Backpacking – KwaZulu-Natal
This is so surreal. Passing a small wooded area, a troop of monkeys are feeding on the fruit of the trees. I sit just metres away and watch as they scurry up and down the trunks – almost playfully attempting to snatch the others food. Locals stroll past, unaware that such a presence is incredibly unusual for some. One man raises his spade and the monkeys scatter into various trees. These guys are harmless – much contrasted to the perception of baboons encountered elsewhere. Black faced with grey-white fur, Vervet monkeys are quite gracious creatures. A baby falls off a branch in an amusing sprawl. As I write this, one curiously maneuvers behind me, before grabbing a fruit and running up the nearest tree.
I ask a local for the name of the fruit they’re eating: “I don’t know in English, but in Zulu we call it Ihlala.” I proceed to ask him about they monkeys, and he explains that they like to be near humans – coming from the reserve to hang out in “their spot.”
I’m in St. Lucia, a small (dare I say it) tourist town on the Eastern coast, in the greater province of KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a very ‘quaint’ place, best known for it’s wetlands – the home to hippos and crocodiles, and for the Mfabeni Wilderness Reserve which is home to 4 of the big 5 (apparently if they introduce lions, they’ll stroll onto the beach). Arriving today, we’ve had a nice walk around the town as well as a drive looking for night creatures. I’m told that hippos walk down the streets at night, so I’ll be on the lookout.
I spent the last 3 nights in Durban. As one of the leftover World Cup signs said, “The Warmest Place to be for the World Cup.” Durban is home to a very nice, long strip of beach receiving the Indian ocean – i.e. warm water. It was so nice to be able to walk in there without being frozen. Meeting a French guy at the backpackers, we decided to explore the town centre – visiting the buzzing marketplaces and the central focus – the Mosque. It was strange being asked “Are you a Muslim?” when attempting to enter, but hey – this is a different land.
In Durban I also saw a darker side of some South Africans - embedded racialism. Speaking with an affluent Indian guy, he talked about how ‘useless’ black people here are: “You know what made this country what it is? The Indians and the Whites. The Blacks don’t do anything.” I was startled by his words – certainly not something you can pass off as ‘not being racist’, which was what he said. Of course, whether or not he’d actually contributed to any ‘building’ of the country is clear – as a student likely has little input.
My Internet cafe time is coming to an end, and I’ve already extended it three times. Peace out!