Nov 082011

Up early to explore Ladysmith before the long drive to Swaziland. Breakfast at the hotel was pretty uninspired, but given the location and what we’d seen of the hotel the night before that was perfectly fine. It was clean, sufficient, and we were on our way. First stop was the Ladysmith Town Hall to see the museum. Ladysmith was a key focal point in the Anglo-Boer wars in the early 20th century, and had an interesting museum to show for it. Unfortunately, it felt like the town never quite recovered all the way. A couple shots of the Town Hall / Museum:

After an hour or so we packed up, and drove north out of town. The route from Ladysmith to Swaziland is known as the “battlefields” since it was the area the Boers/English/Zulus clashed repeatedly. But first…we got hungry and had to stop at a local shack that was selling biltong. Kudu, ostrich, and beef….yum!

Next stop was the Talana Hill battle site, which was honestly quite disappointing. Several exhibits that had nothing to do with the battles themselves (un-PC these days perhaps?) and more to do with the visits of Princess Di, Quilts, etc. Quite a bummer, but at least we found a few interesting historical things on site:

After that, we continued our drive to the Ncome Museum. It was perhaps one of the most interesting we’d seen, mainly because it required driving over 20 miles on dirt potholed roads each way to get there. Up until this point, even the secondary roads in South Africa had been amazing quality, so it was really nice to get somewhere that felt remote and “authentic.” A self-appointed “guide” attached himself to us to explain the site…and in the end it worked out very well. He wasn’t looking for money, just proud to show off the museum. I don’t know what it is, but we always seem to get lucky like this. I know lots of people complain about touts taking advantage of them, but we’ve had the good fortune over and over to run into local guides who just want to show us sites.

Driving out was a bit more challenging!

Soon enough, after quite a bit more driving…we’d reached the destination!

The drive into Swaziland was on some seriously windy roads, but they were in much much better condition than the roads into Lesotho. There were also many more people on the sides of the road, and the whole country seemed much more active and productive. We reached the hotel shortly, checked in, and headed straight out to dinner. We walked around the capital Mbabane, but everything looked seriously sketchy, so we decided to drive into the valley where it was said all the ExPat places were located. We found a place billed as a local pub, ordered some drinks and…out went the lights.

We soon learned there had been major demonstrations in the country, and the polyamourous/polygamous King had decided to cut power to the country to punish the unions for demonstrating against him. Fantastic. There were a few brief flashes of power…enough to get our burgers cooked fortunately…so even though dinner took well over two hours for a simple pub meal the drinks kept coming and we didn’t end up with food poisoning. You can’t complain too much about that. The woman who was clearly the owner of the pub was eating at the table next to us, and was clearly frustrated and embarrassed about the situation. Driving back to the hotel in pouring rain after a few drinks probably wasn’t the easiest thing, but fortunately all went well and soon we were crashing for the next day’s adventure to Mozambique…and nearly the end of the adventure.

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