We woke up on our last morning in Swaziland and it had finally stopped raining. I put on some clothes and went to complain to the manager about the water being off. He had it turned back on. Don’t ask me why it was off. I was just glad we could brush our teeth. After a mediocre breakfast, we said goodbye and good riddance to the Mantenga non-Tented Camp. (In case you missed Part 2, Mantenga dismantled their lovely tents to build luxurious but leaky safari-chic huts. We won’t stay there again.) On our way out of Swaziland we stopped at a souvenir place called Swazi Candles – one of our favorite hangouts in Swaziland. Swazi Candles is a quirky, artsy tourist trap. It consists of a complex of buildings, one of which is the candle workshop/studio. Then there are several other shops, a small café, and an outdoor area filled with artisans selling a local crafts.
We awoke, soggy and groggy, on the morning after the flood (see Part 2). It was still raining. We picked up Zandi, our Swazi colleague from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and headed out of town. We were going to see Zanele and her two-year-old daughter, Phiwa. Zanele has HIV, but Phiwa is HIV-negative because Zanele received medicines that prevented her from transmitting HIV to her daughter.
I was ambitious in thinking I could tell this story in three parts. I’m expanding it to four.
Our stay in Swaziland began peacefully. We crossed the border at Bulembu, a tiny town northeast of the busier border crossing at Oshoek. Rather than jostling around in long lines and dealing with surly immigration officials, we sauntered into a one-room building and chatted with the three women behind the counter. They crochet lace to pass the time – I bought a piece for R100. They stamped our passports with a smile (no paperwork required) and we were off.
Joe and I recently returned from a trip to Swaziland, where we worked on a story for World AIDS Day. It was an eventful trip so I’m dividing my account of it into three parts. We left for Swaziland a day early so we could visit the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden, a nature reserve for rescued chimps near the town of Nelspruit, about four hours from Joburg. Joe wanted to investigate a potential story and I wanted to see the chimps. It was also a good opportunity to see another part of South Africa. Nelspruit is a popular jumping-off point for people visiting Kruger National Park. It’s in the Lowveld, which means it’s lower elevation than the Highveld, where Joburg is. It’s also much hotter and damper. The town is bordered by rainforest.