Durban

Tuesday February 7th – Day 34

The pilot came at 6:45am today fooling everybody who set their alarms for 7am….but Vance heard the helicopter, rushed out in his PJs and managed to take a few pictures as the helicopter was leaving but not the ones of the pilot being lowered onto the aft deck that we’d hoped to get.

Durban is the third largest city in SA and is famous for being its busiest port. Nature has contributed to much of Durban’s prosperity. A superb harbour sees 18 million tons of cargo pass through each year and the round the year sunshine, magnificent scenery and miles of beaches washed by the warm waters of the Indian ocean attracts thousands of pleasure seekers.

Although the ship was offering several tours including one to the Valley Of A Thousand Hills – where the hills form an inspiring panorama haunted by the ghosts of the Zulu….we decided to do our own thing and caught the 9am shuttle bus to the local (25 mins away!!) shopping mall.

On arrival Vance said that this mall could be anywhere in the world but for us it was nice to be able to walk around for a few hours and window shop although I did succumb and bought another pair of sunglasses.

We are calling today – the day of early and late. The ‘early’ was the pilot who dropped onboard unobserved by most people (not Vance though) the ‘late’ was the VAT man – twice!! and the Zulus – once…more about the Zulus tomorrow.

The VAT man saga was very frustrating. We were told he would be onboard between 5pm and 7pm so that guests that had bought any goods in the three SA ports visited could reclaim the VAT on their purchases. We had only bought ‘the camera’ and a few other things but thought we might as well get our money back to spend elsewhere. However some guest had bought beautiful diamonds and other jewellery so their VAT refunds would have been quite large.

People started arriving in The Seabourn Square at 5pm and by 6pm there were at least forty people waiting…still no VAT man arrived…at 7pm after many phone calls from the ship to the Customs office we were told he was not coming and I can tell you there were a lot of unhappy guests…one man’s VAT was $2000!!. At 8pm there was an announcement that the VAT man was coming onboard and there was a mad rush from the dining rooms back to the Square to form a not so orderly queue. As we had to bring our purchases as well as the receipts the Square soon looked like a mini department store….and finally, after filling out numerous forms but not getting the refund there and then (the cheque’s in the post!! …maybe!!) I arrived back at the dining table at 9pm – much to Vance’s disgust as he had just been sitting there on his own for nearly an hour…..but apparently the wine waiter looked after him really well …the moral of the story is…don’t buy anything in South Africa!!

Earlier there had been a Zulu drum and dance show but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.