It’s my 1st full day in Durban, eThekwini municipality and I’ve made a list of places to visit. There are museums, stadiums and local markets I plan to get lost in. As today is Sunday, I decide to pay a visit to the Moses Mabhida stadium; most of the other places on my list are closed on Sundays. Google maps put me at 15 minutes away from the stadium in my Durban North location, so I get dressed and set out after noon.
For this trip I promise myself not to use Uber drivers as often as in the past. I really wanna be immersed in the culture of the city and public transport is a good place to start. This, of course, is easier said than done. As I set out, I ask my host for directions to town. She says I must get a taxi just at the junction of the street where I’m staying. Now I find fascinating the use of the word taxis in South Africa. The way it is used here is the same way Nigerians use Macleans to mean every tooth paste brand in the whole wide world :mrgreen:. So the taxi I’m supposed to look for according to my host is what you’d typically call a danfo in Lagos.
I get to the junction and I proceed to wait… 3 minutes go by… then another minute. Nothing, no taxis for me to flag down. Taxis do come and go, but they seem to be ignoring me; other cars too. People are starting to look at me strange or is it just in my head? Then i suddenly notice the bus stop sign is actually on the other side of the road. Aha!! So that’s why these people are looking at me strangely I think to myself. Cars here drive on the left side of the road, versus Nigeria’s right (see what I did there.. Hehe); so the road signs and rules here are backwards and opposite.
I make the leap to the other side of the road and a taxi almost immediately stops for me and I’m on my way in no time. Off we go amidst undulating roads on the right and gorgeous glimpses of the Indian ocean on the left. The roads and the landscape remind me a great deal of Ekiti- Ado-ekiti especially.
In 10 minutes the picturesque Umlanga rocks give way to Durban city centre. I cannot help but make a few comparisons with Lagos. There are high rise buildings on both sides of the expressway or highway as it is called here, and bridges that remind me of Carter & Eko bridges in Lagos.
Maybe because I cannot comprehend a word of Zulu the driver is speaking to me, we arrive at the last bus stop and it looks nothing like Moses Mabhida stadium 😥😰. Instead the last stop looks like a major bus terminal. People everwhere, walking in all directions. There’s a small market and I try to haggle a price for an adaptor for my laptop. There are women selling boiled corn and some beggars nearby. Obalende in Lagos comes to my mind.
Suddenly, I look up and notice a sign board some 100 metres away: This way to Durban botanic garden it says. Asking people for directions to the gardens yield no positive results, so Google maps to the rescue.
Google maps identify my location as Market road and I follow the direction through Winterton Walk, through Steve Biko road, to DUT- Durban University of Technology, past a government agency that sells flower seeds to the public. I arrive at the gate of the gardens, but it is the back gate 😂. This Google Maps sef is totally one chance. Then a Pizza guy on a bike delivering Pizza to a house next door offers to take me round on his bike to the side gate that is open. I shrug yes, get on the bike and hold on to my hat as the cool 19°C breeze blows across my hair and face.
Thankfully he takes me there as promised. 2 minutes after I got on his bike, I can see the signage pointing out the gardens.
Durban Botanic gardens prides itself as Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden, established in 1849. The garden boasts of a diverse collection of indigenous and exotic plants from Africa and all over the world for conservation, education and recreation. A quick check through its website tells me that the garden has more than eighty heritage trees that are over a hundred years old and therefore have historic value. I am transformed at the complete serenity of the place, birds chirping, ducks swimming in various ponds nearby, and the trees providing great air cover for the sun. I’m reminded of IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) in Ibadan, South West, Nigeria. This is the exact same way I felt visiting there.
So I spend the next 3 hours taking pictures and walking through; meeting families spending a beautiful day out on the grounds of the garden and couples taking what I imagine are pre-wedding photos.
All in all, it is a productive day. Two strange men tried to grab me in the market, all the time speaking a language that suspiciously sounded like Zulu. I also missed my way to the stadium, but chanced upon this gorgeous piece of nature, no thanks to Google maps, but huge thanks to that kind pizza delivery guy. I met a Senegalese guard at the garden who is quite helpful in giving me directions back home to Durban north.
Enjoy the rest of the pictures curated for your viewing pleasure. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll tackle the actual Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Stay well! ✌