Malawian Rice Vendor

Saturday, 1 October 2011


We were able to rent a car and make the 4 hour drive East to Swaziland. A beautiful, mountainous country. We ended up finding a great place in the middle of one of their national parks to camp. Set in the lush, verdant, terrain we were able to see many animals from our campsite. We fell asleep peacefully only to wake at around 3am to the sound of booming thunder. We were a little scared as we were totally susceptible to lightening strikes in the grassy field where our tent lay. As the flash and boom became almost instantaneous, we thought we should probably take cover somewhere else. When we opened the tent, we noticed many silhouettes of animals only a few feet away. We were not sure what to do next. We decided that the animals were probably more of a hazard than the odd lightening strike so we stayed put inside our little tent hoping we wouldn't get hit. The storm eventually passed and we were able to sleep. We spent the next couple of days cruising through this small country, the differences between here and South Africa are astounding (more on that later). The rain continued to fall the following day as our tent became basically a big plastic sponge. After a few days in Swaziland, in the pouring rain, we decided to head back to South Africa to see if they would let us back in. We made the hour drive to the border only to find a line longer than the Nile River. We parked the car and waited in the cold weather as the line slowly moved. It took us about 90 minutes to get up to the front where we got our exit stamps then made our way to the South African side only to find that it too had a line a mile long. We finally got to the front and the immigration official barely glanced at our passports and automatically gave us 30 more days. Why the other a_ _hole didn't do this in the first place is still grating at us. We proceeded toward a game park called Pilanesberg. The first couple of hours was a bit surreal as we drove through a heavy shifting fog at times visibility was reduced to almost zero. It made the driving interesting as there were several people on the side of this busy highway walking so they would suddenly appear out of nowhere like ghosts. We had to take a series of back roads as there did not seem to be a direct route to where we were going. The countryside was interesting as we passed several small townships in the middle of nowhere. They were an interesting contrast to some of the HUGE barricaded houses usually located on hillsides. It took us about 6 hours to finally make it up to the game park. Located right next store to the infamous Sun City Resort, It is a great park with lots of animals. Unfortunately after making a nice evening drive through the park we got back to camp only to be inundated with another HUGE thunderstorm. The storm drenched everything. At one point after getting hit with so much rain INSIDE the tent and with the lightning strikes seemingly getting a bit too close we left the soggy tent and got into our little car. We looked at each other and could only laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Trying to sleep in this little car in wet clothes and sleeping bags was next to impossible. We did make it through the night only to wake the next morning to a puddle the size of Lake Eerie. We packed our soggy gear and went for another game drive. The drive turned out to be fabulous! We were able to see lots of animals including three HUGE rhinos strolling around. We were able to get so close that we were scared that they might turn and charge the car. Fortunately they did not but they were so cool to watch. We could have stayed there forever but unfortunately we did have to get back to Pretoria.........

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