Woke up to rocking and rolling today. These waters are known to be a little rough as we approach Cape Town and the confluence of the Indian Ocean with the South Atlantic waters. The Captain’s noontime daily update forecasted 35-40 knot winds and 12-15 foot swells throughout the day and night. It doesn’t feel bad as it sounds; maybe our sea-legs have become accustomed to the motion. I took some pictures of the seas from the window of the Promenade Deck 6 and from the window of the Compass Rose restaurant Deck 5 to document the waves. Anyhow, the sailing from Singapore and the Indian Ocean crossing have been exceptionally smooth overall, a really nice segment. Tomorrow, in Cape Town, 270 passengers are disembarking and about 200 embarking. Everyone has to leave the ship at the end of each segment so we are on two excursions and that will be tomorrow’s story. This is the first time that we must say good-bye to friends we made aboard this ship and it raises some sad feelings. We have exchanged contact info with Hein and Linda, who live in South Africa. We made certain to give them a great big heart-felt hug and bon mots at breakfast. They are really fine people and we enjoyed our time together on excursions and elsewhere on the ship. Can’t imagine what disembarkation will be like in LA in 49 days.
Being a sea day, there were two lectures. Terry’s talk at 10am was “It Was a World War-Wasn’t It. World War I in Africa.” He regressed a bit, reminding us that the great powers of the 19th century had their empires; France-North Africa, Russia-central Asia, Great Britain-India. In the 1870’s, Germany was getting united and wanted a piece of the world. They established commercial enclaves in Africa between 1884-1914, in Kamerun, Togo, German West Africa, and German East Africa. He restated the complex alliances among the European countries, which led to the war after the Crown Duke Ferdinand was assassinated. German interests in the Pacific were taken. Australia got German Papua New Guinea, New Zealand got German Samoa, and the Japanese took over the Marianas.
In Africa, German troops were pushed out of Togo during August-September of 1914. The British tried a couple of times in Kamerun (today, Cameroon) and on the second attempt, with British naval support, the Germans fled. In German West Africa (today, Namibia), the local diamond and commercial interests wanted neutrality, but the sentiment for the Motherland was too great to overcome. German troops of only 3,000 and civilian militia of 7,000 were ready. The British asked the Boers to help them. This was 12 years after the Boer Wars, but they joined with Britain because Germany had occupied their Dutch homeland. They would march from South Africa. Without a shot, the Germans accepted the British Gentleman’s Understanding on July 9, 1915, an honorable surrender, where the Germans were allowed to return to their homes and farms, with their guns.
German East Africa was a different story. The Governor wanted neutrality but the local general rallied the spirit of the Germans and local sympathizers. The British navy bombarded the coast on August 8, 1916. General Paul Emil von Lettow Verbech (Paul) took his army into the bush and undertook guerilla warfare. The British were unable to cope with this style of fighting. Two brigades retreated and left a storehouse of guns, ammunition, and supplies behind. Paul continued fighting and took Mozambique from the Portuguese and Rhodesia from the British. He continued and never lost a battle. At the Armistice, he refused to surrender to the British, only agreeing to stop fighting. That is how it ended there. He returned to Germany as a hero in 1919, was elected to Parliament and refused appointments by Hitler and actually insulted him to his face and walked away. Before he died in 1964, he returned to East Africa and received full honors and recognition from the local government and the few remaining survivors of his guerilla army.
Mike Scott, our destination speaker, addressed, “Exploring Cape Town.” As expected, he began with bird sighting photos he shot this morning from the front deck. The city has kept some of the old architecture and blended it with the new. The ship’s arrival would usually provide a photographic entrance of Devil’s Peak and Table Top Mountain, but our arrival time is slightly before dawn and possibly too dark. He told us not to be alarmed if we hear a cannon fire, announcing noontime, from Signal Hill, hence the name. He told us how to walk from our Duncan Dock berth to Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a must-see area, with its famous Red Clock Tower, Swinging Bridge and Aquarium. He described the sites along the ship’s City Tour excursion, showing pictures of City Hall, flower market, fruit market and Company Gardens. There is a hop-on and off double-decker bus that goes about town and around Table Top Mountain that would be a nice ride. He showed scenes from the Cable Car ride to the summit of Table Top. The scenery will be terrific, weather permitting. If winds are too high, the cable car does not operate. One of our booked tours is the cable car tomorrow, we only hope.
We played the noontime card game and scored a point and I left to play ping-pong with Bob and Art. I tired them out but a French speaking observer, Primo, asked to play me. We have seen each other at most of the deck games on this cruise. He gave me a competitive match, even with the ship swaying and affecting our balance at times. I went off to the slots tournament and won there too. I checked in with Pat downstairs in the card making session held in the Compass Rose restaurant.
We got points today in Mensa, the daily questionnaire, but missed out in trivia. We cashed points in today for the last time this segment and got more nice Regent tee shirts for our kids.
Since many folks are packing tonight, there was a 5:30 show with the wonderful tenor, Mike Sterling. He sang songs from classic movies, including From the Moon to New York City from Arthur, Speak Softly, Love from the Godfather, O My Love from the movie,Ghost, Thunderball, Blues Brothers and a medley of songs from Fred Astaire movies. He was terrific.
Tonight we are ordering room service again, because we ate a nice Italian lunch and are not very hungry. Room service is very busy tonight, because with the ship rocking a lot, many of the older folks choose not to walk to the dining room and just stay put. The movie, LBJ, is being shown tonight at 8:30 (with popcorn and drinks) and we may go to see that.
Cape Town is supposed to be a lovely city and we are looking forward to exploring it. We are also overnighting there, so we will have Sunday as well.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac