Trees beautiful trees.

After visiting England, where the trees are so huge and beautiful,

and I became so fascinated with them, it has been great to see so many beautiful trees in Natal. I can see why Durban was a favoured colonisation place for Brits. Amazing trees are everywhere here and have the space to grow to their fullest extent. There is nothing like a fully stretched out tree even in an industrial area.20170610_090512

In Durban luckily the alien police have not attacked the trees that line the streets, and so you will find a host of the best trees from around the world. In this HOT climate you can always find cool parking. The trees take precedence in the street, as you can see here, 20170111_103209and it has been amazing to see different trees blossoming at different times of the year.   At the moment all the coral trees are blossoming their red flowers. Its red season.

A little while ago it was orange with these amazing trees from Madagascar flowering along the streets.

Previous to that was these red flowering wide spreading trees. The red flowers made a crown on top.20170118_111834

On many of my walks, next to the houses are these unexpected fairy glades.

Of course my favourite place is the Durban botanical gardens. What I like most is that it is FREE to go in at any time, unlike the fee at Kirstenbosch. Its not that I resent the fee at Kirstenbosch..which is actually cheap compared to England where I paid R500 for a much lesser experience! (see previous post on the Eden project ..okay you can use your ticket for a year, but have no option for a once off visit.) The trees here are so exotic! This was a repository of all the corners of the Empire, a mini Kew gardens.

The intention behind the gardens was not  positive, as most colonial enterprises, and many plants were “stolen” in order to create a sort of “seed bank”, as medicine was essentially herbal at the time. Many of the trees come from India and Madagascar and further east. But they have been allowed to grow and grow and are stunning! I have been going back often to visit the changes over the seasons.

The first trees that really struck me were these cannonball trees. Mainly because the heady scent of the exotic flowers were so strong, I had to stop. I couldnt see the cannonballs but later in the year I found them in the place of the flowers.

There are simply HUGE banyan trees. (The ones here are small compared to ones in India that spread over 2 acres and people even make houses inside them)  These are fig type trees that spread sideways with roots that drip down from the branches. They are grown for good luck and are a symbol of immortality.

Banyan trees are thought to have spiritual significance, with the Lord Shiva being the branches (he has many arms), the Lord Vishnu the bark of the tree, and the Lord Brahma, the great God,  the large powerful roots of the tree. They have been used medicinally for centuries.

This is the legendary Bodi tree that the Lord Buddha sat under meditating to find enlightenment

There are other wild fig species with incredible trunks.

The palms are truly majestic 20170410_095224and there are these ancient Woods and many cycads that were brought here a few hundred years ago and are also huge.

There is a fern garden with magical tree ferns  and ponds with lotus flowers,

lots of water birds and a couple of pelicans

and a special grotto with exquisite orchids.

My all time favourite are still fever trees, with their distinctive yellow trunks.

They were called fever trees because they looked like they had jaundice and were near to malaria areas. The bark is also used to cure fevers .Other medicinal trees are cinnamon (once more valuable than gold) with multiple health benefits including lowering cholesterol and blood sugar , rauvolfia caffra( called african quinine..very important in conquering africa). The bark has been used traditionally for many things including malaria. Look at http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Rauvolfia+caffra for more.

 

A sunken garden is very neat and reminiscent of English country gardens, I say.20170126_105714

New developments are this butterfly park where all the flowers grown are to attract certain butterflies.

As with Kirstenbosch they have music evenings and open air movies. I havent yet been to any, but fully intend to go. People use the gardens for special occasions like birthdays.

There is a lovely old fashioned tea garden run by volunteers with HUGE crumpets and scones and tea.

The best is the monkeys that race through the trees and a host of feral cats that watch you while you drink your tea. 20170204_113144

 

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Why I am studying Homoeopathy

One of the students I am studying with asked me what I would study if I could choose anything I wanted to. I found that question strange, but easy to answer. I would be studying Homoeopathy of course. They then went on to ask that if I had done conventional medicine, what would I be doing now, and I said that I would be studying Homoeopathy or probably have done it long ago.

I was not brought up with homoeopathy. Not at all! My mother was a nurse who fed us every form of conventional medicine. She loved hospitals and doctors. My sister was essentially drip fed on anti-histamines, that kept her sleepy for most of her young life. We had all the possible vaccinations, antibiotics with every case. We had dental checkups and horrendous fillings every six months. (Most of my natural teeth were eaten away by these).  I was fascinated by pathology and spent 2 years working in a pathology laboratory, which wakened my interest in biology and I went on to get a degree in zoology and microbiology.

I moved into the country in Cape Town, surrounded by the most magnificent plant life. What was special about these plants was that there were so many that were medicinal. As a hobby, I would collect plants and after identifying them, look up their medicinal properties. We also had a friend who was an ethnobotanist and also a medical doctor. he was a bit wacky and would experiment on himself..particularly hallucinogenic plants. He fostered an interest in the medicinal plants…and mushrooms around our rural home.  I was into hunting and gathering and we would have meals with local herbs and mushrooms. But I always had this question as to what makes a herb medicinal or edible or poisonous.20160918_115758.jpg

As a Biology teacher in a Waldorf school,I was expected to teach a main lesson on plants. My biology lessons at my own school (and in most government schools) have much to be desired .I could see NO connection to the plant kingdom then and we learned just lots of names and categories, and osmosis and capillarity and found the structure terribly boring..”you mean there are no organs inside?” As a Waldorf teacher, my challenge was to inspire my student to find a connection, and so I could only teach it the way I had found my own love of plants..through medicinal plants.DSC07556.JPG

As a Waldorf teacher, your challenge is to scaffold a lesson so that it leads the students into questioning things as opposed to delivering facts. I could have delivered a whole lot of facts around plants, but I then researched the path of herbal medicine, and found it completely fascinating. Bu it also opened up a ton of questions.. like how did people know what was medicinal? Why are plants medicinal? Why do we talk about plants as if all they do is grow? What exactly is their connection with us? And so the big journey began.

In my own life, besides using a few well known wild plants for tea, I still used Allopathic medicine.  The change came with my own child. After six doses of antibiotics with a recurring middle ear infection, I went to a homeopath and he prescribed one medication which cured him almost instantly and he never went on to get a middle ear infection again. This hyped up my interest and I never went to a conventional doctor again other than for a couple of broken limbs. I began to research Homoeopathy and why it was different to herbal medicine and structured my main lessons around these researches. I bought my own remedies and self medicated, discovered my own constitutional remedies. I investigated Anthroposophical medicine and did two fascinating courses with Michaela Glockler. As a Waldorf teacher I had a fairly solid background in Anthroposophy and had read many Steiner books and attended many conferences and courses..more with a focus on education. But my desire had been lit to go deeper into the healing arts.

When my son left home, I decided  that this was a prime opportunity to change my career once more (I have had 5 careers, whats one more?). There were lots of circle arguments in my head. I was teaching in a school I loved and had helped to build. I was still needed in my role. I would have to move to Durban. (I loved Cape Town). It was a five year course. (I was not young anymore). I would have to go back to first year (intellectually I needed a challenge..I was busy with a masters in Education. Do I finish this first? What for?). I could see that based on many older teachers I knew, that teaching had a sell by date..and I was reaching it. I found it very heart wrenching to see excellent teachers being sidelined for the younger ones and then not knowing what they should do next. I could see myself become crabby and forgetting names and repeating my life story to sweet teens too polite to tell you to shut up.

I finally took a year off to think without distractions and to slowly extricate myself from my obligations at the school. I spent the year in England volunteer working essentially as a gardener in a college for autistic teenagers amongst the most amazing plants, which I could watch daily unfolding, while also learning a lot about radical education amongst damaged teens. It was run on Biodynamic lines and I learnt a lot about that side of Anthroposophy too. (See my previous posts). I spent my time observing and photographing and drawing medicinal and poisonous plants at various stages of development. At the same time I researched their healing properties from a homoeopathic and herbal point of view. I have not posted any of this up yet, but I think it is time to do so.

And so, here I am. In Durban studying Homoeopathy amongst a group of first years just out of school. (They only accept one mature student per year).20170525_084600.jpg Thus far it has more than met my expectations. At the moment it is like any other medical course, with extensive gross  anatomy with dissection and physiology, chemistry and physics (my nightmare come true). I have a little cottage at the back of someones garden and can just see the sea. There is a library FULL of homoeopathic and herbal books including on anthroposophical medicine. I have got credit for 2 subjects from my BSc and so I use this time to peruse these books and am trying to find the key that links these two great studies. I will have to do a thesis in my 5th year, and I feel this will be the direction I would like to take. So happy me!

 

Strange and lovely things at DUT

There are the most majestic trees and plants at DUT that we take for granted. What greets you in the morning if you are not rushing and take the time to look up is this most beautiful HUGE rubber tree20170221_072048.jpg

This provides the lunchtime shade near the food hub.

20170201_122339.jpgEverywhere are these fever trees and two huge ones greet you as you enter the main car park. The inevitable stralitzias and giant stralitzias,so much part of this area:20170201_123456.jpg

and then there are precious cycads just casually posing here and there.20170213_074203.jpg

this building has been built around the tree.

20170216_072417.jpg

And then there are strange statues like this one

these were surveying students surveying the grounds..something we do at Waldorf schools with the lecturers looking on and relaxing.

And unexpectedly these amazing lilies:20170223_112506

Odd things are these very effective brooms that come free from the palm trees that are everywhere. They sweep a lot at a time.20170224_071245

and then a quirky name on a take away:20170224_070909

And then I discovered a student hub:20170301_080312

Luckily, as I look older I am not questioned when I enter the staff canteen that serves the best coffee and really cheap and delicious and healthy meals. The students have to deal with instant ricoffee and real junk food (mostly vetkoek) and snacks but luckily tempered with fresh fruit.

And something unusual we enjoyed doing was painting each other to indicate the various muscles in the body. We had to know the names, origins and insertions of the major ones and teach it to each other.

Further to the course in Homoeopathy

Much of the course in first year is laying foundations in Science and Anatomy and Physiology as experienced by medical students. There are somethings I would like to change but I am withholding judgement as I am looking from a perspective of someone who has a science degree. We do basic chemistry that I find too basic and theoretical, and physics that I find too orientated to engineers driving cars although, having tried to avoid physics in my previous degree, I am enjoying the challenge, more from a mathematical perspective.20170326_100913.jpg

I am beginning to have sympathy for my matric students who chose science. Luckily my many years of teaching maths has made me very adept at manipulating it. also some things we literately did 4 times over in different subjects..this is measurement, significant figures, using SI units and rounding off. This needs more co-ordination within subjects. Another subject I find too basic is Biological principles, as most students will have done these in life Sciences at school. (although there are some delvings into microbiology) but I dont think it has been thought through sufficiently to be of value.

The subjects that are excellent are Anatomy, Histology and Physiology. There is a lot of detail and it is done in a very physical scientific way which may seem alien to homoeopathy that is more instinctive and artistic and appears unscientific, but, as with Steiner, I feel that one has to move through science to the artistic Goethean thinking. luckily I have a background in anthroposophy, and so, as we go, I form my own interpretations using the threefold method, polarities and fivefold influences of the etheric. also the animal characterisations of the organs.

The library has wonderful books, including some Steiner and Anthroposophical books that I have been reading. I have done two courses on Anthroposophical medicine..the etheric and the astral, and this has helped me to determine these influences. There is another course in October outside Cape Town that I want to attend, but my budget is quite tight and I will have to fit it in to my study leave and be back..which means additional cost for airfare.

I am living on my inheritence..so I see this as a gift from my parents and an uncle and an investment in myself. There is not enough time to work at present, but perhaps in subsequent years I will be able to adjust my time.

Also at the same time I am doing my own self study on the homoeopathic plants. Samuel Hahnemann did not put much score on the doctrine of signatures in plant morphology but only in symptoms, as he found it more rational..and it certainly is, but having been a teacher of Botany and being interested in medicinal plants for years, I am investigating their form from a Goethean perspective and relating it to their healing capacities. homoeopathy uses Like cures like in symptomology, so I am looking at the potentising effects and reversing the allopathic uses, as it seems that Homoeopathic remedies undergo a reversal in their effect when potentised. In subsequent blogs I will publish my findings. Paracelsus followed this principle.

We are also receiving lectures on the principles of Homoeopathy, which we really enjoy and do far too little of at present. It just whets the appetite. Also we are doing some basic diagnosing methods and observation of surface anatomy by a dynamic woman.

Or highlight of the week is the Human dissection, and what has impressed me is the departments commitment to provide this skill despite difficulties in obtaining bodies, but also the reverence with which they deal with it. We all attended a dedication ceremony where we acknowledged the gift of the body and the life that lived it. Our group always says thank you in entering the dissection room and when leaving. We also signed a abbreviated Hippocratic oath.20170301_084948.jpg

The slides behind show an acknowledgement of the cadaver from birth to death likening it to a sunflower seed from seed to field of flowers presented by our wonderful Histology and physiology lecturer.

This is our equally wonderful and talented anatomy lecturer introducing a pastor who is an ex-student, who dedicated the bodies.

Another lecture that is interesting for me is called Personal and professional development, where we discuss deeper issues like “who am I” and “why am I here” and have to keep a personal journal. This appears to have been introduced this year as compulsory for ALL students. I have a suspicion that this subject was introduced in order to accomodate dissent, as previous demonstrations have been damaging. (possibly recommended by Jonathan Jansen who had to deal with more extreme cases of racial dissent in a conservative city) It certainly teaches respect for others simply through the humanising of the subject..ie you are a human first and a student second.

I have mentioned the support at DUT before, but it really is tangible here. DUT, being such a mishmash of cultures and creeds could, and maybe has been a hotbed of dissent. But these opportunities allow us to interact with each other as human beings and this diffuses dissension, as we see each others struggles.20170224_105123

A NEW ADVENTURE IN DURBAN

So here I am moving to Durban to study homoeopathy at this late stage of my life. they only accept one “mature” student per year, and I am she.

Durban is a strange city and almost feels like a foreign country. The climate is so different. Hot and tropical with warm rains and warm seas..lovely lovely. I have been sweating so much it literally comes out of my eyes and drips down my face. The effect is also that I drink a lot of water out of pure thirst. I am a person who never drinks extra water..other than in tea and coffee. Here, I am just loving being thirsty and being able to drink clean water.

THE JOURNEY

Well I packed everything into my car that I own..dropping a few things at my sweet sister, Claire on the way..mostly photo albums and memorabilia. Things I find difficult to throw away because they are irreplaceable. Things that my dear son, Byron thinks I should have thrown away long ago. I drove with a full car with some essential items like a bathroom mat and a couple of vases.

I knew it would be a HOT drive without an air conditioner and so I manufactured a makeshift thing I got off the internet that uses a coolbox a fan and ice. It kept me cool enough..I was surprised.

I decided to go slowly this time and took 4 days, stopping for lunch and sleepovers. I first stopped in Barrydale after tea with Claire. It really is a friendly town, and the backpackers found me some wonderful accommodation, which was surprisingly empty..as every other place was full. ..I think because the front of the place is so non-committal. 20161229_065416The décor was artistic

and surprising there was a small plunge pool –cum-Jacuzzi downstairs.

The breakfast was good and it was reasonably priced.

 

Barrydale is full of surprising little businesses with lots of originality.

20161228_195944A faux banksy on a hotel wall.

After driving a HOT day, I found some chalets in Middelburg with shady trees, that were very reasonable and HAD A POOL! They had bought up almost an entire block of houses and converted them to chalets. The décor was typically small town SA, but with some real boere rusks in the morning, I just plunged in the pool in my clothes when I left in the morning..and that kept me cool for a good deal. Middelburg is a lost little town with a mix of colonial and Afrikaner influences..see the names of these streets that intersect. 20161229_185355

But many shops are closed or sell loans and funeral services.

Aberdeen was lunch where I could actually get wifi..but had a real retro outside loo.20161229_140352

From here, there is really no place to stay until Kokstad 200 kms away. Here the prices skyrocketed suddenly for shitty little places..but I had no choice, and stayed in a funny place..not really clean with a hundred policemen and women. Noisy with lights blaring..only compensation was the bath that I cooled down in. No outside space to sit. Definitely a non-repeat.

And so I arrived in Durban a day earlier than I intended.Such a confusing place to drive around in. EVERYONE hoots all the time for nothing. Here I also witnessed the worst driving ever. My nerves were on edge by the time I got to the Bluff on new years eve. Luckily the cottage I had found online and was renting was being vacated and I could blow up the air mattress my sister had lent me,20161231_152732 wash off all the sweat in the shower and sleep..with earplugs as my landlord was having a new years get together.  I was rudely woken at midnight by VERY LOUD bangs from next door.  Nobody here seems to follow the firecracker rules as crackers were going of everywhere as in England. But I had arrived in one piece..more or less.

THE NEXT DAY

I discovered that the flat was not very clean, as the previous tenant had just left and also and needed a paint job..things you could not see in the photographs sent to me. The ceiling had mould on, the outside walls had paint cracking off, the previous tenant had a dog that pooed all over.(I found the place on gumtree and so hadn’t seen it. ) Also I had no furniture other than the blow up bed. Its redeeming feature was a lovely tropical garden with cycads, and an enormous avocado tree, bananas, paw paws, and my bedroom window looked out onto it.20170109_064527

My landlord and lady have two small children and three dogs, a couple of cockatiels and a fish tank.  They, however, were very sweet and nice and so were their kids and dogs,  (despite pooing on my doorstep.)

The garden was obviously planted lovingly by someone else and was neglected..but still beautiful..luckily nature thrives on neglect …but the dogs had denuded areas.

So my next task was to make the place liveable.

My landlord said he would fix the ceiling and paint the walls. He brought in the ladder etc, but didn’t get very far. He works and so has to fit it into his day. I decided then that I would do the painting etc. I got rid of an enormous amount of junk left around the place and went around picking up doggie poo..just to make it safe to walk around without stepping into it.  So I painted my bedroom and one wall of the kitchen..it looks rather nice. My landlord said he would get more paint for the lounge but that hasn’t happened yet, so I thought I would in the meantime just clean the walls and ceiling with bleach. It already looks so much better. I also bleached stains out of the outside piping.

I now have a small desk, a table and 4 chairs and a three quarter bed..a lot more comfortable than the air mattress. I trawled Durban for second hand shops, finding my way around at the same time. There are very few..I think because of gumtree and olx. Luckily we had some rainy days, and it was not too hot to travel around. I made sure I visited a different beach every day too. Its so great to swim in warm sea..but it was really rough too..no calm Fishoek beaches here..but good exercise and knocks you thighs into place.

The beaches are quite different to cape beaches, having yellow sand, but just as beautiful even though it was high season. People tended to congregate at the swimming beaches..and congregate is the word. Here is wall to wall gazebos. people really go to town when spending time on the beach.20170101_094010 For the rest, the beaches were empty and lovely to walk on.

Durban has a lot of rubbish lying around, but the landscape is so forgiving and covers everything with green bush so that you don’t notice. Someone needs to start taking care of the place.

You certainly feel the difference with the ANC running the municipality. I am not anti ANC, and in fact vote for them every time, but I can see the complaints of lack of service delivery. One wonders where all their energy goes and whether they even notice the problems. Rubbish collection is still in black bags, torn open by dogs. Library, thin on books and librarians. Roads needing repair..although with all the rain, I think it is a bigger job than CT. however there are enormous engineering projects north of Durban. Looks like they focus on the big and forget about the small things.

The city centre is very run down but in contrast there are HUGE elaborate shopping centres. Racially, Durban is very mixed. 20170103_121831Relics of apartheid delineate areas into poor black, poor Indian and affluent, which could be Indian, Black or White. Its good to see the ratios change a bit on the beaches. Durban is a busy city with a lot of Industrial spaces. This makes travelling around difficult as you have to contend with railways, Industrial areas, the Harbour, rivers and peninsulas, with low cost housing thrown in here and there and occasional informal settlements. The heat adds to the constant hooting from taxis particularly , who announce their presence ALL THE TIME, enormous trucks and others who hoot at you every second you take to move from a robot. The roads are also not well marked, the streets have unfamiliar new names sometimes together with the old names, as Durban tries to Africanise the very colonial streets of Durban. I can understand that, as Durban was like mini England even with a Victoria Embankment, George V road etc..

People

I have found the people here to be very friendly and chatty. I suppose that I have got used to Cape Towns ways and now see now how reticent it is. Also my year in England was even worse on that score. Polite but cold. Durban is warm in lots of ways and has colour and vibrancy. Also people of all races and walks of life chat at the drop of a hat. The Zulu and Tswana people approach you quite readily.  You really stop noticing race..and I must say I am confused as to peoples races here. It is also good to see some Zulu newspapers readily on sale.

 

Dog walking in the south peninsula

I have been dog sitting for 2 months now, and my obligation is to take these 3 large hounds for a walk every day. Well its been good because I have had time to explore the dog walking south peninsula. Now, its not that easy to walk anywhere with these dogs as they dont fancy a leash..so the city is out, and I cant just walk outside their gate as there are hundreds of bored hounds in Noordhoek that bark at everything that moves. So every day I load them into Alices vintage bakkie and we go somewhere.

THE NOORDHOEK WETLANDS (PAPKUILSVLEI)

Their favourite place is the Noordhoek wetlands that stretch from the main road to the Beach, where they love looking for moles and tearing up the rugby field that is full of mole holes. 20161122_103302Only once did they actually catch one. Mostly they dig and dig, making holes where there once were mounds. (I keep them off the main fields that are used by cricketers, rugby players and soccer clubs.) It is a strangely neglected place, full of almost every kind of exotic plant you can find, and obviously used to be a dumping ground for Noordhoek gardens.

My favourite is the enormous fig tree above that I have raided a number of times for green fig preserve, as they do not seem to get ripe, and as they get soft..but still not sweet I make a lovely jam. The other day, while picking figs, a woman walked past with her dogs, and when I commented on the tree, she said “is that a fig tree?” and I must say I was amazed that she didnt know, probably walking past every day. It is now managed by SANparks, who are trying to restore it, but this is an impossible task. But I love the mix of vegetation where, if you wanted to establish a garden, you have access to huge resources from papyrus to buffalo grass runners to st Johns wort to and occasional indigenous plant that you darent pick as they are rare.

In the spring there is a host of flowers and the bees literally hum as you walk. 20161014_123038

POLITICS OF THE PLACE

It also a strange place in that at one stage it was covered in Port jackson, which is mostly absent now, and housed a huge amount of people who made their living by cutting wood. The local Noordhoek residents objected to their presence in the late 1980’s, while apartheid still held sway as there was a law prohibiting anyone of colour to live with their families in the South peninsula. They were evicted  and they became some of the original inhabitants of Masiphumele, on the other side of the reed bed, where they could not be seen. This was a comment from the local NIMBYS that expressed the view in the day:

“…the local residents wish to express in the strongest possible terms their extreme concern at the establishment of a township on Site 5. They wish to state that their concern is not of an apartheid or racial nature, but stems from extreme contrast in cultures, background and standards. It is the view of the local residents that the establishment of this township should be likened to the juxtaposition of moderately well-to-do residential area, such as Pinelands or Bergvliet or Constantia, next to high-density subsistence housing such as Crossroads…”
“A buffer zone of minimum width 30 metres must be established around the township. This
zone should be in the form of a berm, of minimum height 5 metres to minimise visual and
audible effects, should be planted with trees, and must be enclosed by a fence of minimum
height 1,8 metres along the outer perimeter to contain any potential unrest incidents within the township area. This buffer zone must extend along the western and eastern borders of the proposed township… the local residents insist that larger plots be established adjacent to the buffer zone to support higher quality housing and thus ease the geographic transition…”
(Chasmay, Lochiel and Lekkerwater Residents, June 1991).
Now it is a derelict piece of land. However, some local clubs have slowly annexed pieces and so there is now a soccer field that gets used about once a month, and also as a golf practice place;

a cricket field that gets used about the same in summer only and a rugby field I have not seen used at all. Now the Noordhoek Riding association also has a show jumping field. Mostly the place is used by horse riders and dog walkers like myself. the last remaining local farmer in the area has grazed their cows, accompanied by the usual tick birds, here for ever. 20161128_085837

Despite the signs and need for dog walkers permits, many people do not pick up their dogs poo and perhaps in revenge, there is a fair amount of littering around the fields by the players.20161211_101758
I usually just allow the dogs to walk and follow them on the many paths, but I have discovered various places they love: One is the last remaining pool as the water dries up for the summer, that they love to swim in (so do the horses.)  When the water is flowing they love the water ways. The ground (well sand) gets very dry in the summer and even after a good rain, water does not penetrate too far.20161209_111332
After a soaking rain.

A cross section of the SA country in 4 days

I seem to do a lot of things in four days (see previous posts). The last time was London..well there its kind of a whole country in a few square miles. Well, this time I went across South Africa to Durban by the sea from Cape Town by the other sea. Why was I so foolish? Well I was heading for an interview at Durban University of Technology to study Homoeopathy next year. Only 2 places offer Homoeopathy, the other one is in Johannesburg, so there was really no choice. Also, they only take 35 students per year and ONLY ONE “mature” student..and that had to be me.

Now, I didnt realise that Durban was further away from Cape Town than Johannesburg and even further than Windhoek in Namibia. 1700 km to be more or less exact . Thats more than the whole of England from top to bottom. (England is 1349km from John O’ Groats to Lands end). Okay, we dont have lots of villages where you have to go 30 miles an hour to slow you down.  We have long straight and hot roads that go straight there, right? Well not quite. So I estimated that it would take me 2 days to get there quite easily at 100km per hour on average..I didnt intend to drive at the average speed of 140 like other South Africans. Well, it didnt quite work out like that either. Also I have a millenium Toyota (ie over 15 years old)…but it has a reconditioned engine.20160818_112845 I did consider flying, but not only would I have spewed huge amounts of pollution into the air (apparently 6 to 47 times as much as by car per person! Especially short flights, as the runway fuel is the most damaging. http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2015/09/evolving-climate-math-of-flying-vs-driving/). Besides, I am still in travelling mode, and wanted to get an idea of the country I had been neglecting for so many years. What is South Africa like now? The last time I had been to Durban was 10 years ago, when my son and I went for a round trip to see all the skate parks with his BMX on the back.

So off I set, visiting my dear sister along the way. She lives in Riviersonderend, a sweet little village 200km from Cape Town, with many skeletons in the cupboard. But thats another story better told by her.

A quick cup of tea, and I had to get a bit further..like another 400km to George. Looking for a place to camp was not so easy…it was out of season so everything was closed at about 5. I finally found a rondawel (a typical South African round building..last used in Europe at stonehenge 3000BC, for those who dont know) where I spent the night. .serenaded by frogs, as it was on a river. I finally nodded off at 12pm, woke at 5am to continue my drive. (5 hours sleep). I went for a little walk before I left in the morning, and found some wonderful medicinal plants everywhere. Although this place was a typical RESORT, in the most typical south african way.(.including the black and white TV),

it gave me a sense that it was a haunt of some sangoma or other.

There was a beautiful landscape across the river where an irritating sound came from..like a couple of flies, and I realised it was workers riding lawnmowers over a golf estate. Welcome to civilization. 20160930_064457

Following wrong directions, and realising my Afrikaans was not as good as I thought, I headed off, got a speeding fine for going 78 in a STUPID 60 km zone (downhill on a pass outside a built up area. Consolation was that the fine was only 400 rands as opposed to 2000 in Britain for going 37 in a 30 zone.) Realising I was on the coastal road which was much longer than any other, I decided to cut inland back to the short cut road I intended to be on, on an old road I hadnt been on for years..thinking that it must have improved. (It used to be  a windey dirt road..very beautiful) Prince Alfred Pass..yes, colonial throwbacks everywhere..George..prince Alfred…Baden Powell drive (the coastal road outside capetown), Durban (sit Benjamin D’Urban).

Well, it was very beautiful still..if not more so, as it is now a reserve of tropical forests and ENORMOUS trees..but the road is worse.

Well it took me 3 hours to go 75 km. Not only because I couldnt go more than 30km per hour, but because it was so beautiful, I HAD to stop and photograph. I WILL be back to look properly…but not in the rainy season, as I can see that the roads wash away regularly. I did come across a strange sculpture at one point.

From here to karoo..dry straight hot roads..beautiful in an endless way. I had lost a lot of time and had to get to Port Shepstone (colonial) at least, as my interview at DUT was at 9.30 am the next day.20160930_113608

Well, it doesnt help to calculate when there are road works along the way..you know, STOP wait ten minutes (and go). This Karoo town had ENORMOUS cacti. 20160930_132125

It was getting dark as Ii went through the edges of the Transkei. This was when the roads lost all their signs, started winding up and down hectically and no one dimmed their lights..it also started to have waves of thick mist and light rain. The views were likely spectacular, but I could not see them, where I was going, where the next town was and how far away..so I drove blindly. By now, my neck was killing me and my bum was totally numb, and my eyes were glassy. I stopped in a typical one street town for petrol..nothing else was open for trade..not even KFC. Luckily I had some dry biscuits and cold tea in my flask. .

At this point, I knew I would need to drive through the night to get anywhere.

50km from Port Shepstone (more colonial), driving through cloud banks, I decide I was going to crash..as in sleep, if I didnt want to crash..as in accident. So I turned off the road into an inlet…there were no lights, so I assumed I was in the middle of nowhere, folded back my seat and slept uncomfortably.

In the morning I discovered I was in a sugar cane field. At least I knew I was close to Durban. I got going at 5 (another night of 5 hours sleep), coffee at the garage and off to Durbs by the sea via a convenient motorway. I wisely decided to leave the sight seeing till later.

Durban was a revelation of hooting taxis and busyness. I dont think it was the safest place, judging by the security walls.

I hadnt had breakfast, but decided to find my place of Interview. Of course I hadnt banked on the fact that because of the #Feesmustfall protests, the place was closed. Luckily I found an open gate. and found that the interview was still on. I hastily bought a couple of apples from a vendor…they do not have breakfast places in downtown Durban.. only chicken outlets..it was a bit early for that.

I was last to be interviewed, as my case was special..being so “mature”, so I was only released at 12. No tea was offered only water. All the Interviewees were YOUNG..still at school and very nervous..so I had some use in allaying their fears. These were pictures of some of the homoeopathic remedies on the wall.

I was interviewed by a true cross selection of the Durban population: Afrikaans, English, Zulu and Indian..all women. It was a good interview, and I was instantly offered a place..the only “mature” student. After that, I realised that I could eat a horse, raced off to the waterfront and finally sat down to an ENORMOUS breakfast with coffee served in a POT, while looking over the sea front. BLISS.

I will report further on the trip home.