As a medical writer I attend a lot of conferences in a lot of countries around the world. Portugal, Thailand, Poland, Spain and Switzerland are among the many I’ve visited. I am always amazed how different one country is to the next, each with its own foods, culture, architecture, political climate etc. With all their differences, there is one place in the world I recommend everyone visit at least once.
Durban, South Africa is the most beautifully tragic place I have ever been. It is a beach resort town like no other on earth. Mixed in with the crystal clear waters, white sands and mansions are blocks and blocks of shacks made of card board, scrap metal and anything else its inhabitants can scrounge. Some how, and I don’t think I’ll ever figure out how, these makeshift huts do not take away from the beauty of Durban but add to it somehow. The contrast of wealth and poverty is earth shatteringly disturbing with the realization that the lingering effects of apartheid still rule many areas of South Africa.
Beach front mansions equipped with built in swimming pools, decks, servants quarters and Jacuzzis along with 5 star beach resorts share the same neighborhoods where 4 year old AIDS orphans wander alone begging for food. Groups of ten year old boys beg for change to buy glue to sniff to numb them from the reality of their desperate lives.
With a president and government that does not recognize HIV as a virus and 1 out of 4 people living with HIV/AIDS, the future for South Africa would be increasingly grim if it were not for the worldwide attention it is receiving.
If looking for a travel destination where a relaxing vacation can be spent at a beautiful resort or gorgeous rentable apartment with a view of the Indian ocean can be mixed with an eyeopening firsthand experience of the plight of a land devastated by poverty and AIDS Durban, South Africa is a trip you should take. I guarantee it will be a life changing experience.