Sawubona from Durban! Or, more precisely, from Ballito, just up the Indian Ocean coast. Jenny and I drove down from Pretoria on Friday, and were supposed to be joined by our friends and mentors, Carolyn Bratt and Susan Scollay. Carolyn and Susan arrived from the U.S. on March 2, but had to return home earlier than planned. Too bad, because, despite a sky with dissociative identity disorder, it’s been a welcome bit of R&R.

Relaxing by the pool at Zimbali
Relaxing by the pool at Zimbali

See, there’s a lot you don’t know. Since our last post, more than a month ago, we’ve had our hands full: new skirmishes in The Great Bank Bond Battle of 2015 (a war of attrition, where property — as usual — is the prize); a serious health scare from Indie (“It’s not a tumor.”); a visit from good friends (which was fun); safari in Botswana (OK, not so terrible, and photos coming, promise); work; attempts to get more work; working out; twerking; etc.

But this long weekend has been more than just an escape. It’s turned into a celebration. Because…

… we got a bond! Yep, we finally convinced a bank to take a chance on us, strange, alien creatures that we are. Electronic money is changing hands, and we hope to move into our new house sometime in April or early May.


The news certainly made our dinner at Durban’s famous Oyster Box that much tastier.

Before dinner at the Oyster Box, in Umhlanga
Before dinner at the Oyster Box, in Umhlanga

Fortunately (sadly?), there were no monkeys.

This is Africa
This is Africa

We’re not staying at the Oyster Box, but our hotel is pretty swank, too. (Thanks, Travelocity.) It’s the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, the same place we stayed the last time we were in Durban, in 2012.

Just as on that last trip, we decided to break the seven-hour drive in half with a sleepover along the way. This time, we chose the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat, an old farmhouse-turned-lodge up in the mile-high Drakensberg Mountains. Talk about off the beaten path…

It’s probably safer to say that the path beat us. After exiting the silky smooth N3 highway, we bumped along several under-construction local routes, dodged potholes and clay animal hawkers, and tested the Volvo’s suspension on about 20kms of “who put the quarter in the bed?” gravel roads. To be honest, it was more like 35kms, because I missed a turn and had to take the long way around Retief’s Pass.

The upshot was that it was a beautiful drive: Endless green pastures between rounded mountain tops; ducks gliding on glassy lakes as herons stand guard; ancient fencerows straining to maintain their relevance.

On the N3 near Harrismith
Driving to Drakensberg Mountain Retreat

You’ll have to take my word for it — we didn’t get many good pics, as we were racing the clock to reach the lodge before nightfall.

Turns out we missed a spectacular sunset over the mountains, and the next morning was too foggy for views. So, we jumped back in the car, congratulated ourselves for buying an SUV, and jiggled on out to the highway.

Now, a few relaxing days later, it’s time to drive home. If only it was to our new one.

Soon enough…

One thought on “Escapism

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