Durban --- South Africa
We arrived in Durban late in the afternoon on the 15th of June and checked into a resort hotel in Unhlanga Rocks on the north coast. We stayed there for four nights and used the hotel as our base to visit the area for three full days. Unhlanga Rocks Hotel is on the beach, only about 100m from the light tower. We saw many dolphins, surfers, and fishermen from our windows on the first floor. On two occasions, we saw whales playing with dolphins not far from the shore along with wave surfers. Certainly we could not possibly find a better picture than what we saw.
Durban has the largest port in the southern hemisphere and is the third largest city in S.A. with a population of three million people. Durban's coastline is famous because of the warm currents from the Indian Ocean. Great beaches are along the coast for miles. But other historical events have added more interesting points for this naturally beautiful area. For example, the bushman cave paintings in the Drakensberg Mountain range led to Janice's insistence that we visit the Giant's Castle area. The amazing resistance of the Zulu people against the British Empire, who attempted to colonize them for six decades, would make anyone wonder how did they did it.
June 16th was the anniversary of the day of the Soweto Incidents. This year, Monday, June 17th, was the National Holiday in memory of the children who were killed. There was a Comrades' Marathon race that day with runners coming from all over the world. This is an Ultra-Marathon race, from Durban to Pieternaritzburg, with a total distance of 89.5km, which is more than twice the regular marathon distance. The race started at 6am in the dark and the first prize winner finished the race at about 11am. However, most of the runners took longer but finished the race within about 11 hours. Live TV coverage was carried for more than 12 hours. Long distance running is a very popular sport in S.A. This race had more than 11 thousands runners participating, which was far fewer than last year's more than 30 thousand runners. We did watch a bit of the race on TV that day, but switched to watch the U.S. football team in the world cup.
The full day tour on the 18th to Giant's Castle was also guided by another "colored" South African, who's great grand father came as a merchant from India. He works for a German-owned tour company and was more of a glorified driver than a guide. We had a beautiful day and enjoyed the 100mile ride to the Drakensberg region, passing some Zulu villages along the way. The National Park rangers at the Giant's Castle conduct tours to the Bushman paintings on the hour. We did have to walk a short distance (a little bit more than 1 mile) to the cave area. The park ranger was a Zulu who gave small talks about the paintings on the rocks. He also demonstrated the "click" language, which uses the tongue's vibration to generate sounds like clicks, if this is making any sense to you.
The third full day, we just hired a driver to visit the Umgeni River Bird Park, Durban Botanical Garden, and the Indian Market. S.A. gave us a wonderful impression. People are friendly, the youth are polite, the service is fine and the price is right. It is very much like a gentler America!