Thanks to the King having his birthday, we managed to score another long weekend this weekend. Again, I was totally unprepared, but managed to get an invite to go camping with Yael, my boss, her family and some of her friends. There were 7 adults and 9 kids in total crammed into three cars.
The final destination was Khelekhele on the Ngwempise river. Khelekhele is on a stopping point on a two- or three-day walking trail, and it was described to me as Swaziland’s only beach due to its sandy riverbed. It took some very hairy 4WDing to get there, but we were fine with Yael’s 6-year old (?) son at the wheel.
That evening we pitched tents and sat by the campfire while watching the setting sun turn the mountains into a bright orange glow. We shared a fabulous braai, with roast chicken, pork, potatoes, butternut, salads and a few wines, before crashing out early.
The next day started with a game of rounders – a form of baseball with very flexible rules. Then it was down to the river. It seemed surreal that I was in Swaziland, as we sat with our camp chairs in the shallow water and a pull-up shade over our heads, drinking our cocktails, while the kids (and adults) took a blow-up boat over the “rapids” of the river. The only indication was the crowd of local kids and dogs that came to watch. Some of them dared to get in the water, others joined in a mud fight (although, admittedly, it was hard to tell when they’d been hit), and others were just happy to observe from the sidelines.
Once again, the stark contrast of our two worlds became apparent. On the one hand, I felt ashamed that we were here, living our life of luxury with our expensive toys, expensive cars, and more equipment for one night’s camping than most Swazis own in a lifetime. By the same token, does not having these things, or not enjoying the things that we’re fortunate to have, make us better people? I can only guess that this is a dilemma that I will have to face repeatedly over the next two years.