Driving from Durban to the Midlands, beautiful but also terrifying

2019-10-02 14:45 - Marisa Crous
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I am always excited about visiting the KZN Midlands. Wuthering Heights green, rolling hills, epic gorges and waterfalls, grazing jersey cows and a farm-fresh atmosphere that hangs in the air like a sharp floral perfume. It is, undoubtedly beautiful, laid-back and could easily be a top candidates for my list of South African happy places; but there's just one issue - getting there. 

That N3 Freeway is my unhappy place. 

The N3 between Durban and Howick is not a long drive, but it has made the list of 'most dangerous roads in SA' many times over on many different platforms, throughout the years. It is a trade route to Johannesburg, and with daily pickups in Durban's harbour, it is a busy, truck-heavy road. Here, a truck is king. 

Imagine the below video, but instead of a car passing this huge truck loaded with tree stumps, it's another truck loaded with an even bigger load of trees passing it.

Recently, Business Insider reported that an expected N3 revamp - costing north of R20 billion - will come into effect on this and several of SA's most dodgy roads. 'Dodgy' in the sense that the road is either considered damaged, too narrow, has too many dangerous twists and turns, is prone to accidents, hijacking and looting, has too much traffic for a two-laned road, etc.

As it stands, the road is in good condition, but driving to the calm and peaceful Midlands is scary in the day - despite the stunning surroundings - and at night, when it's all dark, it's much, much scarier.

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Driving in a minibus from Nottingham Road to the Capture Site in Howick, a quick 20 min drive, is terrifying. Not driving a truck makes you the underdog on the road. The sitting duck. Bottom of the food chain.

I close my eyes. Maybe that'll help me feel less scared, I hope. No, no. MUCH worse. Now, I'm imagining what's happening. Or what could happen. And it ain't pretty. 

I was always a bit scared of flying. Until a statistician told me you are more likely to win the lotto than to die in a plane crash. And the chances of winning the lotto, well, dismal. So then, I stopped being afraid of flying. Turbulence? Bring it on. In fact, I'm more afraid of my Uber crashing on the way home from the airport after flying me all the way from Thailand to South African soil, than anything else.

The morning after we drove the terrifying stretch of highway between Nottingham Road and Howick, we wake up to the news of a mass pile-up on the Howick freeway. This left me feeling justified in the fear I felt that night. Like, I wasn't just a pansy for being so anxious while everyone else in the minibus with me seemed so relaxed and kept chatting away despite the constant threat of imminent death I felt while on this road. 

READ: This is SA's newest official nature reserve in the KZN Midlands

Like with any travels, it's not just about the destination, it's about the trek to get there. And even though I found this road as scary as many have hailed it, it was still a wake-up call for me to simply let it be, as your journey is what you make it.

If I train my brain to see the trucks on the highway as road turbulence, then I should just shut up and enjoy the view instead of trying to control a situation that is very much out of my immediate control, right?

I will go back to the Midlands, and drive that road, because despite it all, it's not worth avoiding this beautiful place because I'm scared of getting there. 

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