After our driving adventures through the Western Cape, we reluctantly gave up the Spark and headed off to Durban in the south east part of the country.
The thing about Durban is, Durban doesn't need you. It's not some namby-pamby tourist-stroking, smiles and a handshake kind of place. Nope. Durban is a working town and if you're not there to work you can pretty much shove off.
Both us and Eminem had the good fortune to visit during a municipal workers' strike. Hello massive trash piles!
That doesn't mean it's totally without charms though. What originally attracted us to Durban was the interesting mix of Indian and Asian influences on its sturdy African roots. Naturally, we were most curious about how that affected the food.
The most iconic example is the adorably named bunny chow. You can get it will all kinds of fillings these days, but in its original form, bunny chow is a lightly spicy curry of sugar beans (think young lima beans crossed with kidney beans) generously stuffed into a hollowed out half a loaf of white bread. This may be the best use of white bread ever invented. And as a bonus, you have to eat the whole thing with your hands. Yup, no utensils allowed. I just used my face.
Durban is also home to the hundred year old Victoria Market. If you read the guide books and internet reviews of the place you'll be left with the impression that as soon as you step through the door you'll be conned, robbed, assaulted, and stripped of your pants. Please don't listen to them.
Maybe it's had a facelift in recent years, but Victoria Market is not only a lovely place to poke around for a few hours, it's also quite low on my list of intimidating shopping bazaars. Unless of course you're freaked out by overly friendly Indian ladies selling saris or young African men with coconut monkeys. And that is not a euphemism.
If you make it to the meat section, keep an eye out for the "smilies"- piles of sheep heads named for charming grin they give when you cook them.
Durban also has an amazing new football/soccer stadium build for the last World Cup. Out of the three we saw while touring the country, it was definitely the most impressive. It's a shame we couldn't make it for a game.
Our visit also left us with a flavor of home. Just look at Rachel with that potted meat. It was almost like being back in Austin.
Next up we head off to Jo'burg-
but for now, goodbye from Durban!