Thursday, 26 February 2015

Poor People but Neat





Bamboo grows all over in Madagascar
Lemurs look very cuddly
Very clean villages
On our cruise, we were dropped off at Fort Dauphin on the southern tip of Mozambique where we elected to take a bus tour to the National Park (unpronounceable name) to see the lemurs.  This involved about an hour on a very ancient, non-air-conditioned bus which also had no microphone for the tour guide so, sitting at the back and bounced around quite a lot we couldn't hear what he was saying. I thought once or twice that the bus would get stuck in the mud once we were on the ground road but despite two anxious moments we finally arrived at the park.  It's a disjointed experience descending on an area where perhaps 1500 tourists are being steered around at five minute intervals in groups of about 25. Such is the nature of cruising. However, we did see lemurs, which seemed rather attuned to the tourists as the guides tended to hand feed them (forbidden) pieces of banana.  Nice and cuddly they looked too.  I tried to think of myself as an intrepid David Attenborough on one of his animal programs circa 30 years ago, but alas, things are so commercial now. Not so the inhabitants of the villages near to the park. They live in bamboo huts and are so poor there is actually no rubbish lying around because they can't afford to buy anything in a tin or plastic container. Their lives revolve around what they can grow: rice, yams and fruit.  And there are so many children....one member of our party was approached by a local woman who begged her to take her baby. At home here in South Africa we also have our poor townships: however they feature many double-storey brick homes (built without planning permission) and all have satellite TV dishes and there are mountains of rubbish everywhere. Houses built for them by our government for free have shacks in their tiny gardens full of refugees from other countries who pay exhorbitant rents.  Life is full of ironies. I guess no refugees go to Mozambique.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Re-vamped Cabins - Giggle!

Getting used to the room

Photographing the guys in the mirror

Me and my Doppelganger dressed for the gala evening
We have been somewhat spoilt on our last three cruises (The Med. and Norway) as we went with Royal Caribbean - a hard act to follow.  This time only MSC Cruises do the route from South Africa up to Mozambique and Madagascar. This worthy Italian-owned family business with 12 ships is not too shabby either, having vastly upgraded their facilities since we first went with them circa 1992 and were directed to what I thought were the crew's quarters - as we slept in an inside cabin in bunks, one of which was broken and one had to cling to the side to stop falling out. Apparently, that boat was scrapped in 2005. As you can see, the cabins are now very nice although we were somewhat taken aback by the almost wall-to-wall mirrors. Yes we all know mirrors make the place look bigger but they can be rather intimidating when you take your clothes off.  Luckily, at our age, we could laugh at the images we saw - no doubt the honeymoon couples made better use of them. I loved the blue. I just found that if you have an active imagination, no matter how hard I tried with my eyes closed, I had constant images in my head of at least four other people ogling us from all sides with some not-very-elegant views in their headlights. Needless to say, hubby claimed that he could ignore them. This ship is named the MSC Opera. All the floors were named after my favourite operas and each floor's cabin's decor was a different color. We had a balcony which we made full use of.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Back from the Indian Ocean




Day 3 - still no land. (That's me).
Can the open sea be so calm? Yes it was - for days
The most awe-inspiring thing I found about this trip was definitely the four days of cruising before we got to Madagascar from Durban, having flown up from Cape Town. There is just something unsettling about a constant 360 degree view of nothing but the deep blue sea.  And a lovely blue it was: reminded me of bottles of Quink ink years ago, color Royal Blue.  Even more amazing: in some parts the ocean is 5 miles deep.  Can that be possible?  It got me thinking about gravity.  I can buy the part about the continents not falling off the planet, after they are solid and go through right to the middle, if you want to dig down.  But the water? How come this weight of water just doesn't fall off?  Didn't cost me any sleep though, just love the slight rocking feeling even on a big boat. More anon..  got family visiting this week-end.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Poor Muscle Tone in Toddlers - not in our house






I was reading about young children needing physical therapy for 'poor muscle tone'. Apparently some are so weak they can't hold a pencil.  Not so in our house: grandpa took charge of entertaining two of our littlies last week-end, (brother and sister) and they spent a happy couple of hours helping in the garden. No point wasting money on toy garden tools: they want to do exactly what you are doing, preferably with the tool you are using. Some are very determined. Witness Dylan (aged two) and Mia, five). However, it's hard not to spoil them with conventional presents at Christmas (one looks mean otherwise).  I try to stick to puzzles and creative things.  Our other grandson, aged six, is into Lego - but these days, not only is the Lego fiendishly expensive, but has branched out into whatever is the latest craze: at the moment it seems to be monster creatures - great to build but then they languish, ignored,  in an increasingly large pile in a corner of the bedroom. Grandpa needs to be watched though: I was showing my son through the kitchen window how nicely Dylan was helping grandpa when said son suddenly explained, "I see Dylan has got hold of an axe!" and rushed outside. NB Pics show Dylan hauling wheelbarrow first up quite a step and then pushing it into my flowerbed and lifting the front wheel out. Sorry can't make pics look right.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Compulsory Relaxation




Me - relaxed
From Here to Eternity
Our local fishermen
We actually went for a walk on our marvelous beach this morning. It was one of those rare days when the wind had died down to almost nothing and hubby was compelled to take a day off as yesterday his ladder threw him off (one of the rubbers underneath had worn away and it collapsed to one side) so that he fell on top of various hard items on the garage floor. This caused a fair amount of scratches and bruises and a shoulder sprain sufficient to warrant a day of rest. I hope these pics give you an idea of our wonderful lagoon on a nice day. It is about 16 miles long and home to most water sports with a protected nature reserve further in where motor boats are not allowed. In the distance (a long way) behind me - South America. The barren-looking landscape is typical of this West coast of South Africa and the island in the background is host to a special rabbit introduced maybe 200 years ago by the first settlers.  There was no grass on the island and the animals have survived by learning to eat seaweed.  Apparently their kidneys are now three times the size of a regular rabbit. We share the beach with our local fisherman.