Stories of flights leaving at midnight, meeting Subra from Melbourne, a long 11 hour flight over the ocean, clocks back 6 hours, waiting for our transfer at Johannesburg for three hours after arriving at 5am, then waiting for three hours at Durban for more arrivals on later flights and travelling in convoy again to our accommodation compound. Meeting my fellow travelling companions, plenty of food, evening briefings and distribution of convoy T shirts, more food and eventually a long long sleep. Somehow that covers Day 1.
Only one odd thing has happened that can be attributed to the magic of Africa, was me losing my Australian SIM card at the Vodacom shop at the airport. I was taking exceptional care of it and it was going to be taped inside my passport, until in a complete mystery, it disappeared. Not fallen down cracks in the desk, or the cupboards on the floor, or on the roof, or in my clothing or pockets. Disappeared – swoosh, like magic. What else is Africa going to surprise me with?
Day 2 in Durban, Easter Sunday was today and less of a whirl of tiredness and excitement. We’re staying in a complex containing guest houses with good security fences and two diligent owners who used to be called Irish and can’t wait to they go back to retire shortly. Monkeys are likely to come through the gardens.
Durban is a city of 6 million, as big as Sydney and like Sydney, on the east coast. It’s green, undulating and at the same latitude as Perth, so the days are warm and dry. They say there is a drought. Looks very green. Water restrictions mean water is turned off by the city after 10:00pm. We’re drinking bottled water, same as the chalet owners.
Thomas runs a good trip – have I said that before? 🙂
Morning exercises and stretches are a nice ritual easily forgotten. Jacob used to enjoy heading out early in China to find these large group exercises too – there might be something in it; sharing a stretch in the morning.
Convoy hit the road, plenty of radio chatter to keep people in line, making the correct turns, slowly down when some are caught at traffic light, with 1$ taking up the tail end charlie job in EG4WD83, my old car.
The Shri Vishnu society in Chatsworth, Durban was the first stop. A Hindu society we were extremely welcomed, with the roads blocked off and a special parking area set aside for us. Albeit it was down a dirt track, but it did suit our vehicles! 1$ told me later they had delayed closing a special festival for our arrival.
It was explained that Hindu is often critiqued for having multiple gods and the worship of idols. He said this was not true and they believed in one overall God but then just like any person or society, there are different parts of us that contribute to our whole. One for love, one for wealth, one for creativity etc, and these components all have names and yes, are embodied with a physical representation, which he described. All very interesting. For world travellers, Christian Thomas, and Muslim 1$, this was quite an eye opening explanation. Once again, barriers get pulled down through listening and sharing stories. And at the end, I got a bindi on my forehead!
My room buddy Subra lives in Melbourne but hails from Indian Tamil Hindu heritage. He was in his element and represented us well.
Next was a short drive to a funny little memorial for Mahatma Ghandi who had visited the district. During Apartheid, the guy who spoke to us told us how his grandparents, and he remembers this, were moved out of their homes and placed with all other Indians into an undeveloped area, segregated. Given they had been brought to Durban on promise of a wonderful future, then treated like slaves, only to work to settle themselves into real contributors to the community, this segregation didn’t go down well. Come in Ghandi who preached his non violent approach to dissent. Not sure where it got them all, but now Chatsworth is full of shared housing plots, built up a bit all over the place as families grew and the houses needed to be expanded.
Next we moved on the Hare Krishna temple. Krishna is the Hindu deity for love. Only one was dressed in the familiar orange garb we are used to. They were practicing a play about the transitions through life, set to the Led Zeppelin music of Stairway to Heaven. They all seemed to be having a good time.
Back into convoy we headed to old Durban. I was very pleased we didn’t stop to get out at the markets so these photos are all on the move. Something told me we would stand out in the crowd. Some might call it vibrant, I don’t. Amazing scenes.
The beach side of Durban is apparently famous. It was certainly popular on Easter Sunday.
Nearly back at the compound we pulled into a fuel station. The attendants glum looks suddenly turned to smiles when nine 4WDs pulled in. Diesel is around A$1.23 a litre.
A BBQ is planned for tonight. No monkeys to show yet. One more day here then we head to the Sani pass on Tuesday.
The data file for today’s drive is downloadable at this link driving around Durban You should be able to open it in Google maps or Google earth. It might not be very interesting, but it’s there if you’d like to see it.
I hope you enjoy my stories and photos. I welcome comments, it helps justify the effort!
Later: The men from Saltran Logistics joined us for a chat. They’d cleared the vehicles so smoothly and professionally that Thomas invited them to join us for meal.