We had a fun trip to Swaziland, but are also glad to be back with our daughter. It was tough to leave her for two weeks! It has been hard talking about our trip, because it wasn’t your typical trip/vacation. We met up with a lot of people to talk about what their organizations are doing on the ground in Swaziland. It was very informative and left us with a lot to think about.
Here are ten thoughts/moments/whatever you want to refer to them as from our trip:
1. Swazis are very hospitable. Wherever we went and whatever we were doing people were very nice. We felt right at home, not like tourists at all.
2. Swazis love their tea and instant coffee. This is a hard one for me to get used to because I am somewhat of a coffee snob, and really am not a huge fan of tea. I am coming around though!
3. I am not sure I could drive in Swaziland, but Ben did a fantastic job. First, they drive on the opposite side of the road! Plus there are all these unwritten etiquette rules you have to follow. For example, people expect you to drive on the shoulder so they can pass you. It works well, but when you aren’t used to it, it makes it kinda tricky! Plus all the cars are five speeds, which I am not a huge fan of driving (I can drive them though). In Mbabane (the capital) every street is on a hill with lots of stop and go. This is tough in a five speed, Ben even had a little trouble sometimes (although he wouldn’t admit it).
4. It is a beautiful place. There are basically three levels (and Ben might correct me on this, but these were my impressions). Highveld which is up in the mountains and has lots of trees. Also, quite cold at night in the winter! Midveld which is in the middle (duh!). It has mountains, hills, trees and grasslands. Lowveld which is more deserty like and hot! It was dry and sandy here. Each level was beautiful in its own way.
5. The food was yummy and even a little Western. They love their meat, we went to several braais while we were there and the majority of the food that was served was meat! Not a very vegetarian friendly place. They also eat a lot of “pop” (not sure on the spelling of this) which is finely ground maize served several ways. One way they served it was in sticky patties. It didn’t have a lot of flavor, but they used it to pick up other food. They also serve it differently in the morning as more of a porridge type dish.
6. There are also fresh fruit trees everywhere, and most people have a garden year round in their yards. We saw lots of avocados, bananas, mangos and spinach. Can you imagine having an avocado tree in your yard…yummy!
7. Livestock rules the roads! No kidding, wherever you drive you have to be extra cautious because there are cows, goats and chickens crossing everywhere, even on the interstate type roads. The animals wonder all over the place grazing. No one has big fences to keep the animals in, they just go where they want. The crazy thing about all this is that everyone knows which livestock belongs to them and have no problem (for the most part) with animals wondering around. Can you imagine that happening here in the states??
8. Housing was interesting too. You had anything from the indigenous mud and grass huts to concrete/brick homes. Some houses were very “Western” and others were out in the bush. We definitely found all levels of living while we were there.
Helping to build the roof of a traditional hut.
9. Converters are no fun! Half the time my hair dryer and straightener wouldn’t work. I even “dried” my hair with the air conditioning from the car a couple of times. Next time I think I will just bye a hair dryer there!
It was like a game to see what converters we needed to plug different things in!
10. We are mores sure of our decision to move there now more than ever. We just aren’t sure what we will be doing, although now we have some more concrete options in mind. I think Mikayla will love it as well!
Here are a few shots of a WKU tradition…the red towel photos!