Hello from Durban, South Africa! I’m writing this on the balcony of my two-floor suite. Yep, I have two floors, how amazing! Never had that before.
We’re staying at the world-renowned Oyster Box hotel in Umhlanga and so far we’re having an amazing time.
This is not a holiday – it’s a working adventure, and one that has been just that. I’ve done more in the past two weeks then I’ve probably done in a year.
Filming a new TV series has meant we’ve been given access to places, to people and to communities that you wouldn’t ordinarily see on a traditional holiday.
Take today for example. I was invited to the Valley of 1000 Hills, which is a low-income housing community about 30 minutes’ drive from our hotel. As its name suggests, the community sits amongst hills and it’s the kind of landscape I’d only seen before in movies.
Winding dust tracks lead you down to the valleys where women carry shopping and produce on their heads, the children walk barefoot and animals run wild. It was a surreal experience.
Mumgabi is one of the community elders and what she says goes. The community I visited are very poor and still predominantly live by the laws of a tribal leader.
I felt extremely humbled to be invited to Mumgabi’s house, which was a three-room mud hut. She showed me how to make traditional pap – a South African dish used to fill you up – and cook it on an open fire.
She was so proud of her community and home. I helped where I could – language was a small barrier, but her English was far better than my Zulu. The only thing I can say is ‘siyabonga’ which means ‘hello, how are you’.
After we’d made some food, Mumgabi had some of the local children turn up to be fed. She shared a very small serving of food around to about seven people – people like us who she didn’t know and children that weren’t her own.
There was something very grounding about seeing that.
South Africa has been a real eye-opener and I love the process of learning – not about destinations but about the people and different cultures. Truly inspiring.