Published: December 19th 2008December 8th 2008
Late Friday night, I took the bus from Umkomaas to Durban and I’ve been here since. Durban is South Africa’s third largest city and sits on the shores of the Indian Ocean, about halfway up the country’s coast. I am staying at a backpackers out in an area called The Bluff, south of the city centre, because Jody, my friend from the Destiny and the Liberty, lives out here. The hostel is quite nice - quiet, only steps away from Anstey’s Beach. And it’s super accessible to where Jody lives which has been great.
Saturday, he came round to the hostel to pick me up. It is so good to see him again. Then we went off to run some errands. He’d decided to host a braai (barbeque) at his home with some friends, so we had things to get to prepare for that. As we drove around The Bluff, he pointed out the places where he goes about his regular stuff - everything from his local bar and medical centre to the internet café he emails from. It’s very interesting to see all the places where his stories take place.
At his home, I met his mom and
My Tourist Shot
Jody said this is the spot where all the tourist shots get taken. So I of course needed one.
got a tour of the house. We did some more preparations and then gradually his friends started arriving. It turned into a long long long night! We were gathered out on the patio until well past midnight, just chatting, braai-ing, drinking and enjoying the view from his house (he lives on one of The Bluff’s hills) across to the next hill. Somewhere around 2am, we packed things up only to head out! I was taken on a bit of a Bluff Pub-hop. We went to a few of the local places. By the time Jody took me back to my hostel, there was a beautiful sunrise happening over the ocean at the beach where I’m staying!
Yesterday (Sunday) therefore became a day of much needed rest! I slept, walked along the beach, did lots of reading sitting next to the hostel’s pool or on my bunk in my dorm. The last couple of weeks, there has not been nice weather anywhere I’ve been. Or, we’d have a few hours of nice weather only for rain to return. But yesterday, the sun finally came back! I didn’t do much to enjoy it, but nonetheless, it’s good to have it back.
Jody came by the hostel later in the day and we had dinner at the little beach restaurant right by my hostel. And during dinner I got a phone call from my mom! So nice to hear her voice!!
Today, I decided it was time I got out and saw something beyond The Bluff. Jody had things to do during the day and I couldn’t get onto any tours through the hostel that I was interested in. So I ventured into Central Duban. A city bus runs around the corner from my hostel and goes straight into downtown. I was a bit nervous about taking the public transit - but it was so easy. And nice! The bus was in such great shape, the driver was extremely helpful and it was only 4 Rand 50 cent (about 60 cents Canadian)! I couldn’t help but think with yearning at the ever-rising costs of the TTC back in Toronto . . .
My mission for the day was to go on a walking tour of the city. Durban’s tourist brochures (printed and circulated by the tourist information centre) say that they run walking tours twice daily. So I was up
and in the city centre and at the information centre 20 minutes early for the morning tour. Except I was told that there was no tour. They only run tours through advance bookings with tour operators. I was so irritated! I pointed at the brochure - THEIR brochure - and said that they advertise twice daily tours. I was simply told yes, but that’s not what we do. Seriously?!?! They are the tourist information centre and their own information they give out is incorrect?!?! Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
So rather irritated, I set out with nothing to do. I attempted to explore a bit of the Central Business District. But there wasn’t a whole lot to see or do and I wasn’t feeling especially comfortable. I found a bank branch that connects with VISA and went to get some more cash. It wasn’t the 5 hour event that it was in Port St Johns, but it still took almost an hour. And not because the bank was slow - they were fantastic. And kind. Wow, it makes such a difference to be dealt with in a kind manner. But they had to jump
through hoops trying to get me money. I can not understand why it has to be so impossible to access my money. Considering it is Visa and they have “such great access worldwide” it should not be such a chore to access my money. I am so happy in here in South Africa and am not looking forward to leaving, but I am looking forward to being able to access my money again!
After that, I went to a mall called The Workshop. It’s right in Central Durban, is rather small and doesn’t have much beyond the basics to offer. But they have a movie theatre and REALLY cheap tickets. (13 rand = $1.65 Canadian for a new release.) So I caught a movie. I’ve seen 4 movies in the cinemas during my trip here (more than I’ve seen at home in years) and it’s cost the same as I’d have paid for one movie back home. Unbelievable.
Towards the end of the movie, my cell started vibrating. Jody wondering where I was. Next thing I knew, the movie was over and I was standing at the entrance to The Workshop and Jody pulls up in front.
We headed out to a place called uShaka Marine World. It’s one of the biggest things to see/do in Durban. They have a Sea World with dolphin and whale shows and an aquarium. They also have a water park with slides and various water rides. (We’re saving this for another day.) Then there is a large shopping complex, many restaurants and bars and all right on the beach where of course you can swim, surf and sun.
At uShaka, we met up with a few of Jody’s friends. We walked through the shopping area and Jody pointed different things out to me along the way. I walked down one of the piers that goes out over the water. We ended up at a bar right by the beach where we curled up in some comfy seats and had a few drinks. It was so nice.
After a few hours at uShaka, we said goodbye to his friends, then Jody drove us further North along the beachfront to one of his other favoured spots: the Beach Café. The Beach Café is a restaurant/bar literally on the beach. The chairs and tables and even the bar are set up in
The beach bar/restaurant at uShaka that we hung out at.
the sand, only steps from the water. We spent another hour of so there, sipping some cold beer in the shade of a big umbrella, admiring the beautiful beach and ocean while we chatted. He has told me countless times about his city and how much he loves it. I love seeing the city with him. I can see why he loves living here. It’s really really great.
Tonight we had dinner at his place with his mom. It is so nice to have a home cooked meal! I was so thankful to her! She’s too kind, keeps telling me I must just come and eat at their house, to not bother with buying food while I’m here. Tomorrow is her last day of school (she’s a teacher) and she has all sorts of ideas of things we should do while I’m in the city. I’m very spoiled.
So now I’m back at the hostel. And the rain has returned. I’m hoping the skies will get it all out of their system tonight and the sun will be back tomorrow. I’m staying at the beach and at a hostel with a pool, but I’ve yet to swim! Time
He still doesn't smile for photos . . .
to get on that . . .
There are more photos below