Category Archives: Swaziland

Swaziland part 2 (SZ)

Last night I slept for 6 hours straight and an another 3 after a toilet break (kinda strange to talk to park rangers at 4 am in your pyjamas). This is remarkable because I have not had enough sleep in the past week due to my malaria medication I think. We usually go to bed around 10 pm as it’s supposed to be quiet on the campsite then and we are too lazy to read in the tent. I am often tired but I simply couldn’t sleep for hours after laying down. When I finally do I have the weirdest dreams (is Ian a lumberjack yet?) thanks to the Lariam and I wake up often. What’s really bizarre is that I never seem to lack sleep the next day. Only when we are on the bus for a while I get a bit sleepy but then again everyone would.
So finally last night I broke the habit and it didn’t take an exhausting day activity, heavy food or much beer for some reason. I popped in some ear plugs because we have a bunch of loud kids in the huts next to our campside and off I drifted. In the morning I didn’t even hear the others get up (usually an alarm clock goes off or the sound of a hundred zippers fills the air) and the smell of fresh monkey shit that woke up my tentmate didn’t bother me either. Hopefully I can keep it that way.

 

While others were horseback riding Sylvia and I opted for a 3 hour morning hike in red dusty soil and plenty of heat around the hippo pond. We saw 3 hippos, many gnus and zebras and a bunch of monkeys. The wart hogs and kudus are everywhere as well so I basically disregard them…

Oink

After lunch we walked to a cultural village. In Swaziland women are supposed to wear skirts so we were given the traditional red cloth with a picture of the King on it.

Mr. T on my crotch doesn't make me look any more feminine

We met the highest tribe woman, evidently a famous person here, as she is married to a brother of the king and therefore responsible to run the area here. She spoke to us in the Swasi language that is most similar to Zulu (not that that helps) but occasionally switched to English when we didn’t do things exactly right… as there were rules we had to follow. First we had to shake everyone’s hand in the village. Since the men are all working on the fields and most women as well probably there were only about 30 small kids and 3 teenage girls there to greet us. They were all lined up and we passed them using the “3 way homie shake” you can sometimes see in Harlem or between frat boys; all that was missing was a shoulder bump. We also had to say “how are you?” in the local language and failed miserably at that.


We then had to sit down, were greeted officially by the tribe mother and were taught a local song – 7 women separately from our 2 guys. This proved difficult…it’s hard to remember two long lines of words you don’t see written down. To top it all off we had to get up and join the dancing procedure while singing the song and that’s when we could occasionally hear the odd “I told you how to do this dance” or a “sing louder” from the tribe mother and the teenage girls – very embarrassing.

They showed us how to twist grass into useful ropes, make pots and strainers for beer (that only the men are allowed to drink) and grind corn, all while continuing to sing the ‘happy’ song. One kid demonstrated how to sleep in a Swazi bed with the cow and kudu fur for a blanket and a wooden block for a pillow. On the way out the small kids sang a goodbye song and danced to it – it was a bit bizarre because the dance basically consists of a stomp and step combination, and the song as such didn’t really have a melody either. Regardless it was great as it is so different from South African customs and the Swazis really worship their king.

 

Finally in the evening there was a traditional dance performance in our lodge. Again it was the somewhat monotonous singing and stomping, followed by the women kicking up a leg high while blowing a whistle, and the men doing a shuffle dance that reminded me a bit of an N’sync video. At the end the audience was animated to join in and some people got up and walked around in a big circle to┬áthe beat of tribal drums.

Tribal dancing

 

Swaziland (SZ)

We moved on to the Kingdom of Swaziland today, a country with a little over 1 million people and the highest AIDS rate in Africa (43%). At the border you will find educational posters and even free condoms (both the regular and the female kind) but I guess as long as the king has 30 wives and as many girlfriends all is lost on the population. The Swazis are very friendly, you get easy smiles everywhere and many people still wear the traditional clothing with the picture of the king on it. The king looks a bit like Mr. T from the A-team.
Swaziland is relatively small but has various different types of vegetation. We are staying up high in a nature reserve that has giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, wart hogs and monkeys and we can walk around freely here. We can rent mountain bikes and go horseriding and hiking. Obviously we first headed for the pool.

So close but yet so shy

In the evening Barry cooked again, he grilled pork chops and sausages and made some South African version of a grilled cheese sandwich with it. We all have the same problem here, the food is delicious and we have all put on weight. Also, the beer is delicious…and I’m on vacation.

 

It’s been a week since the beginning of the trip and I can now evaluate my recent purchases and my packing. 10 out of 10! I brought everything I needed, packed light, bought perfect clothing. I had anticipated hating two out of my 3 tshirts especially bought for the trip as they are lightweight and dry fast, and although I don’t like the look of them they are actually pretty good. The zipper pants are perfect and I even wore my travel dress already for our night out and made everyone else look underdressed. All the gadgets I have have been used including the clothing line and the Crystal light to go lemonades. The only complaint I have is about the travel shampoo. I bought the environmentally friendly scentless kind that comes in tiny strips that look like the Listerine breath freshener. You are meant to dissolve one strip with water and that’s the part that sucks, it just doesn’t dissolve properly and I end up with white soapy parts in my hair. Also as you have to take them into the shower with you you ultimately get the tiny container wet and all strips stick together. I have started breaking them off and I will use the three containers up (with one strip a day they would have lasted me until August) and then I will buy a real shampoo.
Unfortunately I also have shower lotion and laundry detergent like that…
The other thing I magically forgot to take is a bottle opener… but we have plenty around.