Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise, day 89, Durban, South Africa

Today was a great day!  Both Irwin and Sandi were at coffee and seemed to be over their illnesses.  No one else showed up today so we had a quiet visit.

After coffee we went to Curves and then to the Toyota dealership to get the car's 120,000 mile check up.  Vicki and I then went to the mall for some shopping and also to see a show.  We went to see "The Call," and it was good.  We had a not so good hot dog at the show and then we had popcorn and Bunches of Crunches.  Yes, we were bad! lol!

I forgot to tell you that I did buy a TV for a blind person.  It is a 80' Sharp QA!  It will be delivered on the 13th!  Exciting!

After the show we went to the walking store to look at shoes!

Sandi, you have come to the right wear a size 10 shoe and I have the best stock of size 10's in the city!  By the way did you know that Jackie Kennedy also wore a size 10 shoe!  lol!  Yes!

" This will be 6  pairs of shoes that I have bought from Bill!  Bill and I are shoe buddies!"  lol!

" Here we are leaving Arrowhead Mall and as usual I am carrying the shopping bags....oh Vicki, I forgot to tell you the car repairs will be $2, you want to take the shoes back?  Oh No!"

Pictures of the day!  Taken by Kween Karen, yesterday!


Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!

Postcards from Paradise!

   Richards Bay, South Africa   April 3, 2013   Wednesday
What a surprise to wake up and see our window splattered with rain early this morning.  The Captain had mentioned a "blow" that was due to hit this area in a few days, but little did we expect to be in the middle of it.  What a shame.  On our last visit, dozens of native dancers came into the pier area and performed a riviting dance.  Today all that was there were a few brave vendors, who had set up their carvings on tarps in the driving rain.  Sales will not be too good unless the rain lets up when the tours get back.

Speaking of tours, we were so glad that we chose to cancel ours today.  Doubt we would have seen much in the way of birds or animals on Lake St. Lucia.  Perhaps the folks that headed that direction had better weather than we do here in Richards Bay.

Before we were able to go anywhere, except breakfast in the dining room, we were required to have a "face-to-passport" inspection by the South African immigrations officials.  Our group number was 11, and knowing that they always start with "S", for suite and President Club members, and number 5, we knew we had plenty of time to linger with extra cups of coffee.  By 9am, our number was called, and we went through the line fairly quickly.  There were four officials we had to see before our passports were stamped and approved.  We will have to pack these with us during our entire stay in South Africa.

Now we had some free time to explore Richards Bay and the nearest shopping mall where the shuttle took us.  Ten minutes away was the Boardwalk Shopping Center, a modern 2 story mall with dozens of stores, shops, restaurants and a grocery outlet.  There were three large buses to take guests there until 5:15pm.  Good deal.  We got there around 10am to find the mall was already getting busy with locals and the cruise folks.  With the help of Barbara H.'s map, we located the camera store that had just what we were looking for.  The new lens fit and worked beautifully.  The only disappointment was that we could not find batteries for the smaller waterproof camera.  We'll make do with what we have, since it still works, only the batteries don't hold the charge that long anymore.

Walking the two levels of the mall, we realized that we did not need anything else, so we headed back to the ship.  We had considered eating lunch there, but the only restaurants were more the take-away type.  Think the pizza may be better onboard.  And besides, we still had to pack for our overland , which has us leaving tomorrow in Durban at 11am.

Richards Bay happens to be the largest harbor in South Africa.   Situated on a lagoon off the Mhlatuze River on the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal, Richards Bay is tied the oil/gas pipeline linking this port to Johannesburg.  Eventually an aluminium smelter and fertilizer plant were built here, while titanium was mined near the lagoon.  The discovery of diamonds and gold added to the prosperity.  And with so many game reserves nearby, tourism is now an integral part of the local economy.  

Outside the fairly modern city, the countryside is the place to see.  Four years ago, we took a night safari as well as a day safari to Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Reserves.  The evening excursion remains one that we will never forget, since it was a last minute unplanned stop.  At that time, we had a very successful evening run in the safari vehicles, seeing herds of wild elephants, rhino, gazelles, and hyenas.  But the best was to follow, when we got to see the stars in the galaxy in pure darkness without any artificial lights.  It was so stunning of a sight, that we almost forgot that we were here to see a native Zulu outdoor show.  A dinner under the stars with friends ended the perfect evening.  

By the time we gathered our things for four days away from home, the afternoon evaporated, and it became too late to go back to the mall.  We enjoyed a few slices of pizza and split a roast beef sandwich at the sandwich bar in the Lido.  That held us until dinnertime, which turned out to be only four of us.  Van and Carol had arrived back late from their day safari, reporting that they had a good time, but it also rained there all day.  They were wet, cold, and exhausted, so they nixed dinner in the dining room.  Can't say we blame them.

Right before leaving the pier, the Captain warned all of us to secure all delicate items in our rooms.  Once out of the harbor, he expected rolling seas and deep swells for a few hours. He was quite correct, because by dinnertime, we had to carefully make our way to the dinnertable.  We don't mind some rocking, but late at night, when all are in bed is OK.

With no internet service available where we are going, we will be offline for four days.  We'll re-join the ship in Cape Town on April 8th, hopefully with some good stories to share.

Mary Ann & Bill

 Cheetah Plains, South Africa

Last night’s game drive was pretty much a washout…  The rains just kept coming down.  The highlight was tracking along with two male lions in the evening.  This morning we still had a fair amount of rain but it did clear in the end.  We did catch a few really gorgeous birds and the highlight…  a very large male White Rhino.  Hopefully, the weather will clear some more during the day so we can have a clear and dry drive later this afternoon.  Perhaps more of the game will come out of hiding after the rains stop.

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