South Africa: Durban
Along the way, I was learning more about South Africa, though still not what I was hoping to. My goal had been to see what lay beyond my bubble, but instead I was discovering how hard it was to leave that bubble. I had already been stymied in one attempt. Now, a couple of us were toying with the idea of leaving the hotel for breakfast at a restaurant at a near-by mall. Unfortunately, the staff at the front desk of the hotel didn’t know exactly how to make that happen. The consensus was to take a taxi, but there was disagreement about how to arrange one. Just call that morning, some thought. Better to order it the night before, others advised. Even that might not work, said a few. What if we had to cancel? They didn’t know.
In the end, the trip didn’t work out, though a car did show up. Disappointed, I was grateful that my currency was so strong. I paid the driver a few dollars for what would have been a one-way fare, added a tip, and stayed in my bubble.
Later that day most of us headed to the airport. The timing was tight enough that I was a little concerned we might miss our flight to Durban. And though we were set to land long after dinnertime, our schedule didn’t seem to include time for dinner. Fortunately, the flight was delayed, giving us an opportunity for a surprisingly edible bite to eat at the airport. And it’s a good thing, because the delayed flight leaving Cape Town was matched by a pre-arranged taxi that got lost in Durban, so I didn’t get to my host family there until very late.The next day, as I headed out to the conference, I was delighted to find monkeys running along the roof of my host family’s house — though no one else seemed particularly impressed.
The conference, the smallest and briefest of the three at which I presented in South Africa, was cordial, friendly, and low-key. It was set in an adorable building with old-world charm (I bizarrely forgot to take pictures) and located walking distance from a luxurious beach.
Durban was my last stop before returning to the glory of nature, and under other circumstances I might have been eager to leave. But in this case my considerable enthusiasm was tempered by the knowledge that moving on also meant saying good-bye to new friends.