Welcome to Durbs, enjoy your stay
Running to the showers won’t help. Vinegar or methylated spirits will. Urine works best
Wednesday afternoon. There’s a nasty easterly blowing, so my plan for a quick bodysurf at North Beach to help me claw my way through the last week of work for the year dies as I watch the frontrunners of the Gauteng mass that have been waiting all year to descend on Durban jump up and down in the shore break, their faces a blend of joy and excitement until they get their first taste of the flotilla of bluebottles blown in from the Mozambique current.
It’s an ugly sight. Men, women and children sprinting out of the water, ripping at the long, thin ribbons of blue fire that have wrapped themselves around their arms and legs, stumbling as the jellyfish they stamp on as they make their way out of the water sting their feet and legs, ugly little bastards capable of inflicting pain even in death.
The crew of lifesavers who had been trying to keep the punters out of the water look on knowingly. Running to the showers won’t help. Vinegar or methylated spirits will. Urine works best.
I head off to get a taxi back to town. A mere R5 gets you through the maze of barricades the city bosses have erected along the beachfront, allegedly to free up traffic flow when the horde from across the Jukskei River lands in earnest on December 16, at top speed.
There’s a bit of a wait. Across the road is the metro police operations centre set up for the festive season. There’s a charge office, breathalysing facilities, cells and even a courtroom – a one-stop shop for anybody caught having too much fun in the area.
Next to the cop shop, there’s blue-and-white cop tape stretched across the perimeter of the Victoria Park. I move closer. There are no bodies, just this weird looking baby Jesus in the manger nativity installation. Next to that, there’s some kind of inflatable gingerbread house straight out of Grimm’s fairytales. There are a couple of blow-up mushrooms and some other structures that look like they’d be more suited to one of Hieronymus Bosch’s visual nightmares than a kiddies’ park on Durban’s Golden Mile.
An out-of-town bus pulls up. A swarm of kids pours down the stairs and onto the pavement. A few of them see the display in the park and bolt towards it.
They make it as far as the crime scene tape before the security guard deployed by the city to look after it appears and chases them away.
Welcome to Durban.