Sunday, 30 November 2008

A slice of this world

When we pulled into Durban, I'd been expecting a nice sunny morning. Instead, not only was it overcast and raining, but the entire expanse of the city's substantial and rather beautiful waterfront was rendered a grey hue thanks to the fog :(. Thus my first glimpse of Africa was through a haze.And it only got worse as the day wore on. Frequent heavy showers and a fair bit of work for me out in the open meant that it was a very wet and tired me that returned to the cabin at the end of the day, only to find my wallet cleaned out! It was really my own fault, caught up in the day's events I'd completely forgotten about locking the cabin door, and someone had obviously made good use of the opportunity. In the end I was just glad that it was only cash!

The next morning was crew change! A few days later than expected, but the day shaped up rather nicely. As if on cue, the weather cleared up pretty much as soon as we left the harbour :). We'd booked ourselves some ridiculously affordable rooms in one of the beach-front hotels, and I was absolutely astonished to see how huge my 'room' was! There were 3 bedrooms for a start!
One of the high points of the trip was our day-long guided trip to the Hluhluwe game reserve. (Right, so how you're supposed to say the name really is (s)Hlu(s)hluwe :D. It's Zulu, and for some reason the s is sort of the reverse of silent. It's not there, but you say it!!) The first good thing about the trip was getting to leave the city and see some of the country side. I'll have to completely agree with a recent observation I'd heard about Africa being very very similar to India. The South African country-side certainly is.At the end of the day we were quite pleased with our work :). We never managed to spot any lions, but got really close looks at numerous giraffes, African rhino, zebra, different kinds of local deer/antelope and other local wildlife. We even managed to catch a few African elephants from up close. The best thing (and also in some ways the most frustrating thing) about this sort of a trip is you can never be sure what you'll get to see. Quite often we'd turn a blind corner and there, right in the middle of the road would be a giraffe! Then again, look as we might, we never managed to find those lions :-<.

But seeing animals in zoos just won't hack it any more. Despite the others, I chose to spend my last two days on the beach :). The weather was beautiful without exception, and I spent one whole day strolling the miles and miles of perfect white sand. Got to see kite-surfing from really up close. One of these days I'll actually attempt it. The next day, I spent almost entirely in the water :). The slightly annoying eccentricity of the beach not-withstanding, I had an absolute blast! The sad part was, we'd been warned by too many people about the possibility of mugging, and almost the only photos I clicked were from the confines of my room :-<. By what can only be described as a rather long sequence of fortunate accidents, I ended up in the company of local friends. Which helps, when you've been repeatedly warned about travelling around town on your own :). Then, as I was on my way out, again as if on cue, the weather turned to it's earlier wet and dark self. I couldn't help but think that the little break in the apparently expected rainy weather was almost for our sole benefit :D.

Despite my worries, I managed to survive the cold till I got to my more appropriate jacket :). I was rather disappointed to see barely any snow in Oslo and Asker though. But lack of snow didn't mean it was any less cold! Plus the hours of daylight have shrunk dramatically. It's turned into quite a different world since the last time I was here. As expected. Managed to catch the latest Bond offering here. Not exactly a cinematic masterpiece :|.Tagged along with a bunch of others on Friday to the only open skiing slope in these parts at the moment. With full knowledge of how badly I suck at actual skiing, I figured I'd give snowboarding a shot. I mean, I couldn't possibly be any worse at that could I? :P. Turned out I was quite right! I solidly maintain that based on personal experience, snow-boarding's a hell of a lot easier than skiing. For one, you're trying to control only one thing, rather than 2 or maybe even four!!

Unfortunately, I'd not gone fully prepared. After a bit of a scare, when I thought my fingers had already gotten frostbitten, I decided to leave further attempts for a future time when I had better gloves. The wet jeans were a completely secondary consideration :). All in all it was an extremely hilarious experience though. Hopefully things will be a little better when I try it again in January.

For the rest of the weekend it had been uniformly shit weather. Mixed rain and sleet turning everything to slush. It cleared up sufficiently this morning to allow us a go on a little excursion to the lake. Only to find it, quite interestingly, half frozen.So that's what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks or so. And around midweek next week, I'll be on my way home for the first time since July. It's been quite good, actually. And hectic. Enough to actually make me want to go home and get some rest :). But we all know how that's going to work out.... I just hope I don't end up feeling any more worn out by the time I get back to the boat than I already am :).

Currently: bushed
Listening to: Eagle Eye Cherry - Long way around

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