Fourteen hours, two flights and a few airline meals later we arrived in Jo'burg. My first glimpse of the city and I absolutely fell in love with it. Our first stop in South Africa was the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. Huge green lawns, lush outfields coupled world class infrastructure, the HPC was every sports persons dream come true.
Here, I was in for some world class cricket, rugby and football action. And yes! I did get my hands (legs rather) on the Jabulani balls which were quite a hit after the FIFA World Cup.
|The local team with Jabulani balls|
One meal in SA is like a buffet in India. The portions are just humongous. The 'rainbow' not only applies to the country and its people, but also to the cuisine that South Africa has to offer. The cultural melting pot that this country is, I was in for some lip smacking delicacies throughout my stay. While the Butchers Shop and Grill at the Mandela Square, served every kind of meat available on earth, I tried kudu and snail (albeit its awful taste) to get a hang of the local cuisine. Also a wild spinach dish, Morogo, which is an ancient local preparation, might win your taste buds over. But its Nandos and its hot peri peri and Creme Soda that I really crave for.
|Squid pasta.. look at freaking quantity!|
Surfs up...it was time to discover Durban
Amazing beach fronts, sand installations, seafood and a whole lot of Indian population, thats Durban for you. Renting a bike and cycling along the entire beachfront promenade,was the perfect way to unwind. The huge oceanic waves lashing past and the early morning chill hitting my face..ah bliss!
Up next, was a trip to Ushaka marine world, where it was time to let go off all my inhibitions and soak in (here, I mean literally) the world of marine amusement.
|Durban beach front|
Numerous passage ways of huge underground aquariums from turtles to sharks, pythons octopus and beautiful bright fish this place had it all and more. Ocean walking and shark diving just added to the mirth and daredevilry of the outing. Holed up in huge glass cage with those scary looking monsters all around you, phew, whoever said shark diving was fun!
My blog would be incomplete without a mention about the warm people I met during my stay in South Africa. From cricket coaches to Cage fighters, Physiotherapists to the Hooters girls, I was in for some amazing South African hospitality throughout my stay.
A hard taskmaster at work, Coach Jennings makes sure everyone in the team is performing to his abilities.He planned and organised a visit to the Soccer city stadium.
|Ray Jennings at Soccer City Stadium|
Based on the design of a calabash, an African pot, this ninety five thousand capacity stadium is an engineering marvel and shows what a beautiful sporting culture the South Africans have. Thanks to Ray's efforst I had the privilege to enter restricted areas in the stadium, even walking on the pitch, something very few people are allowed to do. Driving back we passed Soweto, the biggest black township in SA, also the Hector Pieterson Memorial, a wonderful monument built to commemorate the black uprising
|The Mandela house in Soweto|
|'Ever happy' Evan Speechly and me|
If there was an award for staying happy always, Mr. Speechly would win it hands down. Being assoicated with various cricket and rugby teams as a physiotherapist, Evan can sense a niggle with a mere touch. An avid reader and an excellent mimic, we bonded big time over books and humour. I did take few Hebrew lessons,from the Jewish born physio,considering the penchant that I have for learning new languages.
Like most African nations, South Africa too earns the dubious distinction of being rated high on crime chart. But with security officers like Theo on board, I didnt have to worry about being harmed in any way.
|Theo Padayachee- the enforcer|
The intimidating figure that Theo is, I was in for a surprise when he told me that his ancestors had moved from Tamil Nadu in India to Cape Town, before independence. He could actually speak fluent Tamil as well. What really amused me was, Theo's intriguing past. He used to be a cage fighter, who had even served a term in the prison , before he mend his ways and got into providing security solutions to those who sought her services. But our interaction was more to do with discussing the latest gadgets and social media, than the protection business. Yes! we are still connected via Facebook.
The Hooters girl
|HOot Hoot Hooters: Danelle|
Not just a pretty 'Hooters' face, Danelle, ended up befriending and showing us around Jo'burg. From shopping at the flea markets in Rose Bowl to the hopping to most happenings places in town, we simply had a ball. While Danelle is a football fanatic,cricket buffs, my friend Shireen and I, provided ample cricket gyaan and even ended up giving Danelle tickets to one of the matches. Glad she was and how!
The Kiddie brigade
|Andrew (extreme right) with his friends.|
With the tournament done, it was time to get back to India, back to the grind, the normalcy et al. But I'll never forget the adventure, the food, the sights and sounds, the people I met and the mirth that ensued in the Rainbow nation.
P.S: Escapades are fun when you go all out and enjoy, not having to worry about the hole it burns in your pockets. Expedia, now in India, gets you the best travel deals while you make the most of your holiday.
This post is my entry to Around the World with Expedia contest at Indiblogger.