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Day 16 - Krugr Nat Pk - 25 June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Well our last day here at Kruger – yay!!!! We had a wonderful snooze in today. Very lazy people we are, we didn’t get out of bed until 11am. Gary’s reason was that he was a little hung-over, as after he arrived back from the game drive/BBQ last night he went & watched the soccer at the bar & had a few red wines. When he finally came home, he knocked on the cabin next door & requested to be let in – Jess simply pointed him in the right direction where he found our door unlocked.

 

We spent the day doing very little, mainly as there is nothing to do apart from eat & drink. We were sitting outside our cabin on our patio chatting, we look out onto a water course & across the water we spot an elephant grazing away. We watched him for a while as he grazed his way along the water’s edge then what we thought was a rock moved – a bloody hippo snoozing the afternoon away. This is all in full view of our cabin, simply awesome to say the least. About an hour or so later Gary called for me to come outside as there was now a small herd of elephants across the water – 4 large & 2 babies.

 

Watching the animal life opposite our cabin seemed to take up most of the afternoon then it was time for dinner & time to pack. That created a problem – how on earth was I going to get everything into the suitcases let alone keep within the weight limits. It looks like we might be wearing as much of the heavy/bulky clothing we can home so I can fit in the stuff we have bought whilst here. Maybe I should stop going to shops etc. Poor Gary got nothing for himself, but I got heaps for me....

 

Anyway, after dinner Gary stayed in the bar to watch the soccer so I could do the packing without distraction – I find it better that way & so does Gary. Neither of us gets stressed or pissed at each other. I quite like packing & am happy to do it, so it works well for us this way. So now it’s all done it is an early night for us, doubtful that we will sleep though seeing we got up so late, as our bus back to Johannesburg is departing Kruger at 5:30am. It is going to be a long & tiring trip home as we don’t arrive back in Melbourne until 5:30pm Sunday evening but then we have to wait until 7pm for the airport bus to Sandhurst. Given this please don’t ring us or expect to hear from us Sunday night especially as Gary has to get up & go to work on Monday morning. We will call you over the next few days. xxx

Day 15 - Kruger Nat Pk - 24 June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:14 PM Comments comments (0)

As we were expected back even later than we were last night breakfast was extended to 10am, which Gary made – just. No bring home pack for me today, but I wasn’t interested in any way in breakfast this morning. Whist there is nothing much to do here, I am starting to become quite tired, I don’t supposed having a head cold helps so I stayed in bed until about 10:30am. As our cleaner wanted to come in to make the bed etc I had to get up & shower so we then went down for a coffee & attempt to use the internet. Attempt is the operative word here –I waited about 45 minutes in a line of people as there is only 3 computers & no access for laptops, unless you unplug one of the desktops from the router. I finally managed to get onto a computer but the internet was soooooo bloody slow I gave up trying to update our site in disgust, so sorry peeps – I am going to have to do a multiple day upload, maybe at the airport on Saturday when we finally leave this God forsaken place

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Too say I/we are over Kruger is an understatement. Whilst it is great to see the animals in their natural habitat there is nothing, and I mean nothing, else to do here. Gary had an idea of hiring a car for a couple of days & driving into Mozambique as it is only 100kms away but when he inquired the day after we arrived they were all booked out well in advance! As I have previously said there is no other way of leaving Kruger – no public transport etc.....

 

Tonight is the farewell dinner which forms part of a sunset game drive followed by a BBQ! I didn’t go, as I felt really crappy but Gary did & felt it wasn’t worth the effort as he froze his nuts off during the drive & standing around eating very average quality food. Those of you, who know Gary well, know that it takes it lot for him to complain about food quality after having served in the Army 40 years ago!

Day 14 - Kruger Nat Pk - 23 June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:12 PM Comments comments (0)

We had the option of another early start this morning with another game drive but we decided that as we would have a late night with the soccer match being played about 3 – 4 hours away by bus, we would take the opportunity to snooze in. Quite a number of others did the same & we all regretted it as they saw a pride of lions! That will teach us....

 

After a fairly lazy day we all got together for a tour photo before heading off to Nelspruit to watch the Aussies win the match against Serbia at Mbombela Stadium. I was feeling pretty average & had considered not going but am so glad I made the effort & went. It was a fabulous game. The referees tried hard to ensure Australia didn’t win & the Serbian players belong here at Kruger. They behaved like baboons & perhaps that is all the mentality they have too. No finesse about them at all. The ‘sooked’, pretended to be tripped by an Australian player & acted injured then if that didn’t get them a free kick they became vicious. Dirty bastards....

 

What a game – weren’t the Aussies awesome! Thanks to Tim Cahill & Brett Holman it was a 2 – 1 win. If you didn’t watch the game or catch a replay you’ve missed a great game. The Aussies really played together as a team which they didn’t seem to do in the 2 previous matches (especially the Germany match). It’s a pity that our stupid coach didn’t field a better team against Germany & we might just have gone through to the round of 32. All of us on our tour are so disappointed that Australia hasn’t qualified through to the next round but that would only be minute compared to what the players would be feeling. We had superb seats – 11 rows from the front & just behind the technical area (where the coach & substitute players are). Seated just to the left of us was all the players’ family, that’s how good our seats were.

 

It’s an awesome sight to be sitting in a stadium so far from home, amongst 40,000 people, surrounded by a sea of green & gold. Let’s hope we qualify for Brazil in 2014 because all being well, we’ll be there (probably with AST again). Anybody thinking of doing a cricket, soccer or other sporting tour we can thoroughly recommend AST, the guys leading this tour have been fantastic.

 

We had our best match transfer yet. Straight to the stadium – 2½ hours, a short walk from the bus into the stadium (we arrived at 6:30pm, then match started at 8:30pm). At the end of the match & after we waited to congratulate the team, only about 15 minutes, we headed back to us bus for the drive back to Kruger. It had been anticipated that we would arrive at Kruger around 2:30qm perhaps a little later, depending on traffic issues leaving the stadium. As we would be arriving at Kruger after dark we needed to be escorted by rangers from the main gates then to our camp, Skukuza, then to our cabins. Surprisingly, departing the stadium was a breeze & we made great time so we arrived at the main gates of Kruger before 1am. I had to wake Gary so he could put his shoes back on & by that time we were almost at the Skukuza camp. By 1:15am we were snuggled up in bed very pleased with the Aussies guys efforts.

 

What a fabulous day!!!!!

Day 13 - Kruger Nat Pk - 22nd June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

No early game drive this morning, thankfully so we managed a snooze in. As I have said before early mornings & I just don’t get on particularly well. I have a tendency to wake early but I have a need to lay & read for at least an hour or two before I get up & moving. I can do early starts but it’s not a pretty sight! Gary bolted out of bed at 8:30am for a quick shower then headed off to breakfast, it is only on until 9am so if you wish to avail yourself of it you need to get there before they close. I have decided that I am spoilt – Gary bought back some yoghurt, fruit, toast etc from the breakfast bar for me to eat in bed then made a cuppa to go with it. All with no ulterior motive, which he never has anyway.

 

It was a fairly boring day today as apart from doing the game drives there is little to do here at Kruger. So I just lie around & read whilst Gary went backwards & forwards to the office to find out where our TV was. There was a remote & a wall bracket but no TV! Strangely though we had been told that none of the cabins have TV’s!!! After much discussion the manager finally admitted that a TV did belong in our cabin but it was away being repaired. Some persistence on Gary’s part finally had the TV installed whilst we were on our dusk game drive. Boy did that make Gary happy. He could now keep up with what was going on with the World Cup – which is predominantly what we came here to do!

 

About 4:30pm we headed off for the dusk game drive, again once the sun set it became very cold, very quickly – hence uncomfortable. Until it became dark we did manage to see & photograph more native animals. An amazing one, the chameleon is quite small but it changed colour whilst we were shining a bright light on it & photographing it. The game drives whilst interesting when you see animals, especially those you haven’t seen in their environment, can be mundane.

 

Kruger National Park is wonderful but 6 nights here, where other than the 5 game drives that AST have arranged for us to do (3 at 5:30am & 2 at dusk), is probably 3 – 4 nights too long. You cannot go anywhere nor do anything as there is no way to leave the Park – not even a shuttle bus to the nearest town, Hazyville which is about 30 minutes away. It is very difficult to get onto the internet, there is no Wi-Fi & the internet centre only has a 3 port router. Unfortunately, even the food (breakfast has been included every day on the tour & dinner every night at Kruger) here is well below the standard both in quality & quantity that we have had earlier in the tour.

Ok, so that’s enough whinging from me today....

Day 12 - Kruger National Park - 21st June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:06 PM Comments comments (0)

An early start for us again today as we went on our 1st game drive & what an awesome time that was & we were lucky in that our driver, Elvis, didn’t seem to want to take us back so what should have been a 4½ hour drive ended up being 6+ hours. The 5:30am start was a bit much to take especially as it was -5C & we were sitting in open 24 seater jeeps (they did have a canvas roof). Shit is was so cold. My finger & toes went from numb to extremely sore & back to numb again & this was all before sunrise! I felt very sorry for Gary though as he decided not to purchase a jacket in Cape Town so all he had was a zip up light weight hoodie & a heavy sleeveless jacket over a polo. I at least had on my down jacket, so my upper body was toasty. I made Gary wear the beanie & one of our woollen soccer scarves around his head & I think that helped a little & I used the hood from my hoodie, my soccer scarf, a black scarf & a cap so my head wasn’t cold either. Now we just need to sort out our fingers & toes for the next one & we’ll be right. They at least provided us with a blanket, between 2, which did help our legs & Gary’s upper body.

 

Even though we were really cold to begin with I was well worth it. Within minutes we saw elephants, zebras, mongoose, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, buffalo, rhino, vultures, hippo’s, crocodiles, monkeys, baboons, bushbucks, kudu, red headed weaver, eagles, impala, klipspringer & a myriad of other animals & birds that I have forgotten the names of. In South Africa they talk of the Big 5 – Lion; Elephant; Rhino; Buffalo; Leopard - & today we managed to sight 3 of them. We have another 2 game drives to go on before we leave so let’s hope we get to see the other two of the big 5.

Day 11 - J'Burg to Kruger N.P. - 20th June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:04 PM Comments comments (0)

We were so very tired last night we slept like logs, I think even if the hotel had collapsed we wouldn’t have known. The guys from AST decided late last night/early hours of this morning that our scheduled departure time of 8am just wouldn’t cut it, so the managed to change it, with some serious discussions about our 2 buses & their drivers, to 11am. Much more civilised, I must say.

 

So after a nice snooze in & a great breakfast we boarded the bus (a different bus, driver & guide thankfully) for our 8 hour drive to Kruger National Park.

It was a pretty uneventful trip really. The landscape was surprising in some ways especially as it is winter over here at the moment but everything we could see both yesterday when we flew into Johannesburg & whilst driving today was very, very dry & quite depressing. There was really so very little greenery, that is was amazing. Not what I expected at all. One amusing sign we saw whilst we were stopped for lunch was a warning sign on the side of the road - HEAVY VEHICLE WHEELS STOLEN.

 

One of the “road laws” here in South Africa is that at women do NOT have to stop for a red light between 7pm at night (men after 11pm) & sunrise. This is due to the high incidence of ‘car jacking’. It is also recommended that sole drivers do not travel with handbags/laptops etc on the front passenger seat of car, as regardless of time of day, it is known to happen so frequently that local shitpots walking along the road will smash the passenger window with a hammer (always have one up your sleeve, you never know when it may come in handy) & relieve the driver of the contents of the passenger seat – handbag/laptop anything they can see that maybe of value.

The places we have been here have been lovely & the security that is in place due to the World Cup has made it particularly safe but I would hate to think that Australia would ever get like this in any way & it really makes you appreciate what we have back at home & how safe our streets are by comparison.

 

We managed to make good time & arrived at Kruger National Park before 6pm, but as it is dark by 5:15pm each day we couldn’t see anything at all. You are generally not allowed to enter the park after 5pm but they allowed us but we have to be met at the exterior gates by a ranger who then guided us bus to the Skukuza Camp. Once we got out of the bus we realised how bloody cold it was 3C. After signing the “waiver” that we all had placed in front of us, we were then taken to our individual huts. Basic (probably 3 star equivalent) but we have a queen bed, ensuite, tea/coffee facilities/ heating etc. Our table & chairs plus our fridge are outside. The fridge has a note on it advising that if you place food in it you should place a chair up against the door as the baboons & monkeys do know how to open them & they will do so & remove you food! So I think we are really staying with the animals! Anyway, all looks comfortable & fun.

Day 10 - Cape Town to Johannesburg - 19th June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 28, 2010 at 9:01 PM Comments comments (0)

Thankfully we had a day yesterday where we could sleep in as this morning we were again up at the crack of dawn – a wakeup call had been arranged for all of us for 4:30am. Our bus was departing our Cape Town hotel at 6am for the airport. Our tour was split onto 3 different flights, 2 of which were South African Airways (we were on one of these) & the other flight was with One Time Airlines. That caused quite a few laughs for those of us not on the One Time flight & some angst for those who were. The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg is just under 2 hours then we had a bus trip to the stadium for Australia’s 2nd match at Rustenburg – 2½ hours or so away.

Whilst we were in Cape Town the weather was absolutely superb, sunny days but with clear & very cold nights. The temperature tends to start dropping about 3:30pm but once the suns rises, around 7am it doesn’t take particularly long before you can feel the warmth coming through. We were both a little sad to be leaving Cape Town as it was such a lovely place to spend some time & we could very easily have spent another week or two there.

 

Whilst the South African’s have built some beautiful stadiums their idea of logistics in getting people in & out of them just simply doesn’t exist. There is only one entrance to each of the stadiums we have been too & everyone must enter & exit through that point. It is the same with the roads & parking leading to the stadiums – a nightmare to put it mildly!

 

Wasn’t it great to see Australia actually score in their match!!!! It just goes to show when a striker is played you can score. What a pity about the refereeing though – very biased against Australia, and that red card that Harry Kewell received was so very wrong it was beyond belief. Now he can’t play in our next match against Serbia on Tuesday night here. Bloody cheating ref’s!

 

After the match we all had to make our way back to our buses for the drive back to J’Burg which was being dreaded as we had a dud bus, driver & guide..... Unfortunately, AST were not permitted to arrange any transport to/from games, airports or hotels etc during our time in South Africa, it all must be done by match transfers. So everything was out of AST’s control as to the timing of our movements etc to games & airports & such. On the way to the match at Rustenburg our driver missed the turn off & we nearly missed the start of the match, so there was 40 very uptight people onboard who all know what the issues would be once we arrived at the stadium & trying to get in & find our seats. Fortunately, we made it on time. The problem came when we had to find the bus when we left the stadium; no one knew where the idiots had parked either of the buses, just a general area that held over 300 buses. So imagine trying to find our 2 buses (they are all painted the same) amongst 300 or so in the dark with very little lighting. It took our group about 45 minutes in total to all make it back to the buses. My new down jacket is pale blue, so I stood on the steps of our bus (Gary & I were one of the 1st back) & that’s how majority found us!

 

Our debacle of journey to our J’Burg hotel then began – it took 4 hours. The driver got lost. The game finished at 10:15pm, we were all back at the bus by 11pm but didn’t get to our hotel which was 2½ hours away until 3am. Given that we had all been up since 4:30am everyone was so royally pissed off it was unbelievable. When we finally arrived at the hotel the driver wouldn’t even get out of the bus to assist with the unloading of the suitcases. He was totally useless – either the bus was defective or he couldn’t work the heating/air con; interior lights or the demister. He also fell asleep whilst driving & our tour leader had to keep talking to him & wiping the window so he could see & to keep him awake. But we arrived & that was the main thing.

Day 9 - Cape Town - 18 June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 18, 2010 at 11:09 PM Comments comments (0)

I finally got to get out of bed at a time when I felt ready, not before 7am as in the previous 2 days! I did manage a lay in until 11am – lazy I know but I needed it. Gary was up about 8:30am & went down for breakfast then went for a walk into the city centre. I was drying my hair when he returned to our room. We decided then to try & finish our shopping, I really should have gone on my own, but we did manage to get most of the things I was after. We stopped off for some lunch after Gary complained that he was about to collapse due to lack of sustenance for a quick sandwich & coffee – they make the best latte’s in Cape Town I have ever had. I would live here just for those!

 

We came back to our room so Gary could watch the 2nd half of the Germany v ???? (I can’t recall) match & I could rest before our group cocktail party. We were to be having a surprise guest.....

 

Our surprise guest turned out to be Craig Johnston, ex Aussie who played for England. He was quite an entertaining speaker & ended up going to the match with our group. Gary was fortunate to get a ticket to the England v Algeria game that is on here in Cape Town tonight & went with majority of our tour group to the match – I elected not to go.

 

We have a very early start in the morning (inconsiderate shits) our bus departs at 6am for the airport, so I stayed behind to get organised plus I also wanted to ride in the giant Ferris wheel that was just near our hotel. Luckily for me there were 2 guys from our tour who were interested in doing the same thing so the 3 of us set us after the soccer fanatics departed. What a fantastic view you get from up in the air – what a pity Melbourne’s collapsed due to the heat! Anyway, I think we got some great photos which I will upload when we get home. I will sort out the photo loading problem before we go to the UK – promise...

 

Well, didn’t the Germany match put Australia in a right royal pickle – we now have to WIN both of our matches to qualify. The consensus here is the Australia will probably no make it to the next round, which is unfortunate but I suppose that is the way it goes. At least Gary got to tick off one of the things on his “bucket list’”.

Whilst Gary was at the soccer I thought I might go shopping after going of the giant Ferris wheel but Gary vetoed the idea so I just came back to our room & organised all our ‘stuff’ – best done when Gary is not around anyway – so we don’t have to get up that 20 to 30 minutes earlier tomorrow morning.

 

Tomorrow we have a horrendous day; we depart our hotel at 6am for Cape Town airport then fly to Johannesburg. We then board a bus for a 2 – 3 hour trip to Rustenburg for Australia’s next match, then bus back to Johannesburg for the night then an early morning bus trip to Kruger National Park. I have no idea who arranged the early starts but half of our tour group are over 50 & don’t seem to be doing the early starts well. One good thing though I’m sleeping, as is Gary, despite all the noise from the fan zones.

Day 8 - Cape Town - 17th June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 17, 2010 at 3:34 PM Comments comments (0)

Damn, another early start this morning AND I needed to wash my hair, so there was no chance of even a cup of tea for breakfast. Gary was a darling though, had a cuppa waiting for me in a take-away cup as I boarded the bus, I do love him. I think he decided that even though I can’t stomach food before 9am at the earliest, I also don’t function well without my morning cuppa.

 

Today we were taken on a bus tour of Cape Town & its environments. The bus left our hotel at 8am – arghhhh - & headed off towards the Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point. The southernmost tip of the African continent. Along the way we stopped off at a number of sightseeing spots, which essentially just showed us more of the same scenery time & time again – very pretty but once seen that was enough. Our guide was a German lady with quite a strong accent who spoke quite loudly over her microphone (she didn’t really need it) & within about 45 minutes of beginning the tour she was driving most of our bus mad! Needless to say we didn’t tip her very much at all at the end of the day – I was over her. Once we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, our bus load managed to corral everyone together for a group photo (we have been split into 2 groups – San’s strikers (we are in this group) & Gluv’s goalies – as there are 80 people on the tour so it is easier for accountability on the side tours etc). After leaving the Cape of Good Hope we proceeded along the coast road (only way you can go) to Simon’s Town for a spot of lunch. Along the way we got stuck in a traffic jam, caused by a family of baboons – no NOT Gary & I getting out of the bus & making fools of ourselves along the roadside, real ones! Boy did they cause a ruckus. A woman was nursing a very young baby (looked about 1 – 2 weeks old) in the backseat of her car & her partner left the front door open after removing a toddler from the car to get a closer look at the baboons. The problem occurred when the adult baboon (Male) spotted the open door & bolted into the car looking for food. The poor woman looked absolutely mortified & jumped straight out of the car clutching her baby – who knew what the baboon was going to do! It was really amazing to watch as the baboon grabbed the nappy bag, which was closed, took it to the road & proceeded to open it & remove the contents & throw them on the road. Out came the disposable nappies, wipes, paw paw cream & a myriad of other things that poor mother had in the bag. I seriously doubt they will ever stop to look at baboons again, unless in a zoo! We managed to get some amazing photos of the whole episode & it’s a pity I can’t load them onto our site.

 

Now too lunch, being on the Cape you would think fish would be a really great option – wouldn’t you, especially as we only had 75 minutes. Gary & I ate lunch with a couple of guys from Sydney – Archie & Peter. Gary ordered the fish & chips & that was terrific however, Archie, Peter & I all ordered the fish of the day – grilled with vegetables. What a disaster – the fish was frozen & served partially that way. That’s right, it hadn’t been cooked properly (no we hadn’t ordered it sushi style), it has obviously been grilled but our 3 meals were not only raw in the middle but still frozen. We sent them back & explained that we only had a few more minutes before needing to leave (our meals took forever to arrive initially). The meals arrived back with 10 minutes to spare before we needed to be back at the bus (a 5 minute walk) however rather than give us fresh fish they just re-grilled or nuked what we already had. Subsequently, it was bloody horrendous & inedible. They then had the audacity to actually charge us for all 4 meals & drinks. As we were already running late we simply paid (Gary & I wouldn’t normally do this) & hurried back to the bus to thank our guide for her wonderful recommendation of a quality eatery!

 

Having not done an ‘organised’ tour before & Gary not for 30 years, we are really pleased with the way Aust. Sports Tours have organised our accommodation & the information they have provided each day on the notice board they have erected at our hotels. Our tour leaders, San & Gluv seem happy to help with whatever is needed & nothing seems to be too much trouble. They even have a smile on the faces 99% of the time. We were also pleasantly surprised at the other members of our tour, apart from the odd whinger which you tend to stay away from, everyone seems really friendly & on the tour to have a great time. I was a little concerned before heading over that the group may have been a majority of young males who were just interested in partying nonstop & making life unpleasant for the minority, but most of us on the tour are well over 45.

 

Well, that’s about it for today as we were up & on the go early and didn’t arrive back at the hotel until just after 6pm, so it was a long day – for me at least, and I do need my rest.

Day 7 - Cape Town - 16th June 2010

Posted by Gary & Lynette Landy on June 16, 2010 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A bright & early start this morning & those who know me well will realise that this is not generally the most desirable of situations. However, when the tour up to Table Mountain leaves our hotel at 8am it means getting up & getting my act together in a timely manner. Gary wisely, showered then left our room to have breakfast downstairs where I joined him once ready, with 10 minutes to spare I might add! Very pleased with myself!

 

Unfortunately for us Table Mountain was covered in low cloud all day today rather than just all afternoon, which is the norm apparently. The cable car ride up the mountain was awesome – the cable car rotates as it rises, enabling everyone to get a 360 degree view. Gary not being keen at all on heights or chair lifts etc did not enjoy the experience of the cable car ride in any way. In fact he & another guy remained in the centre of the car where there were 2 seats. The rest of us (the car holds 45 people) stood & took in the view, at least until we rose into the clouds. If I thought it was cold in Cape Town it was bloody freezing up on Table Mountain, in fact it was so cold up there I bought a beanie (lucky I already had the coat). Given that the weather was not being kind to us by allowing us any view other than of cloud we spent 90% of our time (1½ hrs) on the Mountain in the coffee shop drinking hot chocolate & latte’s with most of the rest of our group.

 

After riding the cable car (yes Gary was in the centre again) back to the base, we were taken by bus to the V & A Waterfront where we boarded a ferry to Robben Island. What an amazing place! First of all we were taken on an hour long bus tour around the island where as you can imagine various points of interest were highlighted. The guide on our bus was an ex political prisoner at the prison. Understandably, I suppose, his spiel was quite political, but after spending 15 years on Robben Island as a political prisoner during the 1970’s & 80’s you’d bound to be a little bitter & twisted towards the previous regime I would think. Notwithstanding his political opinions, the history & tales that he made us aware of were astonishing to say the least. After the island tour we then headed to the prison itself. A change of guide & we were now guided through the prison by another former political prisoner who had be incarcerated on Robben Island in 1977 as a teenager & not released until all political prisoners were released in 1991, the year after Nelson Mandela was released.

When first arriving at the prison, prisoners whether they were political or criminal they no longer had names. They were issued with numbers – the first part of the number was what number prisoner they were for that year & the second part was the year they arrived. Our guides’ number was 43/77 & that is how he was known for as long as he was incarcerated at Robben Island. We were astounded to view the actual cell that Nelson Mandela was kept in – 1.2m wide x 2.0m long. On arrival at Robben Island prisoners were given 1 shirt, 1 pair of trousers & 1 pair of shoes & 1 blanket. Nothing else. No underwear etc. Bedding in the cells, until 1984, consisted of what we know as carpet underlay (not foam)! No pillows, sheets. Toilet facilities in the cells consisted of a bucket, to be used in full view of the guards. The bucket was emptied each day, they did that themselves – part of their recreation time. The cells had a window to the outside, overlooking the ‘exercise’ yard, a window facing the internal corridor enabling the guards to keep a close eye on things & obviously a barred door as well as a solid wooden door. By comparison, the dog kennels that we sighted on the island were larger than that of the political prisoners! By 1984, they had at least managed to negotiate to secure beds to sleep in rather than just matting on the concrete floor.

 

Now to an amusing piece for today – getting older & forgetting things. When disembarking the ferry at Robben Island an announcement was made reminding everyone to take with them all possessions, we weren’t the only tour on the ferry, as there was no assurance it would be the same ferry collecting us 2½ hours later, plus the ferry would be moving other passengers to & from the Island whilst we there. Given this announcement, you would think that the bag Gary was carrying & had taken responsibility for (with a couple of kids t shirts we had just purchased, a bottle of water, his glasses & a couple of bananas) wouldn’t get left on the ferry. Well it did. Gary didn’t realise until I asked him for a banana then all of a sudden he recalled not having picked it up when we left the ferry. The look on his face was priceless – “shit I hate getting older & forgetting stuff”. No, I didn’t give him any grief, there was no point – he felt lousy & silly enough as it was. The funny thing was, the same ferry came to collect us & surprisingly our bag was waiting for us in the lost & found locker. So all is good & we don’t need to go & buy those t’s again.

 

After the early start this morning we decided to dine in tonight - I was stuffed & Gary wanted to watch the soccer (South Africa v Uruguay).