ,by now cards should have filled this gap, hopefully.
    Love from us, Faye and Sam.
    Sorry the Map is stuck on Spain..??
    A PS from today/yesterday..
    Will Martin performed in the evening, in our Atrium , packed to the rafters,[it is many levels high ], every vantage point, to capacity , he had the Steinway Piano, and that was all. His performance once again, amazing ,and simply stood and sang ,unaccompanied at the start…
    More of an insight into his life, and growing up in NZ ,looking like he is 16 ,and stories to tell of what happens in that case…amusing..actually 34..He told how every boys dream is becoming an All Black ,and he fervently hoped for that ,but no,, however, he did end up at their games singing the National Anthem, and that he sang, in Maori ,the first verse… At the end he spoke of his nervousness, it still shows, and TV especially makes him anxious ,interviews ..in Christchurch ,he had an important one, with people he had come to know well, the Producer ,and interviewer, he enjoyed ,made him very comfortable, and he felt so pleased with himself, on completion, said his good byes, then met his friend for lunch at a Café nearby , 40 minutes later the Earthquake struck ,and they were killed, in the CTV building .. He then spoke ,just eluding to our recent tragedy, and sang The Dream Is Over… It was a performance to make us very proud to be New Zealanders, we met him ,and told him so, even more proud than the All Blacks I said .! What an ambassador for our Country…!
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