Tuesday, August 10, 2010

July 19, 2010: Making our way to SOS in Swaziland.

It was almost missing the third night's sleep that was tough. An overnight flight from Vancouver to London, an aching rest in a transit lounge before a second overnight flight to Johannesburg: that
should have been it, but at bedtime on the third night we were still on the road.

The group who were headed for Siteki SOS Children's Village gathered in Johannesburg at 7 a.m. Monday morning. Five were the weary travellers from Vancouver, four had come from the UK, while the final three were due to meet us at the airport to make up the group of twelve. The nine from the plane were there, two more soon arrived. But where was the twelfth? Phone calls were made. E-mails searched. Eventually William was located, stuck in Namibia. Since William was the son and co-leader with his father his presence was needed, but after alternate plans were made we set off several hours late, but happy to be on our way. Past the featureless plateau from Jo'burg we eventually came to the Swaziland border. Bruno, our driver, said it was a record crossing, and certainly, both the South African customs seeing us out, and the Swazi immigration welcoming us in were the friendliest border officials I have ever met, so far from the paranoid nervousness we so often encounter at borders. In fact, one of the Swazi border guards stopped our van and asked Bruno who these people were in the van. He said we were volunteers from Canada. With the warmest smile, he looked at Bruno and said, “They are most welcome here. Take care of them.” Bruno replied, “I will.”

After an excellent lunch at 'The House on Fire' we carried on. Now a few hours into our journey we looked forward to arriving at the SOS Village, finding our rooms and relaxing. Being winter, the day closed in sooner than we expected, but at six we drew into the Village. They were so friendly, and so bewildered. We were not expected. Phone calls gave us the unwelcome news that we were indeed at the wrong SOS Village. We had almost another 200 kilometers to go. A weary crew boarded the bus once again, and our stalwart driver took us through the Swazi night, bringing us to Siteki shortly after 8:30 p.m. How wonderful it was to arrive, greeted with warmth and humour. With rooms assigned and the sureness of having finally arrived we started to become acquainted with each other before staggering to a happy sleep.

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