Sunday, before last, I was working at one of the three part-time jobs I now have when Jason called me and informed me that we were going to Durban. “Ok.”, said I, not completely convinced that he was serious about making an unplanned 6 hour trip. When he picked me up from work he assured me that we were leaving in a few hours and that I should get a day off work. I didn’t bother to reason because I was pretty sure I had no choice in the matter.

Jason and his brother, Matthew, had just decided that the beach would be a nice escape from the cold winter weather. Jason organised for us to stay with friends in the Midlands on Sunday night and Matthew arranged a free hotel room in Durban for Monday night. We would drive home on Tuesday.

Jason’s “We’re going to Durban” face

Along with Amber, Matthew’s girlfriend, we drove to the Midlands. Malvina had only been given a few hours notice of our visit but had generously made us beds and offered us dinner. She put Jason and me up in their cottage and Matthew and Amber in the under-construction lodge.

In the morning the sun revealed a beautiful farmhouse with surrounding natural forest. The four of us took a walk down to one of the waterfalls and then Jason and I walked through a shallow section of forest. We would have gone in further but we knew that if we got lost Matthew would be furious at us for taking from his beach time.

The house 

Walk with the Danes

Taken from future Bath House building

This building is going to be the backpackers

We left the Midlands early afternoon much to my disappointment; South African beaches don’t really compare well to Caribbean beaches.

I assume that the Kwazulus must think that the rest of South Africa is occupied by psychopathic killers. I really can’t think of any other explanation for the large signs that read “Please don’t kill us!” as you drive through Kwazulu Natal. Either way I realised it must be important to them if they made the effort to put the signs up. I made a mental note not to kill anyone while in Durban.

“Free hotel room” sounded like something that would be pretty dodgy and I prepared myself for something that would be remotely liveable. Turned out that the free hotel room we got was not only more than liveable but also the best room in the building. It was air-conditioned, pretty and most importantly clean; which is not something I can say for cheap Caribbean hotels.  Also the receptionist was a real sport. She had no idea who we were but refrained from throwing us out. She even let us check in before making calls to verify that we weren’t fraudulent vagrants. So if ever you are looking for a nice and affordable hotel to stay in, in Durban, go stay at the Florida Park hotel; not only because they let me stay there for free but also because the receptionist knows how to keep her shit together. If that doesn’t qualify as service I don’t know what does.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on a filthy Durban city beach. I walked along the beach avoiding condoms and broken bottles while the other three braved a dip in the cold winter water. Their swim was soon interrupted by a huffy man on a quad bike who informed them that they were not allowed to swim because all the lifeguards were on strike. This made me wonder if people really get paid to drive around on quad-bikes telling other people to stop swimming. I certainly wouldn’t mind getting paid to do that for a living. Sure you’re the bearer of bad news but you’re the bearer of bad news on a quad bike on the beach!

The next morning we decided to find a nicer beach outside of Durban. We found a spot that sheltered us a bit from the wind and I put down my towel to lie on while the rest took a quick dip. For the first time in weeks I felt completely relaxed. Lying on the beach I pretended just for a few hours that I didn’t have to start my life all over again.  I pretended that I didn’t have three part time jobs, a cell-phone that doesn’t actually work and a learner’s licence that had expired months ago. Sea air therapy worked its magic.

 

By the time we left Durban we were rested, slightly tanned and Amber was sick. Clearly the sea air wasn’t working as well for her.  The getaway was well worth it, even if we spent a lot of money and even if we only gave Malvina a few hours notice. To our merit though, we didn’t kill any KwaZulus.

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