The Life of a Swazi (Is it!)

On the road from Kruger to Manzini, just after crossing the border at Mananga, and after taking a wrong turn at Sikkhoya, we picked up a passenger.

Now, we all know that you’re not supposed to pick up hitchhikers, but sometimes it just happens. And so far on this trip it has been good decisions.

Musa, our new friend, spoke in capital letters. In every sentence, one word was emphasized. He spoke of the Swazi king, who closed ALL the mines, and therefore there was NO money for the Swazis. In Swaziland there were several RICH mines, for gold, metals, diamonds, but the king closed them down to preserve the riches for FUTURE generations. But there is a mine where they left a BIG, BIG hole, that you can still go and see. And each reply was either a questioning “Is it?”, or a confirming “Is it!”

Musa was great. He had just taken a bus to South Africa to give more money to his 18-year old wife, because she had decided to stay there a bit longer with her 10-month baby. He, himself, was 38. When asked about polygamy which is common in Swaziland, he was strongly opposed to it. Because you can only love one person (you gotta love this guy, right?)

Because he had taken the wrong bus and ended up in Sikkhoya by mistake, he offered to pay us the 40 Emalangeni the ticket would have cost. Eduardo said the fare is 70 Emalangeni, that the extra is for making him laugh. It took a minute for Musa to get the joke.

However, the most interesting thing about him was that in the three years he had been married, he had only had sex with his wife three times. When asked why, he said “because we love each other”. Eduardo and I weren’t sure if it was because he is religious (goes to church every Sunday, likes gospel music, doesn’t drink), or because he might be HIV positive, like 30% of the Swazi population.

But, as Eduardo said, you’ve got to respect that.

The Musa offered us to stay in his house for free (which we politely declined), and said he will never forget us.

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Land of Helpful Policemen – Swaziland

Here’s to wishing the NYPD would be sent on a charm-course to Swaziland (or South Africa) to learn how to be helpful, courteous and friendly.

We had stopped at a street in Manzini, looking at our guidebook and wondering where we should stay the night. We had already driven past a few guesthouses, but all of them were too expensive for our budget. The last resort was to go with Lonely Planet’s recommendation, but we didn’t know the address.

“Can I help you?” a policeman asked, as he crossed the street to speak to us. Being used to NYC policemen, we immediately thought we were in trouble.
“We’re looking for the Myxo Backpackers, but there’s no address,” we replied, hesitantly.
The policeman grabbed the Lonely Planet guidebook, called the number listed, spoke to the guy that owns the hostel, and gave us very, very detailed directions. He even ran out of minutes on his phone, so eager was he to help us.

In the end we didn’t end up staying at Myxo’s, but found a better place just up the road. But it’s cool to be reminded of how policemen used to be like, and how they should be. And given the same thing happened in Nelspruit, we know this was not a one-off incident. Police here are actually nice.

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The Swaziland Football Team

Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the 2010 World cup.

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