Big Girl, Small World : Wet & Wild in Durban – South Africa
Wait, this isn’t a piece of erotica. This is not going to be a story of how I met a Durban based man who gave me the hottest roll on the sandy beaches of Garvies Bay. I thought to put that out there, this is a travel blogumn after all, truth over fiction and what not. On a hot Saturday afternoon, I checked in at the noisy terminus often referred to as Roadport into their most ‘luxurious’ coaches, the Intercape.
I was geared up for the long connecting ride from Harare to Jo’burg then Jo’burg to Durban. Lucky for me the bus was not teeming with too many passengers and I got myself a double seat with functional charging ports. If you have hips my size you’ll understand the value of double seats on a 12-hour trip, I swear it! My section of the bus had some elderly church leaders whom I was not quite in the mood to ask about. The Pastor, old enough to be a young uncle of mine occasional engaged me for technical things like recharging his airtime or plugging in his phone on the charger. I did honourable things but sadly, en-route I saved all my wit and bubble for Durban.
After what felt like an eternity at the border, not to mention two re-runs of ‘Evan Almighty’ we got to Jo’burg barely in time to catch my connecting coach, which thank heavens, was running late thanks to the bus strikes. It was on this route where I regretted napping so cat-like. See, I had an intense week and like I said…I was saving my wit and recharging my batteries for the task at hand (read the heading again if you must)
I sat next to a university student from Limpopo, he was Venda, smart, creative and openly opinionated. I still do not know his name but this was one of my favourite types of conversations of intimate sharing of thought with unlikely strangers. Our banter about South African politics, Afro-phobia and tribalism was set with the backdrop of deep beautiful valleys and rolling hills and horizons of blue mountains along the N3. South Africa is beautiful, not because they have more ‘money’, ‘development’ or ‘infrastructure’. See, it was my first time getting to Durban and as we drove in the darkness engulfed everything except this sea of little stars of light. Civilization I thought, breath-fucking-taking civilization. I was in awe, I was well acquainted with Zimbabwe’s ‘Christmas Pass’ in Mutare but nothing could ever, ever prepare me for the view of over ten times its magnitude. Glorious.
The most annoying thing about Durbanites is how they lackadaisically acknowledge that they live in a piece of paradise. Perhaps if I lived there I would be mildly as grateful too. What I loved was how I felt as though I hadn’t met ‘real’ South Africans until I met them. The warmth of the welcome was surprising, I did not have the million and one anxiety attacks as was customary when I needed to get around in Jo’burg, but still… I do love Jo’burg even though the Durban welcome is so enabling! I wanted to live in a place like this!
From the little garden in front of the charming wooden cabin I would call home I could see the sea, the port side of it. Huge cranes moving their red spider-like arms and picking up massive containers like little legos. I became accustomed to sitting on the little cold concrete bench at dawn, there I would pray, read my Bible and meditate on the mammoth days ahead of me, remember… I was here for work and not quite for play. On the first day, just like any other tourist, I couldn’t help it. I felt the sea call me as if it knew my name. “Stephanie”, the wind whispered as it licked my ear icily. Durban mornings were chilly, daytimes deliciously warm and humid. Stuck in conference rooms for most of the days I did not get to enjoy these.
My host(ess) Glynnis was a lot more like a mom away from mom seemed to sense my need, in my pyjamas without a lick of toothpaste or water I hopped into her car where she drove me to Garvies Beach front which was under five minutes away. Look, I hadn’t been to the beach since I 12 years old. I did not think I would be this awe stricken within a space of hours. The waves crashed into each other as if each was eager to be seen in might and splendour. Behind them was a never-ending body of sparkling blue that seemed to be water and the sky at the same time.
As I kicked off my flip-flops and my body was torn between the power of the waves, the nippy wind and the generous sun, I knew that I would be wet and wild in Durban, perhaps not today but one day soon. #BGSW