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Road Side Sanity

September 11, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi has been quoted as saying “ You can judge the progress of a society by how well they treat their animals” or words to that effect. Wise and noble words but rather outdated. I suspect if the spiritual leader was to re visit South Africa today he may comment something along the lines that you can judge the progress of a society by how well they drive.

Sundown above the Umkomaas

I travel a lot on our roads mainly between Durban, Ixopo and Eshowe. It’s a crazy place where the philosophy of non-aggression and consideration to others is foreign to the majority of drivers. But amongst the insanity I try and get to smell the plants and take some landscapes shots along the way. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.


Much of the areas have been transformed but you do get the occasional patch of intact vegetation and it really lifts the spirits to drive through these areas. All the photos were taken within walking distance of the crazy Durban-Ixopo-Kokstad Road. The third shot below is of the dwarf coral tree ( Erythrina humeana ) and is close to Ixopo which was the small village that Alan Paton described a road running through in the opening chapter of  his novel Cry, the Beloved Country.


From → Landscape

  1. Andrew- this is terrific! An absolutely great theme, wonderful first post, and gorgeous pictures! I’m looking forward to everything you’re going to post and I wish you lots of luck … and fun!

  2. Eileen permalink

    Hi Andrew

    This is great! What great pics of a world I know so well. Nostalgia reigns!
    I won’t mention what year it was but I was Head Girl of Ixopo High School way back when.
    I went back to visit the school late last year after they had closed for December holidays and am I sorry I did. It breaks one’s heart.

    I have clients in Bulwer, Boston, Merrivale, Howick, Lions River, Dargle, Westville so I know the roads you are travelling very well indeed. I visit clients, friends and family about 2-3 times a year; travelling those roads, chancing my life between the milk tankers and the forestry timber haulers. We lived at Boston from 1995 to 2003.

    My father was at Ixopo Primary School – it must have been about 1922!!! My grandfather was head of Native Affairs at Umzimkulu when Dad was a lightie.

    Alan Paton taught him at the school and my Dad detested the man with a hatred only a child can conjure up! Paton used the hit him on the knuckes with the side of a steel ruler when my Dad got grammar wrong. He also coached cricket after school and ’til the day he died, my Dad detested cricket as well !!!

  3. Thanks Eileen

    I agree the Howick-Boston-Underberg road is also crazy. After Underberg you then enter one of my favourite stretches from Underberg to Swartberg. What a pleasure to drive that piece of road.

    Great to hear some first hand information on Alan Paton. He always struck my as an old School Master type of person and I can picture your Dad’s experiences. I thought the 80’s were tough in South African schools but I can imagine it was a lot tougher back then.

    I have a real soft spot for the whole Ixopo-Umzimkhulu-Creighton Area and living in Umzimkhulu in the old days must have been something special.I’m hoping to post some shots on a virtual ghost town near Creighton called Riverside. Lovely area with this strange almost abandoned town in the middle of nowhere.

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