The bus depot is roughly where I thought it was, along Fleet Street, then “across the road and straight ahead until the red Shoprite store. Its the one-two-third taxi there. Its for Mthatha. Change at Mthatha for Port St Johns”, as described by a marshall. The town is said to be named after the fact a Portuguese ship sailed by on 24th June, St John’s day.
Its at Port St Johns that the River Mzimvubu makes its slow meandering journey into the Indian Ocean. Birds feed on the sandbank separating the two. Just opposite is the ruin of the Cape Hermes Hotel, all straight lines much like a hotel in Robertsport, Liberia, all those months before. A lanky grey vervet monkey crosses the path, only disturbed by an oncoming vehicle. There is the greenery and cicadas of somewhere in coastal West Africa, without the stickiness.
Durban instantly out-striped my expectations, though I think that says more about my expectations than of Durban. I find a sunny city of sky scrappers and lively market stalls. Between them and the non-descript buildings are some historic architectural gems, and gardens green despite the heat. Just by an underpass its standing room only in the shade. A preacher is calling a demon from a man. Either the demon isn’t particularly interested in moving on, or the preacher isn’t much cop:
“In the name of Jesus, leave now…now…now…now…in the name of Jesus…” He has a small queue of people waiting for the magic words to be said to them. The crowd looks on, more for want of anything better to do then out of any belief.
The Vasco da Gama clock, a rusting colourfully painted iron bandstand-like construction, reminds me that whatever I do on this trip, someone has done it before me. Which actually, is a rather calming thought. Da Gama had no mobile phone if needs arose.