#2 Swaziland, June 24, 2011

Dear Everybody,

As we left Kruger Park, we weren’t expecting to see much but, to our surprise, we saw a leopard! We only got a couple of glimpses of him, and the photo is a little ‘iffy,’ but we definitely SAW the last of the Big Five! And just near the exit, we came upon a black rhino right on the side of the road, a pair of wooly-necked storks up in a tree, and when we got out of the park and into Swaziland we saw more hippos and crocodiles.

In Swaziland we stayed at Sondzela’s Backpacker Lodge, which is in the middle of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary—sort of at the back of beyond. In the sanctuary we saw bush pigs, sable antelope, an ostrich and the ever-present impala, which we were told have an ‘M’ on their rear ends, which means “McDonalds fast food” for the predators.

 

 

We had a beautiful view over the mountains from our rondavel, which included warthog, sable antelope, impala and we saw and heard many birds.

 

 

 

 

One evening the lodge provided transportation in a van for about eight of us guests to go to the Main Camp of the Sanctuary for a dance program. About 15 costumed local men and women danced and sang for us in their native language, which had kind of a local ‘neighborhood’ feeling to it.

Swaziland is beautiful with its small mountains, wandering roads and animals. It is definitely quite poor and rural, but charming. This tiny country (within South Africa) has the last remaining monarchy where the king retains total power, but my LP guide says that there are stirrings of discontent with that.

On Thursday we drove to Manzini to visit the market. This was one of those days that just didn’t march. First we got lost on the way, and then when we reached the market, it was underwhelming.

 

 

 

 

 

We did visit a pretty mosque and then had a good lunch. And I managed to finally get my picture emails sent.

 

 

 

 

It’s really strange to look out our window and see an ostrich right by our picnic table, or a band of bushpigs  cavorting in our front yard. Pretty soon we take them for granted. There are five nature preserves in this little country of Swaziland. And being allowed to stay right in the middle of one is really outstanding.

Our last day in Swaziland was spent in a cultural village, learning about Swazi traditional life. The beehive huts were surprisingly cool. We walked to a waterfall nearby, and then had a great buffet, with a tour group from Forth Worth, Texas. We also had another singing and dancing performance, which was lovely. Both of the boys were invited to dance with the performers.

Tomorrow we shall drive to St. Lucia’s and explore the beaches and wildlife there.

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