Joe and I have spent the last couple of days moving between Durban and an area to the north of town called the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Here are some highlights.
After Sunday’s adventures, I’m pleased to say that Joe collected his press credentials in time to cover the opening events of the ANC General Council Meeting. He also got the LandRover repaired and the engine noise is back to a quiet purr. Thank god.
I spent Monday relaxing in Kloof. I took a long, pleasant jog through the neighborhood – unlike in Joburg, where the elevation is 1,000 meters higher, I could actually breathe while running. I admired the stately old houses and spectacular trees. I then returned to the Lemon Tree, where I played with Milo, the family dog, and worked/read/slept on the verandah.
That evening Joe and I had lovely dinner at Aubergine, a restaurant in the nearby town of Hillcrest. It was recommended by Richard and Jane, our hosts at the Lemon Tree.
Despite its uninspired location in a shopping center surrounded by car dealerships, Aubergine was sublime. The atmosphere was both casual and classy. The friendly sommelier/manager, who was wearing flip-flops and an Abercrombie sweatshirt, had a long chat with Joe about South African Sauvignon Blanc. I ordered tagliatelle with smoked salmon, baby marrow (zucchini), and caviar; Joe had lamb shank. It was the best meal I’ve had in South Africa. Aubergine comes highly recommended if you ever find yourself in the outer suburbs of Durban.
In between researching story ideas for the National General Council meeting, Joe and I went for a hike in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. The reserve winds along a massive gorge that cuts through the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The views were amazing.
We saw lots of interesting wildlife, including a pair of trumpeter hornbills, a stunning crowned eagle, and a small, chubby antelope with short skinny legs called a duiker. (Sorry, I failed to catch photos of any of these animals.)
The walk was quite challenging, as we hiked all the way to the bottom of the gorge and back up again. We got some nice pictures of crazy rock formations along the way.
Tuesday evening we switched hotels to be closer to the ANC events in Durban. We’re now staying at Essenwood House, a guesthouse in Durban’s Berea neighborhood. Like much of Durban, Essenwood House has a Victorian-tropical feel to it. The owner is a quirky Englishman named John; he and Joe are great friends as Joe is a regular here.
We settled into our spacious room, had an early dinner, and collapsed with exhaustion into the gigantic bed.
We started the day with a full English breakfast, served at a large wooden table overlooking the gardens. John’s three dogs – two long-haired dachshunds and a mangy terrier named Danny – waited patiently for scraps at our feet.
Then it was time to drive back up into the hills. Joe wanted to document the lives of the people most affected by the policies under discussion at the National General Council meeting. So we left the city and headed to Inanda — a beautiful, poverty-stricken area in the former black homeland of KwaZulu.
I’ll have more to say about Inanda later because we’re going back tomorrow. Here are a couple of photos to give you a hint of what’s to come.
We finished the day back in Durban, browsing ANC merchandise for sale by vendors outside the conference. Joe took pictures and I bought a hat.
This evening I plan to sample my first Durban bunny chow.