Wednesday, April 4, 2012

last days in Durban

the city of Durban

Allie and Ellie's place in Durban once appeared in the film Blue Crush 2. You may remember the first Blue Crush movie. It involves a lot of girls in bikinis, surfing. Blue Crush 2 is set in Durban and is also about girls in bikinis, surfing.

This is what my colleague Sean has to say about Blue Crush 2, which went straight to video:

"Don't ever watch it. It was one of the worst movies I've ever seen.
Not in the way a movie can be so bad it's good either. Just horrible
on all fronts."

I had gotten my fill of surfing in Chintsa on the Wild Coast, so I didn't re-create any scenes from Blue Crush 2 when I went to visit Allie and Ellie during my last days in Africa. Instead I woke up with my body already feeling battered from days of surfing, and decided to treat my body to sunrise yoga at 6AM on the beach, which happens to be in front of Allie and Ellie's place.

Yoga on the beach was, I must say, pretty magical. The yoga instructor had a unique taste in yoga music, so I found myself doing my sun salutations on the shore listening to Radiohead, Feist, and the Black Keys, while facing the waves, and the kayakers and surfers maneouvring their way around the waves. At one point, dolphins swam by. Dolphins. We concluded our yoga session doing savasana while listening to the sounds of waves hitting the shore and ibis birds flapping their wings over my head. Pretty magical.

Then Ellie and I went for a 10k run along the beachfront.

our jogging route

It was, in reality, just what my body needed after the long drive from Chintsa to Durban. This is one of the most dangerous roads in South Africa, with plenty of heart-stopping moments. Drivers treat this two-lane undivided highway like it's a four-lane divided highway, so it's pretty common to be staring at headlights of oncoming cars driving at you in your lane. Not only do you have to learn to swerve away from these cars, but you must also learn to swerve away from the cows and goats wandering all over the road.

It was still a neat drive though, and I was glad to be able to drive through South Africa and see a part of it that was very different from its urban cores. It's sometimes very easy to forget you're in Africa and not some other North American city when you're in Cape Town or Johannesburg, but the rural areas are completely different, with the sprawling informal settlements dotting the rolling hill landscapes, boys playing barefoot soccer in the fields nearby, and hitch hikers crowding alongside the road. South Africa is also a lot greener than Namibia, and it's nice to see forests of trees for once. Still, it was an eight hour drive and I was glad to finally make it to Durban, the land of beautiful beaches.

the view from the balcony

swimmers swimming in the no-swimming zone. gloria, being gloria.

Durban is humid. It is also, despite anything Blue Crush 2 tells you, a big busy city. It's the third largest city in South Africa, and home to the largest population of Indians outside of India. It's a big change from Namibia, which has hardly any Indians at all.

We meet with other interns for lunch at the Corner Cafe in trendy Glenwood, and then go shop for crafts that we can bring back to Canada. For some reason, Allie and Ellie's favourite craft stand is located in a dimly lit parking garage next to the neighbourhood Spar grocery store. Talk about underground art. I haven't done any souvenir shopping during my 7 months in Africa, so I have a lot to buy.

goofing off at the craft stands

the corner cafe


In the evening, we meet up with Durban residents Kathleen and Shawn for drinks at Moyo, a restaurant located at the end of the jetty on the beachfront with a majestic view of the ocean. It's got "Africanized" cocktails with names like Robben Island Iced Tea. I order the African Tequila Sunrise, because I like Africa, tequila, and sunrises.

this was another restaurant on the beachfront. I call it the Rusy Ship Restaurant, which looks cool but doesn't seem particularly appetizing.

Moyo, where we actually ended up at for drinks.

Back on the shore, the fishermen are bringing in their gigantic nets, a long process that takes half an hour. I watch with excitement, hoping to catch a glimpse or something cool in the net before they throw it back to thesea, maybe a shark...or a mermaid. But all I see the kids throwing back are small fish. Maybe they saved a mermaid.

We grab dinner at Spiga. It's a lovely end to a lovely stay in Durban, and Africa in general. We bring our own wine, Ellie's favourite bottle of odd bin 714. One of the things I'm going to miss the most in Canada is delicious but cheap South African wine.