|I was really dreading the ten hour bus journey to Durban from Cintsa and after being on the bus about four hours I was getting very bored. Then a girl called Alice got on the bus and everyone else got off at the next stop so we ended up buying a load of beers and sat at the back of the bus drinking and chatting. By this stage it was quite dark and the bus was speeding down country roads which really gave us the feeling that we were in the middle of nowhere. Then a thunderstorm started and we could see lightening regularly making its way across the sky. At one point we saw a body lying in the middle of the road as well (the police were there as well) which was slightly un-nerving.
The following day (Friday) I got on another bus for four hours to see my friends Izzy and Dik in Eshowe. They picked me up from outside the backpackers/dodgy hotel in Eshowe quite hung over and then we were drinking from when we got in. Izzy was having her 27th birthday party on the Saturday, which was themed but I wasn't able to get any decent fancy dress for it before I came over so I just patched something together. It was an excellent night I met loads of good people.
Over the course of the next two weeks I ended up drinking every night; either at Izzy and Diks, or down at the George (the local pub) or at the Sports Bar (the local club) or at the neighbours and generally had an excellent time, got on well with the locals and made a few new friends. Some nights were better then others with women dancing on the bar counter on some nights (sometimes after taking some clothes off) but on one occasion I saw a big fight where the security guard got bottled and was covered in blood (I paid for a taxi to get him to the hospital).
Asides from drinking (which took up the lions share of time) Dik drove me up to one of the big game reserves a few hours drive away. Before I came to SA I thought I would not be able to go to any of the reserves as it is so expensive to go on an organised tour of one of the well known parks. However this only cost 30 Rand to get the car into the reserve (after local discount) which is about £2.70 and I got to see loads of stuff. There was a recent kill by the side of the road and I saw some hyenas eating away with some vultures overhead. Also I saw hippo, impala, kudu, rhino, buffalo, zebra, warthog and giraffe so it was all very successful. Didn't see an elephant though despite seeing loads of elephant damage and hearing then in the undergrowth.
Dik also drove me up to see the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift where the British were fighting the Zulus in 1879. Isandlwana itself is an amazing place with some parched grasslands and a peaceful emptyness, with small stone cerns commerating where various soldiers fell. Rorke's Drift was more touresty and busier but the history was still impressive.
One of Izzy and Dik's neighbours had a jetski (it was quite a nice area) and he offered to take it down to the large local dam so that I could have a go on it! I was definitely up for that, but was slightly worried when people started to mention crocodiles (but apparently they stay at the other end of the reservior so that is ok!). Also concerning me was that in the bar the previous night I was speaking to someone who had had some of his internal organs badly damaged from a parasite that lived in dam water. In late morning me, Izzy, Dik and the neighbour piled into his truck and headed off to the dam and it turned out to be a really good day. The jetski was excellent fun and it really felt as though I was going about 60mph over the water (in reality it was more like 30) and I didn't fall in. It was a lovely day (again), we were the only people there and we had brought beer - what more could you ask for?
On the way back from the jetski me and Izzy stood up in the back of the pickup truck as it bounced along a dirt track which felt quite liberating. We stopped off in Shakerland on the way for a beer at the bar (I had avoided Shakerland before as it sounded a bit disneyfied) which was very enjoyable. We were a bit of a sight we still had the jetski with us and me and Izzy were still holding onto the back of the pickup truck in our swim gear; I think some of the tourists must have placed us as the crazy locals!
While I was in Eshowe as well I saw the effects of a massive hail storm with hail the size of small oranges falling; there was one car I saw that had it's windscreen completely fractured and its bodywork dented everywhere from driving through it. I heard of another car where the hail actually broke the windscreen and started hitting the driver!
Anyway eventally it was time to leave and stop proping up the local bar. I can honestly say that it was a sad moment. Izzy and Dik were coming with me however which was excellent as they were going to go into Swaziland to renew their visa, so Swaziland was going to be my next country :) This did mean however that the t-shirt I had made up was no longer accurate already! Mabey I'll get a permanent marker pen and change it....