My hope was to meet Les and his wife, Kay, walk through the house, and then leave, heading to Port Edward.
Les and I walked through the house (an experience repeated when Kay arrived home) with me telling them what had been where, pointing out original fixtures, and explaining why some things they had discovered in renovations were the way they were. We hung out a while, and then they invited me to stay the night. I was taken aback, but accepted gratefully. Spending the night in the house where I was born was beyond anything I had anticipated.
At some point, they decided they should take me to Durban and show me how the beachfront had changed, so off we went. Navigating Point Road to Addington Beach, and walking past uShaka, and the extraordinary replica cargo ship that houses a restaurant offering an otherworldly, underwater dining experience , we settled in for lunch at a little place on the beach, where, on Les's recommendation, I had some of the best fish I’d ever tasted. A superb meal, after which it was generally decided that a walk along the beachfront was out of the question due to the heat, humidity and general tiredness, so we’d drive it.
From Addington Beach to Blue Lagoon, passing all the familiar hotels I’d either dined in, danced at, visited mother’s art exhibitions, or just walked past at some point, it was a lovely trip down memory lane. We made our way back home, and it took a while before I realized where I was, and the familiarity of the area washed over me. Driving the “Old Main Road” home – a trip I’d taken thousands of times as a kid, seeing Cheshire Home, the little shop at Moseley train station where we’d walk to as kids to buy a Fanta (before it became overly sweet and I turned to fruit juice, instead) or gumballs – oversized gob stoppers, usually licorice-flavored.
Back home to a casual evening chatting about politics and life in general before turning into bed – in what used to be my parents living room.
It felt odd taking pictures of the house – intrusive. But my niece would never have forgiven me if I hadn’t, and the only pics I have posted publicly one cannot make the connection between Google Street View and the house.
It was a perfect example of the hospitality for which this country is so famous: it’s not a superficial, polite friendliness. It is very real and genuine, and what a lovely thing to come back to.
I had one more treat in store: I had sent a disappointed email to Sarah's workplace and it had finally reached her. I convinced her to come and visit me, rather than me trying to navigate my way back to Kloof, and she did. She was warmly welcomed by Les and Kay, settled in with a cup of tea and a lovely chat as the owners made their way out to their vacation.
What irony. Sarah’s home is on the same street as the Ammazulu African Palace, so we had missed each other literally by a few hundred feet. Breathed a silent sigh of relief that she wasn’t the weak-minded neighbor, and oh, the regret of not getting in touch before I'd booked at that weird place.
Unfortunately, Port Edward came with a lie and a threat that if I didn’t show up on the day as promised, the world would end. My stay in Moseley had apparently been an adjustment that required a lie about car trouble, rather than the simple truth, and as much as I wanted to spend a couple of days with Sarah back in Kloof, I gave in and headed to Port Edward. I regret succumbing to pressure, and it's my own damn fault that I did. A lovely conversation on email and phone resulted in me making the decision that while at some point we would indeed have to make a plan to catch up - heading back north for a couple of days, merely to head south again, seemed far too much for me to handle, especially knowing the distances I had already driven, and was still going to. But I really wanted to spend time with a lovely friend with whom I’d had some great laughs and conversations way back when, and I felt that connection growing again over our cup of coffee at Moseley.
But now, I’m definitely too far to turn back. One day, Sarah, one day.