This past weekend, myself and four other volunteers decided to take the long weekend (Monday was Youth Day), and travel to the kingdom of Swaziland.
During apartheid, Swaziland was known for its casinos and nightclubs, pleasures forbidden in South Africa at the time. It is ruled by one of only three monarchs left, aided by a small core of advisors.
Despite its questionable political system, Swaziland's greatest problem is that it has surpassed Botswana as the nation with the highest HIV prevalence rate; 39% of adults are infected with the virus.
Swaziland is pretty desolate. That was the first thing we really noticed when we crossed over the border. The Zulu villages turned into small huts, sparsely set on dark red earth. We had taken two cars, and I was driving one of them.
Problem is I pretty much had to re-learn how to drive on the left hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. On top of it, the cars we rented were manual, which added to the difficulty.
As we were driving along, around Big Bend, Swaziland, I noticed a large stick in the middle of the road. The roads are lined with sticks, broken pieces of sugar cane, cows, etc. so I really didn't think too much about it. Next thing I knew, the stick was moving, I was swerving, and instead of a stick it was a giant lizard! It was actually pretty hilarious. We tried to go back and take a picture of it, but it had left the road. We all agreed that this lizard was probably at least a metre and a half long.
Anyway, we continued on towards Lobamba. Swaziland is pretty small, so we didn't have a hard time finding both of the inns we stayed at. We found a restaurant to eat at fairly quickly, as well as a couple of activities.
We had dinner at a couple of nice restaurants, walked around the town a bit. We took a couple of hours to do a game drive as well, which got our cars SO dirty. We saw some hippo really close as we stood on the bank, as well as crocs, some bucks and zebra. Swaziland is absolutely gorgeous.
I have been quite a few places and it rates very high on the list of gorgeous landscape. The mountains turn blue as the sun goes down, and the sky turns violet. As desolate as it may be, perhaps that's why we all found it so gorgeous.
Although being in KwaZulu-Natal, one would never know that South Africa is considered developed, there was a big difference travelling across the border and seeing a true developing country. It was quite eye-opening.
Only one more week left on the project – and I really don't want to leave. Hopefully I can make the most of my last week!!!
Until Next Time