The day after we arrived in Cape Town, a spectacularly beautiful day, with few clouds, our guide, Ian, insisted that we visit Table Mountain. We had other ideas but eventually decided to follow his advice.
The following day, the day we wanted to go, puffy, white clouds blanketed the mountain. Ian said it was its Tablecloth.
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website!
The highest mountain range in Southern Africa, the Drakensberg Mountains reaches 11,424 feet. This part of the mountain is the Sani Pass, a 5 1/2 mile unlit dirt road that connects KwaZulu Natal to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Sani Pass, from Lesotho
The view of the Sani Pass from 9,400 feet, in Lesotho.
As we exited, we noticed Stefan looking anxiously towards the arrivals gate then at his cell phone, as if trying to decide whether to make a call. We shouted his name and he turned and smiled widely. It was wonderful to see his familiar face.
As soon as exchanged hugs and settled into the jeep, we – Sandra, Judith and I – began chattering all at once, like giddy teenagers tripping over each others’ words eagerly trying to get the stories of our adventures out to Stefan as quickly as we could.
Stefan had some news of his own. While we were gone, Shepherds Court, the guest house he owns and where we had stayed when we arrived in Johannesburg, had seen a flurry of new arrivals and was fully booked so he decided to put us up for our last night in Joburg at his pool house. He dropped us off then left to do some shopping.
We settled in and made our way to the kitchen of the main house and opened a bottle of Tall Horse, a local wine we had fallen in love with. The door bell rang unexpectedly. It was Thope. She had several bottles of wine with her and told us that Stefan planned to have a braai – a kind of a barbecue – for us before we left. A braai? We were excited!
In our two weeks in Southern Africa, we had not been to a braai. We hadn’t thought about it — it wasn’t even on our must-do list.
Finally, Stefan returned and more friends arrived. The men went about setting up and cooking ribs, pork, beef and boerewors (sausage) while we women remained inside drinking and chatting.
Once everything was ready, we moved outside to the covered porch area where the huge braaier was located and the party began.
We had eaten so much beef in Southern Africa, we’d joked among ourselves that we’d have to take a vacation from meat when we returned to the States. But what’s a braai without meat? The beef was surprisingly tender and flavorful and hours later, almost all of it had been washed down with several bottles of South African wine.
If we didn’t have plans to go to Soweto later that morning, we would probably still be there, chatting and laughing. We had a fabulous time. It was about 3 a.m. when we finally stumbled into bed on our last night in South Africa.
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Our last morning in Durban began with us watching the sun as it rose over the Indian Ocean.
And watching as the area known as the Golden Mile, Durban‘s popular stretch of beach came to life with vendors, tourists, swimmers, people out for their morning walk and workers cleaning up the beach.
One of the things we wanted to do was dip our toes in the ocean. The sand was almost golden brown and soft under our feet. It was our only time in the water since we had been in South Africa.
We waded in, stepped back and screamed almost at the same time when the water hit our feet. It was a nice, bracing cold. But just wetting our toes wasn’t enough. We walked further in as the water lapped our calves. It felt great.
When we returned to our room, our clothes were wet and flip flops full of sand. Disappointingly, I didn’t get any shells on the beach.
Near the street, a few people had gathered to admire this artist’s rendition of a cheetah
and a lion made from sand.
Durban’s artistic flair.
What’s DSW doing on the side of this garbage receptacle? Sorry, Sandra, it’s not the shoe store.
During our last drive through Durban, we came across these sculptures that I just loved.
Before we left the U.S., I had seen photos of Durban’s rickshas and the drivers online. I knew I had to see and ride in one.
And as Don drove us around, we spotted this one. I was so excited, I started to jump out of the car before he even came to a stop.
The driver obligingly put on his elaborate headgear but we didn’t have time for a ride. I could only take these photos.
Named for a former general secretary of the South Africa Communist Party, Moses Mabhida Stadium, played host to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
This would be one of my last photos of Durban. It had been a whirlwind three days. We had done a lot, racked up several thousand miles and made friends.
Compassline Africa, our travel agent in Durban, had taken fabulous care of us. If you ever plan a visit, send Tanya or Alison an email. They left us in the capable hands of Don “How’s ya Granny” Botterill who proudly showed off his beautiful province and shared personal and family stories, including the one that a distant relative was one of the first people to open the Sani Pass route through the Drakensberg Mountains to Lesotho.
Our goodbye to Durban was bittersweet – it meant we had just one more night in South Africa.
Goodbye Durban, till next time.
Back to Joburg.
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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.
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.
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.)
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.
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A few clouds. Lows overnight in the mid 70s.
Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High around 85F. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph.
Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High near 85F. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph.