Thursday, Jan 21st
Headed out EARLY (2:30 am) for an 8 hour trip toward Durban for our stay at Shelly Beach, stopping along the way for a picnic breakfast of coffee, meatballs, baked chicken, boiled eggs and sausages. (When the heck did Alien make all this?) Closer to Durban, we stopped at a curio shop and bought some gifts to take back to the States. I thought I'd be used to driving on the left side of the road by now, but at this point, I was beginning to feel dyslexic as if trying to operate myself from a mirror reflection. It was interesting to occasionally see cattle casually crossing the highways and I was told some of these farmers don't keep their cattle behind fences in these rural areas.
Friday, Jan 22nd through Sunday, Jan 24th
Enjoyed the area near Durban and stayed at a beach house in Shelly Beach, rented from a doctor Alien works with. This was the highlight of the trip for Gary, who could easily be a professional beach bum if life would only allow him to not have to work for a living. I personally enjoyed the walks on the beach and piers. Around day 2, were paid a visit by Alien's brother, Jaco and his beautiful wife, Lourine, and two gorgeous children, Hesmari and Hendrik. I'd come to know Jaco through email about a year ago and consider him my new brother - it was great to finally meet him and his family. He treated us to our first official potjikos. A traditional dish borrowed from the Zulu. Meat, vegetables and "secret" spices are layered into a large black cast iron pot that's been improvised with a tank of handy gas as the heat source. I found out each potjikos is an individual expression of the person (usually men) creating the dish and each recipe is unique and secret. I must say.... it was extremely spicy and positively delicious!
Besides fighting the Indian Ocean's pounding waves (and I use that term loosely - Gary lost his goggles by the 3rd wave... they were ripped right off his face!), we checked out some street vendors on the beach front and bought some neat jewelry and trinkets. We also ran into JC and Alien's friends and next door neighbors: Deon and Riekie, who were on a short holiday there! One final thing I want to say about Shelly Beach, there's a seafood restaurant there, the Seafood Extravaganza that served a huge seafood buffet (all you can eat). It's the best I've ever had, even State side.
At the end of our beach adventure, we visited Jaco and his family's home and were treated to iced coffee. After touring Jaco's house and grounds, I noticed a bananna tree full of green banannas. This new brother of mine was sure going to have a lot of bananna cuisine in the upcoming month. All of us headed out to the beach one final time to bid a proper farewell to the Indian Ocean.
We spent the evening on the road heading back to Middelburg so the kids could get back in time for school Monday. Stopped to pick up JC's mother (by this time it was midnight) who was going to stay with the kids during our upcoming visit to Kruger Park. She had a delicious soup ready and waiting for us.
Monday, Jan. 25th
Returning home to Middelburg at 3 AM, we crashed for a few hours. After a nice little rest, we went grocery shopping, and prepared for the upcoming trip. An interesting note... you don't buy milk by the gallon at the store, although you can get it in smaller, 1 liter containers. You go to the dairy, toting your own container (VERY large container) and they fill it while you wait. I have to say, the milk is delicious and fresh. I noticed it's consistency is different from what I'm used to and tends to separate a bit in the glass. We dined that evening on Smoked Gammon, rice, potatoes, and peas and corn, compliments of our excellent hostess and chef, Alien.