Ballito Jazz & Prawn Fest

Ballito Travel Blog

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Another short break from soccer; no World Cup games today or tomorrow.  It's strange when there are no games - I still have the urge to be somewhere by a TV for 4pm, but there is really no reason.  I don't know what I'm going to do when the cup is over.

We got a late start today, sleeping in and mucking about the apartment until almost noon.  It was a great day weather-wise, and we headed up to the Ballito Jazz & Prawn Fest, a half-hour drive north of Durban.  There were a few things going on in Ballito this weekend - the other being a Mr. Price Pro surfing contest.  Needless to say, with two large events and no soccer, the town was pretty packed.

Evidently, Ballito is a big location for Durbanites to party when they finish up with schooling.  People from the Joburg area come down and celebrate the end of school in the Umhlanga area, which is much closer to Durban.  Ballito is a gorgeous beach area, and maybe it is just the conditions today but the surf seemed much larger here than down by the beachfront in Durbs.

The Jazz & Prawn Fest itself wasn't too exciting.  We got in towards the end of the fair, so maybe we had missed out on the best stuff.  It was similar to a county fair back in the states, but with no livestock.  There was a section that had craft vendors selling their goods, a section that had various vendors advertising products, like Suzuki with cars & motorbikes, and John Deere with tractors.  There was a "farmers market" section with actually didn't have any produce, but had some food stands and some farm product stands - seeds, farming tools, etc.  It smelled great inside the farmers market tent, but we were holding out for the prawns.  They had a handful of the portable carnival type rides, the ones where you always imagine a screw coming loose causing things to fall apart in mid air and hurl bodies left and right like rag dolls.  There was a stage that had some decent bands playing a very rock-ish type of blues, and a Hooters (yes, like the same Hooters restaurant that we have in the US) beer garden, where the beer was served very slowly and by dudes.

The one thing that was really cool about the Prawn Fest  was a motor biking display that I couldn't imagine happening in the US.  The driver of the motorbike had a wireless mic rigged in to his helmet so that he could MC the show as he was doing his stunts.  He picked out some teen-aged volunteers from the audience and had them lay down on the grass, and then he would drive back and forth in this little area jumping over them.  He kept adding people to the pile until he had 6 people laying down next to each other.  He joked about having a hard time working the bike on the grass at this particular field, but he explained in great detail how he was about to do each stunt right before he did it - "bike is in 2nd gear, full throttle, I have to lean forward and move my body weight over the tank and then pull up hard at the precise moment and then shift my weight back" etc.  He put on a good show, did a cool series of tricks, all in a very tight area and in front of a large crowd that probably would have been traumatized had something actually go wrong.  Nothing went wrong.  It was impressive.

We left the festival after we had walked around and saw everything there was to see and went towards the beach.  There was a restaurant there called Mo-Zam-Bik which my friend Ross had heard great things about, so we stopped in for a meal.  I'll write up a review for the place sooner or later, but suffice it to say that it was a great place and the food I had was delicious.  Not an overly adventurous day, but it was nice to see more of the surrounding area.  We only have just over a week left in Durban, and only four games left in the Cup.  The reality of this all coming to and end is upon us.  

On a comical note, I finished out the day watching the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest on ESPN with Ross and his family.  It was classic Amurica through and through.  Ross's family was amazed at how large an event this turned out to be, with huge crowds,  colorful characters, and a twenty thousand dollar prize!  Interesting to watch this event while in Africa, where real hunger exists quite nearby.  It was surreal and it made me never want to eat a hot dog ever again.  Now a boerwors, that is another thing entirely.  Still, I don't want to eat 60 of them in 10 minutes.  One or two per week is just fine.
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