Another detour

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Jul 01, 2013

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My newfound freedom of letting go of responsibility combined with the fact that I was still missing my Thanda friends led me to hop back onto a minivan taxi after a rejuvenating week in Durban and head back to St. Lucia, where my lovely friend Clare was hanging out for the week. The rest of the gang was going to be there for the weekend for a birthday party.  So I thought - one last hurrah before I finally head down to meet Nonhle. 

The minivan taxi ride was the absolute extreme opposite to the last one I described.  This one I got stuffed into with my 50 pound bag crushing every bone in my right shoulder and spine.  "You can't put my bag there, it will fall on that old lady," I say.  "Hold it," was the answer.  "For two hours?!?!" I respond!  "Uh, yah," was the second answer.  Ay ay ay... for two hours I was jammed into this minivan with one heavy bag on my lap and the other trying to take over the right side of my body.  The sun was pouring in through the window on my side of the bus (the window that didn't open), and nobody who had a window that opened seemed to want to open it.  I was dripping buckets of sweat and since I couldn't see past the luggage I was feeling rather car sick.  I was trying to figure out how I would motion that they needed to stop if I had to puke.  Oh, all of this was after the van wouldn't start or stay started the first 25 times he tried, so we almost got into another van, but then he fiddled with something at the gas station and it was all good to go after that.  And it seemed to fix it because we made it to St. Lucia all in one piece.  Probably a slightly smaller piece after being compressed for so long, but hey - maybe it will make up for my newfound love of Don Pedros!  (Think Bailey's-like milkshake) 


 Halfway through I got a text from Clare wondering if I was even coming... this was problematic as I'd been texting her for a few days, so clearly she hadn't gotten any of them and she just thought I was a big flake.  Turns out I didn't have enough airtime to make an international text, but my phone didn't tell me they weren't going through.  Whoops.  All Clare knew of me was that I was some crazy girl who had decided to go to the game reserve the day before and was randomly wandering around Africa.  So, when the last text she had received from me was a few days before and said something like ... 'I might buy a car, I might take a bus, I'll text you when I sort out my life' ... one can see why she might come to the conclusion that I was just a totally flakey free-spirit wandering traveller!  As much as that title was appealing in certain ways I had to set things straight when I saw her and let her know that the image in her head was just a wee bit off. 

Clare and I had a wonderful three days together exploring all of the amazing parks and wetlands around St. Lucia.  We rented a car and headed off to Cape Vidal one day, doing dirt track game drives along the way.  We saw hippos bathing in a pond and on the way back saw the tiniest baby rhino I have ever seen!!  It was so beautiful.  I didn't want to leave.  

 Our beach day was a bit of a joke as it alternated between sun, rain and extreme wind fairly regularly, AND we finally discovered that the monkeys are NOT CUTE!!!    Picture decoy Mom-monkey holding adorable baby, while big mean boy monkey sneaks up, bares teeth and steals my sandwich while getting sand over all of our food.  We couldn't keep them away, we had to move down the beach.  


The next day we got up super early and spent 12 hours driving through Hluhluwe and Umfolozi game reserves and it was just a magical time.  I finally saw an elephant up close!!!  


 And we saw more rhinos, and all of the other magnificent creatures that these reserves are home to.  


 On Friday morning we went on a crocodile kayak and took our life into our hands by kayaking through the estuary that is home to hippos, crocs and some of S. Africa's most dangerous sharks!!  It's okay - we had a guide and he said nothing ever goes wrong.   Yay for trust.  


 It was an absolutely stunning morning and so nice to be out in a boat!  We got to get out of the boat and walk through a mangrove forest as the water is so low right now. The birdlife was amazing and I wondered if I was turning into my mother, since I seemed to actually care about the birds!! 

It's worth mentioning that I was deliriously tired through much of this as I attempted to sleep in my tent for two nights.  Okay, so it poured torrential rain one day, and it turns out (as I later learned) that I purchased a tent that is suitable for "drizzle".  So that night I was trying to sleep with my feet in a puddle of water. That was shockingly not the worst part.  Neither was the hard, cold ground and the fact that I don't have a sleeping mat.  The worst part was that the party at the hostel where I was camping was SO loud that it sounded like there was a booming base inside my ear.  I felt like such an old lady.  It was 11pm and I wanted to go up there and start shouting about people trying to sleep.  I ended up resigning myself to a sleep in the car, and managed an hour or two that way. The second night was not quite as bad, but I still ended up in the car and probably had about 2 hours of sleep total.  

This sleep-deprived state was not exactly the best way to begin a weekend of partying with all of the Thanda folks, but I survived fairly well until midnight on Saturday night when I finally had to get to sleep.  We had such a fabulous time, and I had such a better sleep as I moved into a double room for those two nights!!! It was some kind of heaven. 





 When they all left on Sunday evening it wasn't quite deja vu of the last time because I had run into Malkolm, an awesome dude from the Canadian Youth Delegation and we had plans for dinner that night.  We had a lovely time yammering away about COP, the Canadian government, cool animals, minivan taxis and all sorts of other fun things.  It was nice to have some company before passing out for a long nights sleep and starting my minivan taxi journey back to Durban the next day.  (For the record, that taxi journey was as smooth as could be - possibly even better than my first one). 

Sometimes the leftover racism is hard to take ... when I got to Clare's guesthouse the owner was absolutely appalled that I had used this form of transport.  "You mean the BLACK TAXIs?????"  She tried to make me promise I would never ever take one of those again.  I told her my Baz Bus story in contrast with my first "black taxi" experience to show her that sometimes perceptions can be wrong, but it didn't seem to calm her down.  Ah well, I told her that I was really sorry but it was a promise that I wasn't willing to make. If the entire country gets around this way, so will I.

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