Monday morning brought my last moments in Cape Town. I’ve loved her, but I was ready to let her go, and I’m eager to return some day. The safari crew – Ali, Fabienne, Joe, Leah and I said goodbye to Brice and Peter (thanks for the Icing on departure, guys!) and headed north to Durban. Ali booked us flights on 1Time airlines. After a two-hour delay and the shakiest flight you could ever imagine, we finally arrived safe and a bit jostled in Durban.
Ali Wender arranged lodging at a place called Monkey Bay Backpackers – a small hostel we believed was in Durban. An hour cab ride later (and an hour full of the proprietor dodging our questions about how close he was to downtown Durban), we arrived in the booming metropolis of Ballito, which is a far cry from Durban to say the least. We decided to make the best of a bad but hilarious situation, and we adopted the “TIA” attitude. This is Africa, just breathe it in and let yourself go. Even if you’re more or less abducted by a longhaired washed up surfer who demands 18 dollars per night upon arrival.
We arrived at the hostel and were greeted by a barefoot manager in hippie clothing, who was chain-smoking cigarettes and looked less than excited to set us up in our dorm. The lodge looked like the encampment in that movie The Beach. It was built into the hill, and it was a little rough around the edges. The only viable shower facilities were outdoors, with a spigot set up over a basin of stones. Needless to say, Ali and I know each other very well at this point. The place is decorated with old vinyl records, and an inexplicable cow motif. Very strange indeed. No monkeys were to be seen.
After settling in (or throwing our stuff into a room crammed with three sets of bunk beds), we walked to the only open establishment in town, a Portuguese restaurant called Mozambik, which boasted the motto, “After all, life is an adventure, isn’t it?” Indeed, Mozambik, indeed. We ordered beers and fish, sat at a communal table with the other backpackers from our lodge, and laughed about the absurdity of the situation. TIA quickly became TIND – This Is Not Durban! Dinner wasn’t bad, but the drinks were better.
We closed down the restaurant, much to the chagrin of our sleepy waiter, and headed back to Monkey Bay for fireside beers. The other backpackers were a little too far gone (including the 16-year-old Justin Beiber lookalike and his kilt-wearing uncle), so after laughing at their boisterousness for a while, we all turned in. The girls didn’t sleep at all, mostly because Joe slept a little too well. Snore City!
We woke up ready to head for Durban, but apparently the longhaired barefoot proprietor was under the impression that we were booked for three days. We had to pack and bolt, as he was demanding that we pay up, regardless of our travel plans. Somehow we stumbled upon some good fortune and the hotel across town (and by “across town,” I mean “across the street”) agreed to store our luggage as long as we bought some libations poolside. Are you kidding? No problem, La Montagne Hotel.
So here I am, blogging poolside in not-Durban, waiting for our transport to the next leg of our adventure. Ayoba!