Tina had to leave us this morning around 5am. Her transport arrived early, so we only got the briefest of goodbyes before she had to dash out of the door. What were we going to do without her levelheadedness to get us around Africa? Cory and I were probably going to strangle each other before the end of the road trip. With those thoughts in mind, I went back to sleep.
When we finally roused ourselves out of bed, Cory and I decided to head back to Mugg & Bean for breakfast. It was certainly different if not quiet without Tina around. She was the morning person of our trio. So, Cory and I just eyeballed each other in our drowsy silence. Naturally, breakfast at Mugg & Bean did not disappoint. I ordered the huevos rancheros, and it was divine tasting. I wish we had a Mugg & Bean in The States. Mugg & Bean was doing an excellent job of fondly reminding me of home. During our meal we got slightly nostalgic that Tina wasn’t there to eat Cory’s roasted tomato. We had learned each other’s quirks, likes, and dislikes so well that we would immediately start shifting food around from plate to plate once food arrived.
Cory and I were going to head back to the beach after breakfast. It was our last day in Durban, and thus, our last chance to swim in the wondrously warm Indian Ocean. We spoke with Dean at our hostel’s front desk, who advised us on the best way to get to and from the beach. Sometimes minibuses only headed to certain locations and could only be found on specific streets. He told us to take a minibus to The Workshop, and from there, we could walk to the beach or take another minibus. We chose to walk, not so much because we wanted to take in the sights (it was definitely a rundown area), but it would save us the fare and many stops along the way. Our walk took us through the large handwritten “Caution” areas on the map that Dean gave us. It was marked mostly to point out the area where pickpockets were the worst. Walking through the area, you could tell that that side of town was a little bit rough. There were “viewing booths”, sketchy looking bars, rundown mini-convenience stores, etc. We truly didn’t have any trouble, and we didn’t feel uneasy in the slightest. To us it was just another area in South Africa, where you couldn’t take the appearance at face value. That’s not to say that we weren’t cautious, but there was no need to be scared.
When we finally made it to the beach, the area was still looking dodgy, so we walked a ways along the coast back towards uShaka Marine World. Since it was a Sunday, the beach was packed, and the area in the ocean between the safety flags was jam packed with people. We set our things down on the sand and made our way into the water. The waves were fairly rough, and just outside the left boundary flag, a rip tide (my first) was present. The current was strong, and when I was making my way into deeper waters, I could feel the incredible pull of the water on my left side. The lifeguards were continuously dashing into the ocean to rescue kids that wandered too close to the edge of the safe zone and lost the ability to beat the current. There was one boy who tried to grab my arm before he got swept away, and the next thing I heard was the pounding of feet in the water followed by a powerful splash of a lifeguard. It was so unlike anything I ever experienced – trying to swim against a forceful current and feeling yourself losing the battle. I managed to plant my feet in a rise of sand and make my way diagonally towards shore to find a safer area to head deeper out. There were a lot of surfers and boogie boarders present, but most of them weren’t too successful at catching a wave.
The ocean was incredibly fun, but it was certainly something to be taken seriously. There were probably about ten lifeguards present for the minuscule flagged-off area, which emphasized how intense the current was that day. Every so often, you would hear their whistles, trying to communicate with the people who had wandered outside the flags. Other times, there would be a moment where one lifeguard would go sprinting into the ocean, and a couple others would quickly follow. I had never been on a beach where the lifeguards actually had to be utilized, and it was eye-opening to see how quickly they responded as well as how carefully they kept an eye on things. Cory and I were discussing how contrary to belief, a drowning person wouldn’t be flailing and screaming for help. It was when they became calm and floated or started to sink that revealed when they had exhausted their energy.
The African sun was hot as always, but it was a great day to be outside. We spent some time on the sand before making a final trip into the ocean. By this time, the waves had gotten even more rough, and the water was reaching further inland. We contemplated taking a minibus back to The Workshop but decided to walk again. Somewhere along the way, Cory wanted to grab the People Mover bus, so we rode that until we reached City Hall. As we walked around City Hall, we saw that they had the area fenced off from the public. Turns out, there was filming in progress with equipment trucks and people prepping on set. I’m still not sure what movie they were filming. It looked like something incredibly cheesy with a Hawaiian theme.
We finally got to the area of the minibuses that could take us to the Musgrave Center, which was two blocks away from The Workshop. I was seated in the front of the minibus, but luckily, I didn’t have to keep track of the money from everyone, which was the job of the person in the seat next to the driver. When we arrived at the Musgrave Center, I didn’t recognize it, since we had come from the opposite end. The driver said, “Musgrave Center,” but I couldn’t tell if he was confirming that was where I wanted to go or telling me that was where it was. He pointed ahead of him, and I assumed that he was going to drive us closer, but nothing happened. So, feeling like a dumb American, I asked, “Do I get out?” “Yes, get out,” he responded. Oh.
Cory and I stepped into the Pick ‘n Pay before heading back to Nomads Backpackers because we were dying of thirst. Sunburnt and tired, we were pretty much done for the day. I ate my take away leftovers for dinner, and Cory ordered his usual Hawaiian pizza at Debonairs, which was equivalent to Pizza Hut.