Things have started to settle down lately, or at least settle down a bit, so much so that over the last two weeks I have actually managed to spend some time with a cup of coffee and my legs up, reading a book. The rest of the weeks were spent something like this:
Two Wednesdays ago, I attended the Gold Lion Film Festival, held at House on Fire, featuring seven short films from across the world, including Australia. In true Swazi style, technical issues were plentiful but it still made for some entertaining (and relaxing) entertainment.
The following morning I was up at 6am to go shopping: Introducing the “Bend-down Boutique”, Swaziland’s shopping phenomenon. The BDB operates every Wednesday and Thursday at the Manzini bus rank, and is the ultimate in eco- & social-conscious shopping. Second hand shops, from around the world, pile their “unsellable” items into massive bags for delivery to developing countries. Here, locals buy the bags at bargain basement prices, and take them to the markets where they dump the clothes onto pallets ready for keen shoppers to elbow their way in and rummage through garment mountains. The end result is reused haute couture that provides an income for a poor Swazi family and leaves you and your bank account looking awesome. With just E85 (AUD$10), I walked away with a pair of Billabong swimmers, a rash vest, two dresses, a skirt, a top, plus a disturbing sense of selfishness for not having gone there earlier.
That weekend, Summer finally arrived, so I joined up with a few of the girls and lucky Stephen for the first instalment of the PPP (Peter Pool Party). A chilled afternoon was spent relaxing in and around the pool with a beverage and BBQed prawns at a rich ex-pat’s house (incidentally, not Peter’s) who happened to be away on holidays.
The next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive 1.5 hours to Siteki for the first race of Swaziland’s road cycling season. Having only a mountain bike, I opted for the 35km route rather than the 65km sprint, and somehow managed to win (which, I think, speaks volumes of the female competition). Never-the-less, it was a beautiful undulating ride with spectacular scenery over the lowveld and the sweet prize of a trophy and E300 (AUD$38), enough to cover the cost of the fuel to get there. Given the heat of that day, I followed up the race with PPP Part 2….this time actually at Peter’s house.
The week was then taken up with my usual activities (Yoga, siSwati lesson, Aerobics class) until Thursday, when I discovered that I had made it in Swaziland. Yes people, I was added to the Mbabane ex-pat social invite list, or as I like to call it, the CHAI Rent-a-crowd. Quite an achievement given that I don’t live in Mbabane! My first event was Mbabar, Thursday night drinks at alternating pubs in town. This is soon to be followed by Salsa classes on Monday night. I can’t wait! My work week ended beautifully with dinner at a friend’s house, then a short spell at Khazimula’s for an informal (and at some points, painful) jam night.
This brings us to this weekend. Yesterday, I spent my morning baking a birthday cake for Aussies Tegan and Myles who were celebrating with a Braai in the afternoon. Essentially PPP Part 3, the sunny afternoon was spent swimming in their pool and eating copious amounts of BBQ meat and salads. If this sounds far too normal for Swaziland, you’re right. Being a record producer, Myles has quickly made friends with some very good Swazi musicians so that, while I was ripping the BBQ meat from the bones with my teeth, I was also being serenaded in Spanish by a Swazi opera singer. Needless to say, the rendition of Happy Birthday was the best I’d ever heard.
Just as the storm came in, I headed home for a couple of hours sleep in preparation for my latest cultural experience: a tea ceremony at the Church of the Nazarites. However, I’m going to make you wait for those details – there’s more than I can fit in this blog, so stay tuned.