Come 4:30pm, it’s time to head home. Rather than wait for a kombi, I often walk the 1km to Mahlanya markets, where I pick up my fruit and veg for the week. Along the way, I receive multiple, uncreative pick-up lines, and a few shy hellos from the school kids who seem confused when I respond in siSwati (most likely because I’m saying it wrong). Occasionally, I also run into Charlie, a mkhulu (grandfather) who is always smiling and insists on introducing himself every time.
From here, my “extra-curricula” activities take over:
- Once a week, it’s off to Body Blitz. An-hour long exercise class filled with lunges, lunges, squats and lunges. This puts me in incredible pain for the rest of the week. If only the class wasn’t right next door to where I live, then I could easily make an excuse not to go.
- Tuesday is siSwati lessons, although admittedly, I have only attended two classes so far. I’d like to say that the language is slowly sinking in, but I tend to be too busy laughing at my pathetic attempts to vocalise the three Swazi clicks to actually remember anything. Surely I get points for trying?
- Wednesday evening is Iyengar Yoga with Hilde, the crazy German. I love this class just to see what ridiculous positions Hilde gets us into each week. Who would have thought that, with a few ropes and a chair, you could actually defy the laws of physics?
- Friday afternoon is over to Mallies to squeeze in a few drinks before the last kombi ride home at dusk. Or, what happens more often, I miss the last kombi ride and have a few more drinks before crashing at Julie’s house.
- Saturday morning it’s up at 6am for a hike with Chris (Kiwi), Carly (Aussie) and anyone else who wants to join. Each weekend it’s a different route, usually around 15-20km with some steep hill climbs. Chris is our unofficial guide, as he has lived here over 40 years, but still manages to get lost at least once every hike. However, it all seems to works out in the end, as we just thrash our way through knee-high grass praying not to meet a Black Mamba, or scramble up / down cliff faces to get back to where we think we should be. Apart from the great scenery, I am also entertained by Chris and Carly’s constant insults to each other, in jest of course, and the hours of gossip that ensues. I have quickly discovered that Swaziland is a small country, and smaller still if you’re a white Swazi. I just laugh nervously and keep my mouth shut.
- At some point on Sunday I head out for my weekly shop. As I walk the 3km to Gables Shopping Complex, I apologise to the half dozen people that approach me along the way asking for a job and/or money. Alternatively, I take a short kombi trip to the “best” shopping complex in Swaziland. The Gables is known as the best because it houses the only cinema in the whole country (opened about a year ago). It also caters to the expat market, with a very expensive Pick ‘n’ Pay supermarket and liquor store that supplies all sorts of foreign delights (Tim Tams sometimes – yay!, vegemite never – boo!). There’s a range of restaurants, banks, electronic and gift stores, a pub & grill / occasional nightclub, the compulsory KFC, plus Woolworths – a sort of Swazi version of Myers. There’s even a Billabong store, for those surfie types that you get in a landlocked country (huh?).
- Sunday is Church time, but that’s worth its own blog.
In between all of this, I make a point to grab every invite and opportunity that comes my way. This could be anything from parties, dinner, wildlife spotting, camping, or mountain biking (I’ll be doing my first race this weekend!).
On the nights that I’m not doing anything, I relax in my tiny bedsit and read a book, write a blog, skype a friend or watch quality dSTV (6 channels: soccer, rugby, news, three movie / TV channels with every show repeated at least 6 times). As I doze off to sleep, I listen to the gentle sound of UB40’s “Red Red Wine” playing on repeat from the maid’s accommodation downstairs, before returning to “A Day In the Life of Me: Part 1”.
I guess, looking back, my life isn’t so mundane after all.