Approaching from the North Coast, Umzinto is not that difficult to reach. Just hop in your car and drive towards Port Shepstone, and when you are tired, you’ll be in Umzinto. Being almost exactly between Durban and Port Shepstone, it was established by people too lazy to travel between the two places. You’ll know when you’re there. It’s hard to miss the broken-down sugar cane trucks on the roadside, and some guy will try to sell you glue to feed his addiction to ARVs. It’s relatively safe. Though, you could fall into a pothole. Local Government has a mildly effective solution to potholes; they put signs, next to the part of the road that has the potholes, that say “Potholes”. You’re welcome. Potholes in Umzinto are so big that if you fall in, there’s a guy in uniform at the bottom asking to see your passport.
The local high school is on your left. Umzinto Secondary is where all the cool kids go to bring shame to their families. The ultra-hip guys crush marijuana just outside the gate. They wear their school ties while doing it. Call them drug addicts, but they still have pride in their school. The school girls monitor the road alongside, intent on finding a suitable, out-of-school mate to disrespect them. They wave you down to say, “Hey! Take advantage of me! I’m practically eighteen!”. You will probably see them start salivating when they see some unemployed guy with loud music, cigarettes and facial jewelry drive past.
Religiously, Umzinto is ahead of the game. In a 50 km radius there are 23 churches with 2.5 qualified pastors. 94% of the population are Christian and 93% celebrate Diwali with a smidgen of guilt. 99% of all residents unanimously agree that terrorism is “totally lame” because they like cheese burgers and casual intercourse. Pay attention to your driving. During the CBD upgrade, the engineer’s plans got mixed up and now the road signs and markings actually direct you towards an accident.
If you’re hungry, you could get some expired cereal from the shops. They sell the cereal and the prize you’re supposed to get inside the box, separately. What economic genius. Beware of falling into open manholes. It’s not as fun as it sounds. In that event you could sue the municipality and win, if your cousin works for them. Never question the freshness of the local produce. Fruit and vegetables are delivered to vendors bright and early by the local alcoholic. Don’t come during summer though. There’ll be the annual flood we weren’t expecting. Which is, as you’d expect, judgement on the town for it’s overpriced mutton. Hey, but if Rhino gets flooded you can get a two-litre of Coke for ten rand from the police officer in charge of the investigation. Crime will only affect you if you let it. There’s even a Wall of Fame outside the holding cells for guys who break out within the impressive 20 minute mark. We have a very sophisticated, ground-breaking approach to tackling crime. In Umzinto, Law Enforcement leaves the crime fighting to you. Few things can match the bitter-sweet irony of getting mugged in front of the police station.
The hallmark and testament to Umzinto’s modernization is the KFC right in the centre of the CBD. With it’s questionable blend of eleven secret herbs and spices, it has enslaved the population to enjoy nothing better than vomiting in their parking lot. Carry extra ten cent coins when you go there though. The Glue Boys (named so because they sniff glue), who inhabit the street outside, will not hesitate to mock your upbringing should you not give them as many ten cent coins as you have. It’s not uncommon, when you’re strolling through town, to see teenagers haggling liquor store owners or to overhear something like, “That tree will die if I keep pissing on it”. Sons of local teachers and store owners congregate in open, makeshift parking areas with their Golfs to smoke a cigarette, exchange loose girl’s phone numbers and talk about valves. Speaking of Golfs, that’s an Indian girl’s Kryptonite. Tell an Indian girl you have a Golf and she will hand you her bag to hold so she can start undressing.
St Anne’s is the primary school on the hilltop. It occupies an enviably dramatic location next to the Catholic Church and Cemetery. It’s convenient in that you can pray for forgiveness in the church whose convent garden you stole mangoes from. There’s also nothing quite so motivating than looking at a statue of a crucified Jesus, first thing in the morning on your way to school. It’s all very entertaining. I hear rumors that even the nuns occupy themselves by engaging in the local favorite game of Guess Who’s Daughter’s Pregnant Now?
Make certain to visit Riverside Park. It has a library next to the river. It’s very picturesque to see all the overdue books floating on the surface of the water. Most of the people living there are employed in the full-time job of standing by the power box. Don’t be surprised to find the tenants dressed better than you. Food, rent, electricity and other unimportant things aren’t so much of a priority in RSP. You must understand, you have to look good enough to sit on a manhole and change your BlackBerry Display Picture all day. If you’re bored, you can join the local guys in some light cable theft. Children are left to play freely in the moderately safe environment. They are not expected to be back indoors until they get ringworms. If ringworms were good enough for their parents, it’s good enough for them. Family and Tradition, there’s a strong sense of that in Umzinto. There’s nothing quite like seeing a daughter-in-law, with her third child on her hip, fighting with her mother-in-law on the third floor window, at 10 am on a Tuesday morning. “Go sell yourself your black thing!,” she says.
All in all, Umzinto is a great exhibition of the spirit of middle class alcoholics. Which is why it was rated the number one immigration destination by Nigerian, Pakistani and Chinese drug/human traffickers. Jealous much, Park Rynie?
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