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Cape Town to Mozambique

SOUTH AFRICA | Sunday, 28 December 2014 | Views [460] | Comments [1]

Some nice houses overlooking the Sunday River

Some nice houses overlooking the Sunday River

We've been on board the Seven Seas Voyager, for a week now, and the activity has been pretty frantic.  We've made landfall each day so far, and we've stayed pretty busy, both on and off the ship.

After leaving Cape Town on the evening of December 21, we headed east along the South African coast, stopped at Mossel Bay the next day around noon.  Mossel Bay is actually close enough to Cape Town be considered a distant suburb.  There are some pretty nice houses, and some decent shops and restaurants.  We just got of the ship and went for a casual stroll into town.  I bought some badly needed running shorts, looked unsuccessfully for a digital watch to use for exercising (my 5-year-old Casio decided to quit a few days ago), and we strolled back to the ship.

Next day the stop was in Port Elizabeth, a major large port and pretty big city.  We were met by Allan, our private tour guide, and off we went in his little Toyota SUV.  Our first stop was a canoe ride on the Sunday River--no crocodiles or hippos, guaranteed.  We saw lots of birds and leaping fish, and actually got a good workout while paddling back to our put-in point against a current and a stiff breeze.  Next stop was a very British country pub for lunch (cheeseburger and beer for me, fish and chips for Mom), then on to Addo Elephant Park.  Despite its name, the park has lots of game in it, and we managed to check a few animals off our list that we hadn't seen yet in South Africa.

After motoring further along the coast line all night, Voyager put into East London on Christmas Eve.  Here, we went on a tour of a pretty nice natural history museum, where they actually have two big claims to fame.  The curator of the museum identified a living coelacanth (fish) brought up by local fishermen in 1938, thought to be long-extinct.  The other East London archaeological find was a set of footprints made in the sand at the beach, cast into sandstone by mother nature, then rediscovered in the 20th century.  They are claimed to be the oldest human footprints in the world, dating back 120,000 years.  East London itself had been a major German farmer and British colonial settlement, but has dilapidated badly.  Only 3% of the local population is white (as opposed to 12% nationwide in South Africa), and it shows in the appearance of the streets and buildings, and the local unemployment rate of 33%.

On Christmas Day, we docked in Durban, South Africa's biggest port and third largest city.  We had been to Durban a couple of weeks earlier with Hayden, so we elected to just stay on the ship and laze around.  We did laundry, and made sure that we got in our daily exercise routine.  The latter is vitally important if we are going to continue to eat and drink all the great things available on board.  In mid-afternoon, we called you guys and checked into Christmas morning activities at home.  Mom had two spa appointments on Christmas, and we ate dinner at the steak restaurant on the ship.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't as good as the barbecued steaks that we have at home.

Next day was a stop at Richards Bay.  The main destinations for ship excursions were the St Lucia Estuary Game Reserve, and the Hluhluwe/Infolozi National Park.  Again, we had already seen those with Hayden, so we opted to take the shuttle to a really large shopping mall.  We just wandered around a bit, Mom found a few items of clothing, I finally found a black rubber Casio watch to wear while exercising, and we rejoined the ship.  This was our last stop in South Africa.  We had arrived on November 30, and that was one of the fastest months we've ever seen fly by.

Yesterday, December 27, the ship docked at Maputo, Mozambique.  As soon as we started to pull up to the pier and the buildings in town became visible, we could tell that the story here was quite a bit different from South Africa.  Mozambique had gone through a devastating civil war from 1963 until 1974, and it took a massive toll in lives and infrastructure destruction.  Many taller buildings are disintegrating, lots of trash in the streets, many, many unemployed people wandering about.  We went on a walking tour from the pier to the downtown area, led by a young Mozambiquan man.  He did a pretty good job, but made constant references to "back in the day"--back to pre-1963 when Maputo was a thriving Portuguese port, with lots of European activity, money, and residents.  On an encouraging note, we did see some nice homes and high-rise construction happening near the beach areas on the north side of the bay as we left last night.  The downtown is in really bad shape, but maybe the revival will happen in the suburbs first, and move on from there.

Today and tomorrow, we are steaming north and east between Mozambique and Madagascar, made famous as a highly-coveted and easily-defended Risk possession.  We'll be catching up on blogging, playing trivia and bingo, exercising, reading, and relaxing.  Mom's getting a manicure right now, and I am headed up to the running track on deck 12 (seven laps equals one mile, counting laps is the hardest part).




Phew! Just found time to binge read your last month of excitement and travel. Love the exchanges with family and friends...a fine group with keen sense of humor and irreverence for elders! Keep the news coming. Will make effort to partake of repartee. Melanie needs to be roughed up a bit! V, your title as Scatologist-in-Chief is well deserved. Enjoy your several days of blue water crossing. Avoid fast zodiacs with disenfranchised young men holding AK-47's and RPG's. Best

  Stephen the Elder Jan 1, 2015 4:00 AM

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