Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dakar, Senegal

When we docked in Dakar we were instructed to simply walk to the gate where our guide Ali would be waiting. It's never that easy. Six of us were together for the tour and we all split up going in different directions to try to find our people. Finally, we figured it out and jumped into the van. A rather long ride through the decidedly unscenic city of Dakar took us finally to the Bandia Preserve where we had an excellent tour with Oosome and saw ostriches, antelope, giraffe, rhinocerous and birds of all descriptions. 

After the tour through the preserve we visited Lac Rouge or Pink Lake, a body of water as salty as the Dead Sea. We watched the salt collectors working - a grueling job for which the women get paid the equivalent of one dollar for 25 trips carrying about 50 pounds in a basket balanced on their heads. 

Our guide called these African fast food...not just because of their speed but also the McDonalds-like "m" on their butts. 

I used Mobile Matisse to improve my photo of the cattle. 

Same with the zebra.

With the delightful Oosman...much of his education acquired by watching David Attenborough on the BBC. So under utilized in this position as a game ranger. But that's true all over Africa. Wasted brain power. 

One of the many gigantic Baobabs seen in Senegal and The Gambia. 

Typical restaurant in resort areas around Dakar. 

With a salt collector at Lac Rose. She was one of the few people who allowed us to take her photo. Their objection is not religious...they don't like the idea of being broadcast over the internet. Why, I don't know but people got very angry about this. One woman chased a man from our group who was pointing his telephoto at her. She spewed obscenities, shook her fist, spat on the ground. Furious.

Tourism is one of their few sources of income...why they wouldn't welcome photography, I don't know. 
Another puzzling aspect of Africa. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cape Verde

Our day in the port at Cape Verde was splendid. Jocelyn, our guide, met us at the port entrance and swept us away in a van which could seat 12. With only four of us, plus her and the driver, we had plenty of room and it was easy to get on and off. Our tour companions are fit and no special problems to deal with.

We stopped at a couple of beautiful beaches, drove to the top of the island for the view and then had lunch in a Cape Verdian home. The idea of lunch in a private home was bothering us a bit, as we didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be fine. The hostess prepared a kind of stew, the national dish, made from pork, fish, manioc, carrots and peppers. 

Cape Verde is very dry and little grows there. They plant corn and hope for rain. This year, it didn't look like they were going to get much. There's no industry in the country and little opportunity for the young and ambitious; most of them leave for education and work in Europe. About 50% unemployment means a lot of people just sit around, according to our guide. The little business being conducted is done by the Chinese or West Africans. The place has a laid back feel like the Caribbean. 

Main city, Mindelo on Sao Vicente.
Poncho, the local drink, made of a kind of rum and fruit juice. They pour into emply bottles and sell it in the markets. 

Jewelry made from Nespresso pods. 

Lovely beach in front of condos, virtually empty of occupants. 
Lunch in the Cape Verdian home.

Eels and flies in the fish market. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Day At Sea

Second sea day today. The ocean is calm and the weather warm. The fan tail of the ship is set up for dining and the serious sun lovers crowd in there, enjoying breakfast and baking themselves at the same time. On sea days, lectures are scheduled and we've heard a couple of decent ones. Yesterday a retired coast guard officer talked about the technical aspects of the ships steering, communication, port activities etc. and spouted the stats about how much water we use, how much food is handled daily, what kind of emergency preparedness is on-going. 

We walked a couple of miles on the course they have laid out for exercise, read a bit, gabbed with people and generally enjoyed the day pottering around.

We had reservations at the Toscana specialty restaurant on the ship for the evening. Our meal service was cannot fault it on this ship. At our table for six, everyone was pleased with their choices. I was seated next to a character from Texas who sported a mustache with long twirled points on the sides and a dazzling array of Disney decorations all over his person. His glasses had Mickeys on them and he wore a gold bracelet loaded with Disney charms. He was wearing D pins on his jacket and a Mickey necklace carved out of Formica. Even his wedding ring was a diamond Mickey on onyx. He regaled me with stories about his unicycle riding, juggling routine and his career as an accountant! An accountant! That was a surprise. This man and his wife travel all the time and like many others we've met, do a lot of cruising. By the end of the meal, we were comparing hearing aids and he had his out of his ears, disassembled on the table, showing me some of the finer points of his set. Ah, the joys of old least he didn't take his teeth out!

I have no photos of the day yesterday...instead this is a shot taken from the edge of a cliff on Madeira a few days ago. Richard took it leaning way over a rail. Down at the bottom you can see plots of land under cultivation. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Santa Cruz de la Palma, Spain

Balconies are beautiful on the Isla de las Palma. Most are covered with cascading vines and trailing plants. It's lovely to think about sitting on them back in the 16th century enjoying the breeze coming off the ocean. Lovely, until you read that there was a little walled off bit at the end of the balcony that was used as a bathroom. Waste dropped out from the bottom into the street. Yuck.
This is a modern balcony without a bathroom.

A walk through the mercado.

This woman was roasting hominy and she apparently hated her hat! And look...she's wearing a Canadian flag pin. Maybe she's a Canadian tourist who was kidnapped and forced into slave labor:) :)

Not a happy person. 

Massive ferns take the place of fountains in many of the squares.

Tomorrow, our port is Tenarife.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Funchal, Madeira

First stop on this cruise was Funchal, Madeira. A beautiful island with terraces running up the hills; every square inch covered with something but principally grape vines and bananas.  Mist and clouds swirled around the mountain peaks giving the place a Shangri La like feeling. We'd come back and stay awhile.

Plastic baby Jesus' are very popular. Three types were widely found : Jesus, shrink-wrapped on a cradle made of grain, Jesus with his hands wrapped in plastic, like boxing gloves (I guess the hands break off easily) and Jesus with no plastic wrap and no diapers but with the price tags on his privates, for modesty. All the plastic Jesus' had Fonzi hair styles with that curl-thing in the front.
Finally, a Madeira tasting couldn't be passed up.