May 25, 2012

Colorful Durban

As I mentioned in my last post, we finally made it to Durban more than two years after arriving in South Africa. I've always been intrigued to get to know it, but never intrigued enough to actually visit it, what with Cape Town and Mauritius and the ever amazing bush competing for Noisette's precious vacation days.

Durban skyline, as seen from Umhlanga Rocks

Durban beachfront

Random house in Durban

Random street scene in Durban

And when we finally did set foot in Durban, it became immediately evident why we had wisely avoided it so far. Because our kids apparently are hellbent on checking out every aquarium slash marine park on the planet, and of course we should have known it wouldn't take long for them to find out that Durban is home to uShaka Marine World.

Aquarium at uShaka Marine World in Durban

Photo credit: Sunshine

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with water-parks and aquariums. As long as I don't have to hike through them. I mean, how many more colorful fish and sharks and turtles circling a large tank can I possibly look at? They are all the same! And I know you'll now be saying, "how many more pictures of colorful fish and sharks and turtles circling a large tank can I possibly look at on Joburg Expat?"

And you are right. If there are way too many pictures in this post, I apologize. (They are colorful though, aren't they?)

It's just that when I'm in a place I don't actually like, I take a lot of pictures. To pass the time.

The water-park part of uShaka was actually not so bad. My only beef with water-parks in Africa is that they are always freezing. Like I said, I still haven't found warm water anywhere in Africa. When I do, one day, it'll probably be infested with crocodiles. Or those terrifying parasites invading your body and slowly killing you I heard about that are found only in East-flowing rivers, not West-flowing ones. Or the other way around, I actually have no idea. Clearly, a topic for another blog post.

I only went as far as the right one
That's Jabulani, on the right.

The good news is, almost no pictures here in the water-park, because you don't take a camera with you when your kids talk you once again into conquering your fear of heights and queuing all the way to the top of one of those towers. Why is it always the high ones I'm asked to do again and again?

The dolphin show at uShaka was probably the highlight of the day, even if for a split second I thought we'd be attacked by terrorists as the stadium was filling.

As promised, lots and lots of dolphins, and very much like its sister performance at Sea World, with the exception of the orca, which is probably just as well because I hear he's been eating his trainers. A spectator even got chosen to pet the dolphins, but of course it was none of us. We never get chosen for stuff, even though Sunshine was dancing her heart out to catch the camera's attention.

Maybe if she had worn a grass skirt and knocked a loin-clothed Noisette over in a mock fight to the beating of drums while doing the splits in mid-air? Oh, wait, there were other people doing that.

My favorite experience in Durban was the one that could be had for absolutely free. And, trust me, it was the most colorful of all, much more colorful than all those pretty fishes in the aquarium. All we had to do was take a stroll along the beach promenade, and watch.

My favorite sand-art among all the Durban sand-art. Don't you love those thighs?

None of our kids wanted to sit in the VIP chair so the sand-artist himself humored us

The girls went to town taking pictures of all the sand-art in sight, until we informed them
that every time they felt obliged to press the shutter, we felt obliged to pay the artist, and
our cash was running out. Except then they pointed to all the other people taking pictures
without paying. A great teaching moment about honesty and fairness.

I don't blame you if you haven't actually gotten this far, with all these pictures. The upshot is that I wrote far less than I usually do, so you might have actually caught a bit of a break here.

This is it, folks. We really didn't see much of Durban beyond uShaka and the beach promenade, which my family practically wanted to flee as soon as we set foot on it. The same people who had dragged me through water-parks and aquariums for hours and hours just earlier to see colorful marine life were positively overwhelmed with a bit of colorful human life.

I guess one person's colorful is another person's agony.


Jase D said...

Howzit Sine,

First off want to thank you for your blog, I love it! I live in San Francisco and my partner is from Durban. I'll be visiting SA for the first time for 2 weeks next month. Most of it will be in the Durban area where his parents live, but we are driving up to Jozi for a weekend. I am driving which has me a little nervous as I've never been out of North America. I insisted on an Automatic car which apparently is more rare in SA. But I can't imagine driving on the "wrong" side and trying to shift a manual with my left hand. That sounded like a recipe for disaster. At least Google has mapped out most of the country and I can take a tour of areas in street view before I have to drive on them!

It's going to be loads of fun and your blog has given me a lot of great insights into SA. Plus I have to say it's such a great read, I look forward to future posts!


Sine said...

Hi Jase,

I'm so glad you found my blog, hopefully it can be helpful for you learning about South Africa even though I'm not in Durban. I think you'll enjoy the drive to Jozi. It's a beautiful area you'll be going through. And you know what, driving on the left side is the one thing I haven't found difficult at all, perhaps because you are aware at all times that your are sitting on the wrong side, so you really concentrate. Big intersections are a bit nerve wracking at first but going on the highway will be easy. I had to once drive an RV in New Zealand with a stick shift, uphill into all those mountains, now THAT wasn't any fun.

Enjoy your trip and hopefully you'll be returning to SA often!

W. A. Jeffrey said...

The burkha thing would have made me a tad nervous too. I always wonder what the etiquette is at times like that.

I'm with your kids on the marine stuff. Totally cool.

I'm told that Durban has some of the neatest outdoor markets in SA and the best Indian food too. Did it seem to you that Durban has more of the English influence visible than Cape Town or about the same?

Sine said...

We didn't spend that much time in Durban proper, but I don't think it's any more "English" than other cities in South Africa. You definitely feel and see the Indian influence, not least in the food, but that's about it. I didn't love Durban like I loved Cape Town, but like I said, we didn't really spend enough time there to know.