Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, April 02, 2015

11a. All Aboard, Cape Town and the rest of South Africa's Ports.

All Aboard, Cape Town, and the rest of South Africa

Our Ship, The Nautica
We took the taxi from Paarl back to Cape Town (CT). The two days spent in CT flew by. I finally found a replacement battery for my watch. We spent some time convincing Paolo (travel agent) to reimburse us for the missed day at the Hamilton Tent Camp and to start the process to get some travel insurance money back for the missed Okavango Delta trip. We kept it friendly on our part, yet so far, about 2 weeks later, nothing has been done on our behalf. It makes me wonder if Paolo is just talk or incapable of helping.
Victoria Harbour
Paolo also told us that my missing camera bag has been found yet he was unable to locate it. We are still waiting for his emails to us; our emails to him tell us he is on vacation now.

Relaxing on the Deck of the Nautica

We went to the harbor and registered with our upcoming cruise on the ship Nautica. Once on board, we just waited for the ship to leave the dock. We took a vacation day. Exploring each level (10 levels) of the ship takes some time. We met up with Ross and Jean Copas, who are taking the same cruise we are taking. While the Copas’ enjoyed the sights of CT we read a book while being docked in the harbor. I have no problem not going ashore at all, in fact I like it. The ship is so comfortable that excursions seem like work.

We left CT and stopped at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the following day. We took the shuttle from the dock of Port Elizabeth to visit the shopping center in town but we
Shuttle Bus Into Port Elizabeth
did not stay long. Port Elizabeth is a very large harbor town, a commercial place, it has few touristy things. The amusement park/shopping center was just not for us. So after a quick walk through, we went back to the ship.

Scary Sign on the Shuttle Bus

Amusement Park in Port Elizabeth

The next stop in South Africa, East London, was a town stop but, again, there was nothing exceptional for me to look at. I did not even get off the ship. Carol however visited the village of  Khaya La Bantu, a village of the Xhosa People. Nelson Mandela was of the Xhosa tribe. The Xhosa have a unique language with clicking sounds that sound odd to my ears. Maybe I missed something by not visiting this village, but that is hind sight. Carol seemed to have had a great time meeting the people, watching their dances and being made welcome by the tribe. Carol’s report of her visit to the village is in the next blog note.

Xhosa Dancers
Colourful South African Rick Shaw

The Town of Durban was the next stop. We were told Durban has the biggest Indian population in South Africa. I expected to see “little India” but that was not the case. Durban is a regular South African town. We took the shuttle bus and ended up at the “Golden Mile”, a stretch of beach Durban commercialized with restaurants, shops and amusement park rides. We walked along the board walk yet we seem to be jaded as tourists. We needed nothing from any of the shops. We did not even feel hungry enough to eat something and for sure did not need kiddie rides from the nearby amusement park!
Local Kids in Durban

The town of Durban itself has a busy downtown. The harbor area is clean but very commercial and busy and a working place. The people in Durban were friendly and nice and we noted, very good looking. I could not tell what race they were. They were a good mix of everything, the rainbow of colors that South Africa is known for reflects off their faces. Durban’s population, while it has the largest Indian population of South Africa, is a mix of White, Black and Indian. The native features of India might be the most prevalent on the faces of the people of Durban. Their facial features are very even, their skin tones, while on the dark side, are pleasantly coco colored. It seems only the best of each racial group manifested itself in the people of Durban.

Richards Bay was our next and final stop for South Africa. We had a Zulu Village trip pre-booked. The excursion started with an hour and a half bus ride to visit what we were told was a living village of Zulu people. It is sanctioned and supported by the present king of the Zulus, King Goodwill who is a descendant of the famous King Shaka, who gave the British such a hard time in the tribal wars of South Africa around 1860. So I expected to see how thing were around Shaka’s time; at least a good representation of it.

After the bus ride we were all marched to the souvenir shop first, for a bathroom stop. The lonely commode could not handle all the flushing of about 50 people and went on strike.
Our Greeters and Guides

We walked back again to the two buses and were now greeted by Isaac and Wanda who were our guides and instructors before we were allowed to enter the actual village. Basic Zulu language instructions were given before we even entered the village proper. At one point Isaac reverted to pure Zulu to give us instructions. Needless to say, nobody understood a word. Zulu is a difficult language to learn, to even listen to and to pronounce properly. The
Language Lesson
whole language lesson seemed to go on forever and after sometime my eyes crossed each other and my mind went blank. I could not see the point, why would I need to learn the language of the Zulu just to enter a village?

After what seemed like quite awhile, Wanda gave a drum signal via a drum near the entrance to the village, announcing to the village that we were coming. We had to wait for a drum response before we were allowed to
Entering the Village
proceed further. A few moments later, we did hear the drum response, OK for the visitors to come into the village.

Following a dirt path with bushes and trees on both sides of it, we came within sight of the stockade surrounding the village. Immediately it became obvious that this was a dead place; a museum at best. A few Zulus, or let's say people acting like Zulus, were hanging around looking bored. There was no life at all inside the stockade. All was erected to
Village Women and Children
give a poor impression of what it might have been like back in 1840. Grass covered roofs on round huts were displayed but they seemed artificial to me. There were no chickens running around, no goats in their pens, no fires were going, no children were playing. This place is a corpse. I immediately lost interest and felt cheated and mislead. I did not want to see a museum; I wanted to see a living Zulu village. True to my personality I stood at the outside of the guided tour and 
Small Sized Villager 

from here on just watched the other people being led around the compound. Inside I was fuming for being so stupid to fall for this Zulu sales pitch. I felt like a victim. Seething within, I only noted the negatives. So my report is lopsided.

I noted the disrepair of the stockade fence, the grass roofs that needed immediate repair, the plywood doors on some of the huts, the plastic chairs
Making Weapons
hidden inside a few huts, the concrete floors instead of the original and what should have been, dirt floors. I noticed the lethargic display the people (actors) displayed. This was their job, this was how they coaxed money out of tourist pockets any way they could. Maybe it was all set up by King Goodwill and those folks only followed orders. I don't know; I just hated it. I could not wait for this village tour to end. Even the display at the end, showing how Zulu warriors fought and trained for battle,
One of the Village Huts
left me cold and uninterested. Sure, their energy level was impressive and they seemed scary to face in battle but once I feel made the fool, I only feel contempt towards the other. The high heat, 32+ C, might not have helped the situation. It was hot even sitting in the shade watching their performances. I felt relieved when we all could climb back on the bus and leave this circus performance.

Inside Hut with Concrete Floor

This relief did not last long though. The AC on the bus did not work. The windows could not be opened. We drove back to the ship for an hour and a half sitting in an oven. Literally! Water dripped down my back, the air was stifling, the temperature inside the bus in the 40’s plus. The growling and moaning of the other passengers grew loud and menacing but what can be done. It was best to just grin and bare it. The ship’s AC never felt better once we got off the bus and we literally ran to get cooled off.  Even just stepping off the bus, stepping back into 32+C brought us a sigh of relief.

Once on board again we had to go through immigration, a face to face affair with South African Border Control because we were now leaving South Africa’s Territory. Our next country to visit is Mozambique. 

Zulu Woman Demonstrating Carrying a Large Bowl on Her Head


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