South Africa - Durban, the real rainbow nation
Coming from the spectacular Drakensberg and driving into the suburbs of Durban was quite a change for us. Finally the rain started to ease and by reaching the suburbs of Durban it completely stopped. Durban was surprisingly green and hilly. For whatever reason we expected it to be flat and dusty. But no, it was green, hilly with lots of exocitcs flowers blossoming. But it was hot and humid! For 6 days we had been on an average height of about 1700 metres where it gets a bit chilly in the evening. Not so in Durban - it was definitely a different climate. But nice for a change for us, for sure!
We navigated through the highway to our accomodation in Durban North. We had opted for a room a bit out of town, because we wanted to park the car safely and did not want to be bang in the middle of town anyway. Prices there seem to be higher and the quality of the accomodation lower. By arriving in our appartment, Mary's Place, we were very happy about this decision. The sweet landlady welcomed us and showed us around. We had secure parking, a garden with views into the hills and 2 rooms just for us. So we were happy, settled down and firstly did some much needed washing after the mountains. By the time it was dark, our friends from Germany had also arrived in Durban (they landed that day). We picked them up (they had a room a few blogs away) and headed to the centre of Durban North with many malls, cafés and restaurants. We found some vegetarian options in a nice and tasty italian restaurant and had a fun and chilled evening.
Next morning we took it slowly. It was sunday anyway. The 4 of us went by car through the really luxurious northern suburbs of Durban and parked finally close to the casino on the beach front. Durban beaches is really a wonderful place, especially on sunday. There are many different beaches, each one sperated by a pier. Some of them are swimming beaches, some fishing,.... We went for a long walk along the beachfront. Wonderful to breathe the air of the indian ocean and observe the local life. We finally ended up having a delicious lunch in one of the beachfront restaurants overlooking the beach. It was cloudy that day - but good for us. We would have been burnt with sunshine and it was still hot enough.
It was amazing to observe the beach life in Durban. The beach being packed with locals: the hindu family swimming fully dressed in the ocean, moslem ladies completely covered observing the their kids sitting in the shade somewhere while moslem men were playing soccer, tourist in travel outfits taking pictures, white local families sunbathing in their bikinis or other swimmsuits, black africans playing with the kids in the water and some ladies (no matter which coulour) lying topless in the sand. And this next to each other. Rich and poor, black and white, old and young - next to each other, doing what they like and how they like it - and all peacefully having fun and accepting each other. This was like the real pictures the rainbow nation. If the whole world was like this, we would have a very happy place to live in. An amazing experience.
On our way back we met a sand artist. And as our spiritual master, Paramahamsa Vishwananda , was about to arrive the following day in Durban for a 9 day tour through South Africa, we asked the sand artist to write his name in the sand and build his logo. He was happy to do it for a few rands and we were happy to observe his work and take pictures.
Later on we went to the trendy part of Durban - morningside and were surprised that again we just found one villa next to another with lots of expensive restaurants and cool bars. From a beautiful viewpoint we enjoyed the view over Durban, had some coffee and bought some supplies for a home made dinner.
Unfortunately this time, we did not visit Durban CBD or other sights. We wanted to visit also a beautiful temple and the indian quarter, but we were running short on time and sunday was not the best day to explore a town. Next morning we already left Durban and drove north along the coast. We past by some amazing beach towns like Umhlanga Rocks and (our favourite) Shaka's Rock. We were now in Zulu country with its beautiful hills, sugar cane plantations and stunning empty beaches. Finally we reached Blythdale beach, the closest beach of Kwadukuza (also called Stanger). We based ourselves there in a simple (and a bit worn) appartment right next to the beach. A stunning location with lovely owners. Through a gate there was a walkway of about 20 meters through junglae vegetation and we were on a wonderful beach with big waves. As far as we could see, the beach was not ending. And only very few people were there - no highrise appartments, just nature. We walked along the beach, played in the waves and went for a swim in the dessignated area. Here, it is not a good idea just to swim where you want to. There are sharks..... Well, they did not eat us :-). The water was chilly, but nice. It was a relaxed and lazy afternoon.
In the evening, back in the apartment we had a nice surprise. Some other devotees of Paramahamsa Vishwananda from all over the world have arrived and were staying in the same accomodation. It was wonderful to see them all again, as we mainly have been knowing each other for quite a while. Some south african devotees joined us and we had some chai tea together. What a nice evening. We finally cooked dinner for the 2 of us and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean. Many more exciting days were waiting for all of us and we were looking forward to the arrival of our spiritual master. More about this in our next blog.