Since Monday was Presidents Day, we decided we would take the long weekend and travel to the KwaZulu-Natal Provence of South Africa. Everyone told us that the American holidays are the best for travel because you aren’t dealing with the entire country having the holiday off. So we left Friday afternoon and started heading south to the coast. We hit a huge storm, but aside from that, the 7 hour trip went by pretty fast and smoothly.
Unfortunately we got there after dark, so we were disappointed we couldn’t see the ocean as we were driving in. We stayed in a little beach town about 40km north of Durban called Salt Rock. Our hotel was right on the beach and each room had sea views. When we got to the room we hung out on the balcony for a while watching the moon, waves, and enjoying the sound of the ocean.
|The moon looks different from over here|
We got up early Saturday morning and headed to breakfast (which was included in our stay). Then headed to the beach to see what this Indian Ocean was all about. The beach in front of our hotel was not large, but not many people used it, so it was plenty big for us. At one end was what looked like a demolished fort or castle, but we still aren’t sure what its original purpose was. Now it is used for tidal pools. The Indian Ocean is pretty rough with the biggest waves I have ever seen. So at high tide, these “ruins” catch the water and people swim there all day. At one point during the morning we saw about 40 little black Africans (probably Zulu) running down the beach towards the tidal pools. I thought it was pretty funny that they were all wearing speedos. Then we realized they weren’t. They were just in their underwear!
|View from our balcony|
|The tidal pools|
We heard the water was warm year round there, so I was surprised when I put my feet in and it was freezing!! Warm by what standards? Yes, it was warmer than Duck Beach on Memorial Day, but I think everything is warmer than that. Lee had fun playing in the waves and trying to bodysurf. I slowly worked my way in up to my shoulders, but quickly had to get out because it was cold and starting to get very rough. So we laid on the beach for several hours reading our books and enjoying the beautiful day. Anyone that knows Lee will not be surprised that when we went in around 12:30, he was already red as a tomato all over his chest and stomach! He just cant learn to reapply! So needless to say, he had had enough of the sun for one day. We got dressed and decided to go exploring the other areas. We stopped in Ballito and had lunch at a place on the beach. Watched some surfers the entire time and enjoyed our fish lunch.
Then we decided to go to the mall because the radio stations here are few and far between. We needed to buy some CD’s for the 7 hour drive back on Monday. Well, we found the nicest, coolest mall we have ever been to! Too bad we didn’t have our camera with us! It was that good that we would have wanted to take pics of a mall!! Not only did it have tons of stores, 2 movie theaters, lots of restaurants… it had a skate park, a water slide park and a wave park where you can surf and boogie board. Man, the United States needs to get with the program! So we spent awhile walking through there, bought some CDs and then decided to see a movie before the Rugby match started.
After the movie we wanted to find a restaurant where we could watch the Blue Bulls (Blou Bulls) of Pretoria take on the Lions of Johannesburg. All of the restaurants at the mall have tvs, and all were showing the rugby matches all day long. There is a big tournament going on called Super Rugby between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. So we have decided to be Blue Bulls fans since they are from our city, and are supposedly great! Although the match was a bit too close for comfort. So we sat outside, ate some great food and watched the game. We will be attending a Blue Bulls match on the 5th of March and are getting pretty excited about it. Now if we could just learn all of the rules!
Sunday morning we decided to head to Durban to explore. Supposedly it is the 2nd largest growing city in the world, after Mexico City. We thought we could just drive around and explore, but we have quickly determined that African cities are not built for that. So we wish we would have known more about where to go. We went to a market that was highly regarded in all of the travel books, but it was kind of a bust. Most of the stores were closed, and there wasn’t much there that was different from anything we had seen at Irene market or on the street.
But we did get to drive by the soccer stadium that was built for the World Cup and it was pretty amazing.
|They have a tram that takes you to the top of the arch to look out|
Then we spent the rest of our time at the beach, watching surfers from a pier. There were 2 really young black kids surfing and they were actually pretty good.
|You are only supposed to swim in certain areas, so you can see how crowded it gets!|
Then a bit further out, was about 10-20 surfers waiting for the huge waves. We started noticing that there were people with surfboards standing on the pier, and then the next thing you knew, they were gone. They were surfing into shore, then walking down the pier and jumping in to get back to the waves. Rather than fight the waves to swim all the way back out there. It was pretty crazy because the pier was pretty high and the waves crashing in were so huge! Pretty scary for those of us watching, but to them it seemed normal. Ready? 1-2-3 GO!
Our last adventure in Durban was finding an Indian restaurant for dinner. We loved Indian food in DC and were excited to come to Durban because of the high Indian population there. 1/3 of the entire city is Indian. We found a little place called Indian Connection and very much enjoyed our Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan! I could eat naan for days!!
We ended Sunday perfectly. Reading by the beach as we watched the sunset. And we took a pic of my growing belly. There is no denying it now!
Monday morning we wanted to get up early to start heading back in the direction of Pretoria. There is a mountain range that called The Drakensburg that is supposed to be beautiful and has the 2nd highest waterfall in the world. So we thought we would try to stop by there on our way back home. Unfortunately we didn’t really know how to get there and we aren’t sure our GPS took us in the right direction. And of course about 30 minutes before getting there, it started to storm like crazy. But we did get to see some of the mountain range and it was absolutely beautiful. But it is not many of the other places you go, where they have pull off points to look at views and take pictures. So most of our pictures were taken as we flew down the highway.
The scenery here is absolutely beautiful though. We kept commenting on how we did not expect to see things like this in Africa. And there were so many different landscapes. Parts of the mountains as you get close to Durban looked like what you would see in Northern California. Other places we thought we were in Kansas, and even had the fields of sunflowers to prove our point! The close we got to The Drakensburg, the more it looked like Southern Utah. So we truly are marveling in the gorgeous country that we live in and are grateful that we are able to go out and see so many places.
Lee has another 3 day weekend coming up in March, so maybe we will get to take the Defender out to the bush and let him have some manly fun!