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Page » Blogs » Edition 2. Inspector Clueless with a map. Very early January 2014

  • Edition 2. Inspector Clueless with a map. Very early January 2014

    Posted by Nikki Tilley January 3, 2014 - 1,597 views - 1 comment - 0 likes - #South Coast KwaZulu Natal - the accidental tourist 

    WHAT a wonderful and magical turn of events. Here I thought I was lost and ambling. Now I am ambling with a vague clue. Because… not only do I have the famous Southern Explorer map jam packed with info, routes, maps and contacts, but oh are the locals so lekker and helpful! My clueless plan was initially just to follow the road, in a sort of sensible geographic way, but alas Curiosity the Cat seems to have become my tour guide. I hear things are cooking down south.

    So a glorious day starts – I see the dark blue seas glittering and gentle waves a-crashing, and then the cynic in me wonders if the waves are actually waving at the tourists. I have hit the South Coast smack bang in the festive season. Is this just something they do in holiday season? Time will tell. I have a feeling that they don’t ignore locals. Maybe we might even crack a Mexican wave from one of these glorious beaches. Like the one I was waiting for from the whale. Only in plural this time. So on the road again…

    Speaking of waves, I got caught up in a roadblock. Being waved down by every official looking (my mother definitely didn’t dress me funny) looking person on the planet and traffic cones (you know those orange ones that you hear people wake up in bed with after a night out? Yes, those ones). So these were to channel cars, bikes, caravans and my live-in apartment on wheels into a standstill. Apparently I have been caught out. Someone had to find out anyway. Was it my grandfathers shoplifting in the 1920s or my great aunt’s fourth child removed running an illicit tattoo parlour? Nope, turns out none of the above. Rumor has it that this roadblock is called the `Happiest Road Block of All Times’. It was the mayor stopping tourists and giving them presents and wishing them well. Never mind the fact that I have never seen, in all my wanderings worldwide such an amazing gesture before, but the relief was overwhelming. My family history was safe.

    Welcome to Hibberdene, welcome to the South Coast. Now loaded with lots of great pressies, newspapers, maps, and news about the safety zone of blue light district – not the urban stuff about red lights ‘n all) and a total plus – a Frisbee which perhaps, since I am travelling dog-free, I can throw for my new imaginary friend – Curiosity the Cat.

    So Hibberdene turns out to be a small coastal town and was named after C. Maxwell-Hibberd, the former postmaster-general of Natal. Considered the gateway to the Hibiscus Coast of KZN – that’s local lingo for KwaZulu-Natal, it is a quaint little seaside town situated 97 km south of Durban with a rather eclectic shopping centre for small settlements and countryside surrounding it. There are plans to establish a small craft marina in Hibberdene. Mmmm I could sleep in a yacht. Apparently a twice daily shuttle bus stops in Hibberdene connecting the town with Margate, Port Shepstone and Durban (including the international airport – why leave is my only question?)

    And I have struck gold – Hibberdene has five gorgeous beaches, four of which are netted and therefore safe for swimming, oh yes, and down the road in Umzumbe is a Blue Flag beach. Tick bucket list, tick. I intend swimming at all the Blue Flag beaches on the South Coast…ok, four swims later I am feeling a little dehydrated from the warm Indian Ocean’s lulling waves and that fireball in the sky. Days here seem to be governed only by the rising and setting of the sun, and oops, how quickly has that seeped into my sunburnt skin. So off to a little local down the road in Umzumbe. End of blog. Not. I’ll keep it short though. Curiosity reminded me about my mission – the history and culture of the place comes before an ice-cold.

    The village of Umzumbe itself is almost blanketed in a wild dune forest, access to its unspoilt beach is easy, and it sure offers a slice of paradise. But whoa, hold the chariot – what was that? I have just seen one of the most beautiful buildings ever – a red brick mission built in 1861, towering high over Umzumbe and the coastline.

    According to my quick Google from UKZN’s archives, the `Umzumbe mission station is probably one of the most beautiful and inspiring stations belonging to the American Board Mission. The mission station was first conceived in 1861 by Elijah and Addie Robbins and later taken over by Henry and Laura Bridgman in 1869. Under their leadership a church, school and dispensary were all built and opened. The station was also run by Amy Bridgman Cowles, Laura Bridgman’s daughter, and her husband George Cowles from 1904. It was this family that has written and passed on the stories of some of the more prominent members of their congregation in Umzumbe. And with the changing nature over the two generations of the three women examined: two of them defying the traditional moulds of patriarchy and the third as the storyteller, who is the storyteller after all these years?

    Is that enough history now for you Mr Cat??? I convince HIM that the locals can tell us more about the Mission. So here we come, the famed The Rock Bottom. Watch out for Episode 3 coming to a rock near you… yes, that’s corny but it’s the sea air speaking.

    Reporting live from paradise – Mission very possible.

    Signing out,

    Inspector Clueless with a map, and because he is sulking without mention, Curiosity the Cat.

    So what’s your story about these gems? Get your people to call my people. 0800 FINDME. Erratum: [email protected]

  • 1 comment
    • Peter  Richards
      Peter Richards this is great stuff - can't wait for the next one
      January 4, 2014