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April 7th 2011
Published: April 7th 2011
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Thursday April 7th, 2011

Off the Coast of South Africa

Latitude 28 degrees 21 minutes’- Longitude 32 degrees 34 minutes east

Yesterday we were in Maputo, Mozambique and it was a nice clear day. Our four day crossing from the Seychelles Islands was some of the roughest seas we have encountered since we left Fort Lauderdale. The dawn brought a soft light spreading across calming seas with a pleasant cool breeze from the southwest. As we rounded the headland and came into the bay it was easy to see why the Portuguese had made this their main seaport for over 400 years. The protected natural harbor was large and easy to navigate. There on a raised promontory the city of Maputo watched over our approach. Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal in 1974. From a distance the city looked modern and prosperous. Once ashore a closer inspection revealed that most of the buildings were just a crumbling reminder of past glory. The docks and harbor front area were very large, but there was only two other large ships in port. The people were friendly and the economy, though very sluggish, was obviously capitalistic. On every street corner small merchants hawked their wares. Food, clothing, shoes and kitchen trinkets were everywhere. The city has over a million inhabitants and I think everyone was out trying to make a living. It was much cleaner than India and the drivers were all very courteous to each other considering the conditions. Some roads were rough with potholes, but there was a little construction and repair in progress although you could tell that no major infrastructure maintenance has been done since the Portuguese left in the 70’s. The most modern complex was the Chinese embassy sitting on the bluff looking out over the waterfront. The Chinese are evidently very big players in Africa as they try to control natural resources and dominate trade. We were told that the few buildings that are under construction have a Chinese connection of some kind. It was all lush and green and the city itself was very well laid out with wide avenues and large easy to negotiate roundabouts and divided parkways. We toured all over the city and spent about 5 hours making numerous stops and seeing all the sights. The beggars and poverty we had expected, but the friendliness and spirit of the people had been a pleasant surprise. The country of South Africa will fill the next six days as we make several stops on our way to Cape Town. A stop in Richards Bay, SA has been added to our itinerary tomorrow as an unplanned bonus. A small town which very few cruise ships visit, it should be a nice slice of present day Africa.

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