Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28th: Chapter 1 - On the Road to Swaziland

After lengthy travel time, the eight of us (1 Dane, 3 Americans, 4 Canadians and a Partridge in a Pear Tree) arrived safely in Johannesburg Airport. We were introduced to South African Standard Time right off the bat. Our driver, Muzi, was running "10 minutes" late as he needed to have the tires on the van changed. He did show up, albeit several "10 minutes" later (try 2.5 hours).

After a quick pit stop at the Mercedes dealership to pick up a single fuel injector (apparently an essential part), we were on our way. The terrain was relatively flat with little vegetation throughout most of the countryside. We took a lunch break at a local mall. Kind of surreal and bizarre being in a developing country and visiting a mall. It was packed with people and we were told that this is the natural phenomenon on payday. The mall seemed more than just a place to shop and more like a community centre where families gather to socialize.

On the road again the landscape started to become a little more hilly the closer we got to the Swaziland boarder. This was also where you began to see large Pine trees...didn't see that coming. Massive acres of Pine tree rows are planted for harvesting.

Mid afternoon found us at the official South African/Swazi border. We all disembarked and went through what could quite possibly be dubbed the shortest customs line worldwide. After being peppered with intrusive questions (Are you driving? How long are you staying?) we were forced to literally walk across the border and past the customs officials who were lounging comfortably in their lawn chairs.

After enduring the bumpy ride we arrived at our appropriately named home, The Road Lodge Guest House. If you squint your eyes really tightly and use a little imagination it looks exactly like the photos they display on their website. After rearranging the room assignments and furniture we all settled into the BIG RED COUCH.

Lesson of the Day: As there are no traffic lights and traffic is somewhat chaotic we recommend crossing the road at the speed bumps in order to better your chances of not becoming a speed bump yourself.

Disclaimer:  This has been been written under the influence of jet leg, and while I was initially concerned about all of the readers judging my writing abilities, the good news is I'm surrounded by 3 teachers, a principal, and a career counsellor so the judging is being done well before this blog gets posted.

Anya Malda
DWC Participant
Swaziland, July 2013

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