Weekend Getaway at the Beach
Trip Start Jun 25, 2010
30Trip End Nov 24, 2010
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My wonderful professor from IWU picked us up at the station in Durban and took us for coffee on the beach. He is from Durban and is spending the summer there with his family.
We were then dropped off at the Irie Lodge about 30 minutes south of Durban. We were greeted with Frank, an extremely helpful South African, and a bunch of monkeys
After a much needed nap, we found our way through the maze of the hills to a pizza place for lunch. We already began noticing major differences between Joburg and Durban (I'll mention them later). We laughed, ran, relaxed, napped, listened to music, and enjoyed life. Both nights we caught a taxi from a now good friend Reggie into Durban. The first night was spent with my professor and his wife at the BAT Centre with a life reggae band. The second was spent on Florida Road with two Israeli gentlemen we met at our hostel. Their story is an interesting one.
They recently finished the mandatory years of duty in the Israeli army as well as a few extra they signed up for. They spent their duty in the submarine unit so no actual combat. In Israel most people tend to travel and spend time abroad in order to figure out what they want to do with their lives before going on to college. They were enjoying a journey through Africa for as long as they could before starting their lives back in Israel. Their group started with 6 men but one of them broke his foot playing football on the beach a few weeks ago
We talked a lot about the conflict between Israel and Palestine and their perceptions of it. One of the first things they said to us was, "Don't believe the media. They change everything." Conversation continued on the side of promoting Israel's actions (a very awkward time for us to engage in such a deep issue with strangers)...then a shift happened. When it came down to living a life with a family and a career in Israel, it was apparent they wanted nothing else but the fighting to end. "If I could I would not have gone into the army. No one wants to live with violence. On both sides." They recognized that Palestinians are just like them with friends, family, and goals. The people of these nations don't want to live this way, but religious leaders and politicians rule certain actions. It was an important moment for them and for us. Their sentiments about the conflict really do reflect the idea of human rights: we are all human and just want to live a life of peace.
The whole weekend I looked for the ways in which I could prove we are all the same. From observing people on the beach to my encounters with the Israelis, I couldn't believe how much the world focuses on our differences
After dinner, the Israelis suggested we watch the American film Dodgeball. The other girls went to talk and I joined the Israelis and Frank in the living room. As the jokes started coming and a certain "American" humor was portrayed, I was actually concerned about whether or not the other three would "get it." Would they understand the jokes? Would they laugh? Would I be the only one laughing at something that they might find offensive? I tried not to focus on this and just enjoy the comedy. After a while I realized that they, too, were laughing at the exact same jokes. A South African, two Israelis, and an American were cracking up at Dodgeball. It was the perfect conclusion to the weekend. Three seemingly "different" types of people were actually the same. It probably seems insignificant to most but to me, it meant the world. Of course there are human rights. We are all humans. We are all inherently the same.
The next morning the Israelis made us breakfast and we ate together on the deck followed by an American card game they suggested. There were no reservations, judgments, or comparisons. We were just a bunch of people together at the Irie Lodge.