“I know a guy…”


I’ve decided that my favorite phrase is “I know a guy”, or perhaps “I’ll make a call”

The world runs on connections, who knows whom.

We’re here in Durban, driving around with our guide, Jordan. He’s an Indian man, the fourth generation of a family that migrated to South Africa in search of work long ago.  His grandchildren make it 6 generations.

I felt lousy.  The persistent nagging cough I’ve had for weeks got better for a while, then came back with a vengeance.  I decided I needed antibiotics–taking a short course after the dentist coincided with me feeling better.

Google told me what I wanted and what dose, so we walked into a pharmacy and asked for Amoxicillin.  “No can do” was the response–I needed a prescription.

We walked out, then Jordan said the magic words, “let me make a call”.  Four generations in this city, and he knows people.  We crossed the street to another pharmacy.  He told us to wait in the car.  I gave him 1000 Rand, about $63, to cover the bill.

15 minutes later, he came back with exactly what I had asked for, and gave me back 850 Rand change.  The pills had cost $3.15.

I feel better today, so maybe they’re working, maybe I was getting better, maybe it’s all in my head.  I don’t care.  I just want to always be around the person who can say “I know a guy……”


On to the trip.  We spent a few hours seeing the limited sights of Durban. It’s a city of 3.5 million on the Indian Ocean.  Nice beaches, nice hills behind them.  White and Indian people live in the ‘burbs.  Black people live cheaply in the city. Apartheid is gone, but the economic segregation maybe not so much.

These sand sculptures are created by homeless kids the state has taught a skill so they can live.  They ask for a small tip when you photograph, and for a price will design a happy birthday or other greeting.  Notice there are two advertisements for a local dentist–advertising is everywhere.

I guess it’s mandatory to go to the local market, bazaar or souk.  They guys selling spices always make for good colorful photos, but I didn’t want to buy anything.  If I had a mother in law, though……

Saturday night we walked up Florida street, which is apparently the hot area for the local young and cool, to a restaurant called the Butcher Block–they specialize in lots of beef. For perhaps the first time in my life, I ordered a T-bone steak, after starting out with venison carpaccio. The tragedy of the night was they were out of the lemon meringue pie that graced the menu.  I made do with a chocolate sundae.

Sunday (to use the same word twice in a row and not be incorrect) we drove to the midlands, an area of rolling hills about 50 miles to the west. It was all green and glorious–Jordan says March 1 is the official end of summer, but that doesn’t make sense to me.  The vernal equinox isn’t for another 3 weeks, but maybe things are different in the southern hemisphere.

We stopped at the train station where Mahatma Gandhi, innocently traveling in a first-class carriage, was summarily ejected from same because Indians were not permitted. That was the beginning of his lifelong quest for equal treatment for all.

A few miles down the road is the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested while driving an associate, disguised as the chauffeur because his compatriot was white. The museum is very well done, describing the entire history of the anti-apartheid movement.


Down a long path, meant to symbolize the long walk to freedom, are what appears to be a large number of rusty metal poles sticking up into the sky.  When you get to just the right point, however, a portrait of Mandela coalesces.  It’s an amazing artistic trick that never fails to stun me.

Mandela will go down as one of the great men of history, revered as a man of honor who brought peace and equality to a disturbed and violent nation.


And now for something completely different.  We drove 5 miles down a dirt road to a ceramics workshop/gallery/museum.  I wasn’t impressed, but other people must be because the clearly make a ton of money.  This woman is riding in her private performance area, with the huge mirrors so she can perfect her routine.  That certainly makes sense, but I would never have imagined it.  You have to sell a lot of ceramics to pay for those mirrors……….

Tomorrow morning we’re off to the Zulu Nyala game reserve for our safari.  Life is good.




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