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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

15th March, 2019

Friday morning dawned a lovely sunny one, as we cruised northwards toward our next port of Durban. Things had heated up significantly overnight since leaving East London, for we had properly found the southerly flowing Agulhas current, responsible for bringing strong streams of warm tropical seawater down from Madagascar way.

We lined up to enter the harbour just before lunchtime, our local pilot hopping on as usual just before we entered through the breakwaters. After he made it up to the Bridge, he promptly produced paperwork for signature before topping up on sticky buns he’d rapidly spotted sitting on the shelf nearby. We found our berth called ‘Shed N’ on the other side of the harbour, and fortunately it turned out to be a bit more than a shed.

Alongside for everyone to shoot off straight after lunchtime, it was a lovely warm day. South Africa’s 3rd largest city, Durban has been a centre of sea trade since pre-colonisation and has what they call a ‘flourishing artistic centre.’ It is considered a multi-racial melting pot of two cultures – Indian and African. Which excited me, as that could only mean some very interesting food would be available.

There were too many organised tours on offer here for me to mention, but suffice to say they went all over the place near and far, from Sani Pass and the Roof of Africa, to Tala Game Reserve, the local African Markets and even the Valley of 1000 Hills. I did ask someone departing on the latter tour to count the hills to verify correct marketing facts, but the look I received in return didn’t fill me with confidence that my request might be fulfilled.

Only a 10 minute ride from our dock, lay a large complex by the name of Ushaka Marine World where a large aquarium, water park and shopping complex lay upon the shore of Durban’s lovely golden shoreline. I took the liberty of visiting this waterfront on our second day in Durban (disappointingly, I had to work on the first day) where I enjoyed a fine lunch upon a pier extending out into the Indian Ocean. It was here I met with an old friend who lived locally, and who informed me of some of the modern challenges of living in South Africa. For example, they run a system called ‘load sharing’ whereby large parts of the country are regularly thrown into electrical blackouts for hours at a time, in order to conserve the country’s limited power supply.

It was during lunchtime that we experienced this in Durban; for approximately 2hrs all power was cut. Fortunately for us, our meal had already been prepared, however all was not so well for the kids trying to enjoy the waterpark they had paid to enter…waterslides with no water flowing down them can be a painful experience on the backside. No music, no wave-pool, no slides in operation, no lazy river, no wifi, no blenders for the pina coladas…etc. It was bizarre to watch, as all locals just took it in their stride. Only a few pasty looking tourists carried bemused looks for a while, until being informed by lifeguards that this was the norm here.

Fortunately, the beach could still operate without power, and that is where I went next to enjoy a nice swim. I was forever being warned by my friend to keep a very close eye on my belongings though, and not to venture more than 100 metres from the beach because it was ‘dangerous’ to do so. In the evening, I ventured into a district (pre-proclaimed as ‘safe,’ I assure you) called Florida Road, where I was lucky enough to catch two of the final Six Nations Rugby games before enjoying a superb meal called a Bunny Chow. No, this is not stewed rabbit, but actually a hollowed-out bread bun filled with curry, inspired by the city’s Indian influence. Delicious.

Late that night and, importantly, once my curry had digested, we sailed the short hop up the coast to our next stop…whereupon I shall speak to you again.

Captain Kim Tanner

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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