Monday, February 25, 2013

Biff and Tiff Take Africa

February 8th – 19th, 2013

For the past ten days I have had the awesome company of one of my best friends Tiffany.  She braved the 48 hours of travel and met me here in the Kingdom, where Swaziland really pulled out all the stops to give her one unique experience.

To commemorate the epic adventure we went on, I will give you all a virtual scrapbook of photos to explain the shenanigans we got into.

Reunion at the shuttle drop off in Swaziland!
We hiked Sibebe, which is the largest granite rock face in the world and visited a glass factory in Mbabane that uses all recycled glass bottles to make hand blown items.

Sitting on what we thought might be the top of Sibebe with our friend Mia,
its questionable if we made it all the way or not.
I made her try every weird thing Swaziland has to offer:

Iron Brew, Emahewu (maize drink), Amarula (marula liquor), and Ginger Beer
Bottoms up!

Maganu (marula brew), emafethi (fat cake), and chicken dust (chicken BBQ on the side of the road)
How to eat a hot fat cake

And all the local beers and ciders, and take away food (chicken stew, liphalishi, and salad)
A Sibebe beer to commemorate the hike and
take away food to reward the calories burned!

 She even had a hand in making some traditional food.  She helped my Make make Sinkhwa Sembili (mealie bread), while I helped my sisi make some emaganu (marula brew).  After we had a great traditional meal with my host family of fresh home chicken and mealie bread.

Make and Tiff making mealie bread
Me making marula beer
Swazi meal

We braced the public transportation system here and Tiff got the full experience that is a Swaziland bus rank.   We rode in khumbis, buses, back of trucks, and hitched several rides to save money.  We survived our bus getting hit by a car and on two separate occasions the vehicle we were in running out of gas and having to find alternative transport.

The Manzini Bus Rank

One of your buses that forgot to fill up before we left town

We spent several days roughing it at my homestead, where Tiff fetched water, washed her clothes in a basin, that she then later learned to bucket bathe in, cooked over an open fire, watched Generations (local soap opera), and she got a Swazi name from my host family.  She is now and forever called Nomsa, meaning it is God’s grace that she was brought to us here in Africa.
washing clothes

Tiff came to work with me two days.  We went to the refugee camp to teach my English class, where we got caught in a rainstorm and she experience what its like to walk home on a very muddy path.  My students and counterparts loved meeting here however, so it was all worth it.

with one of my counterparts Mudu at the camp
She also came to the High School with me to help in the library.  She taped bookbindings all morning like a pro, and then walked home in the opposite of a rain shower.  It was hotter then a pistol that day, and she finally understood what I meant by saying that my site was way hotter then Mbabane, where we started our adventure.
Tiff at the school's gate
working in the library
For Valentines Day we visited Hlane Royal Game Park here in Swaziland.  We went on a sunset game drive and saw giraffes, rhinos, elephants, lions, impala, warthogs, hippos, and tons of birds.  We camped at the game park and fell asleep to lions roaring.
Tiff viewing a giraffe from the game drive truck

Tiff came at just the right time and got to attend one of Swaziland’s national festivals.  We went up north to the Marula Festival and we watched all of the boMake dance in celebration of harvesting their marula and making emaganu.  We saw the King and Queen Mother from a distance and even got dressed in traditional wear for the occasion.  We made a stop at the Manzini market before we went and picked Tiff up some traditional jewelry and a lihiya to wear.

In our traditional wear
Buying fabric at the Manzini market
The ladies from my community represented with their flashy outfits!
Our adventure ended with a day of shopping the large traditional craft markets here, a pitcher of sangria, and a long hot shower (well deserved for Tiff after a week at my site).

All in all it was an amazing ten days!  I am so glad Tiff was able to make this trip of a lifetime and experience a new place by discovering its heart, not just the tourist façade it puts on.  For me it was so great to have a familiar face to share my world with.  Her presence helped me see Swaziland in a new light and made me realize just how fantastic this place can be, just how adapted I am to living here, and what I will miss most.

I was sad to see Tiff leave, but am happy to know that in just 5 short months we can meet again and reminisce.  It will be nice to have another person who will “get” my Swazi stories when I get back.

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