Thursday, March 27, 2014

Report # 88 Sailing Towards Durban, South Africa March 27, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, 79 degrees

The seas have finally calmed down the closer we get to South Africa. That would not last all day however. The skies have turned blue with a few clouds on the horizon. But that would not last all day either. Might as well enjoy the day, our last full one on the ship until April 1st, when we come back from our safari.

At breakfast this morning, we discovered that our wait staff had new uniforms. Dressed in off white jackets with either a black-striped shawl collar, or a black Mandarin collar, they really looked sharp. However, they are extremely impractical, because white will show every spot in no time. We asked Pande if the change was for the CEO of HAL, who will be arriving tomorrow. He said not really, because they were supposed to do the switch after Singapore, when they received the jackets from Indonesia. Apparently other ships in the fleet have changed to the new look, and the Amsterdam was among the last to do so.

We spent most of the morning gathering our things to take with us. It did help making a list a few days ago, because that way we doubt we will forget anything. The small rolled duffel bags that we were gifted on this trip will be the right size to check in at the airport. We are allowed to check in one piece of luggage weighing up to 50 pounds, but that would not be necessary. Last year there was no cost for this luggage. A personal carryon cannot weigh over 18 pounds. We are OK on that one too.

We had to pick up our passports at the front desk, and while there, get some African rand (ZAR) to use for incidentals. Tomorrow in Durban, we will have to clear immigration formalities first. That means presenting ourselves between 6 and 7am in the terminal for this check. This was specific to only the independent overland guests like us, not the HAL tour groups. We would be free to leave or return to the ship until we were ready to go. For us, that should be around 11am.

With all that done, we spent some relaxing time at the pool, chatting with Barb , then Larry and Cheryl. Cherly is originally from South Africa, and told us what living there was like. We can say that it sure is not like living where we do. Not by a long shot. One example was leaving your property in the morning and coming home in the evening. It was necessary to call your armed guards 20 minutes before leaving your garage. Security has to be there to guard your exit, and make sure the house is locked and secured. The same applies to coming home, only in reverse. That got us to thinking about the swanky homes in Walvis Bay we walked by on our way to the bay where the flamingos reside. We saw the same type of armed security guards she described. Also, the residential streets were about deserted during the day. In hind site, we should not have been walking alone, assuming it was fine. Like we said, it is not like home, where kids are out playing and folks are walking their dogs.

For some unknown reason, we have been without all of the TV news stations for 24 hours. We assume we are in between satellites, and will get reception from a new one soon. Hate being cut off from the world that way. We had intended to watch a movie, but by 3pm, we had news back, so that took priority over the movie. One of us made a run to the sandwich bar, and came back with one roast beef and cheese sandwich and one turkey and cheese sandwich. They were good for a change.

Time for a walk. What a surprise to find that the skies had turned cloudy, and the seas were becoming rough again. Captain Jonathon had mentoined that he intended to arrive to the harbor in Durban by 4am, so we think he picked up the speed and pulled the stabilizers in to make better time. By 8pm, we were bouncing off of the hallway walls making our way towards the aft elevators.

We had fun at dinner tonight, because six of us are all excited about leaving for 6 days. Barb and Maureen said they will really miss us, and wished us all a good and safe time. Hope we all have some good stories to share with them when we get back.

So we will be away from the ship until after April 1st, but promise to keep a detailed diary and take thousands of photos. Since we do not know what is available internet-wise, we will post if we can. Wish us luck..........

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