Where were we?
Oh yes, Swaziland! Off we go!
It’s 6.30 in the morning. We’re heading Swaziland. We said bye to giraffes, impalas, jackals and warthogs on behalf of all inhabitants of Timbavati on our way out. A la prochaine fois les enfants!
We stopped by Hazyview for lunch. You can find some nice arts and crafts around the area. We bought an interesting piece of painting from a gallery called Artefunto. They use bamboos instead of canvas and paint over it. What appealed to me most was those done with ostriche eggs and beach sand. I grabbed one of those right away!
Reaching the customs of Swaziland seemed like a different world all of a sudden. The roads are still in good shape for driving, the landscapes are very green (surprise surprise again) and the altitude is quite high (another surprise) but there’s a different sense of Africa. I think the ex-colonial, maybe the ‘European’ feel of South Africa is gone. We passed by Mbabane, the capital city and reach Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. We’ll be staying at a real Swazi hut. Here the animals are out in the open. Though it’s not advised, I see kids feeding several impalas around. Kind of an open zoo treatment!
Unfortunately it started raining cats and dogs with loud thunders and lightnings echoing from behind. We heard some areas were struck by serious thunderbolts apparently since the electricity was gone in the reserve. Well, we wouldn’t mind an obligatory romance, as long as there were drinks. Oh yes, some red wine would do.
We arranged an early 2-hour morning walk the next day with a guide in the vast reserve. The thin, tall tall eucalyptus trees smelled just heavenly, opening up our lungs, body and brains. A natural spa!
We tracked some crocodile footprints, observed hippos sink and float, sink and float in the lake and the most colorful of all were the birds and their incredible nests hanging down from the trees by the water. We met blesbok, nyala and gnu (wildebeest) for the first time, said hi and bye to several zebras and impalas. Walking in the same land with these animals and driving by them with a 4WD are totally different experiences. I don’t know which one gave me more butterflies in the stomach, but both are worth giving a try.
We crossed the border over to South Africa again, to KwaZulu-Natal region. We’ll stay in Saint Lucia for 2 days to do Wetland Park safari and grab a mist of the warm Indian Ocean, yey!
The Wetland Park is right across from our hotel. It looks like the mix of a big river and a lake with swamp texture on the banks. What you do is, take a boat tour to observe some hippo clans, crocodiles, eagles, wild birds and herons.
We walked down to the port where the boats take off during the day. And surprise surprise!
Muddy footprints on the road!
That means some swimmies crawl up sometime during the day and walk up the street.
Well, we weren’t left in the dark for a very long time.
At night, we took a walk along the main street where most of the restaurants were situated. Interestingly, all the seafood places were mostly Greek. Well, we couldn’t move too far from our neighbors and the cuisine, could we?
And then we heard some youngsters coming up from the other direction, shouting:
THERE’S A HIPPO ON THE STREET!
THERE’S A HIPPOO!
A HIPPO’S COMING!
I saw a big shadow, thumping his feet really slowly in the middle of the street!
It was for real.
A hippo was walking in the middle of the street!
I rushed my footsteps, left my husband behind, headed towards the nearest restaurant’s terrace. There was a German group eating at the nearest table. I crawled up to their tables, asking ‘There’s a hippo coming, can I sit?’ and I sat down not waiting for the answer back. Well, they didn’t care much and kept on having dinner, not even turning their heads.
– Well OK, it’s my first night here and apparently not yours, so you’re used to the hippos walking up and down the street!!! Duh!
My husband ‘the brave one’ went after the hippo to get some pics. The shot is not very clear but still does its work.
Then we learned, these hippo guys sleep all day in the water when it’s hot. (Sink and float, sink and float, remember?) And at night, they come out, walk up the street, and go pasture behind the streets. Very liberal, n’est-ce pas?
So much adventure for today.
We now know who the footsteps up the road from the port belonged to.