Hail to the King! Africa’s only monarchy, Swaziland has a friendly and thriving culture which enhances any adventure. Fifty shades of green grace the valleys and grasslands that greet jungle covered mountains in the distance.
We get lost looking for the town of Ezulwini, but folks give us directions with a smile. The first hostel we check in town has sanitarium style sleeping cells, so let’s move on. Great move.
Blue wildebeest, zebras, warthogs and other antelope relatives hog the dirt road to Sondzela Backpackers in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
We’re the only guests for the next two nights. Outside of our hut, it’s so quiet that that I can hear a warthog chewing weeds.
We stare over grazing game in the grasslands. Hundreds of lightning strikes above the mountains signal an approaching storm, which cools down the temperature. Mliwane means ‘little fire’ on account of the lightning strikes. Did we die somewhere and end up in paradise?
Welcome to a real braii, cooked for us over burning logs. We devour some species of hog chops, along with mealie, pap, cabbage, beetrost, and green salad. Hands down the best meal we’ve had in Africa thus far.
In the morning we sip coffee and watch game animals rise after bedding down from last night’s storm. Back in the states it’s Super Bowl Sunday. We could not care less.
Walking an easy trail, a water buck stares at us and grunts. Hope he’s not too stressed! This sanctuary has no predators other than crocodiles and hippos at night.
Before a dinner of chicken stew over rice with pumpkin, Jayne crotchets next to the fire. Imagine this…She first gathers plastic grocery bags from the trash. After washing and drying them, she cuts them into one-half-inch strips. Jayne then ties the strips together and rolls them into a ball of “yarn” before creating colorful throw rugs.
In the morning, Mare purchases a special rug that Jayne shows her. It’s totally made from discarded bags and wrappers like Doritos, Snickers, and whatever else she may find. Jayne’s rugs are creative, unique works of art from an inspiring recycle of plastic! It takes her about three days to make one rug.
On our way to the casual border crossing, we stop at a grocery store. A guy in line behind us wears a New England Patriots football jersey. He’s an American working in Swazi, and told us about the Super Bowl. We had totally forgotten about it.
Thank you, Swaziland, for the gracious welcome. Ron Mitchell