Staggeringly early bus to Swaziland, but I needn’t have bothered. Let me explain; I rose at the butt-crack to get my ultra-early bus across the border into Swaziland, which is a bit like Switzerland only with different letters. I rode right on through the city of Manzini, the crossroads to Mozambique – maybe I should explain why… because I had heard a nasty rumour that Mozambique was no longer giving out visas at the border like Father Christmas, you had to go get that pesky stamp WHICH THWARTS ALL MY DREAMS in the nearest capital city, in Swaziland’s case, that would be Mbabane.
So I got another bus, not to Maputo, but to Mbabane. Strange, but true. There, I met the delectable Lilianna, my couchsurf contact. Lilianna’s from Portugal and she’s one of only two Portuguese teachers in the country, which kind of makes sense when you think that Swaziland only has too borders and one of them is with Mozambique – which speaks Portuguese. It was early afternoon and I figured that I had bags of time to sweet-talk the embassy into giving me a visa forth-hence. Only… bah! The rumours were falsehood! Balderdash and Tomfoolery. Damn those slippery tykes. I could have got a visa on the border.
If I had played my cards right, I could have been here in Mbabane last night (with the delectable Liliana) and been in Maputo by now, but I had blown it all on a bunny and a whim, dagnamit. But (as I can personally attest) worse things happen at sea and at least I had the delectable Liliana to play with. First up, we checked out Swaziland’s equivalent of Ayers Rock, a whopping great giant in the sky that you wouldn’t want to wake up on with a sore head.
Next we headed into town for a bit of opium. No, sorry, not opium… live music. Just as good. A guy singing with an acoustic guitar with his mate on bass playing music, sweet music. None of this fist-fingered Casio-keyboard crap that I’ve heard blasted out at distortion level elsewhere in Africa, but some great vibes, cool blues, swinging rhythm and kick ass rock n’ roll. Happy days.
I haven’t got the foggiest what the guy was singing about, but that never stopped me liking Sigur Ros, so pick your act up, FRANCE; choosing a random country entirely at random there. To top off the end of a great set in a bar that could have been the Ca Va in Liverpool (before they decided that Mexican Tequila fitted more with the French nomenclature), they played Hey Ya by Outkast. All was good.
But that was not the end of the night – the delectable Lilianna had other sights to show me. A restaurant, a little out of the way, but one that rustled up some proper bonza Swazi grub like no other. THIS IS WHY I TRAVEL. I have little interest in eating the same old, same old in every country I visit (KFC last week was a BREAK!) and the scran that the lady put on for us was epic. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. Swaziland – you’re ALL RIGHT. I’ll be coming back to check on you in a few years, you see if I don’t.
You know when you should really be getting up but you just really can’t be bothered? That was me this morning. Feeling a little bad for waking Lilianna with my snooze alarm every 15 minutes from 5am, I eventually elected (after several recounts) to rise from my slumber somewhere around the wrong side of 7. Lilianna drove me down to the minibus park and before I knew it, I was whisked away back from whence I came to the crossroads town of Manzini. There, I caught another minibus to Mozambique, Nation 117, feeling like I’ve arrived at the party a little late.
But to be honest with you, even if I had left Durban on Wednesday, I would have only got to Mozambique yesterday, and the buses up north go VERY early in the morning, so I would have been stuck there until this morning anyway. I figure I’m only a day (not two) askew. The border was a breeze and Maputo, the capital no less (although you probably already know that, you little clever-clogs you) was arrived at, just in time to make arrangements for a comfortable coach ride up north tomorrow morning (VERY early) and to make a couple of new friends at the Base Backpackers (thoroughly recommended, by the way).
We went out for a few beers, but I (uncharacteristically) called time way before normal. Burning the candle at both ends and all that, thinking about it, I hadn’t had a lie-in since I was in jail. Which doesn’t really count. It’s not like Mandy brought me a cup of tea while we watched Grindhouse on the wall using my brother’s projector. So when the devil take the hindmost (whatever that means), I crashed out for an rather early (11pm) night. My coach was leaving at half four in the morning, so gimme a break.