Thursday, 16 January 2020

January 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2020 Richards Bay to Cape Town

 January 16, 2020

With a wake up call at 06:00, room service breakfast at 06:30, and my walk to the Cabaret to see South African Immigration officers at 07:30 and be ready to board my bus to the Game Reserve, everything stopped cold.
Captain Filip is on the horn apologizing for the Pilot’s helicopter being a little late, additionally, that the Immigration Officers were a going to be little late, and he also stated that, ‘what can you do, this is South Africa?’ My read on all of this not a fault of Azamara's…so be calm, get in the line and relax. Many of my fellow passengers followed a different thought, and after a few abrupt words to line jumpers here and there we all left 1.5 hours later than expected.
My tour consisted of a two-hour air-conditioned bus ride to the Game Reserve, a two hour 4X4 (ten-seater) ride through 230,000 acres of mountainous waist-high grassy land with indigenous trees and plants to munch on - for the animals of course, and a two hour ride back. We saw White and Black Rhinos (they are the same greyish colour depending on the soil and water in their habitat), gigantic Cape Buffalo about the same colour as the Rhinos, Wharthogs slopping in a water hole’s mud and, two different breeds of Antelope and lots of birds, some of which eat the parasites right off the Rhinos’s backs. Others saw Zebra, but no one mentioned Giraffe, Lion or Elephant to make up the Big Five. 
Terryl did not wish to do this tour because she’s done it before on real Safaris that went on for weeks. 
My guide was a rather muscled young woman with eyes like a Hawk after having done this work for 17 years. She’d quietly yell out ‘Wharthogs at ten o’clock.’ Quietly because she didn’t want to spook the animals or us in the back seats. This reserve is not a zoo; everything is all about nature, predators and prey, water and food and seasonal mating. I have photographs shot over and around the shoulders of fellow passengers, but with the right cropping I may have some good stuff to show you.
We arrived back on the ship at 15:30 (1.5 hours later than planned), and for any who were hungry the main Dining Room had remained open.
 My mud-covered Wharthog buddy



January 17, 2020

Last night after an evening meal Terryl and I found a front row seat in the Cabaret to hear an Aussie play a Guitar and a Didgeridoo, both instruments backed up by Igor’s five-piece orchestra. Bruce Mathiske’s music was marvellous, however I was pooped from those six hours doing the Game Reserve and couldn’t wait to get back to our room and hit the sack.
Today we have docked in Durban, one of South Africa’s largest cities. We hopped on the Shuttle Bus to a centre complete with the usual shopping, and things like sea world and other family amusements all reasonably close to one of their dozen coastal beaches. Our idea was to use a local bus for a three hour tour of the city, but after a half hour taxi ride getting to the bus we decided to nix it and return to the ship. Around 15:00 three monkeys climbed the ropes and boarded the Azamara Quest and went straight for the Navigational Deck and take control, to no avail. These little guys are a common sight in and around Durban.
At 19:00 tonight we will be on an Azamara sponsored complimentary tour to Durban’s Cultural Centre for cocktails, a Zulu original dance exhibition, a few nice words by Captain Filip and Cruise Entertainment Director Ernest, and then the half hour ride back to the ship. At 22:00 The Quest leaves for Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
For several reasons upon visiting the venue for the Zulu presentation the decision was made to host the event on board. It was a smash hit. The dancers and music makers were incredible as they moved about and thumped hell out of a dozen drums. Along the way, delightful young girls painted warrior-like images on faces of willing passengers: me included. I have a close-up of my mug which just might be my top personal photo for 2020. And then I thought you would prefer to see Alina.
Alina a wonderful bartender from Odessa
Big Red from Chicago was fun too


January 18, 2020

Today is a sea day where there will be a lecture ‘Rounding The Cape’ at 14:00 and another appearance by Bruce Mathiske who we hope will be playing his own guitar and didgeridoo at his 20:15 performance. On my last post I failed to mention that his instruments did not catch up to his flight, and that he borrowed a guitar from Igor’s trumpet player, and, found a Didgeridoo in Azamara’s music vault. Of all the good luck, his instruments have been found and are being shipped to Cape Town just like the rest of us.
This afternoon at 14:00 we’ll have a lecture on Port Elizabeth and Cape Town provided by Chuck Richardson who, in forty-five minutes gives only the broadest strokes of their history with some present day evolvement as two of South Africa’s major cities.
“In 1814 the British take over peacefully, and the Dutch were rounded up and sent out of Cape Town to go east in Africa where the Xhosa, principally Indigenous lived. The British demand that Dutch is not to be spoken. Gold and Diamonds were the drawing card to South Africa. Cecil Rhodes organized De Beers in 1830 and pulled three tons of Diamonds (equal to 14.5 million carats) out of one mine in 1873.
The most famous present day African is Nelson Mandela who had been a terrorist, was jailed and finally released February 3, 1990 to spearhead anti-apartheid protests and in two years apartheid was eliminated by the African National Congress (ANC) and took power. Life is so much better today where Port Elizabeth’s population is 1.3 million, with whites at 9% of the population. Still, half of the total population lives on $5 per day.
Cape Town’s folded mountains, Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Signal Hill, and Lions Head highlight its unique topography. During Britain’s hey day in Cape Town the Indigenous were allowed to own a total of 7% of the land. I’ll close with these comments: South African penguin are unlike Antarctica’s and are declining in numbers, Right Whale can be seen, Ostrich are common, Architecture is of course principally British and Dutch, Stellenbosch makes great wine and the waterfront is a safe place to be.
I’ll find out about one of my primaries when we get there: that’s golf of course.

January 19, 2020

Last night our friendly Aussie Bruce Mathiske played brilliantly, and during a pause in his music he alluded to several conversations he’d had around the ship. Wouldn’t you know he was asked why he only wore socks, without shoes, while he played. “It’s because I didn’t want my constant toe tapping to be heard by my listeners.” Makes sense to me.
Azamara displayed a chocolate fountain, a dragon sculpture in chocolate  with trays and trays of chocolate goodies for everyone as they left the Theatre.
Today we are in Port Elizabeth and docked. We decided to take the shuttle to its drop off point and see the sights. Frankly, it disappointed us: their were few people there and the crafts and art didn’t do it either. The WiFi was terrific and I cleaned up a lot of business on the computer, at which point we left and returned to the ship. Of all the warnings we have heard, there have been no incidences, until today. Two of our acquaintances, while walking down a street where met by a Security-dressed person who told them he had free tickets for them. He asked them to follow him, they did and when they arrived at an ATM two additional persons arrived on the scene and told them to insert their card and to do the obvious…both of these older people starting screaming and successfully ran away from these crooks. We’re told that Cape Town is much better than the other South African cities that we have visited. Let’s hope their recommendation holds water.
Tonight another party called ‘The White Night Party’ begins right after ‘The White Night Buffet’ at 20:00. Clearly, everyone is asked to come in White Clothing. I’ve got a long sleeve silky white tee shirt which will fit right in.


January 20, 2020

Last night the aforementioned White Night Party rocked. First, a fabulous meal, second, 12 locals dressed in Native Costumes sang and danced up a storm, and then the Entertainment Team took over with two hours of red hot music that were meant to dance too. They were terrific, the energy they have and with most of us dressed in something white amidst floating white balloons the night flew by as the seas bounced us around even more than the music.
This morning had to come, we are sailing around The Cape of Good Hope in choppy waters, all having been forecast with a recommendation to take the patch that helps with sea sickness. Terryl was talked into taking one - I didn’t think I would need it, and so far so good.
We’ll be packing up tonight, and when morning comes we’ll leave the ship and taxi to Mount Sierra Apartments in Cape Town. I hope we like it.


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