Friday, April 12, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise, day 97, Walvis Bay, Namibia!

        Happy Birthday Rosine!  Let's hear a 94 gun salute for this woman!!!!!!!!!  !!!!
So today was another different day.
After coffee we went to Starbucks and our visit with Sandi and Irwin we trotted off to Curves.  I really did not feel like trotting anywhere!  As we told you all several days ago, we cancelled our 2 cruises this summer.  Rosine said that we had better not use her as an excuse....right!So, yesterday, we planned a 8 day trip to the south.  On May 13 we are headed for New Orleans for 5 nights and then off to Biloxi for
3 nights.  Does anyone want to join us?    We are really excited about it!  Vicki has never been there and it will be so interesting for her!  As usual, we got our hotel for free, the Westin.

Now for the rest of the day.  We picked up Rosine at 12:45 to take her to Rosie's Cafe for her birthday lunch.  The tribe was to arrive at 1:00.  Not so...they were 20minutes late...Rosine was all ready tired before we even got there!  After lunch we took Rosine home.  She enjoyed having Bob and granddaughter Tessa there for lunch and was very happy with her gifts.  we especially liked the little plant that came with her gift box.  Vicki was upset that the plant was so dried out and insisted that I come to the rescue and water the damn thing.  So I did I just found out that it is a fake....a fake, can you just see me watering that thing? lol!            
What would you like to eat?  As I remember none of us really liked the food here but mom knows Mario likes it! But Mario did not come so we all suffered through it!

             I was tired before I got here....they will be here soon!  I don't think I look 94!
These nice people, at he next table were having a good time listening and joining in our conversation ....while we waited for Bob and Tesa!
Ah....the wonderful world of technology!

"Happy Birthday Grandma"

After the party was over...oops! we did not even get her a cake!  Bad girls!
Vicki and I went to the mall so Vicki could take back a pair of shoes before we leave for San Diego on Sunday morning!  Then it was time to go home and finish up a few things there.  They are delivering the TV in the morning between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning.  Then we will meet Josh for lunch!

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

 Walvis Bay, Namibia

It was a fairly quiet day today….  It was overcast for a good part of the day.  We decided to just walk into town for a while and stroll down the Esplanade.  It was a nice way to spend our final day here.  We did a bit of shopping and headed back to the ship.  Headed poolside for a couple of hours before calling it quits.  I particularly like to “pink” pelicans…  never saw that before!  Nice, relaxing day….

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Postcards from Paradise!

 Bush Camp Day Four April 7, 2013 Sunday

You know what? The nights get really cool here this time of year. Even though we are not located far from Maputo, Mozambique, where we were plagued with the heat and humidity, we could not imagine cooling off anytime too soon. Anyway, we will know better, if there is a next time here. Sweatshirts, jackets, and scarves would be good things to add to our bags. You can always take the layers off if needed.

It seemed like we just got to sleep, when we were abruptly awakened by the howls of hyenas at 3 and 4am. They seemed to be too close for comfort again. There was no way we were going to go outside and look either. Who needs an alarm clock with that eerie call? So we were up and dressed well before one of the staff came with the hot water for coffee.

The game drive started off with another pleasant sunrise, enjoyed by us and our British friends. Today, there were only four of us in the vehicle, not counting our driver and tracker. This would be our last ride with this team, because they would be heading home after a 28 day work cycle at the camp. They would get 7 days off, then come back to repeat the work schedule. For that reason, we made sure to hand them each their tips for the six game drives we had with them. It was well-earned.

Spending a lot of time crossing over into different game reserves, it seemed like all the big game animals had taken Sunday off. Our driver jokingly said that perhaps they were in church! Keeping constant contact with the other Land Rover drivers from nearby camps, we heard very little chatter this morning. Eventually, the creatures began stirring with the sighting of a guinea fowl running for its life. They are noisy birds, somewhat like chickens, but watchdogs of the farm, so to speak. They are great for spotting and killing snakes, and are also a frequently seen carved wood or beaded souvenier to buy from Africa.

Giraffes and impala were busy grazing the grasses or stripping the tree leaves. In order to maintain their size, the elephants and giraffes must eat 20 hours a day. This morning was for the birds. No, we mean it was good for viewing birds like eagles, peacock-colored blue starlings, hornbills, and the beautiful lilac-breasted rollers. Got the best photos of them today. Passing a watering hole, we saw lazy terrapin (turtles) sunning in the heat of the morning. Kudu and elephants finished our quest for large creatures. So far, no lions.

Somewhere in the middle of the drive, we stopped for coffee and cookies. Our British buddies would be going home later, so we enjoyed our final drive with them. Their only disappointment was not seeing the lions. We still had one more chance.....tonight. On the ride back to the camp, our guide asked if we knew how to tell if a horned animal is right or left horned? Like people are right or left handed. The answer was in the length and condition of each horn. The shorter, more damaged, or sometimes missing horn meant the animal favored that side with digging, fighting, or foraging food.

Breakfast was waiting for us when we returned to the camp. Our friends and one family with the two kids had to depart at 11:30am, but replacing them, were three folks from LA/NYC. In our opinion, they really were not the safari type, judged by the way they were dressed. Oh well, they'll find out soon enough when they're full of stickers and burrs, and roasting from wearing all black leather pants and jackets.

Breakfast was good again with omelettes and all the extras. This was the first day we noticed that the blended thick fruit juice had little bits of ice in it. Guess drinking the water is OK, because so far none of us have gotten sick. We have been in places where you cannot even brush your teeth with tap water. This was not one of them.

The bush walk was at 11:15am. Only one of us went, of course, and the other stayed behind basking in the hot sun while reading. Playing with the monkeys was another optional, but fun pastime. They loved the mixed nuts and dried fruit we had in our room. Turned out the walk was with the new city slickers, one of which was "Chatty Cathy" never quit talking for 1 1/2 hours. There are specific suggested rules in regards to game drives and bush walks. One of them is "no unnecessary loud talking". Guess this lady had not read this in the brochure yet, but we are sure someone will tell her, and soon, we can only hope.

Lunchtime was at 3pm. Once again, we kept it light with salad, crackers, cheese, ham and salami. Small muffin-like meat pies were offered along with a cheese quiche. We suspect that the meat muffins were made from last night's leftover dinner meats. They were delicious. What also was looking tempting was the strawberry shortcake with whipped cream for dessert. Wisely, we passed on the chance.

Right before we joined the afternoon game drive, our driver introduced us to Thomas, our new driver. He and his tracker would take us on our final drive for today. Ten elephants were gathered not far from the camp, then rhino, zebra, and wildebeest were the next to see. Looks like the animals decided to come out later today, taking Sunday morning off like we joked. The impala and kudu grazed away with some eagles and vultures flew overhead. Everything is on the hunt here, no matter how small or large. Small dark squirrels, some scrub hares ran the road again, followed by the birds.....woodpeckers, francolin, and the showy lilac-breasted rollers.

A brown house snake slithered ahead of the vehicle before disappearing. Some other common snakes around these parts are the puff adder, spitting cobra, and the deadly black mambas. Knowing they are here, we were careful with every step we took, even around the camp. This came to mind during our sundowner stop. We had been seated with the family with three kids, two of which were girls. After sipping their iced teas, one of the girls was going to go off behind a bush for a pit stop. By now, the sun had slipped below the horizon, and it was getting quite dark. Her parents freaked when she strolled away, and they quickly called her back. And for good reason. A few days ago, Bill had gone around a brush-covered tree clump, and accidently flushed a lone jackal that had been bedded down there. Don't know who was more surprised, but it goes to prove that you never know what's around a corner. Could easily have been that deadly black mamba. The mom told her stubborn daughter she would just have to wait. We finished our wine and beer, then headed back to camp for a nice surprise.

This was our last evening here, and guess that tradition is to send us off in style. Having a few minutes to freshen up for dinner, we went to our cabin to find it was lit with a dozen candles and lanterns. Our bed was sprinkled with bouganvilla petals with a sprig of greenery in the middle. But the big surprise came when we opened the bathroom door. There was a carpet with a bottle of champagne being chilled on ice with 2 champagne flutes. A bowl of covered chocolates was surrounded with colored glass marbles and more small votive candles. A scalding hot bubble bath had been drawn and also decorated with the flower petals. It would have been inviting if the water was not so hot, and we were not expected for dinner soon. Finding the bath, quickly brought to mind a recent story told to us by friends who had gone on safari in this same area last year. Bubbles mean slippery slopes in tubs, something forgotten from our early days of taking bubblebaths. Or perhaps it was easier to get in and out of the tubs way back then. But once inside the water, you can be in an uncomfortable predicament upon exiting. Like how do you get out without breaking your neck? For that reason, and the fact that the water was way too hot, we passed on the pleasure of soaking for an hour. As it turned out, the temperature was tolerable by 5am the next kidding.

So we popped the bottle of bubbly, and toasted to a safari well done. By the time we joined the group in the dining room, we were more than relaxed when we thanked the owner personally for the nice treat. Three more people had appeared for dinner. They were Afrikaaners, originally from Holland. They were visiting here as guests, but were also game reserve owners from north of here, closer to the Zambia border. One of the ladies told us all about the acreage they owned, and how the camp and house are electric-fenced, keeping it separate from the game reserve. Their purpose for being here was to get new ideas for their operation, as well as perhaps recruit some of this crowd to try their place next time. We felt it was a bit of a conflict to openly solicit possible customers in the presence of such a caring and hospitable staff that we had here. They bragged of opulence and spoiling the customers, but we found this camp and ambience to be a perfect fit for us.

We were so ready to eat and try to get to bed early. Lucky for us, the food was out on the side table, and our starter course was served at each place setting. Tonight's first course was a tomato/basil bisque, piping hot. Could have made a meal of this soup and been happy. But more was to follow. The buffet offered salad greens mixed with freshly sliced veggies, and also a creamy potato salad. The cooks had added a touch of vinegar, the way we like it best. Steaming squash, green beans, roasted potatoes, and rice went well with the chicken masala and oxtail stew. This was nice for a change, since these dishes are not something we cook at home often enough. Red and white wines went well with dinner, as did the poached pear with a dash of cream for dessert. We had saved a little room for the last glass of amarula and hot coffee. We were happy campers by the time we went to bed, literally crashing for the night. We were already sorry to see it coming to an end as we drifted off to sleep.

Mary Ann & Bill
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