Africa, Part 4: Kruger and Durban.

Finishing up Kruger: The last night there Cricket got jiggy with the big braai-ing grill and cooked up a great big slab of meat (all this occurred during Owl Appreciation Hour and OMG did you SEE my OWL?!??) but it was very very dark out there, so he wore his headlamp the whole time. I’m telling you, that man can make a headlamp sexy.

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Speaking of very very dark, the stars were AMAZING. Imagine being in a place the size of Rhode Island with less than fifteen thousand people. Seriously, you could see The Milky Way. It was phenomenal. Cricket tried desperately to take a picture of the stars (30 second exposure time, using a tripod, making everyone in the nearby housing turn their lights off, etc.) but while the picture is good, it really doesn’t capture the sheer mammothness of the night sky. But you can see The Milky Way! Those are the smudgy cloudy-looking bits. Soooo breathtaking.

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I really hadn’t seen very many monkeys my entire trip, so I was delighted when on our last day, a troupe of vervets showed up at our house. I was the only one who was excited. They are very, very naughty beasties. They spend all their time plotting how to get into your personal space and steal your foods and valuables.

Plotting…

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Plotting…

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A brief stop with the plotting for foraging…

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Then the continuation of the plotting…

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And finally success. I heard a scream, and then a flash of gray out the door. This particular monkey got into the kitchen and stole some hot cross buns. Look at how he sat in the tree juuuuust out of reach and ate it, all cocky-like. “Yeah, I got your hot cross buns, heh heh heh.” Snotty little humanoid.

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On our drive out of Kruger we drove past a large watering hole with buffalo on one side and marabou storks on the other. One marabou stork bravely ventured over to the buffalo side, but was politely but firmly forced off by a buffalo bouncer who got closer and closer with those big horns of his. Wise marabou, he got the hint.

Watering hole, buffalo side.

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Watering hole, marabou side.

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And that was the end of my four days in Kruger Park. Every time I go there, it’s as magical and awe-inspiring as the first time I went (when I was five.)

Cricket and I then headed to Durban, which is a major city in South Africa. There’s not much for me to say about Durban, we were only there for two or three days, and most of that time was spent chillaxing with a lot of good food, but there are a few key points I’d like to touch on. Durban still has a great deal of the nifty colonial architecture of the previous century. Say what you want about the European oppressors, they build a nice building. With lovely tin roofs and stained glass windows and intricate railings.

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Don’t you just want some tea and crumpets when you look at those? And you see those gorgeous tropical trees everywhere? Mom pointed out a particular one that was so cool. It looked like an acacia, but it had these softly fuzzy orange-to-yellow berries or flower pods on them. So incredibly beautiful. This is the tree:

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And these are the berries/pods:

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Another thing we noticed in Durban is that since Africa is going back to its roots, it’s getting rid of the European-named streets. However, everyone is accustomed to those street names, so they’re doing it slowly and in an interesting way.

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I assume eventually after everyone has gotten used to the new names, they’ll get rid of the yellow signs, but for now it looks like this.

The final thing I wanted to mention in Durban is the beadwork. Beadwork is a big, BIG artform all over South Africa and the continent, but there was this one shop in Durban that just blew my mind. They had plants and monkeys and chandeliers and wall mirrors and things that looked like Chinese shrines, all beaded, and some with lights. I bought a small beaded baobab from them (I’m having it shipped, it was too big for my luggage, I’ll take pictures when it gets to my apartment), but I really wanted the human-sized, lightbulb-filled baobab. This is a poor picture, but trust me, if it was in a restaurant in New York, you would spend the whole meal there staring at the tree and ignoring your dinner companions. It’s an engrossing tree.

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Next up: The KwaZulu-Natal province.

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