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Published: December 18th 2006
A taxi and 3 mini buses later, after confusing and amusing a number of locals we miraculously arrived at our destination, whose name James had misheard somewhat!
Yebo!! Greetings from Swaziland.
We have now headed south down the coast into the Kingdom of Swaziland. The first thing that struck me was the number of cattle here - it literally did almost strike me as our mini bus dodged a kamikaze bovine as it stepped out in front of us on the highway.
Some interesting facts about Swaziland: It is a Kingdom and hence ruled by a King. They call this absolute power but it sounds to me like a bit of a dictatorship - but then neither of us here ever studied politics or history! This King really gets to do what he wants, he chooses his parliament and it is illegal to have an opposition party. As a gesture of democracy to his public he lets them elect the assembly every 5 years, but I’m not sure what that really does for the nation. It’s a good thing really that he is actually doing an OK job for the country, Swazi is rich in natural resources due to it being high up and getting lots of rain, and the King does seem to use it to the benefit of his nation. Most people we spoke
...in the middle of our nature reserve!
to seemed happy with him, their only gripe being his extravagance with the country’s money towards his wives.
Note the word wives. Yes the King of Swaziland is allowed to have many wives, in fact he is allowed a new one each year as part of an extravagant ceremony that reminded me a bit of that trashy E4 show “Joe Millionaire”. Every year up to 5000 Swazi women spend 2 weeks in his company and at the end he chooses one of them to be his new wife. She is then given a grand house and an entourage and gets to live the life of luxury. The last king died with 80 wives and over 500 children - a busy man indeed.
Anyway, we absolutely LOVED Swaziland, especially the people here. We stayed in possibly the nicest backpackers place ever, a place called Sondzela (which means “come closer” in Swati) which was in the middle of a beautiful game reserve. We stayed in a Rondavel overlooking the hills to the west where warthogs and zebras grazed. I’d never seen a warthog 3 weeks ago and now they are everywhere, including my dinner plate on our first night here.
Ride the White Water
Watch us take on that waterfall!
The place was so nice we couldn’t leave, so we stayed put for 5 days. We walked in the game reserve getting picture of wildlife, climbed up to 1500m to the top of execution rock (they used to push witches off here to see if they could really fly) and went white water rafting down some waterfalls. We also visited a traditional Swazi village and met Chief Albert who showed Marissa how to respect me properly - i.e. on one knee, looking at the floor and offering a gift with 2 hands. He also got me back my making me dress up in traditional costume to many peoples amusement. I had to resist saying “don’t throw those bloody spears at me”.
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