Cruising in a pick-up truck
Trip Start Sep 10, 2008
75Trip End Sep 03, 2009
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Retrieving our wet bags from the trailer, we were glad to get inside and hoped for a break in the weather. The hostel itself was really nice with huge rooms and plenty of comfortable places to sit
Stopping off at a few other craft factories via a pineapple plantation we took in "gone rural". The scheme was set up to create employment for local women using skills they already have and has been incredibly successful. The women collect specific types of grass which grow on the steep hills and bring it to the dying factory. They can then choose to collect their money for the grass or stay and work dying the grass. The multicolored grass can then be collected to be tightly plaited and woven into many forms of baskets and bowls. The women choose what hours they work, allowing them to look after farms and children at the same time, and get paid a decent wage for the amount of work they do. In this way the project supports thousands of people, the women and their families, and has received international recognition.
Our next stop was the Swazi Cultural Village
During lunch we watched the monkeys try to break into our van. After a while they gave up and moved onto the next bus who had unwisely left all the windows open. Shaun - our guide, chased them out and closed all the windows, but I don't think the group had much lunch left. Later we went for a swim underneath two big waterfalls. It was one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done. The waterfalls were beautiful, but looked even more amazing looking up from the water. They could only be viewed from this angle if you swam. I wish I had a waterproof camera!
Swimming under the actual waterfall was hard work. Working against the strong current, water filled all my senses. I couldn't see, and I could hardly breathe. All I could hear was the noise from the waterfall. We managed to position ourselves on a small ledge under the flow where we could just about hold on and catch our breath. It really was a fantastic experience, and goes to prove that the best things in life are free. On the way back we visited "The house on fire". It's not actually a house on fire, (which was the only thing I could picture in my head when he told us that we were going there) but an arts venue, with weird and wonderful sculptures built into the architecture.
On our last day in Swaziland, our guide took eleven of us out for what he called a free day, as we'd bonded so well as a group. The day started with three of us heading into town of the local minibus taxi, on which of course they ripped us off, charging us 7 Rand each instead of 4. As it actually works out to be about 20p difference, we decided it really wasn't worth the hassle and paid the inflated rate!
We were about to get a taxi back, negotiating with the several touts who had crowded round us, and as we were about to get on, Shaun pulled up on his bike
Once back at the hostel, we crammed in the rest of the 8 people into the small vehicle and travelled in true African style, wind through our hair and bumping along dirt tracks to a series of waterfalls, nearly falling out at one point as we hit a trough in the road too fast. After a paddle and swim, and with many of us looking pretty dirty from falling over several times we went for lunch at the local butchery.
Luckily we had picked up some more comfortable transport on the way, complete with a roof, and just in time to shelter us from the storm
We were the last ones to leave the place and the owners actually left us with the padlock to shut up shop. When we got back we spent much of the evening reminiscing about experiences in SA, remembering home and singing along to the likes of Queen and Michael Jackson.