Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 6, 2010

Durban, South Africa

Hi All,

Before I start Durban, South Africa I want to let you know I have tried to improve the photo album section by putting a photo number and title under every photo. This should help you follow my blog as you go back and forth and also help you if I get something out of sequence.

This is going to be a long one (probably the last long one) because we took another full day tour. Before I get into the photos, however, I would like to tell you a little bit more about South Africa and Durban since it is our last port of that country. South Africa has a population of 47 million people (9 million whites) and Durban has 4 million (second largest city after Johannesburg). Durban has the largest port, since Johannesburg is land locked. It is also the largest container port in the Southern Hemisphere. The port itself is over 15 miles wide and is ranked 9th in the world in size. Durban is the largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The Province gets its name from the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (Natal is Portuguese for Christmas, since he landed here in Christmas 1497) and KwaZulu has just been added recently to honor the Zulus who make up a majority of the people. Durban gets its name from Sir Benjamin d’Urban, governor of the Cape Republic in 1835 (British) when the city was officially established. Durban is many things, with an excellent climate and beaches. It is a major resort area for South Africa, but on the other hand with its port and poor population it has a lot of crime and is very dangerous for tourists.

OK, let’s start the photos (see photo album titled "Durban, South Africa" above). The first photo is a panoramic of the port, just to give you some idea of size. The Amsterdam was docking at that pier in front with all the buses (tour buses). The second photo shows our port sign. We had booked a tour over the internet with our Latin friends and in the window of our mini-bus you see the sign for our tour (3rd photo). The fourth photo shows the Durban skyline from the pier. Today I could not ride shotgun because we were blessed with both a guide and a driver. I did shoot some photos out the side window, and in the fifth photo you see some homes along the waterfront drive on our way into the city.

We have to stop at the sixth photo, Susy in front of one of the buildings of the University of Kwa-Natal. I want you to notice the cap Susy is wearing, "Club 21". If you will remember from earlier blogs she wore a black one that I had won in the first Blackjack tournament. Well, you guessed it, I got into the finals of the second Blackjack tournament also, but this one I won. Not big money but enough to keep us playing for a few days. By the way, if you’re wondering how Susy did, she didn’t play. She doesn’t berate my card playing as much as before, so we have a little peace (and lots of fun) playing cards while at sea.

Back to the photos, our first stop was the University of Kwa-Natal which sets up high above the port and as you can see from the seventh photo has some magnificent buildings (Oh! that’s Susy and I in front). We took a lot of photos of the gardens in front and the eighth photo shows a view of the port from the University. Continuing our tour of the City our second stop was the Victoria Street Market (9th photo). You can see the eyes of the women light up when we get to the markets, and you see Susy pulling out her glasses and getting ready to go at it. The tenth photo shows her hard at work. These markets have stalls with all kinds of goods, and in the eleventh photo you see Susy in front of a stall that sells spices. Every once in awhile Susy acknowledges that she has a companion with her and in the twelfth photo you see her showing me some beads (thanks goodness she didn’t buy them because of course I said I didn’t like them). Don’t ask me what she was doing in the thirteenth photo, but it looks like she’s having fun. Having tired out the women we moved on to the next stop, the Durban Botanic Gardens (14th photo). These gardens were beautiful, and in the fifteenth photo you see yours truly in front of the main gardens. The sixteenth photo shows Susy in front of a Lily pond and the seventeenth photo shows the gardens hothouse with beautiful orchids. As we passed through the city I had to show you this mini-taxi (18th photo), which is probably one of the most colorful I have seen. As I said before, it’s World Cup time in South Africa and it seems every city has its new football stadium. Each one we have seen seems to be better than the last, but Durban’s was out of this world (19th photo). If you look real close on top of that arch (which is a cable car track) is a cable car. The twentieth photo shows a front view of the cable car track and in the twenty-first photo you see Susy and Jorge in front of the cable car as its coming down. The stadium is out of this world in design and taking the cable car across the field must be something (you can see the long line, so we didn’t have time to ride it). We continued our tour to the next stop, the Vasco da Gama Clock. In the twenty-second photo you see Susy and I in front of the monument to the Portuguese explorer who first sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and discovered most of what is now South Africa.

We left Durban and drove about 20+ miles to the Valley of 1000 Hills. We drove into PheZulu Safari Park and stopped at the "Pot & Kettle Restaurant" for lunch. From the patio of the P&K you had a magnificent panoramic view of the Valley of 1000 Hills (23rd photo with Sergio at our table on the right). In the twenty-fourth photo you see the group having lunch (from left to right around the table, Diana, Leo, JoAnne, Sergio, Trish, Susy, and Jorge with yours truly taking the photo). After lunch some of us (the women declined) took a tour of the Reptile Park near the restaurant. In the twenty-fifth photo you see a Park sign and notice the crocodile feeding today, "Your Kids". We saw a lot of crocodiles, but just look at the size of the old male in the twenty-sixth photo. There were a lot of snakes, but I wanted to show you one I hadn’t seen before and one that blends in perfectly with the bush (27th photo). The snakes head is up on the far left. From the reptile park we joined the women and walked over to the replica of a Zulu village. The view of the Valley of 1000 Hills was spectacular (28th photo with Susy in foreground). Like Disney World they did a great job of replicating the Zulu Village and in the twenty-ninth photo you see the view as we walked in. As we sat in a small clearing the "show" began. The "show" was the story of a Zulu man who wants to marry a woman he has chosen. He must talk her into the marriage and pay 10 cows to the woman’s family. In the thirtieth photo you see the man trying to convince the women to marry him (this and the following photos are censored for those under 18 years of age, ha, ha). The thirty-first photo shows the narrator in front of the hut were the drummers (music makers) sit. The cast is behind him, with the bride in her wedding hat. The thirty-second photo shows the women dancing at the wedding ceremony, and the thirty-third photo the men dancing. During the show the daughter of one of the Zulu’s (later we found out it was the bride’s daughter) came to sit in the theater (34th photo). Susy had to take many pictures of the child (she wants to paint her), so in the thirty-fifth photo you can see why (she’s so cute). After the show, Susy got to pose with the bride and her daughter (36th photo) and one of the dancers (37th photo).

Having enjoyed the day, we started back to the ship and on the way passed one of Durban’s large shopping malls (38th photo). Believe it or not the women were too tired to stop. Passing through the city we saw a crowd on a street corner (39th photo) and asked the guide what was going on, he said they were gambling. In the last photo (40th photo) you see us back at the harbor with the ship in the far background. It turned out to be a wonderful day and it was good to be home (the ship).

That’s it for South Africa. We now head for three small islands in the Indian Ocean on our way to Mumbai. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we have. Look for our next stop blog, La Possession, in a day or two.

Love you all,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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