Blogs from Swaziland, Africa


Africa » Swaziland » Manzini May 17th 2015

When I return to Eastern Africa, and believe me I will, this is one place I simply can’t give a miss. Lengai was the highlight of my Safari experience and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the fourth day of the Safari and we were back in Karatu, fresh from the Serengeti. We were once again clients of the lollipop guest house and had spent the previous night in our usual fashion. Sitting around drinking Tanzanian lagers and talking until drooping eyelids prevailed. Early the next morning I awoke to raised voices. It appeared that someone had broken into our car and robbed us during the night. Thankfully I had the foresight to keep my valuables with me in the room so my personal losses were pretty minimal. Things weren’t so great ... read more
Lollipop Bathroom
Summit Pic

Africa » Swaziland » Manzini May 2nd 2015

Safari I’d like to preface this post by saying that I wrote this in a huge rush and weeks after the fact. It’s basically just word vomit. This is essentially the case for every blog that I post and I hate that I don’t have the writing ability or the time to really do these experiences justice (the main reason I never posted for the couple of months I was in Mexico). If it wasn’t for my responsibility to inform all of my generous donors about what I’m up to I’m sure I’d be too frustrated and distracted to write about this trip as well. So that being said, if you’d really like to hear about anything specific or get a less garbled account of my time in Africa, or Mexico for that matter, just ask ... read more
Some strange, long-necked animal...
"Mzungu becomes African"
Serengeti Selfie

Africa » Swaziland » Manzini May 2nd 2015

A brief insight into my travel partner for the second half of my travels in Tanzania: During my week in Mwanza I met a man named Gudlak (pronounced “Good Luck”) who was assisting with the acute care clinic. Gudlak is the man. He is 32 years old and was born and raised in Arusha, Tanzania. He supports his daughter, parents, and various nieces and nephews by doing seasonal survey work in the bush for Rutgers University. He traveled to Mwanza with a friend of his who had studied anthropology at said university and was associated with Lighthouse Medical Missions. Seeking to improve my Swahili and learn more about this intriguing guy I started chatting him up whenever I got the chance and soon found that he used to lead climbs up Kilimanjaro as well. I shared ... read more

Africa » Swaziland March 23rd 2015

March 21, 2015 (Mkaya, Swaziland) Having pretty much completed our clinical duties other than an inpatient follow up visit, we elected to stay in Swaziland and visit one of the locally managed game reserves – Mkaya. It is privately owned by Mick and his wife Kay, friends of Jono’s through the conservation activities in Swaziland. Several other features appealed to us – we could spend the night there outdoors and they have four of the five “big” game including the black rhino. (they don’t have lions). It was about an hour’s drive from Mabuda Farm, down the Lubombo range and into the dry, dusty lowfelt area of Swaziland, not too far from where we’d been tiger fishing. On arrival, our vehicles were escorted through multiple gates and fences to the homestead on Mkaya where Mick and ... read more
A zeal of zebras on the plains
Nwalla up close and personal
Adult nwalla

Africa » Swaziland March 20th 2015

March 20, 2015 (Siteki, Swaziland) Friday was our final day in clinic/surgery at Good Shepherd although we have some inpatients over the weekend and will drop by to see them before leaving the country. Helen Pons has been an amazing hostess left for Durban today, so it is pretty much a fraternity here on the farm. We had several surgery cases to finish up from Thursday's schedule...fortunately most were under local anesthesia. We then also were summoned by VIPs from the royal family to do some consultations which took up most of the morning. After winding things up in the clinic, saying good bye to the staff, we headed back for a late lunch to the farm. Jono then took us flying in his 4-seater, giving everyone a view of the farm, the Lubombo Mountains, and ... read more
Muti Muti Farm
Dr. Jetton's "brick" in Jono's Wall
Dr. Gauger's "brick"

Africa » Swaziland March 19th 2015

March 19, 2015 (Siteki, Swaziland) The busy clinic day Wednesday was good preparation for another busy day - mostly in the operating theatre. To start the day however, we decided to explore the farm - and took an early morning drive to the far reaches of the Mabuda Farm Property at the bottom of the valley. Traveling across home-made roads over rocks and steep inclines, we made it down to "Fort Mabuda" another station at the bottom of the hill with housing for the farm staff and poacher security folks. After a quick but hearty breakfast we were off to Good Shepherd Hospital, where the clinic was teeming with patients. In addition to Dr. Pons' usual schedule, we were helping care for patients referred from the outreaches at the Luke Commission that had need for eye ... read more
Dairy Herd
Surgery Slate for TLC (local)
Surgery Slate TLC (General)

Africa » Swaziland March 18th 2015

March 18, 2015 (Siteki, Swaziland) Wednesday is “hump day” for us on the trip. Before clinic started, we attended the medical staff meeting at GSH and Evan, Brian and Mark presented topics relevant to the general staff: diabetic retinopathy, ocular surface neoplasia and herpes simplex/zoster. Wednesday is typically the busiest clinic day…we see patients all day - 87 patients this day. We split into teams: Dr. Bitner and myself ran the Portuguese speaking Mozambique clinic upstairs while the others spent the time in the main clinic downstairs. Derek’s Portuguese is impressive - apparently picked it up in college and has retained it well. We were able to communicate well with all the patients. We took a break for lunch at the farm, which was also a good mental break given the flow of patients and the ... read more
Touring GSH
A giant among us
Dinner in the Pons' Residence

Africa » Swaziland March 17th 2015

March 17, 2015 (Manzini, Swaziland) Tuesday, we woke up to a bit cooler and overcast conditions, although there was a little bit of a sunrise noticeable over the eastern ridge. We all got up early for a trip to Manzini - we had a full day planned. After an early and quick breakfast, we jumped in two vehicles to head to Manzini about an hour and half from Siteki. I drove, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you realize its the opposite side of the road, opposite side of the car and you’re opposing the cattle which seem to roam freely among the potholes. Actually, driving wasn’t so bad…its turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal that gave me the most grief - mostly because of the jeering passengers. In Manzini, ... read more
Clinic Action at St. Theresa's Eye Clinic
Coffee Swazi Style
Choosing Biltong Flavors

Africa » Swaziland March 16th 2015

March 16, 2015 (Siteki, Swaziland) Monday the real (medical) work begins. After an early wake up to a brilliant sunrise over the palm trees, farmer Pons took us on a quick morning tour of the farm. We realized quickly that farming in this part of the world is much like the practice of medicine - one problem after another looking for a solution - sometimes the right answer isn’t so obvious. With his Swazi farm team, we watched him coach them through repairs, task lists, capital purchases, refurbishing engines, assessment of drought conditions and making hay into bales. We had a typical farm breakfast in the Pons’ dining room - eggs, toast, bacon, cereal, fruit, jams, honey, coffee/tea. From there the team split up into three groups: Dr. Pons and I stayed at Good Shepherd Hospital ... read more
The Farm
The Farm 2
Eucalyptus Grove on the Farm

Africa » Swaziland » Big Bend March 15th 2015

March 15, 2015 (Lusip Dam Reservoir) Today we got up with the sunrise, had an early breakfast and left for the Lusip Dam Reservoir to go fish for tigers - actually tiger fish. These fish are particularly prized as game fish and are found in many rivers and lakes on the continent and are fierce predators with distinctive, proportionally large teeth. In the western gamefishing world, the tigerfish is considered Africa's equivalent of the South American piranha: they have interlocking, razor-sharp teeth, along with streamlined, muscular bodies, and are extremely aggressive and capable predators who often hunt in groups. The African tigerfish is the first freshwater fish recorded and confirmed to attack and catch birds in flight. We piled into the diesel 2003 Toyota LandCruiser with a snorkel (a large air intake system so you can ... read more
Braai food
Kevin's Ranger Bass Boat
Mickey and Kevin

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