I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. RL Stevenson

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Welsh poet, William Henry Davies

Monday, July 18, 2011

DURBAN, South Africa

22 JUNE – 26 JUNE 2011

SOUTH AFRICA – Country number 14 for the 2ND TIME – SOUTH AFRICA

Entry into South Africa from Swaziland at the Lavumisa/Golela frontier got a little complicated for a moment because this was my second entry into South Africa and the official only wanted to give a seven day extendable entry. Not exactly what I wanted so I explained quickly that technically this was my first visit to South Africa at my last entry I was only transiting.
Calm streets
Enough said, he then gave me 90 days free entry. A trouble free travel along one of South Africa’s main national highways, the N2 we get to Durban’s outskirts. According to my travel guide the bus station where we are headed is a tourist no-go area and when I telephone ahead the hostel confirms that I shouldn’t walk from there. So I do a rough recke and ask to be dropped off just outside the bus station area to walk to the hostel without a problem, taking in the local area on foot.
I check into Tekwini Backpackers in Morningside arriving to find gorgeous decorations being put up around the pool area. I ask them were they expecting me but it turns out that they are hosting wedding celebrations for one of their friends tonight and we are all welcome to join in with them.Such a lovely friendly vibe here – how nice to invite the lodge residents to join in on your wedding celebrations. We had lamb on the spit with yummy salads then the wedding cake desserts were a choice of either heavy chocolate or ‘just sublime’ cake – I go with the sublime mmmm Unfortunately my manners have declined so far during my travels that I neglected to find out the couple’s names but I did manage to congratulate them AND I did find out the groom was South African and the bride was Spanish (and pregnant!). It was a really relaxed, fun affair and a great introduction to Durban, the hostel’s personnel and my fellow guests.
Christian Church providing background
Now Durban prides itself on its arty scene but unfortunately that’s a little overshadowed by its reputation for violent crime. But as I had picked up an Arts map of Durban I was more than happy to traipse for days discovering the ways about Durban. Even the neighbourhood I was staying was home to several galleries on Florida Rd including the wonderful African Art Gallery – great place stuffed to the rafters with everything beaded, woven and painted by local artists.  There are also numerous restaurants, supermarkets, bars etc here on Florida Road a little like our Chapel St at home in Melbourne.

The next day, I visit a lovely jeweller’s gallery when one customer calls in and recounts her car jacking experience after her last visit to the shop. We all chat about it and confirm that 1. She shouldn’t have had her phone in view when driving, 2. She shouldn’t have left her bag open in the front seat, 3. At least she wasn’t hurt apart from some bruising from when she resisted the thief by hanging on to her back and 4. She shouldn’t have resisted! Eventually we all admired the gorgeous renewal the jeweller had given her at rings she was picking up today.
I loved this place

Other galleries I visited in Durban:

KZNSA gallery with a fantastic exhibition ‘Recollect – a turquoise journey’ by Hendrik Stroebel. Amazing embroidered pictures (complete with imaginative mounting and framing) of travels in Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Iran.
BAT Centre on Durban’s harbour. Mixture of paintings, ceramics with artists working there.
artSPACE Durban – A couple of local artists exhibitions including some gorgeous vessels.

Gallery 415 had a great exhibition of skateboard culture photography and deck art
Muckleneuk – built in 1914 by Sir Marshall Campbell, a sugar magnate and politician, the home has been granted to SA’s university for exhibition and research and includes varied and valuable collections of his two children. The William Campbell furniture and picture collection and the Mashu museum of ethnology –  Killie Campbell’s vibrant collection of colourful traditional beadwork and costume reflecting the dynamic and vigorous traditions of southern Africa - – ‘a reflection of humanity through efforts of creativity and love of culture. Also included there are the country’s foremost holdings of indigenous costume studies done by Killie’s friend Barbara Tyrell. Now I get the meaning and the beauty of the Zulu beading.
Victorian drinking fountain and African homeless

I visited the lovely old Botanic Gardens complete with a canteen staffed by volunteers producing wonderfully cheap Devonshire teas complete with a choice of scones or crumpets (pikelets) – I chose the scones but only for research purposes so I could tell you they were very yummy home made scones and accompanied by good jam and cream! mmmm
City buildings and streets

Durban also has a system of public transport implemented in time for the World Cup, known as the People Mover buses running 3 main routes all about town for the paltry amount of 10 Rand (A$1.20) for all day travel, 7 days a week till late at night. – Wonderful sightseeing through the centre of town to admire the massive town edifices including City Hall, Post Office and various other colonial structures. There is also the very new Moses Mabhida stadium I visited with Sara from US, a vollie in Lesotho as she gathered enough nerve to try the Swing from the huge arch above the stadium. Alas by the time we made it there the Swing was about to close so no go – instead Sara goes for the thrill of almost being run over on our way home. The car was so close that I honestly expected to see her body fly through the air and she admitted she could actually feel the car as it sped past her!!
Madrassa Arcade and Mosque

Durban has a great large vibrant Indian and muslim neighbourhoods studded with temples, mosques and churches. This includes Juma Musjid, the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere, the huge and lively Victoria market and Madrassa Arcade with locals shopping for all their traditional costumed needs. 

AIDS is always upfront

City buildings - Town Hall

A very modern church!

COLD cold train back to Jo’burg – great sleeper all to myself BUT no heating and 3 hours late due to no signals because of copper cable theft – the Shosholeza Meyl. It is sad to see a system being run down where people are reluctant to use it and hastening its demise.
But I loved Durban
FACT: The Kwa Muhle Museum in Durban is housed in the original Native Affairs Building where the Durban System was practiced. The Durban System was an infamous system implemented during apartheid whereby people were classified by race which limited their movements and sought to control the influx of black people by requiring them to have permits/passes to be in town.
Rather self explanatory
The Durban System would have cost ratepayers a lot of money, but the authorities worked out a way to make it self-sustaining by passing the Native Beer Act in 1908. This meant Municipalities in Natal obtained the sole right to brew and sell beer within their boundaries. The Durban municipality soon began to brew its own beer and sell it through a network of beerhalls, which it established. The first municipal beerhall opened in 1909 and soon the system was reaping huge profits. Nothing was to be allowed to threaten this situation and every effort was made to stamp out the illegal brewing and sale of beer through regular police raids.

Durban has a penchant for renaming its streets

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Catherine Tramell said...
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