From the BlogSubscribe Now

What stories do you think your clothes tell?

It wasn’t until I was sitting in the dining room of the Beach Hotel on the morning of our last day in Durban that I finally realized what I’d been missing during the two weeks we traveled around South Africa.

SA Jazz singer, Lorraine Klaasen in traditional beaded collar

At a table close to ours, a group of nattily attired women in dresses made from African fabric, sat engaged in lively conversation. In this room of business people, young professionals and tourists, they were beautiful and regal and easy to spot.

Nowhere in our travels had we seen a display such as this. Most of the women we had seen had coats on, the others – hotel employees, etc., wore uniforms.

Years ago on my first trip to Africa, as I waited to change planes at the Leopold Senghor Airport in Dakar, I watched, mesmerized, the Senegalese women dressed in riots of colors and patterns – no two women looking alike.

That’s what I missed, I thought to myself.

To me, more than anything else, seeing women in traditional African dress is an unmistakable statement of cultural reference, connection and identity that always makes me feel proud of my African heritage. I didn’t realize how much until then.

What stories do you think your clothes tell?

Durban: Golden Mile Smiles

I’m still not sure what it is about Durban – I can’t quite put my finger on it exactly. But whatever it is, it creeps under your skin, sneaks up to your chest, grabs hold of your heart and just doesn’t let go.

Could it be the sunrise?

Alison at Compassline Africa had booked us into the Beach Hotel and the room we had gave us front row seats to the most spectacular sunrise we’d seen in a while. And as we watched the sun rise slowly above the horizon, I thought of this version of Bob Marley’s Lively Up Your Self. (Bob would have loved Durban too.)

Sun peeking over the horizon

Pinkish yellow rays of the morning sun

Slow rise

Coming up

Sky with a golden sun

Brilliant sunrise

The thing we looked forward to doing in Durban was to dip our feet into the Indian Ocean. So following the sunrise, we got dressed, had breakfast and went down to the beach.

Like this post or know someone who would? Please share.

Bushman (San) Rock Paintings: Michelangelo’s Inspiration?

When we began planning the Durban leg of our trip, we knew nothing about the rock paintings at Giant’s Castle but once we did, they quickly became a must-see.

Created approximately 5,000 years ago by the first known inhabitants of South Africa, the Bushman or San people, and most of it located in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, they are the largest group of rock paintings to be found south of the Sahara.

We arrived at Giant’s Castle just before the mid-afternoon tour would begin and nearly had to sprint to the Main Cave, about a 30 minute hike from the Visitor Center. We were met by our guide, who told us his name was “Charles, Prince Charles.”

We couldn’t help laughing.

Prince Charles told us the story of the San people and the history of the paintings, as much as had been gathered from research. Signs like this provided additional background.

Main Cave

Replica of a San village

I had expected that we’d be going to an underground cave to see the drawings. Instead, these were right there on the overhanging rocks and exposed to the elements. However, a barrier now surrounds the rocks to prevent people from getting too close to deface them.

Drawings at Giant’s Castle

San (Bushman) Drawings

More San (or Bushman) paintings

The drawings represent a rich historical record of daily life — some show animals (eland, buffalo, etc.), children, men with spears, groups of women, etc. They were made from a mixture of grounded colored stone which was held together with fat and rubbed onto the rock. But they weren’t done just willy nilly. Specific areas of the rocks were chosen to lend depth and contrast. I was surprised that after so many years, the colors remained so vibrant.

There are 500 known areas of San drawings in the uKhahlamba Drakensburg Park, which UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site.

At the end of the tour, which lasted about 30 minutes, we spent some time photographing the drawings and learning Zulu words from Prince Charles. An amiable man, he told us he had been a guide at the cave for nearly 30 years and was looking forward to retirement.

I wondered what it was like for Charles being there every day. Between tours, it is a peaceful place, with only the sound of an occasional bird, but I got the sense that there were people all around.

with Prince Charles

When it was time to return, Prince showed us a different way back. While the route to the cave was a punishing climb over rocks, up inclines, over streams, and a path in some places, just wide enough for one person, the return was a breeze. And the view was breathtaking.

Taking the scenic (and leisurely) route with our guide, Don

Giant’s Castle Sign

A reminder that this is a Heritage Site.

By the time we returned to the Visitor Center, it was time for a relaxing lunch. We left Giant’s Castle for the 4 hour ride back to Durban. It was our last full day in KwaZulu Natal.

Like this post? Subscribe to read more.

Durban’s Polite Potholes

Driving around Johannesburg, Cape Town and then Durban, we realized very quickly how astoundingly beautiful South Africa is. Each city has its unique charm, its own unmistakable landscape.

Located on the eastern coast, Durban is the location of South Africa’s busiest port. It enjoys a balmy, subtropical climate.

These trees are just so majestic

As we drove higher up the Drakensberg Mountains, we were enveloped by clouds. If Don, our driver and guide, was nervous, he didn’t let on. I took this photo as soon as it cleared

Magnificent clouds

and revealed these spectacular views.

Mountain shadows

Shadows on the mountain

Another face of Durban

A river flows down there

Dwarfed by the mountain

And then we saw this sign. Don had to slow down so I could get a photo. I knew no one would believe me if I didn’t have proof.

How polite!

I wonder what we can infer about Durban from their pothole signs. Tell me what you think.

Love this post? Subscribe and share.