Craig Ross and Bryan in South Africa

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September 27th 2011
Published: September 27th 2011
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Episode 5 (27.9.11)
Swaziland and on to Durban
Hello to all our friends, family and colleagues back home. Hope the weather is warming up by now ??
After Kruger, we drove South, through the kingdom of Swaziland. This is a separate country and required passports, immigration, etc. It was all straightforward, except that Bryan had to fill in a long and tedious form because he was carrying a small laptop. Why ? We never found out.The Swazi immigration building was a glorified shed, with many people milling about semmingly doing nothing. Anyway, Swaziland was interesting - a very poor country with lots of villages with those round beehive type huts, and livestock strolling all over the roads. We stayed in a nice hotel in the village of Siteki, where the waiter was no sure of the difference between red and white wine, but it all worked out in the end.
The next day, we were at the opposite border and back into South Africa. Our next stop was Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park - pronunced something like this " Shar-shloo-ee- Um-fol-o-zee). Imfolozi was another place that figured in many animal doc's I watched as a child and I had to pinch myself that I was actually there. We stayed at Hilltop Camp, in a great split level unit, with a balcony that had sweeping views. I saw some great exotic birds from our balcony, such as colourful turacos and hornbills. We saw lots of white rhinos in the Park - yes, Bryan, the world's largest concentration of white rhinos is in Imfolozi !
We went in a guided night drive, in a park vehicle . Before any night drive, you always sign an indemnity form, saying that you do the drive at your own risk, etc. We filled out these forms several times at Kruger, and felt that no one ever looked at them after we handed them in, so had become rather blase about them.. At the bottom of the form, it always stated:
"What are your Special interests (e.g, mammals, insects, trees)?"
I, of course, wrote, "Birds".
Bryan wrote:
" Beautiful American actresses,from 1975 - 1991."
Ross wrote:
"Fine Chinese porcelain, from the Ming Dynastry."

On our last day at Imfolozi , a guy in a car coming towards us flagged us down.
"Lions, he said, "in a big tree around the next bend"
We hurriedly drover round the bend and sure enough, two lionesses and young male in the tree. Right beside the road . After some 15 mins, they all clumsily came down from the tree and walked past the car, slinking off into long grass. We all smiled widely, at what was the last of the "Safari" part of the trip.

The next day was Heritage Day (like Aust Day) and we drove thru a town called Dukuza, where a huge tradional Zulu festival was in full swing. (This part of SA, called KwaZulu-Natal, is the heart of the Zulu nation). Men in animal skins, with spears and shields, and women in colourful garb - and mostly topless. It was an amazing visual (and auditory) spectacle, of singing and dancing in the streets
We then drove to Durban - a subtropical seaside city, Africa's largest port, and heady mix of cultures - Indian, white, black African. We had booked a "Street scene tour" with local guy called Simbeso. He took us thru the amazing Indian market areas under the feeway - selling dead animals through to various plants, then the we viewed the CBD, then out to his own poor township. The latter was an amazing experince, as it not something you would do alone. We drank beer in a local shebeen (pub) with various men and women in various states of intoxication, listening to loud music, in what was essentiall a shack, selling beer and with a DJ pumping out music. Simbeso then took us to his own house, where we got a warm welcome from his buxom 60 year old mother. His house was very basic and it was here that I got quite emotional and held back the tears behind my sunglasses - because they lived a simple existence and yet were so positive and friendly. I don't think I will ever question what I have or don't have ever again. It had a strong impact on me, and Ross and Bryan agreed.

That might, we saw the diametically opposite - young white Soth Africans drinking in trendy bar back in the city - a bar that would not be out of place in Chapel Street or Darling Harbour. (We ate "bunny chow" there : a curry of your choice served in a hollowed out half loaf of bread.)
Btw, food and booze are cheap here - and the AUD is now very high against the SA currency (the Rand). e.g, we bought 3 pints of Kilkenny in town for the eqivalent of $3 AUD each).
Well, Durban was great and then we caught a 2 hour flight South West to the city of Cape Town. Picked up another hire car and drove south, to Gansbaai - site of wahle watching and great white shark cage diving.
We go to see the great white shakrs tomorww - I'm already nervous with anticipation, but it should be awesome.
bye for now
Craig. Ross and Bryan).


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