7.2.12 We were long over due for an adventure, I pondered, as we drove down the mountain leaving Mbabane and heading toward Ezluwini Valley. It’s Saturday and we are a little tiered from our Friday night of dancing and tequiella shots, but now we are headed on our own adventure. One of the many places in Swaziland I haven’t properly explored, even though I have lived here for over a year and the game park is only a 20 minute drive.
The sun is shinning brightly today and the sweat rolling down my back helps me believe this may be the beginning of summer. We enter the Game Reserve and instantly see a pack of zebra grazing in the fields, and impala gracefully leaping across the dirt roads leaving little clouds of red dust. I giggle to myself remembering a comment my sister made on my facebook recently, “…pretty sure all the kids imagine you live in a zoo without the cages…” Driving through this game park, with wild animals all around us- I realize their imaginations aren’t too wild after all.
We carry on driving past two huge hippos, grazing on a tiny little island. It reminds me of when you see a really over-weight person in a little car. Out of all the islands, and surrounding banks, these massive animals have chosen the smallest bit of land for their roost. They are amazing to see, but I’m glad they are at a distance, as George tells me they can run on those stumpy legs of theirs at 60km an hour. As we drive further into the park we see small packs of warthogs as they graze with their young in the fields, all of them bent down on their front knees makes me feel like we are disrupting their afternoon prayer.
We arrive at the campsite area and park in front of the reception desk, disturbing a few stray deer. There are many varieties of deer in the park, and they fearless gather near the people having picnics. Its strange to see them so closely. We carry on walking, visiting all the little museums with dusty bones hanging from the walls, and collections of skins. Plaques on the wall describing problems with snares and litter over the last few decades. Its sad, but we are having fun touching everything, and wiggling hippo teeth from their massive bone jaws– enjoying the fact that we are seeing everything in person, and not from behind glass cases.
After the history lesson we go around to the pool area, and George tells me his father use to take him here when he was learning how to swim. It seems so strange to me, and so cool; learning to swim at an African Game Reserve. I wondering if he knows how unique that is. Swimming, as a child, just feet away from herds of zebra and other animals most kids only see in zoo’s.
The sun is already creeping lower in the sky and we still have to make it to Riley’s Rock, so we jump back in the car and head up the mountain. Riley’s Rock is famous in SD and there are many stories of it’s history. They say that a long time ago they use to catch people accussed of witchcraft or black magic, and make them climb to the top of the rock to jump to their deaths. I can’t imagine jumping at such a height, as this rock sits on top of a steep rocky mountain. As we stand at the top, my head spins at the view. It doesn’t look real. To the east you can see beyond Matsapa to Manzini which is over a 30 minute drive. To the North you can make out the plaza at the Gables, and the mountains colliding in the distance, hiding Mbabane. We are the only people enjoying the view, and it feels like we could easily be the last people on earth. Its so quiet up here, so peaceful.
I try explaining to George that this is what cities look like from a plane- but he doesn’t seem to believe me. He is telling me some story about him and his friends trying to move these giant rocks with car jacks when they were younger. I can’t help but to feel very lucky to be new to views like this, (not because a childhood of playing with rocks sounds boring) because they are amazing. I can’t imagine getting use to something this majestic, this beautiful.
My stomach is growling now, the sun is setting, and we still have to make it back down the rocky terrain, so we start to head out. We make jokes all the way down about how cool it would be to have a wedding on top of this mountain. How funny it would be for my family for us to get married in a Game Park, with Zebras as the special guest. I laugh as we drive by the campsite one last time, and I see the fo-homesteads with traditional mud and reed huts scattered behind the tall stick fences. “But where would my sister plug in her hairdryer?” I say laughing. We think about all the funny things my family would say if we brought them here for the big event. I am laughing tears, but find myself missing home the further out of the park we drive.
My family in the states has been on my mind a lot lately. I can’t wait to see them, but even more than that, I can’t wait for them to come here so I can show them all of the amazing things that have become a part of my daily life. I feel so lucky to get to expereince all of this and can’t find enough words to describe it all in a letter. Days like today were meant to be expereienced in person. One day; one day I will get to show them.