2023 – 3 – Grand World 3.2 of 5 Africa

We weren’t in Africa yet on Monday, March 6.  It was another sea day.  I dealt with that which needed dealing with and got a log, a blog and a newsletter out.  Happy hour was positively riotous, with the two couples and my 2012 table-mate, Beryl Mitton.  Beryl is a stitch.  She was bitching about all the youngsters holding up the line of boats at the waterfall.  She said she gave them the finger, but old ladies are invisible, so it didn’t change anything.  It made us laugh, though.  We know.

We had Wilco, the Chief Engineer, for dinner at the table and he was very entertaining, too.  We closed the dining room.  Then we went up to the “Crew Party” with passengers included.  I had a gingerale and hob-nobbed with Henk, the Hotel Manager, Christal, his wife, Manesh his 2IC, Shiv the Chief Housekeeper, Maja, the Front Desk Manager, Michelle the Groups Coordinator, Elijah Rock, the Singer, and Mark Palmer, the Comedian.  I also greeted about thirty passengers that I knew, fifteen of whom were DV.  Are you still wondering why I like this so much?

Tuesday, March 7, was another sea day.  I spoke to one of my passengers, who had just got back on board, having been prevented from visiting Oz, on a whim of Australian customs.  So they had spent a couple of weeks on Mauritius.  There are worse places, especially in March.  I live in one of them.  Dee Wescott came by to chat and t tell me how right I was about a world cruise making caregiving easy.  She is delighted with the progress Wells is making, just by being around a lot of people that he can have fun with. 

Elijah Rock had some time on his hands so he spent 15 minutes worth of it with me.  I liked that.   We had the lecturer, Daniel Silke for dinner and he was delightful.  We also liked the guitarist duo CH2.

On Wednesday, March 8, we were happy to be in Maputo, Mozambique.  I went on a ship’s tour.  I met up with a few of my people, which was an unexpected pleasure.  Our guide, Bartolomeo, was very good.  He first took us to the Central market, which had a lot of food, wigs, and the usual crappy souvenirs.  I did, however, manage to lay my hands on a great present for Robbie.  It was one of a kind, and I am pretty sure it was used, as it is quite misshapen and seems to be missing a bar.  It was probably a lunch box but my plan is to fill it with Robbie’s balls, as I give him about a dozen a day from my desk,  He takes them into the living room to play, and comes back when he has lost the current one under the sofa.  I’ll keep them in this now and expect to be entertained by him trying to get them out.

After the market, we went to Independence Square, getting our history lesson on the way.  Maputo was German at first, then a Portuguese colony.  Samora Machel, whose statue dominates the square, declared independence in 1984 and later signed a major agreement with Ronald Reagan, whereby English became the language of trade.  Now it’s taught in all the schools and basically taking over.  His second wife, second wife, Graça Simbine, married Nelson Mandela after Machel was killed.  She must have been something.  But, I digress.  Mozambique has been a democracy only since 1994 and is still struggling to get its infrastructure up to speed. 

We were there on International Women’s Day and saw a lot of women demonstrating in the square.  They still have a ways to go to be equal to the men here, but they have come a long way in a short time.   We visited the Iron House – yes, a house made entirely of iron in a very hot country.  It was built to house the Portuguese Governor, but he quickly realized it was more like an oven and moved out.  Then we visited their museum of natural history, full of stuffed animals, many in rather gruesome poses.  Then there was the collection of elephant fetuses.  They haven’t got over the recent civil war, which lasted 15 years and wiped out most of the schools.  They still have 65 students per class, while they try to catch up.  Many people still don’t have fresh water either.  Things could definitely be better.  They are getting help, but that is worrisome, too.  For instance, there is now a brand new bridge connecting Maputo to South Africa, which saves a lot of time.  It was paid for by the Chinese Government, who have been investing like mad in infrastructure, all over the world.  When they want to rule the world, it won’t take a war.

It was a good sailaway and I just had dinner right there on Deck 9, Aft, with the Starrs, Park and Annie.   The movie was Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, and, for once, the movie was good.

Back at Sea on Thursday, March 9, and it was business as usual, Happy Hour and dinner in the Pinnacle as a group again.  We were missing a few people, three of them from my dinner table.  They had the hysterical comedian for dinner and I was missing it.  It happens when you are booking entertainers who only have a couple of possible nights, in this case, only one and it conflicted.  No biggie.  We still had a very good time.  Elijah Rock was on stage again, in his final appearance.  We’ll miss him.

We docked in Durban, South Africa on Friday, March 10 and I took another ship’s tour.  This time I hooked up with Beryl Mitton, which is always a pleasure.  Durban is the biggest port in South Africa and the port for Johannesburg.  We were on our way to visit the Zulu nation in the Valley of 1000 Hills.  The diverse clans became the Zulu nation in 1816 and they have had nine kings since then.  They are not crowned, they are coronated, just so’s you know.  It’s a beautiful drive to get there and is very picturesque country with picturesque natives. 

They had a dance to show us.  It was the wedding dance, depicting the contract (11 cows for a wife), the engagement, and the wedding itself.  Sailaway was fun.  The Rolling Stones Lounge band is leaving us and so, after dinner, they gave a concert on the main stage.  They are excellent but when they said it was music from the 60s-70s-80s, they were smoking something.  It was heavy metal from the 90s and 2000s.  We should know.  We were there.  They weren’t. 

Saturday, March 11, we should have been East London, South Africa.  We missed another port because of weather and likely poor planning, on Holland America’s part.  These big ships can’t really do the little harbours.  I spent some of the time working on my July in Napa.  I finished and sent a log and a blog and started a newsletter for March 13.  Had dinner at the table and enjoyed another hysterical round of Mark Palmer.

On Sunday, March 12, we were in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Today’s tour has been much modified from the tour description.  It was a “townships” tour and if you have read Trevor Noah’s book, which I highly recommend, you’ll have an idea of what we were supposed to be in for.  We had already had a letter from the shore excursions department that we were NOT going to walk around the townships speaking to the residents as advertised.  That came as no surprise.  I imagine we would be either resented or targeted, or both.  But it was good for us to see.  Port Elizabeth is on Nelson Mandela Bay and is home to Nelson Mandela University and the Nelson Mandela stadium.  It has a new name “Gqeberha“ but no one but the Xhosa (Zulus)  can pronounce it, so it still goes by Port Elizabeth.  It wasn’t named after the Queen, either, but rather one Elizabeth Duncan, who was honored as a “perfect person”.  The fact that it was Sunday, didn’t improve the tour.  Most things were closed, like the school we were to visit and the Post Office, which is closed permanently, thanks to the Internet, as if there wasn’t enough unemployment in these parts. 

Mandela and his Nelson Mandela Foundation, built houses and schools, both of which vastly improved the lot of the common people, at least at first.  But without employment, youth turns to crime.  The prosperous looking houses have ADT signs in their front yards that say “ARMED RESPONSE”.  Rubbish is picked up once a week, but it has to be gathered into bags or containers and Port Elizabeth isn’t known as the “windy city” for nothing, so it is all over the place.  Our guide, Mongo, thinks the younger generation is more environmentally conscious and it’s the old folks who are used to just tossing trash.  He was born is a shack and now lives in a Mandela house.  Here are a few pics:

Mixed neighborhood, shacks with outhouses and some Mandela houses.

Typical Mandela houses

Better Houses

With front yards that discourage loitering.

And litter everywhere.

We stopped once.  It was some sort of public building with good rest rooms.  We were met by the police who opened the gate for our bus to pass and closed it after us.  There were free soft drinks and a couple of artisans selling their wares.  I was first to buy a beautiful beaded collar and, when she was down to only one and it was red and black, I bought that, too. A good few of us were wearing them around the ship for a couple of days.  They are surprisingly warm.    

We stopped at Nelson Mandela Stadium, where there should have been a larger craft fair, but no one showed up to let us in.  Maybe because it was a Sunday, maybe they just didn’t want to sell to us.  You have to wonder why not.  We were open to buy.  Back on the ship, there was a production show, and it was very, very good.