Location: Hibberdene (between Durban and Port St. John’s)
Can you believe it? Officially gone for 6 months- I left Sept 27! Did you think I’d last this long… shame only 2 people played the game “how long will I be gone?”
Greetings from the South Coast! Life has been a blur and a whirlwind of activity.
After couch surfing for 2 nights, I planned to head to the hostel and plan to explore until my phone rang a few minutes after forcing myself to wake up at 10am (after 2 nights of staying out late)! It was Lee, a cool gal from Durban who spent 2.5 years in San Francisco. Her boyfriend, brother and her took me around the surrounding areas of Durban and we finished the day watching a cool indie film, Juno. The following day she picked me up from the hostel and she showed me more of Durban. Good fun and unexpected she would be able to fit me in her schedule with only a few days notice that I would be in town.
I had good conversations with a South African guy who works at the hostel and without asking, he offered his tent for me to use at splashy! Kindness of strangers has been amazing.
I visited Ushaka, aquarium, marine life center and water slide park (not open when I went), on my own and had a good time. The weather was over cast but not chilly. I got kissed by a seal while watching a seal training session. A nice, big, we, fishy kiss. Seals are awesome and remind me of dogs- always playful, funny and wanting attention.
Durban has lots of beaches and known for surfing as well as sharks. In 1964, Natal Sharks board was established for research on sharks and to protect the public from shark attacks by lining most of the beaches with shark net that are checked daily. Early Tuesday morning, I went out on boat to see shark nets being checked-making sure no sharks or other marine life are caught. (the boat ride wasn’t exciting and not worth it but oh well) Then got a ride to the Sharks board research center where I watched a video clip of what the center does amongst an auditorium filled with school children (500 kids)and then witnessed a shark dissection outside (see photos-South Africa). I wasn’t grossed out one bit by the dissection, though plenty of the kids oohhh and ahhhhed in unison. I’m no longer fazed by guts, blood, creepy crawlers etc… though I still can be easily spooked! After wards, I touched the shark and was surprised at how soft the skin was if you stroked it towards the tail. It was rough and prickly if you stroked from the tail towards the head.
Durban reminds me a lot of Southern California. Weather is nice, though is usually super humid. I’m happy I haven’t experienced this. Aside from the scenery and coast, there are so many shopping malls it’s no longer exciting to see one. I’ve been to all 5 big ones. That was 3 to many! Definitely like Southern CA with all the malls and shops.
Catherine, a couch surfer whom I attended sphlasy fen with picked me up from the hostel Tuesday afternoon. I quickly felt at home with her and her parents were great. Her mom took me shopping for some snacks to bring with to splashy and then Cat, her twin sister-Bronw, Steven and I went out to a posh nightclub, Casablanca! Had lots of fun and they played a variety of music, which was great. Yet we all seemed a bit out of place as it was filled with super dressed up Barbie dolls and guys whom all seemed the same decked out in their fashion designer clothes…
Splashy was great! A 4 day music festival in it’s 19th year on a huge farm in Underberg, a 3 hrs drive from Durban. According to Cat it’s become more commercialized and less about the music. Music is the attraction but camping, hanging out with friends, drinking and enjoying chilling by the river is also a huge draw. The river is freezing. Reminded me of Northern Ca coast!
Underberg area gets super chilly at night. I was wearing thermals every evening and still cold. On our 2nd full day there, it rained hard… I regretted not shelling out $7 for rain boots –gumboots as they say here but actually the shop we stopped at didn’t have my size. Most people had them.
Everywhere was super muddy and slippery. My shoes were drenched after I stepped in a huge puddle. That night when the rain had stopped I attempted to romp in my flip flops but after 5 minutes they were useless.SO there I went traipsing barefoot in the mud. Just a bit cold. The following day I was using plastic bags to cover my feet and slipping on my wet and muddy shoes. The joys of wet environments and camping. And about the borrowed tent- we all ended up gathering in one big tent to keep warm. I was so happy I didn’t waste money buying one.
After Splashy, I anticipated heading to the Drakensburg Mountains and then exploring Lesotho as I was relatively close and 3hrs closer than I am now. Unfortunately, Steven had a flight to catch so had no time to drop me 13 miles in the wrong direction (nor would I expect him too if he wasn’t pressed for time) and because it was Easter neither the shuttle or minibus taxi was operating so my only option would be to hitchhike. That wasn’t a choice. Mom- maybe will add this to our adventure!
I came back with Catherine and chilled at her house the following day while she went to a 12 hr concert in Cape town ( a 2hr flight from Durban). I anticipated going to the hostel but her mom insisted I stay. Her parents are amazing. On Wed, we drove an hour south to visit her aunt and gran. I’m staying a 2nd night, even though Cat went back to Durban. Her aunt and gran are wonderful too. She may come back tomorrow but will see as she’s pressed for time to see all her friends before she goes back to brave the cold in the UK for another year. Tomorrow I plan to go to a nearby hostel that is super cool and chill. May work there for a few weeks but I’m also feeling antsy and not sure if I want to commit to anything. Will see! South African hospitality is incredible. I’m loving life and feeling so at home. I could see myself living in SA yet have been so sad to here from countless South African’s that the country is going down hill. Most parents are advising their kids to immigrate and get out in the next few years before its too late… It’s a shame. This country is beautiful! So if you have any desire or plan to come to South Africa, South African’s recommend you visit in the next few years as the South Africa they know and I know will likely not be in a few years time! Hard to fathom but there must be truth to it. Too many people keep saying the same thing. More on this later. Sending all my love, Keep in touch and feel free to comment …say hello!