I wake up in South Africa but in a few minutes I am looking at towering mountains touching the heavens in “The Kingdom Of Swaziland”. As a country inside of another country it is easy to dismiss a visit to Swaziland and as I would discover that would be a mistake.
Reaching the border post, the scenery almost seems unreal. I feel like I am in a 1950's movie. Yes, there is a fence and official buildings but there is something cute and antique about this border crossing.
“Do you mind giving a policeman a ride into town”, I am asked as I approach the smiling Immigration, Customs, Tourist Board, Swaziland Ambassador, Officer.
Of course, I don't mind and she places a call to see if he is still down the road waiting for a ride. Unfortunately for me, he has already been picked up. What a shame.
I come to an almost abrupt stop at a non descriptive white building just at the beginning of a small town. A smiling owner welcomes me to Swaziland and tells me about his famous fresh baked brown bread.
A purchase and I am not disappointed just sad as I leave that sweet scent behind.
Navigating along a gravel mountain road with no rail guards and potholes that could swallow a small car like mine, I now know why officially I should not be driving a rental car here. However, I have watched enough episodes of “The Dukes Of Hazards” that I feel confident that I will survive the next eighteen miles even as I share the narrow road with cows, sheep and an occasional logging truck.
I am happy when my Dunlops begin to roll over black top and a Colonel's smiling face is a welcomed sign even thousands of miles away from Kentucky. Before long, I am on a hill at a souvenir stop watching a local craftsman demonstrate ancient rock carving using what seems like a one sided miniature pick ax.
Green towering mountains, a huge lake which I will cross in a few minutes are just some of the landscape I can see from here, all a part of what makes Swaziland a beautiful country.
Stopping, I am greeted by the solo thumping of a drum that is helping to keep these little dancing trees in rhythm.
Even though it costs me a few rands, I am glad I stopped especially when I get one of the trees to smile back at me.
A few more kilometers and I am nearing my destination as I travel down a dusty road. It is now early afternoon and apparently school has just let out. I pick up a hitchhiker walking the same way I am headed and although our conversation is sparse, I am good at following pointing fingers.
I watch as my hitchhiker disappears with box of cookies my waistline does not need.
A pot stew, a cold beer or two and I have not only seen The Kingdom Of Swaziland, I have just had a great taste of it and it has been more than just lunch.