A Trip of a Lifetime, Healing and Adventure

The Ballito MagazineMarch 14, 2023

Diane Duncan is the owner of Old North Karibu Pub and Restaurant, situated along a dam on Karibu Farm in Umhlali. She is nothing short of phenomenal, and so is her story.

My story begins at Karibu, a place where people can come together for a holistic experience rather than just a meal, where the quality of food, cost-effectiveness, customer service, musical atmosphere and safety are high priorities.Besides my family being my biggest passion, my staff from whichever business I have owned are also exceptionally high on that list. Development of people, upliftment and proper treatment are prerequisites to a happy and successful workforce. I am also passionate about powerful relationships. I give it my all when building long-lasting relationships with friends. They help bring balance to my life. I am often lectured by them when I start tilting out of balance.

Losing my husband in April 2021 was a significant negative factor in my life. I was married to Len Duncan for 38 wonderful years until he ran out of heartbeats in his sleep. I made it through because my family, friends and customers wrapped me in a cotton wool cocoon and kept me off the floor. My mother, son, Shane and his wife Leigh-Ann are my steady rocks. My grandchildren Caylea and Kayden are my everlasting sunshine. Len’s daughter, Andrea, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are a bonus in my life from Len and are my own. Four days after losing Len, I went back to work. I mentally installed blinkers around my brain and created a situation where I would not look back or sideways.

Towards the end of 2021, I was invited by some of my longstanding friends on a trip to the USA. I held off on the decision until February 2022, when I applied for the visa. We departed for New York via Nairobi. At the first stop in Nairobi, I immediately felt at home when I saw “Karibu”, which means “welcome”.

After a small hiccup with the car rental company in New York, we were off towards Memphis. “Beale Street” is where all the action in Memphis happens. We got stuck in the first little pub as we celebrated my birthday with a local blues band. My only disappointment was that Elvis (or even an impersonator) was never to be seen in his hometown! The following day, we took off to find the elusive Route 66. We left the highway to walk around one of the derelict buildings we had spotted. As I stood on the tarmac and looked at the beautiful paintings and pictures on the walls, I was transported to a time that must be part of beautiful memories for millions of people. People dream about getting into a Winnebago or riding their Harleys to explore it. We loved exploring Route 66 and hoped to come back one day to do it again.

On our way to Las Vegas, we stopped by the Grand Canyon. There is only one way to describe the view. It certainly is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was spectacular and so overwhelmingly beautiful that I stopped breathing for a moment and felt tears running down my face.

I thought of Len missing this experience with me. I wanted to call my children and grandchildren and share the experience with them. But the time zone differences meant that they were asleep at the time. I found myself feeling so full of gratitude for the joy of love, my family, friendships and the simple things in life. I closed my eyes and thanked God for everything that made me so happy.

The approach from the highway towards Vegas was spectacular. The surrounding areas are mountainous and stunningly beautiful. You can feel the energy thrumming through the city and the excitement in the air. Even in Vegas, I looked for my favourite holiday meal (and found it). Believe it or not, it is spaghetti bolognese, and it was so yummy with some garlic bread!

When in Vegas, you have to do the big bus tour with a fantastic guide! It takes you all over the city, shows you all the landmarks, and you can learn about the history behind them via the guide’s fun facts. Did you know that the 36-floor Luxor Hotel is the biggest in America? And the only reason it was not built to be bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza was because of the distraction to planes flying caused by the lighting? Interesting stuff!

We drove through farming communities as we made our way to Montana. We were in the snow-capped mountains, travelling alongside a stream leading into a beautiful river containing rapids and fringed with snow. We loved the energy of the people who, on recognising our accents, wanted to talk about South Africa! Running late, we arrived in New York during peak hour traffic. We were too drained to venture back into the packed streets and roads when we got to the hotel. So we decided to rest for the morning flight instead of exploring. There will always be a next time to cruise around New York.

What an adventure! We travelled through 24 states and saw mountains, rivers and bridges. The next USA visit will be soon as I have friends on the Miami side who are excited to take me to some other landmarks next year.