This post is above all the description of how shopping for Christmas 2008 was. I could say it in three words (it was okay), but by now you must have realized how words seem to multiply when I start.
The first aspect of shopping 2008 was the symmetry with shopping 2007, in terms of periodicity. I guess we have done precisely the same last year: shopping early (mid November) to avoid the last hour rush. The similarities stop here. The highlight of 2007 was crime, this year entering a mall was almost like boarding to the USA.
Rain and cold. Cold and rain. Cold started 80km from Maputo, at Goba border, fog right after the border and rain less than 10 minutes of Swazi road. In general we had a smooth ride to Durban, with a sad note: Gugas, the little pug I used to photograph, is no longer there. Dennis and Jessie, the other dogs, looked like they missed our little friend.
Before going to Zinkwazi we first stopped in Ballito for food. You cannot believe how cold it was! Rain and wind still reigning… Worst than the worst winter day! As we don’t have to give explanations in terms of reservations, Paul suggested a cozy hotel in Durban instead of a windy desolated beach. I gladly accepted. Though I have pleasant family memories there, the place still makes me feel a knot in my throat – you know, the way we feel when we are about to cry.
I was quite excited with the perspective of a beach hotel where we often stayed before 2006. It was fully booked. The same for hotel number two, three, four and five. The last receptionist recommended a five star downtown hotel, the only she knew with rooms still available.
‘Downtown hotel?’ Paul said. ‘No way!’
As a result of his reticence, it was night, and still raining and cold, when we found ourselves discussing the possibility of staying in a hotel we found in Umhlanga with rooms rated at R7.000 per night or accepting the downtown suggestion.
‘Let’s give it a try, Paul.’ I insisted. ‘If the receptionist recommended it to me, it can’t be that bad. Both hotels are good, but the difference in price is incredible. I know that if JP was here he would tell us to stay, but after, if TD discovered we paid such amount he would spend an entire year without speaking to us!’
So we went to the suggested downtown hotel. The desk personnel, knowing through Paul I wanted a beach hotel, gave us a room with an incredible view. The hotel is old style but cozy. We had a pleasant stay, full of episodes I cannot tell to save on words: we met a media producer somehow related with TD; I had some extras for breakfast after teaching a nice zulu lady how to speed up the process of frying eggs for rushed conference people.
Maybe before going any further I should explain the reason why hotels were so packed: conferences! Through different conference attendants, mainly two from Austria, we learned a few themes being discussed in Durban while we were shopping for Christmas 2008. Interesting to say one of the meetings was organized by the WHO: against smoking! Yes, s-m-o-k-i-n-g!
So, Paul and I playfully changed our colloquial language to a conference mood. ‘Let’s have breakfast. Our conference is starting in half an hour!’ we would say. ‘Let’s drive to our conference centre…’ referring to any shopping centre.
We could say our shopping expedition-2008 was almost like a very informal conference!