|Beach outside of our Backpackers in Durban North|
|Lord Mau5. Worth every second of gospel I had to endure on the khumbi to Durban.|
|Wolfpack. VIP Riffraff.|
It's been over a month since I have posted and a pretty eventful one at that. I was sick twice, admitted to a hospital for the first time ever, had IST/Allvol conference, celebrated Thanksgiving at the Ambassador's house, completed my integration period, and traveled to South Africa to see deadmau5.
Admittedly, there is not much to report from this period apart from the Durban trip. There have been many ups and downs, while that sounds like standard PC fare (see: So You Wanna Join the Peace Corps on Youtube for a laugh), the oscillations between having a great day and a horrible day are becoming more profound. One moment you are walking home down the dirt road, overwhelmed by the beauty of your surroundings and uniqueness of your experience, then you get back to your hut and see a spider the size of your palm and want to curl up in a ball and cry under your mosquito net. Then the next you have a fever of 105 and think you may be living out a Hunter S. Thompson novel. But the best way to describe "how I am doing" is "I'm still here", not doing this for my health (although I probably have built up an impressive collection of antibodies) but for a million other reasons that are hard to remember sometimes.
Integration being over is a huge step. This means we are able to spend more than one night away from our site per month and can begin seeking out work opportunities. Alternatively, work can just come to you, which is the ideal, since sustainable development is characterized by initiation on part of the community rather than your own individual volition. deadmau5 timed his SA tour to be just days after Integration was over, perfect, a morale boost is generally necessary during the holiday season over here. A hodgepodge group formed and we headed to Durban, about a 6 hour khumbi ride from Manzini. South Africa is absolutely stunning, I fell in love with the scenery on the SA side of the border, which I got to view wedged into the seat in between the driver and the passenger seat of the khumbi. Probably not the safest, but safety isn't the name of the game when khumbi-drivers are packing their vehicles. The highway system appeared similar to that of Europe but with sporadic khumbis zipping along on the "wrong" side of the road. Smelling the salty air and having my humidity-fro back was more necessary to my sanity than I realized. It's been 7 months away from the beach, easily the longest I have been land-locked my whole life. We went swimming that day in the Indian Ocean which was very powerful and evidently full of sharks. Better sharks than shistosomes! The intense slope of the sand creates a breaking point just 2 feet into the water that makes getting in and out both comical and difficult. The water was a perfect 70-some degrees despite the weather being cloudy and drizzly throughout the trip.
Our backpackers was right on the beach and full of other people either going to see deadmau5 or attending the Climate Conference, an enjoyable mix. Durban was incredible, probably cleaned up for the Conference but reminded me of a clean Miami or Orlando based on the sheer magnitude and scale of it. The wealth concentrated in Durban was staggering, I saw more Lamborghinis and Porsches than I have ever seen in one place. Maybe it was just a long time since I had been in such a big city but I was overwhelmed almost the entire time by the amenities and lavishness of it all. Possibly because villages similar to those we live in here in Swaziland are juxtaposed with such cushy shopping centers as the one the concert was in that would put King of Prussia to shame. The show was off-the-chain, definitely one of the best he's ever performed that I have seen. Not to mention that it was semi-outdoor, at a semi-waterpark and semi-drizzling the whole time, very cool.
The next night we wandered a "swankadelic" district that looked like a tropical Georgetown. As grimey volunteers, we didn't really belong. So when we got rejected from some club for not being dressed to the 9's and not sporting Fashion Mullets, we headed across town to the "Climate Conference" beach party. I was hoping to run into Sasha Baron Cohen (and totally impress him with my Borat accent although I've been told is abysmal) or Leonardo DiCaprio, but we got turned down from there too. Self-esteem in the gutter by so much rejection, we stumbled upon a dance circle that had formed in the parking lot of the Conference. The music was loud enough to dance to outside the event. One by one we each joined in, and the circle grew considerably. It was probably the most fun thing we did all night, just raging in this parking lot with other locals probably also rejected from the party. Then, we stumbled a little further and found Club Mykonos. We were the only white people there and the place was packed, the music good, and the drinks cheaper than anywhere else in the city. It was such a fun time with everyone getting their groove on and so much less pretentious than club-whatever that wouldn't let us in based on our footwear. We also ate fast food after going out both nights, just in case we hadn't made enough bad decisions for one night, why not go to McDonald's and eat a McFlurry at 2 AM? Didn't know how much I missed convenience and partially-hydrogenated corn syrup.
I highly recommend making a trip to South Africa, I definitely can't wait to go back with my family in March. The people of Durban, from the friends we met before the deadmau5 show to the people at Mykonos, were some of the best I have ever met in any city. So friendly and welcoming, as one girl on the 'party bus' we happened to jump on at one point said, "No, you shouldn't have come for the concert, you should come to Durban for the people". Indeed!
But deadmau5 pilgrimage trumps all else. Well done/timed SA tour, my friend. I have sufficiently stocked up on electric wattage, until next time.
|Christiano Ronaldo rocking the Fashion Mullet...Pulling.It.Off.|
Random SA fact of the week: The fashion mullet is King in SA. The look consists of party in the front, and party in the back, i.e: faux hawk and mullet intertwined on the same head. It is a gnarly look for anyone who can pull it off, many try, few ever succeed. Lost a lot of good men out there...