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February 6th 2016
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: -33.979, 18.5102

We spent three days at sea after leaving the Seychelles. We sailed south, passing between Madagascar and the African coast. On the first day we had to take part in a Piracy drill as we were skirting the area where there had been boardings of ships. The drill required us to stay in our cabins while the crew did a series of manoeuvres designed to outrun any attack. All went well and I'm sure will remain just a precaution. The weather continued warm and clear with slight seas though we were travelling against the prevailing current. Life on board continued with quizzes, the Pop choir rehearsals and food, food and more food. I started walking laps around the deck to try and counter the effects of all this good living. We were able to watch the Australian Open on TV but unfortunately no more cricket.

We were late arriving in Maputo as we were held up by strong currents. We were supposed to arrive at 8am but it was well after 12 when we finally docked. We had originally bought shuttle tickets as they had said the centre of town was 45 minutes away. However, this was modified until in the end, all shuttles were cancelled and we found it was about a 10 minute walk to the main sights. We watched from our balcony as we made our approach. From the ship the city looked quite prosperous with high-rise buildings and a lot of construction going on. We saw a very loaded ferry setting out to go across the bay to what we discovered later was the local beach. It was a Sunday and many families were making the most of the warm weather. We had had lunch on board and it was about 1-30pm when we left the ship.

Our first stop was at the Central Railway Station a few metres from the ship. This was designed by Gustav Eiffel and is a handsome building painted a dark green and white. This was fronting a large statue of a woman dressed for battle which was a World War One memorial. Unfortunately the statue and the square in which it stood was completely covered in rubbish, especially plastic bottles and paper. This was to continue throughout the city. We went into the railway station and there were two small steam trains on show. However, it is still a working station so passengers were waiting for the next trains. The station seemed to be well looked after though.

From here we walked along the Ave 25 September, towards the Cathedral and Independence Square which we had seen from the ship. Although there were some new buildings, many were derelict and once handsome facades were broken and grimy. The Town Hall and the Post Office were well looked after though. The pavement was very uneven and the gutters full of rubbish. We stopped to take pictures of the local Mosque, painted in green and white and with some intricate decoration on the outside. We enquired at a couple of cafes if they had WiFi but no luck.

We then headed up to Independence Square. This contains a large statue of Samora Machel, the first President after the civil war finished and the Parliament building. Just before it is the Jardim Tundaru, a green oasis in an otherwise dusty city. We entered there and strolled through the pleasant paths, sharing it with locals. It was also a popular spot for families and young people to visit on a Sunday afternoon. Because it was a Sunday, there was little action on the streets and the city was almost deserted. There were those trying to sell us souvenirs, etc.

At the edge of the park is the Iron House designed to be the Governor's house, also by Eiffel. However, this is made entirely of iron and was too hot for habitation in this African country so now just stands as a curiosity. Behind this is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, made from concrete with a distinctive spire and painted white. We took photos and then went back into the garden for another look. There was a cultural centre there which was closed and the main action was at the Tennis Club nearby. It was also a popular spot for local teenagers to hang out. We then walked back to the ship having seen what was worthwhile and needing a drink on this warm day.

We went up onto Deck 14 for the Sail Away. We could see all the people in the distance on the local beach while the ferry made its way to and fro across the bay. We then just had a pizza for dinner at Verdi's Pizzeria on Deck 8. There we had a chat to the Executive Chef who is Italian and a member of La Chaine. He told us that we will restock the ship in Cape Town, as we had missed a container of supplies earlier in the trip. We set sail again at 7-30pm.

The next morning saw us arriving at our first stop in South Africa. This was at a port called Richard's Bay. This is a large industrial port which handles more cargo than Durban. It was described as a port with a town rather than the other way around. The attraction from here is its proximity to Shaka-Zulu land and game parks. Many people were going on both ship and private tours to visit the game parks and see the animals. The ship tours were extremely expensive and, as we had already experienced these before, we were content to see what there was to see close by.

Firstly we had to clear South African Immigration and Customs. The officers came on board the ship and we were given times to line up. By the time we docked and they came on board the inspection was running way behind schedule. We had breakfast, did the morning quiz and then waited in our cabin until called. More anxious passengers were queued up for nearly two hours!!. We finally got off the ship about 12-30pm. There was a shuttle bus to take us to a local shopping centre. This was all there was to see here! This was a very modern centre with all facilities. We changed some money and then found a café which had WiFi. However, this was only free for 30 minutes. We then found another restaurant, Ocean Grove. The manager was apologetic, saying his WiFi was not working because a cable had been cut by an excavator, but we decided to stay there for lunch anyway. This proved to be a good move as we had great seafood for very little cost and a bottle of good wine for about $A10.

After a satisfying lunch we did find another coffee shop where we could use the WiFi and sat there for another hour catching up on email, blogs and confirming our booking to go to Robben Island in Cape Town. Then it was back on the shuttle and back to the ship. We were supposed to leave at 7pm but some of the tours were late back and the ship was taking on supplies. We watched from our balcony as boxes of lettuces, avocados, tomatoes, zucchinis and other vegetables and fruits were loaded. No wine. That will have to wait for our next stop. The wine on offer on the ship is dwindling so Cape Town is our only hope to avert a dry run home!!

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5th February 2016

Samora Machel was a well respected man, with avenues named after him in other African countries. Not having studied his life, I can't confirm that he was a good leader and President, but I'd say better than some of the others in present and
past Africa. I'm not sure of the avenues still bear his name as it has been a long time since I was in Africa. And as much as things move slowly there, suddenly massive change occurs. His second wife, Graša Simbine, married Nelson Mandela in 1998

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