On Wednesday, 8/12, we left Perry's Bridge Hollow and journeyed on to the Royal Kingdom of Swaziland! The small towns and villages provided an interesting perspective of real Africa versus tourist Africa. We loved watching people along the road carrying boxes or parcels on their heads showing incredible balance and control.
Upon our arrival into Swaziland we stopped at the Matsamo Cultural Village after crossing the border from South Africa. A presentation of male and female dancers and singers provided a beautiful and soulful performance. Our guide for the visit was the son of the chief in the village who shared his insight into Swazi culture including the practice of polygamy which is still practiced today! Both our tour guide and the native interpreter have had multiple wives and many children and grandchildren!
Walter, the principal guide for our tour group was an interesting man and passionate about his South Africa heritage sharing many stories and observations; he had personally been in exile for 12 years during the apartheid era. Upon his return he attended a rally for Nelson Mandela at a large venue. Walter had an opportunity to shake Mandela's hand and told me he could feel the aura of this great man through his handshake! After a few days together, Walter gave each of us in his tour group an African name. Mine was Masechaba which means Mother of the Nation; a name given to Winnie Mandela to recognize her role in helping with South Africa's reorganization and reemergence. I was honored to be considered with such impressive company!
That afternoon we visited the Ngwenya Glass Works which produces handmade glassware from recycled glass and other materials. Watching the craftsmen at work from a walkway above the production area was interesting not to mention somewhat warm. We found great shops at the factory with excellent bargains. Always time for shopping!
The next day, Thursday, 8/13 we visited the Swazi Candle Factory to watch an artisan craft a ball of wax into an animal (dolphin, turtle, and elephant) just using his hands and the warm ball of wax, and his imagination! The shop was filled with many animal shapes and native designs; a candy store of candles!
We next arrived at Ghost Mountain Inn for 2 nights in KwaZulu-Natal after crossing the border and returning to South Africa. The hotel was most hospitable welcoming us with cool drinks. In the afternoon we boarded some modified Land Rovers for an excursion up Ghost Mountain to a Zulu village. Our guide had 2 Zulu names and 1 Anglo (Irish). Since the Zulu names were difficult to pronounce we called him by his Anglo name, Patrick. Patrick was born and raised in the mountains but now lives south of town. Polygamy is also practiced here as evidenced of his large family which numbers nearly 700!