Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

 

Week Four -- Journeywoman's Semester At Sea...

 

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February 19 -- Good Morning Cape Town

We were told that the pilot boat would be arriving to meet us at about 5:15 AM. After so many long days of sailing everybody was anxious to see the shore so most people were up for the event. It was dark and cold on the deck; I wore my sweatshirt with a thin shell plus my winter pull-on hat to keep me warm. I definitely didn't look beautiful but neither did anybody else. Some people wandered out in pajama bottoms and sweat tops, one professor's wife wore her bathrobe, and everybody maneuvered to find the best spot to take their photographs. At first it wasn't light enough to see anything but gradually the sun came up and there it was -- Cape Town's harbour built right up against Table Top Mountain. All the buildings were outlined with tiny white lights and my initial impression was ... 'oh no - I expected Africa and was given Disneyland, instead'. The complete harbour area was filled with tourist kiosks, shops, restaurants, and the huge Victoria and Alfred Mall. I learned later that this Mall is the best in Cape Town and everybody does their shopping here (and so did I).

The immigration people came on board and checked everybody's passports with the purser and his staff. We didn't have to be there as we had already filled out all the necessary forms and we were processed on mass and were allowed on to South African soil very soon afterwards. It's amazing how quickly 750 people who have been cooped up for 12 days can clear a ship.

The process of 'getting off' has become fairly routine. We each carry our ID card which must be swiped through a machine close to the gangway. That data base records that we are no longer on board. Coming back on we swipe again and this way the captain can tell quickly if anybody is missing and whether we can sail again. Almost five weeks into our journey we no longer refer to boarding as 'getting on to the ship' rather most people will say 'we're going home.' This is our safe haven from the tourist traps, problems and heat in the streets.'

As the students disembarked they headed straight for the ATM machines. There were lots of people ahead of me and before I knew it the machine had been cleared of cash. Drats! We had to find another cash source. Once we had 'rand' in our money belts we cabbed to Green Market Square, a huge crafts market in the city center. Most of the treasures on display weren't made in South Africa at all. They were brought in from other parts of Africa and China but it was so much fun browsing through and evaluating 'stuff' all of which we could easily do without. I bought a funny safari hat (which made me look like the old cowboy, Gaby Hayes (circa 1940). Then I bought a bracelet that was pretty but later stained my wrist when it got wet. My total purchases amounted to $10 -- worth that in entertainment value alone.

In the afternoon I joined an SAS bus tour that was called, 'Township Visit and District Six Museum' and it was all about Apartheid. First stop was the District Six Museum, 'originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants including Jews, District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city. In 1966, it was declared a white privileged area and by 1982, the life of the community was over. 60,000 people were forcibly removed and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers.' My photos below tell part of the story. Next we went to visit the Township communities. This is a place one wouldn't want to go without a guide. Hundreds upon hundreds of shacks built here, there and everywhere, some without running water and housing underprivileged, black families too poor to live any place else. We visited a few hostels, played with the kids in the street and got a teeny glimpse into what it's like to be poor and black in Cape Town. It was not a nice glimpse.

Within all of these winding lanes was one small, irregular house made of wood and corrugated tin called, Vicky's B&B. Here we met an extremely enterprising Muslim woman who opens her home to travellers who want to get the full, uncomfortable sense of what it's like to live in the Townships. She is a star in this Township -- media write-ups line her wall. By chance, later in the week I found a native painting that featured Vicky's B&B and I scooped it up -- a momento of what I learned about a dark era in South Africa's history.

That evening three LLL's and I had an African dinner in a restaurant overlooking the harbour. It was lovely but my tummy thought otherwise for a few days.


Cape Town in the A.M.


Shacks in the Townships


Grafitti in The Townships


District Six museum


Shopping for African drums

 

February 19 -- Meet the press...

This morning I waited on board for Anne Taylor, a Cape Town freelance journalist (about my age) whom I met through HERmail.net. She offered to interview me about Journeywoman.com and Semester At Sea. Nice lady! It will be interesting to see what she writes in her article and where it will be published. In the afternoon I went to the Jewish Museum (air-conditioned) with the ship's art teacher and her husband, the poet on board. I learned a lot more about Jewish immigration to South Africa and then (related to yesterday's tour of the District Six Museum), I also learned of the strong ties between Mandela and this Jewish community (Did you know? The team of lawyers who defended Mandela were Jewish, so was Helen Sussman, a S.A. parlimentarian that fought to release Mandela). In fact, there is a complete section of the museum devoted to the subject and outside the building is a plaque dedicated by Mandela for the museum's opening. The (illegal) synagogue pix I'm posting were taken before I was told by some very officious gent, 'no photography allowed' so I did not knowingly break the law (says Miss GoodieTwo Shoes). By now it was over 90F with no breeze at all but we bravely headed through the park and over to the South African Arts Museum. So many of the crafts sold in South African markets are from China and other parts of Africa; I wanted to make sure that the wire basket I bought in this country was an authentic example of their art. Success! Our last stop before heading back to the ship was at Green Market Square. I browsed and took photos while my ship friends shopped up a storm. A fabulous day.


The Jewish museum


Museum dedicated by Mandela


No breeze and over 90 F. on our walk


Handmade Cape Town basket...


Browsing in Green Market Square

 

February 21 -- Robben Island and Cape Point (Almost )...

This A.M. I was totally on my own -- no group tour and no sightseeing companions to chat with. I've gotten used to being taken care of by SAS and today (with great anticipation) I became Journeywoman again. To begin, I had a Robben Island visit on my agenda. This is where Mandela was incarcerated for 16 years. How can you miss that when you're in South Africa? Well, the ticket sellers didn't feel that way. It seems I had to make a reservation two days in advance in order to get on the ferry (unless I was prepared to swim). 'I MUST see it', I told the young man. 'Sorry', he said. Clearly he had no interest in helping me. Again... 'I MUST see it', I told the young man. 'Sorry', he said, again.... This clearly was a job for JOURNEY WOMAN. I stood on my tip toes (a height gaining trick all super heros know about), whipped out my press pass and said ... 'I MUST speak to your manager.' She arrived, saw the card and asked me to come back for the 11 o'clock sailing. So, that's how I got to Robben Island, a place I thought would allow for some meditation on the apartheid issues. It was a complete disaster. The guide for our group made himself the star with his theatrics and mostly silly stories. Darn, I came to see Robben Island, not this man! Yet,in the end all was not lost. I did get a chance to see Mandela's cell and to be led through the facility by one of the former Robben Island prisoners. Hurrah! It was only a 95% loss rather than the full 100%.

Since I had extra time prior to the Robben Island excursion I headed off to the Blue Crafts Shed to do some browsing. There on the wall was a primitive rendering of Vicky's B&B, the B&B that I had seen in the Townships a few days ago (have you been paying attention, kiddies?) Perfect! It had to be mine. And it was ... for $7.00. I firmly believe that the Travel Goddess (in her infinite wisdom) delayed my trip to the Island so that that painting and I could become better acquainted (see pix below).

This afternoon was a hoot and it made up for the dismal morning! One of my South African readers, Pat Dreyer picked us up at the ferry harbour (I invited the ship's doc and one of the mental health workers to come along) and she drove us around the Cape coast with lots of local commentary and photo stops along the way. She was great, a no-nonsense lady who told it like it is about apartheid then, and race relations and politics, now. We didn't have time to drive down to the farthest point in Africa but we did see it in the distance (absolutely fine for us), we also saw the baboons, penguins, ate fish and chips in a (where else?) small fishing village and ended up touring Pat's home and mini menagerie -- horses, dogs, chickens, geese. Then she piled the two dogs into the car along with us and took us back to the ship. NICE lady. FUN day.

P.S. There was a full moon that night.


Boarding the ferry for Robben Island


Mandela's cell


Scenery on Pat's Tour


Penguins at play


Pat doing some bargaining


Print of Vicky's B&B in The Townships


Full moon...


 

February 22-24 -- South African Safari...

This is the time I was waiting for -- twenty of us were flying to Elizabeth Town and then busing (80 minutes) to Kariega Lodge for our African Safari. I had had many choices regarding where I wanted to go on safari and I chose Kariega because it was malaria free and because it promised 'safe walking amongst game'. (And how might I do that without being eaten?). Silly me! Anyway, I had pictured much more of a 'wild animal' experience so I admit I was initially disappointed when I got to Kariega Lodge. But, this disappointment was my fault completely. It's called, 'you better learn to read your brochures properly!"

Obviously I knew nothing about safaris. The first clue should have been the name of the place -- Kariega 'Game Reserve'. A game reserve is not necessarily a 'wild' place. In the case of Kariega, the 'big five' were bought and brought to the reserve. So the elephants and giraffes I saw came from farther away but were transported to this 'not small' area of 6000 hectares. Once I started asking questions I learned that generally the 'wilder' safaris are not in South Africa, at all. You have to go further to Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to experience those.

That said, this was an absolutely wonderful three days. Our guide was a delight, the food was delicious, the air was so clean and the view from my verandah 'very, very African.' Did we see animals? Yes, absolutely, ... up close and personal. We saw lions, giraffes, rhinos, a hippo's nostrils poking out of the water and lots more. One day as the sun was setting we came across the elephants -- mama and her kiddies, one a youngster who still wasn't sure what to do with his trunk. And because they knew the jeep we were in, and because no one in a jeep had ever harmed them, they continued to do what they normally do and they let us watch and take lots of pictures. I, silly lady, was so intent on getting good photos that I lost myself in the moment and heard myself whispering to the elephants as if I were a wedding photographer... 'Great, that's good...come on, face the camera...let the baby get through... yes, perfect. It was a magical moment I won't soon forget. I've posted a few pix of the many, many shots I took those three days because words can't explain. I loved my South African safari even though it wasn't a 'wild' experience.


The warthog and wildebeest


Mama lion


Watching from our jeep


The view from my veranda


Some sort of buck


Giraffes are REALLY tall


Rhinos are REALLY ugly


Mama and babe


Very old giraffe


African buffalo


Monkey face


Black with white stripes or white with black stripes?


The food was great on safari


Sunset at Kariega Lodge


 

February 24 -- Goodbye South Africa...

We got back from our safari at 5:30 in the afternoon. On-ship time for everybody was 9:00 PM and we were scheduled to sail for Mauritius at 11:00 PM. I ran out to do some last minute shopping at the V&A Mall and was back in time for supper. Then, to encourage everybody to be back on time an award-winning South African choir from the Townships came on board to entertain us. By now all of the students were well aware that those living in the Townships don't necessarily have the same opportunities as those in upper class neighbourhoods. Forget all assumptions. These kids have a fabulous teacher, support from their community and the desire to be the best. That made us appreciate their efforts even more. Oh my goodness they were so incredible to watch and listen to. They sang, they danced, they talked. They got students from the audience to come up and dance along with them. We must have begged for at least five encores. Too soon the choir had to leave the ship so we could prepare to sail but not before they received a standing ovation from the student body. As usual we all went out to say goodbye to the city and then the heavy fog started rolling in. Oh, oh ... that meant we couldn't get permission to leave the port in that weather. I guess that if we hadn't begged for more music we could have left in time. Never mind. It was all worth it. We sailed early the next morning and still arrived in Mauritius on time.


Glorious South African choir


Too much fog to sail away from Cape Town


Pilot boat arrives to guide us out in the A.M.


 

End of Week Four

 

Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

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