A Day in Eswatini
(Sunday 15th December, 2019)
Today we had our breakfast at 7:15 before we went on a joined walk into the park area. They took us down to the dam/lake in the truck, then we got out and started walking along part of the so-called “Hippo Trail” there. It was a nice walk in the forest with lots and lots of those flowers reminding me of my childhood. We saw some monkeys in a tree along the way, and it was just overall peaceful, even with so many people.
We ended our by the plains where the zebras and antelopes were grazing, and from there on we walked back to the camp site. We were allowed to walk on the plains, meaning it sort of felt like we were walking on the savannah (which are wild, although used to human presence).
After a brief intermission we drove down to the gate of the park where we met our guide for the village walk. The day is very hot and the sun is beating down from a cloudless sky (32 degrees). The walk only started at 11, so it kept getting hotter.
Our guide began the tour by stating that it’s Sunday and that most people in the village will be in church between 11-13; great timing to experience an Eswatini village and the locals’ way of life, huh? Well, it seemed to me that we started out by circling around the village rather than walk within it. It was already super hot and there wasn’t a lot of shade where we were walking – even when we stopped to hear our guide tell us things. There were a few young children outside a house, and we also met one guy (obviously unmarried, as he was doing his own laundry – by hand).
It seems that men buy their wives for any amount of cows, and that he can get a sort of loan on her, which has to be paid back by the time she conceives their first child. Seems rather twisted to us as Westerners. Also, our guide explained that men do not go to the doctor because of some masculinity complex and not wanting to seem weak, and therefore men die more frequently and earlier from diseases, especially aids. Homosexuality is also frowned upon, although our guide recognized that “some people do it”. Clearly, this is a very patriarchal society and very different from our own.
We then visited a homestead where one woman and her child were at home, and they showed us how to grind maize into flour. It was a very brief showing, and afterwards we walked past the school and the orphanage. At this point many of us were just ready to go back, but our guide didn’t want to let us do so yet, and so he took us to a church. From outside, we could hear the preacher yelling and screaming in a rather ugly manner. Definitely not the sort of quiet and thoughtful atmosphere of a regular Danish church.
All in all this village walk wasn’t a very impressive experience, and the timing of visiting the village on a Sunday during church hours was just a bit poor. The guide was not very interesting and seemed to not know most things that we asked about. In fact, I think we learned more from the single man washing his clothes. Oh well, win some and lose some.
Chuck the Truck then took us back to camp, where our cook had prepared our lunch for us; chicken, rice and salad, as well as some fruits. It was pretty good. After lunch we had time for optional activities at our leisure, options including: horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and a sunset drive. T went for a long hike to the top of a mountain/hill, and I plan to head out for a shorter walking circuit in a little bit. Just have to bring lots of water.
I ended up walking on “Shallow Trail” and turned back down towards camp where it met the “Hippo Trail”. It was maybe a total of 3 km or so, which was far enough with the heat of the day. It was a nice, tranquil walk, though, where I met lots of White-fronted Bee-eaters, a variety of other birds, and a pretty, purple Scarlet Starling. I also ran into a sick and malnourished impala, which probably won’t live that much longer. When I got back I desperately had to cool down so I went to sit in a cool shower for a little bit.
When I got out of the shower, I ran into one of the German women who asked if I wanted to join her and a few others for the sunset drive. I figured why not, and had 5 minutes to get ready for it.
The drive was nice, and our guide did a good job of explaining how the animals live etc., and he was a friendly person. We drove up to a hill/mountain, where we enjoyed a picturesque view over the surrounding valleys. We did not see the sunset, however, as clouds were gathering and there was a promise of rain in the air (which still hasn’t happen yet at 22:something). Therefore, we drove back down in haste, but still had time to observe zebras and impalas running around playfully. Our guide also showed us the female crocodiles lying on land, close to their eggs/nests to protect them.. right where we had walked past earlier that morning. And this, people, is why we sign an indemnity form every time we do something.
Back in camp we had dinner, which was another version of pap with larger corn pieces, as well as an impala stew cooked over an open fire in a large pot. It was very delicious, and a traditional South African meal.
After eating, those who went to a local festival taking place earlier in the day (hailing the king of Eswatini), shared their stories and showed their newly picked up dance moves. It was a good giggle and they’d had an interesting time at this event. Then we played a few card games before bed.
From Eswatini to Reconciliation Day in St. Lucia
(Monday 16th December, 2019)
With a cloudy morning and after a night with some light drizzle – and surprisingly good sleep yet again – we drove out at 7:00. We had lunch on the side of the road by a gas stop, and it was an early one, around 11:00. Then, we got to the border post where we bid Eswatini goodbye, and said hello to South Africa again.
We arrived in St. Lucia at about 13:00. This date marks a national holiday, Reconciliation Day, so there were many people in the streets, drinking, dancing, enjoying. Our crew took us down to the beach where we spent about an hour.
The festivities were centered here, there being a DJ booth/dance contest, food and drink booths, and lots of private barbecuing. A lot of locals also went swimming, as well as a couple of “our” people. The beach was nice and clean, with blue water and strong waves. Nothing spectacular, though, but that might be because I live almost on the beach at home.
We left the beach at about 14:30 to check in at our accommodation. Us happy campers also have a roof over our heads for the coming days, and T and I shared an apartment with the Brazilian couple.
The afternoon would be spent at our leisure, so we walked up and down the main street of the town. The town is quite famous/infamous for hippos roaming the streets at night – but also for killer mosquitoes. Anyway, we went to the liquor shop where we brought the drinks over to the little, covered seating area at our hotel reception. Most of the group eventually joined in and we had a good time together.
Dinner was served by the accommodation, but first we had to learn some Zulu language phrases, taught to us by a local lady. With a little buzz going for all of us, it was a pretty funny experience, though I don’t think any of us truly excelled. It’s not that easy to pronounce sounds which are nonexistent in our own languages. After our little language lesson, we were joined by a group of Zulu men who were going to drum and dance with us. They first showed us a bit, then they made some of us dance as well. It was fun, but also kind of embarrassing as they made us do solo dances in front of everyone..
The dinner was a typical Zulu meal, they said, with beef steaks, sausages and veggies with cheese. It was all right. After the dinner, some of us decided to go to a nearby karaoke bar where we had a good time for an hour or two.
Last updated 6th February, 2020.