Durban Pride in Photos

Author: , July 3rd, 2012

The invitation on Facebook read:

“Join in celebrating our diversity, our fabulousness and our solidarity with fallen heros! Durban Pride is for the LGBTI community and our straight supporters to come together and share in the warmth of a united group of interesting peeps.”

The highlight of the week-long celebration was Saturday’s 2012 Durban Pride parade that started at the city’s at Mr Price Kings Park rugby stadium, home of the Sharks (the Durban and KwaZulu-Natal provincial rugby team), followed a route past the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium built for the 2010 football World Cup…

Full Story from Examiner.com

Click here for gay travel resources in Kwazulu Natal.

Durban is South Africa’s Gayest City?

Author: , July 27th, 2011

Durban has declared itself the “gayest” city in the country, The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday. This is according to the youth leader of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Health Centre, Siphokazi Nombande.

Compared with other big cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, Durban was the most accommodating towards gay people.

“We have a very small number of hate crimes against gays and lesbians reported in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal in general,” he said.

Full Story from News24

Click here for gay travel resources in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Durban: Lesbian Capital of South Africa

Author: , February 11th, 2011
by Ernie Alderete, Traveler
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Durban is the number one sea port in Africa, a major port-of-call for cruise ships on the Indian Ocean, an important railhead with lines snaking north throughout southern Africa, and the low-key Lesbian capital of South Africa.

Durban, South Africa

Durban Photo from Wikipedia

While Cape Town to the west is the undisputed gay male capital of Africa, Durban is the heart of the Lesbian community of at least South Africa, if not the entire continent. Like many Lesbian communities, Durban’s feminist circle is based on an extended social, residential and business network, rather than a glitzy club scene. Like-minded women who gather informally to enjoy a home cooked vegetarian dinner, discuss their lives, and perhaps sing and dance into the night.

A group by the name of Bent organizes more formal, up-market Lesbian parties at different locations in the suburbs on the last Friday of each month attended by two to six hundred patrons, with international visitors most welcome.

Although I’m a heavily bearded, way too tall gay male Chicano red meat devouring senior, the loving Lesbian community of Durban took me to its heart. A young Indian Lesbian couple invited me into their home where they cooked a delicious vegetarian dinner for me. They made a lonely stranger from the other side of the world feel completely at home.

They told me that their families were much more accepting of their alternative lifestyle than they would have been back in their more traditional and restrictive motherland. Most Indo-South Africans appreciate not only the greater freedom they experience in South Africa, but the more harmonious relationship enjoyed among Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus unhampered by territorial disputes, religious rivalries and ancient grudges.

LESBIAN CRUISES

Several luxury cruises whisk off up to a thousand Lesbian passengers and their friends to a plethora of choice destinations.
One Lesbian and gay friendly cruise aboard the 777 cabin, 700 member crew, 9 deck MSC Sinfonia, hugs the Indian Ocean coast up to Maputo, capital of neighboring Mozambique, Barra Beach Lodge further up the Mozambican coast, returning to Durban.

On other similar voyages aboard the Sinfonia ports-o’-call include uninhabited Portuguese Island known for its pristine beaches, and Inhaca Island which is a little-known royal kingdom, both isles guarding the southeast approach to Maputo Harbor.

There are also recurring predominantly Lesbian three-day all-at-sea sailings from Cape Town, returning to Cape Town aboard the deluxe 532 cabin, 530 member crew, 8 deck MSC Melody, sister ship of the Sinfonia. Coming departures are scheduled for the second week of January, and the last week of February 2011. Rather than ports-of-call, passengers enjoy onboard entertainment including swimming in two deck top pools with retractable covers for all-weather use.
All cruises offer vegetarian, kosher and halal cuisine.

The Lounge is the top gay, Lesbian and transgender hot spot in Durban. Its two stories house five hip bars, three packed dance floors, two outdoor balconies, plus lounge areas with pool tables.

Being the largest port in Africa opens sprawling Durban to a broad range of influences, and fosters its open-minded personality. Durban is the place where Mahatma Gandhi began to evolve his non-violent political theories that lead to the eventual liberation of not only his own homeland of India, but of his oppressed second homeland, South Africa.

Coming full-circle, on January 30, 2010 sixty-two years to the day after his assassination in India, Mohandas Gandhi returned to South Africa. His ashes were scattered at the beach in Durban.

Durban boasts the largest population of Indians outside India. More than half a million of Durban’s three and half million people are Indian, with many more Indian descended residents living within the surrounding metropolitan area

Despite the large South Asian population, Durban is a predominantly Christian city. Most white Europeans, about sixty percent of black Africans and up to forty percent of Indians are followers of the cross.

The choicest excursion departing Durban is aboard the legendary Rovos Rail. It’s a three-day deluxe rail safari that heads north over the majestic Drakensburg Mountains ending at South Africa’s national capital city of Pretoria, with game drives in Nambiti private Game Reserve famed for the “Big 5,” lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.

Come to Durban for the warm climate, the golden beaches, the delicious South Asian fusion cuisine, skydive over Durban via Pietermaritzburg Airport, watch dolphins frolic along Durban’s famed Dolphin Coast, enjoy a Hindu festival where devotees walk on white hot coals, to absorb the unparalleled exotic ambience within a smoothly functioning modern European framework.

I spent several memorable days at Zimbali Forest Lodge, an ultra upscale, super chic resort on the outskirts of Durban. I even had my own personal Anglo-Indian butler in crisp formal attire to unpack my bags, draw my bath, polish my shoes to a sparkling mirror glow, summon my limousine, schedule my spa treatments, and decant my nightcap. My spacious elegantly appointed private suite faced the ocean, and there were illusive miniature deer smaller than a Chihuahua living in the tropical foliage beneath my private mahogany deck.
But it was a forty-minute long, if scenic drive via sugarcane fields into Durban. Being closer to town, the restaurants, shops and the action is your best bet.

Quarters Hotel DurbanI enjoyed my stay at Quarters on Florida Road near the city center, a low-key collection of four exquisitely renovated Victorian-era homes complete with stained glass windows and all the bells, and whistles in a park-like setting. I’ve read negative customer reviews online that the rooms smell, and other such complaints. I think anyone wanting to stay in nothing less than a gleaming new marble facade hotel tower with glass-enclosed elevators would find fault with an older construction building. You pay a price for charm, and character. It’s a trade off.
There’s another Quarters on Avondale housed in a beautifully restored two-story Edwardian home.

Bean Bag BohemiaLa Bordello is a boutique hotel featuring Moroccan decor, right next door to Bean Bag Bohemia, oldest gay-popular restaurant in town which features al fresco sidewalk dining plus a more formal upstairs dining room, as well as serving meals in your room at La Bordello which is under the same management.

Vegetarian menu selections include Aubergine (called eggplant in North America) Rotolo, charcoal broiled eggplant slices rolled with cous-cous and spring vegetables, served with a Moroccan spiced tomato concasse (translation: chopped) and Midlands goat cheese. Bean Bag Bohemia even serves fresh-squeezed lemonade, the first restaurant in South Africa to offer the exotic American drink.

Bean Bag Bohemia is actually an international destination in its own rite, including three art galleries showcasing southern African painters currently including one from neighboring Botswana, plus Go Boutique Gym and Wellness Club featuring personal trainers and spa treatments.
I had a soothing massage after my long-haul flight from New York City to relax my gnarled legs.

EDIBLE LUNCHBOX

Bunny ChowThe single most iconic item on the Durban menu is Bunny Chow. You see Bunny Chow stands, brightly painted like carnival ticket booths on almost every street corner. Bunny Chow is to Durban, what the taco is to Mexico and the hamburger to the United States.

Despite the name, it is not pet food. It’s a hollowed out loaf of ordinary white bread filled with curry, most often beef, but also lamb, chicken, pork, beans, or other veggie curry, then the top of the loaf is put back on top creating a modern to-go, fast food, no utensil or dish needed convenience.

Although, when it was created it might have been designed to be taken away by customers who were prohibited from eating at particular establishments due to apartheid racial restrictions. Out of the pain of the tortured past grows the delicious pleasure of the present.

No one is certain how the strange name came about, but it could be a corruption of the Banias Hindu caste, the religious classification of the chefs who created the dish. Bunny Chow is often served with a side dish of sambals, a salad of grated carrot, onion and chile.

Nowadays Bunny Chow is featured at the finest sit-down formal restaurants, alongside more traditional Indian cuisine in all its flame throwing glory. Fresh caught seafood is also very popular in seaside Durban, as is Luso-Mozambican fare, Piri-Piri Chicken in particular.

One of the more exotic indigenous food items is mashonzha, caterpillar-like worms that are fried, grilled or cooked, spiced with chile, and accompanied by peanuts.

Durban is by far the largest city in Kwazulu-Natal, one of the nine provinces of South Africa. This modern political entity was formed in 1994 by combining the former province of Natal, with the KwaZulu Homeland.
Pietermaritzburg with its charming, well-preserved Victorian architecture about sixty miles directly north, and inland from Durban is the provincial capital. An easy, and pleasant day trip from Durban.

Zulu is the first language of a quarter of all South Africans, and of a whopping 80% of the people of Kwazulu-Natal.
English trails with only a 14% slice of the provincial linguistic pie as a first language, although it is the dominant language of urban Durban and understood across the entire province, and country.

85% of the people of Kwazulu-Natal are African, 8.5% Asian.
Although South Africa is of course a republic, the Zulu monarch reigns in the Zulu Kingdom, also known as the province of Kwazulu-Natal.

Kwazulu-Natal has the highest incidence of HIV-AIDS in the world, a staggering 40%. Always play safe wherever you are.

Ernie Alderete is an Angeleno-based adventure travel writer ready to get his feet wet, and challenge his comfort level. He’s always the first to sample the most exotic cuisine, whether it be fresh-caught piranha in Manaus at the center of the largest rain forest on earth, or charcoal roasted guinea pig in Cuzco, colorful capital of the ancient Inca Realm. Dinner could be slow cooked in a pit dug in the desert sands of Wadi Rum within sight of the Red Sea where Lawrence of Arabia once fought, or simple boiled beans in a cave in the remote highlands of Chihuahua shared with a native Tarahumara Indian.

Your email comments are always appreciated: erniealderete@yahoo.com