Swaziland has been good to me. I have been welcomed by so many and treated with such kindness that all those remarks about the inevitable bad days seemed such a long way off. On Saturday, it finally came.
The day started when I headed off to the City to City Mountain Bike Race. I followed the directions I was given but ended up driving an hour past the actual destination before I knew I had gone terribly wrong. By the time I found someone to point me in the right direction, I had 5 minutes to register, attach my tags and go. I never had much hope for doing well in the race itself, after having three weeks out of the saddle: one week being sick with a “flu” (everything’s classed as the flu), another week having early starts and late finishes, and last week being exhausted (read: lazy) from it all. My only hope was to finish the race, which I did….just….in last place. Between taking approximately 10 wrong turns, being attacked by a dog, and breaking down from exhaustion four times, I have to say that was the first mountain bike experience I didn’t enjoy. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t train.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best of moods after the race, but as I was packing my bike in the car, I was approached by a member of the cycle club who knew me by name and requested a lift into town. I was happy to oblige as the members of the cycle club have been among those who have been so welcoming, even though I met them all at once and can’t remember many of their names. Sadly, during that 5 minute drive to Manzini, the man ever-so-sneakily stole my phone: my one true love, a (very expensive) Samsung Galaxy S2 Smartphone.
Now, I knew I shouldn’t get too upset because it’s only money, right? I spend my days visiting rural women who are struggling to get food and basic health care, let alone a fancy Smartphone. However, now, after spending 24 hours without that phone (I have a temporary replacement brick), I realise that my love for that phone had nothing to do with its monetary value. That phone represented something far more personal, and far more human. It was my connection to the world and, most importantly, to those I love. It was my internet connection for emails, for skype, for whatsapp. It was my calendar and contacts. It was my camera and notepad for recording those inspiring and special moments I come across each day. It satisfied my most basic human need for social connectivity. Now, thanks to a single person who preyed on my good nature, it’s gone. Four months in, the bad day finally came.