An Average of 300 Hours of sun Every Month: Durban
Somebody told me once that to truly experience South Africa you have to spend at least half a year exploring a few of its provinces. Much like the United States and Australia, the area is so vast that you can expect a variety of climates, types of vegetation and cultural inclinations. I am usually conscious of the weather, and until now I hadn’t planned on visiting Africa in the heart of winter.
What changed my mind was a Facebook post saying: ‘Durban – The Warmest Place to Be’
Warm, cheap, friendly
My next step was to look into average temperatures and ask around. I soon realized that the average winter in Durban is not much different to the average summer in the UK. An added bonus was that because it was summer in Europe and winter in South Africa, flights were dirt cheap and so were accommodation, food and even souvenirs. With the South African Rand’s value so low against the English pound, this was one of the cheapest holidays I have had in a long time. It was also one of the nicest and most relaxed holidays.
Why so relaxed?
You can’t help but chill out around Durbanites. The average Durbanite wears a similar outfit every day: board shorts (called baggies), sandals (called flip-flops) and t-shirts or vests with bikini tops under for the ladies. Sure, there are offices and office workers but even their clothing is very relaxed – no stockings, suits or ties that I could see here! Not just their dress-code is relaxed; the people of Durban exude calm and friendliness. They are happy to talk to foreigners and offer all sorts of suggestions about food and entertainment options. One particular recommendation turned out really well, the bunny chow.
Lost in translation, and hungry
In Durban it is not strange for random strangers to start speaking to you, especially if you have a foreign accent. You will often hear: ‘Howzit, where you from hey?’ Howzit is South African for ‘how is it going?’ but you are not expected to answer, except maybe to say ‘Howzit’ back. Many Durbanites end sentences with ‘hey?’ and they don’t expect you to answer that either; it is just the way they speak. This particular stranger said exactly that, and when I said I’m from the UK but originally from Spain, for some reason he was convinced that I love chilli and suggested I get a ‘lekker hot bunny’. Naturally I had no idea what he meant and eventually my new friend Jaco (pronounced: ya-cooh) had me by the arm and almost dragged me to a street vendor who was selling bunny chows.
Bunny chows are not food for rabbits
It turned out that ‘lekker hot bunny’ was a delicious, spicy local food. You have a choice between beans, vegetables, chicken and lamb and whether you want a quarter, half or full bunny. Prices start at R25 (around 88p) for a quarter bean or veg bunny and R85 (around £4.20) for a full lamb bunny. I had no idea what to go for so followed Jaco’s lead and ordered a quarter chicken bunny and a Coke which came to R45 (£2.20) each. What I got was a quarter of a loaf of really good bread hollowed out and filled with incredibly delicious and very hot chicken curry, and a side of salad in a little plastic bag. No eating utensils except for the bread that was removed from the middle of the quarter loaf, which is used to scoop the curry out.
I enjoyed these bunny chows so much I had one every day of my two week stay in Durban, I tried every variation and even tried half a bean bunny once, which was very hard to finish. I could not imagine anybody ordering a full bunny but Jaco said it’s only for ‘babelaas’, which means a hangover. Maybe I’ll try that on my next visit.
Six months will not be enough
If one day and one meal in Durban can be so awesome, the person who said you need half a year to explore South Africa was very, very wrong. I am sure I will need at least ten years to explore some of the other places in South Africa.