Sunday, February 07, 2010

African Chronicles: Durbanian

I took a number of important steps towards becoming a South African today. Don't worry, I fully intend to hold dual citizenship.

First, I ate the unofficial dish of Durban. It's kind of silly when one of the common things that all the guidebooks tell you to do in Durban is eat a particular food. But they all do, and it's called Bunny-chow. For some reason (the internet probably knows, but sadly the internet and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment) the residents of Durban prefer to eat their curry in bread bowls instead of with rice. FYI, many of the residents of Durban are Indian, something that I didn't really realize until recently. But they are, and for whatever reason when they moved here from India they swapped their rice for bread. You can order a ¼ loaf, up to a whole loaf, with whatever type of curry you want inside. And you're not allowed to use any silverware to eat it. And it's pretty good, if you like curry, which luckily I do. The guy at the table next to us thought that we hadn't ordered a bunny and offered to buy one for us to make sure we were getting the Durban experience. So they're quite proud of these things.

Another important step in my dual citizenship was to ride in a minibus. Every country has it's own version of the cheap and dangerous transport around town, and this is South Africa's. These vans run around town filled with a dozen people or so, and if there is any space available a worker will hang his head out the window and shout at people on street corners until he finds someone to make the minibus completely full. Evidently they account for 80% of the accidents on SA streets, and the record number of occupants is 39 (schoolchildren.) We'd avoided them up until this point primarily because we couldn't figure out which ones would get us to our desired destination, as they have some kind of route system, we think. But with all the buses closed (in SA everything closes even earlier on Saturday than during the week) we had to choose between a 150 rand taxi and a 7 rand minibus. We opted on the minibus and surprisingly it got us exactly where we needed to go, quite speedily. And we didn't hit anything. And there were not 39 schoolchildren mucking up the place.

You may have gathered that we are now in Durban, our home for the next 3 weeks. The most significant thing about Durban thus far is that it is very hot. Apart from a rather significant sunburn the first couple of days, the sun and heat hasn't bothered us much traveling along the coast. But eventually my skin stopped pealing and I no longer looked like a leper, and the sun hadn't held us up too much. But Durban is in a tropical zone, and you can feel it. Especially while walking around town all day. We told our host family that we'd been trekking around all day, and one of the daughters said “Only boys would do that.” So we may need to switch to some Durban behavior to deal with the Durban weather.


My South African phone gets unlimited incoming calls, so feel free to call me from 8 am-5 pm. 073 857 1978. I won't recognize your voice, so don't bother playing that game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Evidently it's 011-27-073-857-1978. And 8-5 EST.