Seafood, Conversations, and Soul Connections: Mother-Daughter Vacation in Durban

The Global Entity
e22s1 Seafood, Conversations, and Soul Connections: Mother-Daughter Vacation in Durban

Bus back to Durban

A week ago, I took the bus from Johannesburg back to Durban. Despite having experienced similar issues previously, I had forgotten about the difficulty of hailing a taxi app driver to get to certain locations in the city.. such as bus and train stations. I almost missed my bus to Durban since no Uber nor Bolt wanted to take me there. Luckily, the hostel‘s minibus was available to drive me last minute and I said a prayer as we swooshed between people and cars of Johannesburg. It was pretty early in the morning and the streets were busy with people recreating the steps of their morning routines. When we got to the bus station, the driver rushed in with my big bag in tow to stop the bus from leaving me behind. I thanked him profusely and got onto the bus. The rest of the nine and a half hour drive to Durban went smoothly.

 As always, I get a feeling of worship and awe as I watch the mountains of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) start appearing around us. The Soils Sedilaka is playing in my headphones and I smile as I see a message from my mom confirming she has landed, she is half a days journey here. The next day I’m standing at the very same airport that I arrived at just three months earlier. I felt super excited at the prospect of showing her around KwaZulu-Natal for the first time. She has always been the one showing me places, now it was my opportunity to do the same for her. We were going to start with a few days in Durban and then move up north in KwaZulu-Natal, to a hopefully cleaner shore and sea area (read my previous post the Durban sewage crisis here). It felt fun planning out the things to do in Durban with her in mind.

Ever since I decided to go on this indefinitely long journey, a lot of people have asked me “But what about mom? What does mom say/feel about that?” And it’s quite funny because I can honestly answer that she got exactly what she raised: a curious and travel hungry person. There is nobody that I have discovered more corners of the world together with than alongside her. She has shown, encouraged and guided me to become the person and traveler that I am. Frankly, at this point, with 28 years of traveling and vacationing with her, I am yet to find a better and more compatible travel buddy.


Exploring Durban's Vibrant Markets

With only a few days to spend in Durban, it was obvious where we had to start: the markets! As far back as I can remember, this is where she loves to be, in between all of the people, languages, bartering, things, food and smoke that you encounter at a market. We start our Saturday by going to Musgrave market, a flea market filled with clothes, oils and incense, live music, second hand articles and lots and lots of street food! After walking around the whole market and of course shopping a few things, I can’t help it when I’m with her, we both order what we want to eat. We sit down at the red plastic tables placed at the center of the market. I still don’t have much of an appetite but the freshly squeezed orange and ginger juice tasted amazing! Although our usual routine when traveling and eating is to give space for long conversations, we couldn’t stay too long. I wanted time to show mom another market!

In the central parts of Durban, in a pink, two floored building, you will find the Mekah of Zulu beadwork and crafts; the Victoria Street Market. Unfortunately, I took no pictures as I have been warned about being careful with your smartphones up in this area. Seeing all the different beaded jewelry made me remember the performances I had seen last time I was in Durban. Basically everyone, including the audience, were wearing something traditional that day. But it is not an uncommon sight to see Zulu culture here. Very opposite to how I express, or perhaps not express, my own Swedish culture, people here seem to have it more incorporated in their society. Incorporated not only in events and special holidays but in fashion, social codes and in their sense and expression of identity. It’s really quite inspiring.


Hidden Forrest in Glenwood, Durban

Besides the markets we walked Durban’s beautiful sea promenade and explored the Botanic Garden of Durban. One morning, our host took us to the Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve. I was so surprised because in the middle of Glenwood, the area where I’ve spent most of my time while in Durban, lay this huge plot of completely indigenous forest! Some parts were so thick we couldn’t walk through it but our host guided us through the nature reserve with spot on knowledge of the area. After spending two months in South Africa’s concrete cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg, it felt good to breathe some forest air. The walk takes longer than expected and when we come back to the parking lot I am hungry! I take the opportunity to introduce mom to the fantastic  Glenwood café. Even though we are close by I ask if our host can drop us off with his car. I have walked here during the day before but there is something about walking around with my mom that makes me more cautious than normal.

Dance, Drama, and Delights: Durban's Cultural Scene

The evenings in Durban we fill with music, food and culture! The first night we went to KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts, a gallery that was hosting a concert with the band Abahambayo. We came a little bit earlier to look at the art but were quick to find a table once the music started playing. Eventually the garden concert had to be moved inside due to the rain coming down. Nobody complained though as everyone was eager to hear the second half of this energetic group of musicians!

Another night I had booked us into a dance performance at the Playhouse Company, an old theatre under modern direction. The actual performance was a guest performance specific for the holiday but I would recommend checking the theatre out when you are in town. They seem to have a variety of shows and styles of entertainment and the quality was absolutely beautiful! It is sort of another tradition of ours, to go see one dance performance this time of year.

With less success, I also brought mom to Jazz night at Alliance Française. The pizza was okay but I had not researched what group was going to play, neither mom nor I am a fan of this style of jazz. But as she said, it’s nice to have experienced. Her eagerness to see what I have only told her of in words and photos for so many years is really moving.

The food highlight of the week was discovered by mom and her expert researching skills: Joops Place. We came to a fully booked restaurant and were lucky to get a table at all. If you want to eat good meat, this is the place. The location is a little odd, over viewing the parking lot, but you easily forget that once you get to taste your food.


Umhlanga and Ballito: Balancing Expectations and Realities

After only a few days in Durban it was time for us to leave! I had planned so that we would visit two more places: Umhlanga Rocks and Ballito. Umhlanga Rocks is a popular vacation place for Durbanites and I’ve only ever heard good things about it. When we get there though, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Umhlanga rocks is a small town with huge highways and roads at the center of it. The buildings are tall and cold, the massive hotels surrounding the beach are generic and lifeless, everywhere you go you see cars and concrete. What a shame. I get the feeling that everything here is new, every building and every car. It looks like one of those all-inclusive places on Mallorca. I don’t like all-inclusive, nor do I like places where I can’t feel the history or connect to the culture. I think this is a perfect example of when definitions differ. My friends who have all recommended this place probably find it super relaxing. I find it dull and lacking personality.

Fortunately for us, we stayed at this super cute Bed&Breakfast called the Honeypot. Each room has its own veranda and the common area with the pool is gorgeous. The friendly staff greeted us each morning and were very accommodating. Despite not falling for Umhlanga Rocks or finding it that interesting, it was the perfect destination for us this time because I needed to rest. As it turns out, the low energy and poor health I’ve been experiencing lately were all symptoms that needed strong medication. It completely wiped me out and I was left with warnings of infection, movement, and strict instructions of recovery. Typical! Typical that I get ill just when mom has crossed two continents to come see me. I felt guilty about it, about it happening now but mom called it divine timing, saying she wanted nothing more than to be here when I was weak.

Those who know mom and I from my childhood would probably associate us with seeing mom ride her bike around with me sitting behind in a shockingly green children’s saddle. She took us everywhere on that bike, no matter the weather. We could have used that bike in Ballito, as it was a bit bigger distances and no taxis nor buses were available. Everyone in Ballito drives a car, has a big house, with a huge alarm and fake teeth. It was more green and nature was more present in the towns infrastructure which made it beautiful. The restaurants were fancy and we ate a lot of great seafood. I probably won’t come back here as I found no culture nor history nor markets but it definitely suited our needs for tranquility. I had tried to plan a trip so that mom and I could experience KwaZulu-Natal without a car but I realise now that next time, I want to be driving.


The best things about traveling with my mom

We spent the days on the coast walking slowly, indulging in seafood and in each others company. If there is something mom and I know, it is how to spend time talking endlessly about everything together. It is not like we constantly talk, but when we do I feel like we can traverse the universe together. I have often thought of the beauty and poetry in this, where mine and moms endless conversations about everything within, has taken place from every corner of the world. I believe these conversations are an essential part of why I love traveling today. They made the connection between the physical journey and the inner journey so unmistakably clear. How much you can learn about yourself and your world when you travel; how much you are forced to confront within; the people and cultures you get to mirror yourself in and be inspired by.

If I would say three things that are typical about mine and moms relationship I would firstly say, we are super close. Growing up it was her and I traveling the world and experiencing life together. Secondly, we love to sing and harmonise together and have spent countless hours on the road this way. Finally, I would say that we are both empaths. This has led to some interesting breakfast scenarios when we host our friends and both of us suddenly get moved to tears. And then we look at each other and laugh. It is so amazing to have a person to connect with in this way. I am lucky, lucky to have a soul sibling as my mom in the physical world. 



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