“REMEMBER THAT HAPPINESS IS A WAY OF TRAVEL, NOT A DESTINATION”
Our last day at Sea. Went to cooking class with Ray Bear. We made a delicious fried chicken breast, tuna appitizer and bannana splits. He taught us a lot of interesting ways to decorate a plate and I am looking forward to making the bannana splits. We were served in the Pinnacle dining room with wine and all the special services.
Bill went to listen to the Professor on Africa and we meet for lunch. After lunch I worked on sending my Blog and Bill took a nap. In the afternoon, I had my nails done and Bill went to Minyon. Just like any day at home. I forget that we are living on a ship, that it is constantly moving and we live in one room. Went to dinner, the show and to bed. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I can’t explain how pleasant it is and you get into a routine, so you just go about your life, only you are constantly moving to the next port. I like the idea of being on the go, that way I am not wasting time. I do have to say that Holland really thought this out and had plenty of activites to keep you busy if you wanted. Of course I wanted…
Special lunches,coctail parties and speakers helped fill the days and nights.
Tomorrow Land for the first time in 8 days. Everyone is ready including the staff on board. They split there time off to 3 hours shifts. Wine and grocery stores everyones first stop. Looking forward to our first stop in Africa.
We have sailed 8 days in Great Circle Navigation, and this last day in the South Atlantic we will begin to be influenced by the Benguela Current that runs north along the west coast of Africa. The currant originates partially from the South Atlantic Ocean currant coming from South America, but mainly the well known Aghulas Currant which runs south and west along the eastern and southern coasts of Africa. Namibia became an independent state in 1994, Carved out of South-West Africa Wavis Bay is the major port of Namibia and the center of a large fishing industry and a local operation extracts salt from seawater. We docked at a comercial port with lots of containers and ships sitting at anchor. I thought this was just going to be another port, one to stretch your legs on. Really now , I never paid much attention to African currant events. When I read about it on line before we left I was expecting much.
Our tour was with the Cruise Critic group I met on line We were four to a van and we started out. As soon as we were away from port the whole scenery changed and we were mesmerized by what we say and did. First, drove by a bay with a few pelicans and flamingos. Then on to the two lane road to that took us to Swakopmund. On the way with the ocean on my side, I watched the beautiful beaches and out of now where a beautiful development was being built as a resort for vacationers. Different kind of architure, some had rounded roofs, some looked like A frames, all were either cement or cement block, in the middle of now where except they looked at the glorious ocean or the desert. Anywhere in the world there is water, housing comes and this is no exception. Can’t figure out where the people with enough money will come from, I guess from Cape Town and other places.
Swakopmund is a costal resort founded by the Germans. The architure is an interesting mix of german and African. We had coffee in the famous Café Anton. The coffee was great and the pastries from the strudel to the apple cakes were finger licking good. You would think that we had not seen food in days the way everyone scarfed up the food. In the front of the Hotel was a open market with lots of natives selling local crafts. Bill bought a great cane.
We headed out to the mountains. Wow!!!! The Mountains are black rocks with almost nothing growning on them. For as far as you can see, the landscape is rock or ocean. Looks like a landscape from out in space. If you saw it in a movie you would say it was created for the screen. The weather was perfect, cool and sunny in the morning. Just enough of a breeze to be comfortable. We drove for about an hour and it continued on and on. The stark look is amazing. From the rocks and mountains we came to the desert.Sand Dunes line the coast, and the drive through the desert and dunes looks like a sandy dream. We came to Dune 7. It is very high and I thought OK I can climb this. I started out and realized how hot the sand is and how hard it is to walk in sand. I made it half way up and decided I still would have to come down , so I turned around. By this time it was afternoon and we had lunch at the base, with the hot afternoon sun beating down on us. Hot,Hot, Hot and ahsome at the same time. It was a thrill for me to see what a desert looks like and then to try and walk. Real life living in a landscape like we have been driving through, might be beautiful to be in for a few hours, but live here and work. Raise a family, the living is to hard. I will say both cities are spotless even through they have high unemployment. Everywhere we have gone, unemployment has been high and a problem.
We started back to the ship with a stop at the lagoon south of town. The tide had gone out and the Flamingos and Pelicans were there by the hundreds feeding on crill. Walked out and watched then. The pelicans were white like in Florida. Even the wood storks came to say hello. Flocks of Flamingo’s flying right over our heads. A ballet of flight in the middle of the desert-ocean.
Next stop the salt mines. The top of the ground was white with salt and the water around it a pink red. So many new experiences today. At each turn in the road and at each stop a new and unexpected sight. From a port that I thought would just be a stop to a very exciting adventure. Another star on my highlight board.
Treats of the day were not over let. The show for the evening was The African Black Axes Choir. They perform different styles of acapella choir music from different black cultures. Outstanding.
Second act was Kellerman, Africa’s formost Flautist. Another grand surprise for the day. Played original music with a base and guitar. Very African sounding. The base player filled a wooden bowl with water and played the water like a drum. Very moving to listen and watch him do that. Another new expierce to add to the day. This was icing on the day that was as near perfect in expectations when traving. You know not what to expect and it comes in as spectacular.
Our last stop in Namibia A country I knew nothing about a few days ago. We dropped anchor just outside the bay. We are on the east side of the ship today and I enjoyed the sun rise. A little foggy and misty and then bright sun shine. The harbor was framed by the stark mountains and behind them the sand dunes. Mostly German and a mixture of everything else European in architectue. The dock where we disembarked had a playground for children. They were all very friendly and were eager to have their pictures taken with you. The young girls had the long skinny legs. They were built very lean. Quite attractive with big smiles. Most of the boys kept to themselves. Walked into the town passed men just standing on street cornors talking. Looked in a grocery store, it was very clean and the shelves had plenty of food. The only busy business I saw was the ATM machines. No one looked like they had any place to go. Security people everywhere and Security businesses in lots of store fronts. If our ship hadn’t come in that morning what would they do for income? Stopped at a coffee shop and had ice coffee. That was a treat, coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Not to shabby for lunch. Walked around a few shops and bought a few things of course. The diamond mining is gone and it is very obvious nothing has replaced it.
Such a contrast from yesterday. Poor, dirty and sad. Back to the ship to get ready to sail away and Formal Night with the President of HAL Mr. Stein Kruse.
The evening started with a coctail party, with complimtenary wine and hor derves in the Queens Lounge. On to dinner and more complimentery wine. Everyone was feeling great after that. People really dress up for these special events. This one was called Mariner Appreciation Day--A Special Day to Honor You.
Show was again outstanding. Two nights in a row. Think maybe the president on board had anything to do with it. Of course this is a World Cruise and they plan special events and they pass him off as a special event. The Unexpected Boys performed Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons music. Everyone was into it. All that wine and music to clap and sing to. So ended another award winning day. They say we are in for another one tomorrow. At sea Safari. Going to rest most of the day so we are bright eyed and bushy tailed for Julia and Mike. I have been thinking and planning our meeting for so long and here it is.
Woke up to bright sunshine, and coffee at the door. I like having the sunrise to wake up to cause we are dinning at sunset. Best of both worlds.
The Lido has been changed into a Safari Tent Camp. Tonight,the sights,sounds, and tastes of Africa will come alive on board…Braai full buffet , dinner, complimentary drinks, African entertainment and food, food, and more food. People were really into it. Dressing as best they could in Safari garb. They were cooking lamb, pig and beef on open barbeque pits. The lamb chops were outstanding, lots of lental salads, tomatoe salads, and anyother kind of salad you can think of. I did not eat the Braai Buffet, since it was all game food and I am not that adventuresome anymore with food. So many other interesting things to eat. The drinks were mostly native wine, mix drinks and after dinner drinks. I think half the people were not feeling any pain by dessert.
The decorations where over the top. Tents to eat in, with all kinds of masks, animal skins,spears and canes. Very much fun. I sat with Brad and Gloria, Grace and Sandy and the head of the Mariner Rewards for HAL The evening was really a happening. Very fun and you really forgot you were sailing. Bill didn’t like the food or noise so he went downstaris with Lois and Jack. And had dinner with them.
The evening was topped off with a show. The Soweto String Quartet is a explosion of four Africans playing eighteenth century string violins. The music was rich in African music as well as contemporary and traditional folk songs. Some of the music sounded like Themes from Lion King and the folk songs with sang at Tri City when we went across the lake to the Black Camp.
To us the Mariner Appreciation Days where fun and new and exciting. Listening to the return cruisers it was OK. People are dissatisfied with food, gifts, service…to us, how much better could you want. The president of Hal heard every complaint and handled it very well. In a sweet voice he thanked everyone for their concern and critisisim and said he would take everything under advisement. So be it. In our naivety We are happy.
JULIA,MICHAEL,WINDS, OH MY
Cape Town is looked upon by Table Mountain, a flat-topped stone mountain that rises 3,000 feet above the town. We docked at the commercial port and had a view of the highrise buildings, and the mountains . Of course a shuttle from the dock takes you to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront shopping and entertainment center.
Leaving the ship we looked at Table Mountain and it had its tablecloth on. The clouds cover the top and they call it the tablecloth. Our plans to go up cancelled. The winds were blowing at gale rate. Whipping across the bridge from the ship to land we were plummeted with sand and then heavy mist blown off the water, soaked.. Very , very hard to walk. I held on to Bill and he held onto the railing. Hats blowing everywhere. Talk about wind swept hair, we had it. Chalk this one up to another different kind of experience.
We didn’t spend too much time gazing at the views cause our most important sight to see was Julia and Michael. We cabbed over to the condo the convention rented for them. We were lost for 15 minites trying to find their front door just around the cornor from the front of the Hotel. FOUND….they looked wonderful. Tired from their two day trip over from Seattle, but game enough to go out with us. Quite an honor for us to have your Grandchildren willing to meet you half way around the World on their vacation. You guessed it, we headed for the V and A. The wind was blowing and Julia had trouble keeping her skirt under control. Stopped and had tea at CAKE HOUR and caught up on all their news and the family news. So touching and accelerating to meet your children like that. Really there are no words to express how I felt ..Maybe Qvelle.. Time flew by and they were fading fast along with Bill. They have a wonderful week planned and I felt they need to rest so they can enjoy every minute. Hugs and kisses and we will see you in Seattle. We hopped the shuttle and returned to the ship. Wind was still fierce and we had to fight to walk. To bed early. Shafari in the morning.
THE BIG FIVE
Up at the crack of dawn. Ready to board the bus at 6:30. Hats, camera, water, and deet. Could one need more? Our drive out to Aquila Game Reserve took 2 hours. Thank goodness we were going against rush hour traffic. Backed up for miles. Most of the roads are narrow 2 lanes. Yes, one each way. Hardly big enough for the bus. The drive out of the city was interesting as we passed houses and of course famous shanty towns. Yes the shanties look just like the pictures. Complete squalor. The houses were small square cement or stucco structures with not to much interest going on. Of course seeing it all from the window of the bus isn’t the best way to judge. Of course the Mountains were on my side, each valley more beautiful than the last. Green but no flowers that I could see. When we arrived we were served a very lavish breakfast, including lox and every conceivable meat with eggs as chasers. The lodge is lovely, with bush cottages surrounding it. Lots of cactus around a swimming pool. Cool breezes were keeping us cool. The winds are still around, though not as bad as in the city.
Boarded our 4 x4 with our driver and we were off to find the BIG FIVE. They roam freely on the Karoo Mountains, Fynbos reserve, and eat the extremely rare Renosterveld vegetation. Driving amongst a pride of lions, herd of elephants, crush of rhino, gang of buffalo, giraffes, dazzle of zebra and the beauty of the mountains was exciting and breathtaking. Bobox ran everywhere. They look like a slim deer and reproduce just like them. The herds are very large and they are talking about thinning them out. Also many flocks of Ostrich. They run very fast and are twice the size I expected. The black males had beautiful feathers. Two outstanding visions. The lion was on a ledge, the sun at his back, his red mane was shinning in the backlight just like in Lion King Another kodack moment that is burned in my head. The other moment was the herd of Zebra. The stripping was perfect. to me they looked the healthiest and most perfect. I could have reached out and touched them. Reward for riding in the back of the jeep. At the Rino hole we stopped for a bottle of water and a glass of champagne. What else do you do in the middle of the day on a game reserve in Africa. Back to the lodge and a beautiful lunch was served. No bugs or flies. And thank goodness for the cool breezes since of course no air conditioning.
As wonderful and exciting as the animals were, the strength of the mountains and how the clouds came and went over them was awesome. I think all this wind might have some thing to do with it but not sure. The sky was blue, lots and lots of white clouds and these enormous black jagged mountains. Most of the mountain is made up of slate, sand stone, an granite. Vegetation also was very different than anything we had ever seen.
Each day brings new experiences and this one is a five star. Back on the bus and everyone was sound asleep in five minutes.
Amazing how we need Sea Days. Rested, went to Cooking Class and played dominoes at four with Jack and Lois. Lois has given me confidence to play blackjack and when it is dollar day I play with her. This afternoon we played for an hour and I won seven dollars. Our table mates taught me to drink wine with dinner. By the time we come home I will have aquired many bad habits and Bill will still be goody two shoes.
We have tried to slow down our eating. Light breakfast, no lunch, cheese and crackers around 4 so we can make it to dinner at 8. The stops in B A and in Cape Town has changed the population on board. New faces and mostly European have joined the segments.. So the dynamics has changed. They are trying to find their way around and the people who are still on board from the beginning are sort of a click. No matter the age, we keep our old ways. A new couple took my seat at the program last night. That was a no no in my mind, of course there is no assigned seating, so tonight I will have to go early again to stake my claim to what I think belongs to me, our seats. Lil and Heinz have left so no one to go very early to save our seats for us.
I miss Lil. She taught me a lot about Africa. Also I liked her everyday philosophy. We talked about everything. She and Heinz became good friends. We lunched together when we were still doing lunch. How they are managing living in a senior high rise, how they approach old age, and they travel to keep themselves busy. Both are soft spoken and very sharp. All of us should beable to age like them. We promised we would drive out to see them in Calgary. I hope so.
This ends another week. Today is day 49. Almost half way. Can’t believe we have already met up with Julia and Michael. You think about it, count the days and its history in a flash. They really are wonderfull together. Michael makes all these wonderful sight seeing plans for the two of them. When we talked Namibia, he knew exactly where I was talking about. Michael looked after Bill and was very sweet the way he walked and talked to him. Having them for the afternoon gave Bill and I a calm day. Someone to watch over us for a few hours far away from home. It worked, we were very relaxed and truly enjoyed every second we had together. Our phone call home to Andrea and Sid was fun. Sounded like they were next door . Loud and Clear. We were sitting in sunshine and they were freezing cold. Location, Location, Location.