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Trip Report Swaziland, It's Just Lunch

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I wake up in South Africa but in a few minutes I am looking at towering mountains touching the heavens in “The Kingdom Of Swaziland”. As a country inside of another country it is easy to dismiss a visit to Swaziland and as I would discover that would be a mistake.

Climbing a steep mountain road that takes me through a beautiful countryside pass fields and fields of logging timber, I am headed to the Josefsdal border crossing. Reaching the border post, the scenery almost seems unreal. I feel like I am in a 1950's movie. Yes, there is a fence and official buildings but there is something cute and antique about this border crossing.

“Do you mind giving a policeman a ride into town”, I am asked as I approach the smiling Immigration, Customs, Tourist Board, Swaziland Ambassador, Officer. Of course, I don't mind and she places a call to see if he is still down the road waiting for a ride. Unfortunately for me, he has already been picked up. What a shame.

Leaving the smiles at the border, from miles away, my nose determines my first stop in The Kingdom. Nothing is more appealing in the morning than the smell of fresh baked goods permeating the air. I come to an almost abrupt stop at a non descriptive white building just at the beginning of a small town.

A smiling owner welcomes me to Swaziland and tells me about his famous fresh baked brown bread. I believe every word he says as I watch a smiling regular customer pick up a loaf or two. If his brown bread is that good then his other baked products cannot be to far behind. A purchase and I am not disappointed just sad as I leave that sweet scent behind.

Navigating along a gravel mountain road with no rail guards and potholes that could swallow a small car like mine, I now know why officially I should not be driving a rental car here. However, I have watched enough episodes of “The Dukes Of Hazards” that I feel confident that I will survive the next eighteen miles even as I share the narrow road with cows, sheep and an occasional logging truck.

I am happy when my Dunlops begin to roll over black top and a Colonel's smiling face is a welcomed sign even thousands of miles away from Kentucky. Before long, I am on a hill at a souvenir stop watching a local craftsman demonstrate ancient rock carving using what seems like a one sided miniature pick ax.

Green towering mountains, a huge lake which I will cross in a few minutes are just some of the landscape I can see from here, all a part of what makes Swaziland a beautiful country. Just as I cross to the other side of the lake my eyes are drawn to a pair of small dancing trees along the highway. I am going too fast to make a sudden stop so I pull a u turn to investigate.

Stopping, I am greeted by the solo thumping of a drum that is helping to keep these little dancing trees in rhythm. Even though it costs me a few rands, I am glad I stopped especially when I get one of the trees to smile back at me.

A few more kilometers and I am nearing my destination as I travel down a dusty road. It is now early afternoon and apparently school has just let out. I pick up a hitchhiker walking the same way I am headed and although our conversation is sparse, I am good at following pointing fingers. I stop at the edge of the road with a slopping valley below me. I watch as my hitchhiker disappears with box of cookies my waistline does not need.

Less than five minutes later and I am at Hawane Village, a local restaurant and hotel. A pot stew, a cold beer or two and I have not only seen The Kingdom Of Swaziland, I have just had a great taste of it and it has been more than just lunch.


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