Our Last Day on Board…

…was filled with sunshine and many activities to keep young and old busy.

For those who didn’t feel like doing anything that required much energy, the pool was a welcome reprieve from the heat.  Mom, Dad, Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry opted for this,

 while I splurged the last of my cash on a spa treatment combo – a full body Balinese massage (by genuine Balinese therapists), a facial and a session in the thermal suite…it was absolute bliss.  I felt like a million dollars afterwards.

Feeling the need for some sunshine, I joined the folks next to the pool, with a cold Brutal Fruit in hand and soaked up the rays – I ended up looking like an ostrich on heat because my legs, particularly my shins, were burnt a bright shade of lobster pink.  Fortunately the sun burns up that end of the world, without the pain.  In the 31 years I’ve been around, I don’t think I have ever had as much colour as I do now.

The afternoon I popped into one of the lounges  where I competed for the title of the ship’s Brainbox.  I came fourth, missing out on a prize :-(, but it was fun nevertheless.

Our last supper on board was incredible, as usual – but it was a subdued occassion.  I think the realization that our holiday was coming to a close was getting to everyone.  Ken told us that he would be sailing onboard the MSC Sinfonia again, when it goes back to Europe later this year.  I must admit, I was quite envious at the thought, but he is such a wonderful person – he deserves it.

After dinner, there was an election of Miss Sinfonia’s partner – Mister Sinfonia.  The election of this suitor for Mom was less raunchy than hers had been, but equally as funny. 

The gents that were selected as semi-finalists had to serande Miss Sinfonia – but the catch was that a member of the Dream Team was holding up props that had to feature in their seranade – Uncle Barry was one of them, and his seranade was very memorable:

(Props shown up were a mannequin’s breasts, a white sandal and a beer can).

“Juliet, you have big breasts and you smell like and old shoe.  I can only be with you when I am inebriated.”

Dad was up next, but being a bit deaf, he didn’t hear the instruction about making a seranade using the props.  He let rip with a brilliant rhetoric which had everyone in stitches (and his poor daughter quite embarrassed and scarred for life!).

The last potential suitor was a well-built bloke called Edward – I don’t remember his entire seranade, but when he was shown tennis balls, he told Miss Sinfonia, “I look forward to you making my balls bounce tonight.”  I laughed so much half my drink went up my nose!

The second part of the assignment was to collect as many bras as they could from ladies in the audience.  Dad and Edward collected quite a few, but Uncle Barry sadly couldn’t lay his hands on one.  Aunty Carol got hers loose, but she couldn’t get it off under her top…some lady in the audience felt sorry for him eventually and “donated” hers for him.

The final part of the election exercise was for the potential suitors was for them to perform a strip show.  (Just when I thought I was already scarred for life, I found out, things can get a lot worse!)

The applause-o-meter was a bit faulty, so the decision was left to the judges and it was decided that each one of them deserved a sash. 

The folks opted to call it a night, but I was far from tired.  I went to the theatre to watch the final show of the trip, where I bumped into Mom and daughter, Charlotte and Madelein and sat with them for the performance.

The dancers and other entertainers had definitely saved the best show for last:

Still not wanting to go to bed, and thereby admitting that my holiday was virtually over, I went to the Pasha Club Disco, where I finally got to enjoy the drink Chief Engineer Guiseppe Balzano had been trying to get me to join him for the entire week. 

It was interesting to talk to him – he is married, has been sailing for 25 years, has three grown up children (two daughters and a son if memory serves correctly).  I asked him why his wife didn’t join him onboard – he says that she does indeed sail with him when the ship returns to Europe.  He says though that he has contact with his family daily – pretty much like we do with Dad when he is working at sea.  He was extremely polite asking me about my life, my parents, my education, my job.  We chatted for quite a long time, but then there was no more putting off of the inevitable.  I had to return to my cabin and pack. 

I excused myself, but gentleman that he was, he again escorted me to my cabin, kissing me on the cheek as he had the night before and bade me “Arrivederci”.  It was a bittersweet end to a fabulous holiday.

As I zipped up my suitcase, I actually shed a few tears – this holiday had done my mental state of late the world of good.  I needed the break from reality, and that is exactly what I got.  I recommend a cruise holiday to anyone…

Sleep didn’t come as easily as I had expected, given the late hour – I guess I was hoping if I managed to stay awake, Friday morning wouldn’t dawn and I could stay on board, but alas, it did and soon the familiar beep of an sms coming through on my cellphone meant that we were within cell phone range, and so too…the reality of regular life.

Wednesday Night…

…on board was a fun-filled evening…Tropical Carnival night.

After another losing round of Bingo, I got dressed in my most sparkliest dress for dinner.  Here I am, along with my fellow diners:

On the left is Yours Truly, Yolanda, her parents, Johanna and Coen and on the far right, Ken Cornish – a fascinating gentleman who survied the Second World War.  He tells stories that can engage you for hours.  He gave all of us his postal address (he says he is too old for this new fangled e-mail) and I sent him a postcard yesterday.

From dinner we went to another show – again an amazing array of costumes were on display with superb dance- and acrobatic routines.

From there I went back to my cabin to get changed – my killer silver heels were killing me!  I opted for my black pants and a hankerchief top.  Up to the aft deck where the Tropical Carnival party was already in full swing.  Some members of the Dream Team were giving a Merengue lesson, but I just couldn’t get it down pat, so I opted to just soak up the party atmosphere.

For those partygoers who had worked up an appetite with all the dancing, there was a magnificent buffet served at midnight. 

Many stories are rife about many members of staff (officers included) who try to take advantage of single women on board, but this theory was proved wrong…after having a bite to eat, I bumped into Chief Engineer Guiseppe Balzano who asked me if I still wanted to join him for a drink.  I declined, feeling positively exhausted, and without argument, he took my by the arm and escorted me to my cabin and with a polite kiss on the cheek, bade me goodnight.  So, there are still some gentlemen in the world…

I was so exhausted, I slept in my clothes (without my shoes of course…)

Barra Lodge…

…welcomed us with pouring rain!

We boarded the Zodiac rubber ducks about an hour after breakfast – the sun was still gloriously high in the sky.  Mom was extremely nervous about the 12 minute journey from the ship to the beach, but her fears were soon allayed once she was seated and safely dressed in her life jacket.

Dad and Uncle Barry sat next to each other, on the outer edge of the boat.

We set foot off the Zodiac when I, along with my bag, containing my entire life, got knocked over by a wave.  I was suitably drenched, but fortunately the camera was dry and the rest of the stuff inside was only slightly damp.

As we started heading up to the Lodge, it started to rain…

but it didn’t dampen our spirits – we swam in the rain.  The ocean’s temperature was like tepid bathwater.  If the water in Mossel Bay was like that, I would swim eveyr single day of my life.

As most of the excursions had been sold out by the time we decided we were going ashore, we were left with only two options – a Village Walk (thank goodness we passed on it, because we would have got even more soaked!) or a bus trip into the town of Inhambane.  We opted for the latter, which was a three-hour round trip, with some interesting things learned along the way.

One thing that struck me during the trip was that there wasn’t one single pothole on the road from Barra Lodge to Inhambane – definitely better than South Africa.

Our guide was a local gent called Lino

who told us many interesting facts about Inhambane.  Along the road, he stopped the bus and fought with a tree until he got this off.  It is a Cashew fruit – with the renowned nut on the top.  However the nut is not edible like this, it must be roasted first.  The fruit is used in the fermentation of local “hot stuff” (beer).

From there we made our way through the rural villages

When we eventually got to the town of Inhambane, we stopped at a local museu (yes, it’s spelt like that there), where we saw some interesting things, like the popular dhows that are used for fishing, an olden-day beehive and a “hot stuff” still:

We stopped at two churches, but the rain had caught up with us again, so we did not get off the bus.  We also stopped at a statue of Vasco da Gama – there is a statue of him in our local museum too.

Our last stop on the tour was at a local market.  Not wishing to be mobbed by vendors again as I had in Maputo, I opted again to stay on the bus with Mom.  Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and Dad got off, but they weren’t gone too long – apparently the smell of the fresh fish was a little too much to handle.

From there we headed back to the lodge, where we caught a Zodiac back to the ship.  This time I managed to stay dry!

Upon getting onto the gangway, I was greeted by a friendly face – that of Chief Engineer Guiseppe Balzano, who asked me to join him for a drink after midnight at the Pasha Disco Club.  I told him I would see if I could make it as I knew there was a serious party planned on board as it was Tropical-Carnival night, but…more about that and the cabaret at a later stage (probably Sunday) as I have to get ready for a G.N.O with Elizabeth and her sisters.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Bloem to Durban…

…was a different kettle of fish altogether…

We hit the road after eight, thanks to the GPS on my phone telling us that Durban was a mere 486 Km from Bloemfontein.  Needless to say, it wasn’t.

It was pouring when we left and the rain didn’t let up at all by the time we got to Bethlehem for the mandatory Wimpy coffee stop.  As none of the women in the car was able to pinch their bladders until we arrived there, we stopped off in some obscure little town called Senekal, where we went to the loo (not that we used them because they were beyond filthy!).  With great difficulty we clamped our bladders shut until we got to Bethlehem.

Once again, leaving in the pouring rain we continued our journey East.  Just past another obscure little town called Kestell, we aquaplaned, while Dad was behind the wheel and had an accident – landing meters away from a large, gushing storm water culvert.  We spun around three times before actually leaving the road and skidding down a steep embankment where we finally came to a stop, centimetres from a barbed-wire farm fence.  Had I been driving we would more than likely have rolled, and been badly injured, or worse, dead.  He controlled the spin like a pro.

Fortunately nobody was hurt – but Mom was in such shock, that I had to slap her – just like they do in the movies.  I must admit that I did get some satisfaction out of it.  Poor Uncle Barry got absolutely drenched trying to flag down some help, but as can only be expected in this day and age, people are not keen to stop, let alone help.

Being stuck in the sinking mud, cellphone signal was nil, so I clambered my way up and contacted MTN emergency who cut me off not once, but twice.  I then opted for Geri and Dan who told us to sit tight and that they would get us all sorted out.  Minutes later I was on the phone with a police officer from Kestell who dispatched an ambulance, just to make sure we were all unhurt and who gave me the number of a towing company.  Upon contacting them, I was told that they would come and pull us out of the culvert as soon as we put R1100 in the hand of the driver.  Between five of us we had quite a bit of money…in US DOLLARS!  Again, on the phone to Geri and Dan who got hold of the towing company, transferred the money and got us sorted.  What we would have done without them the Lord alone knows.

About a half hour after that, we were being pulled out back onto the road, and were taken to Harrismith where the car was put on the lift and checked.  No serious harm done, except (as we only found out on our trip home) that the rear shocks were shot.

By the time we eventually arrived at Geri and Dan’s place in Amanzimtoti, we were too exhausted to do anything – a braai had been planned, but it was still raining, so we ordered pizza instead and just chilled at home.  I was stunned to see just how big their children have become. 


 is five already and

little Lulu is not so little anymore,

 turning three this March. 

They are gorgeous children, who managed to creep into my heart in a matter of minutes.

After dinner, my folks, Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry headed off to their guest house just up the road and I helped Geri with the washing up.  They went to bath James and Lulu and put them to bed.  While they were busy I took some photos of the view from their verandah

and phoned Jay – I just needed to hear his voice.  I told him quite honestly that not a day had passed since his visit that I hadn’t thought of him.  He was relieved to hear that we were all safe and told me to really enjoy my holiday.  I rang off feeling better.

I spent some time catching up with Geri and Dan, but by 22:30 I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.  The day’s events had really taken my oomph out of me.  I went to bed, again not even remembering putting the light off.

The Trip Continues…

…the trip down Memory Lane, that is.

Here is another repost from my old blog…

and another.

Those two are the last reposts with reference to Memory Lane that I will post for some time.  I am working on a reminiscent post, which I hope to have up by tomorrow morning at the latest.  If not, then I’ll post it at a later stage when the nostalgia strikes again.

In the meantime, work awaits…