I traveled to South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique with Bold Earth Teen Adventures in 2013. I became really close with the group I travelled with and wanted to give you all a glimpse into the blog we created while we were there. Each member of the group wrote one of the blog posts and we posted every single day of our trip. This is the Swaziland portion, which was the second part of our trip. The South Africa and Mozambique portions will be listed in their own journals. I hope you enjoy!
Siya Hamba in Swaziland
Date: Jul 08
After an amazing night of sleep under the stars, we awoke to the sounds of dogs barking and roosters cocadoodledo-ing. Some girls ventured to the cliff’s edge for a session of yoga, while others went for a morning run. Brandon and the cooking crew treated us to a breakfast of eggs and sausage, and we played some rounds of Big Booty. Our 5K walk to the village turned into a tractor ride during which our guide December taught us “Siya Hamba,” an Africa working song. Siya Hamba is Swazi for “we are walking.” The soaring harmonies put everyone in the mood to work on our community service project in the village that morning. We had the privilege of working with members of the village by helping them make various crafts. Wire giraffes, grass weaved coasters, and beaded jewelry were among the items we learned how to make. While this cultural exchange took place, another group traveled to the local church to sit in and listen to a service. One woman took some of the girls to her house and provided them proper church attire. When the crafts were completed and the service concluded, we explored the tables searching for family souvenirs. We said goodbye to our newly formed friends, and walked back to camp for a tuna-salad lunch. With an hour of down time back at camp, most of us went to the overlook to relax and unwind. A personal highlight of mine was playing guitar while staring out over the Savannah. The the view was truly breathtaking.
December organized a soccer match with the local village kids. On the way to the game, I face-planted into the ground, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, the game began and we quickly fell 3-0; so it became immediately clear that the teams needed to be altered. With three village kids traded to Team USA/Saudi Arabia we came back and won 4-3. After post-game handshakes, we mingled with everyone on the sidelines, capturing adorable moments with the kids and their priceless smiles on camera. As we approached camp, the beautiful African sun descended towards the mountains. We returned to the overlook and posed for a once in a lifetime shot. Some just lied on the rocks and watched as the bright red sun slowly disappeared behind the misty mountaintops. It was a moment that I know I will never forget. Our meditation was interrupted by the distant sounds of African drums, which turned out to be a tribal dance performed for us by a group of teenage villagers. At the conclusion of their dance, they beckoned us to join them in a final series of songs. When we were all sufficiently immersed, we walked down the road to the camp and said goodbye. One kid actually proposed to Emily. The wedding is scheduled for next summer. We gathered around the campfire for our nightly “highlights & heroes” and question of the day. It gets a bit chilly in the evening and the steaming beef stew and rice was the perfect dinner meal to warm us up. When most people decided to head back to the tents for the night, Joel, Carisa, Kelsy, Hannah, and I stayed behind to practice our harmonies on a few songs we had been singing during the previous days. This was the cherry on top of another amazing day of Epic Africa 2013. -Matthew Schick P.S. Sorry we haven’t been able to recently post blogs. Even in 2013, rural African villages in the middle of the Swazi mountains generally don’t have wifi
Date: Jul 08
We began our morning at 6:30 to a breakfast of coffee, fruit and rusks (delicious biscuits). We then packed all of our belongings including around 16 ten liter bottles of water for the next week of our adventure. All of us boarded the truck for a 5 hour ride to the second country of our trip… Swaziland! On the truck we passed the time by sleeping on piles of luggage and in the aisle, singing along to songs (primarily Disney), eating snacks, and getting to know each other more. We also admired the scenic views as we drove through South Africa (we even saw a giraffe on the side of the road). About halfway through our journey, we stopped at the border to get our passports checked and to get another stamp added to our collections. After we all passed through border control, we continued our drive for another 2 hours winding through the Lobombo Mountains to reach our new home for the next two nights: the Shewula Mountain Camp. We pitched our tents and explored the many beautiful views around us; the valleys of sugar cane below us and mountains as far as we could see. Then, we were led by our guide, named December, around the village where we were able meet and interact with some of the local people and see how they live, all the while remembering what our guide, Sonja, had said, that “Their culture is not a tourist attraction.” We were able to try some homemade local drinks, speak with the people, and give some of the children gifts. We saw one little boy who began to cry when we walked by his house because he had never seen a white person before. Being able to look in on such a different way of life put many of our priorities into perspective, and many of us were able to really appreciate what we have. After our village walk, we were lucky enough to enjoy a dinner made by some of the Swazi women. The dinner of chicken in peanut sauce, spinach, pumpkin, slow roasted pork, coleslaw, rice and beans, and pap, put all of us into food comas! Many of us spent the evening stargazing in our sleeping bags (we were able to see the Milky Way and the Southern Cross constellation clearly), and a few of us spent the whole night outside – it was the best night of sleep I have had thus far in the trip. Overall, the whole day was filled with amazing and unique experiences that none of us will ever forget! Hakuna Matata,
JANE (Leader of the Day) Carisa, Diego, Emily, Hannah, Jared, Jordan, Josephine, Kelsey, Kinzy, Lia, Lily, Maddy, Maggie, Matthew, Morgan, Peyton, Sydney and Taylor.
Surf, Snorkel, Quad Bike Safari!
Date: Jul 10
Blogger of the Day: Emily C Today we all got a treat and were able to sleep in until nine! It felt really good and we needed the extra rest. The cook crew and I made a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. After eating our delicious food we set off in three groups to start our two day fun adventure. Group one which I was in went on an ocean safari where we got to witness hump back whales and some adorable dolphins! It was a wonderful experience that I definitely will never forget. The Indian Ocean is the place to be when you are looking for warm water and lots of amazing aquatic life. Groups two and three had surfing lessons and drove ATVs on the beach and then switched midway through the day to do each others last activity. After completing the beginning of our day we all got back together and we took a trip to the market to practice on our bargaining skills. I think all of us were unprepared for how busy and interesting the market actually is. Some of us bought exciting pants with crazy designs and others bought some cute jewelry and wood sculptures. It was our first opportunity to buy souvenirs on the trip. One of the highlights of probably everyone’s day was when we got to call home. Even though we are all having a super amazing time it was nice to hear and get to talk to our family and friends. (I love and miss you Mom, Dad, Julia, Ollie, and Lulu!) It was fun to update everyone on our trip and we were all in a good mood! After talking with our parents we were all happy to return back to our hostel to find Monga had cooked us an amazing dinner of Spaghetti and meat sauce with a huge green side salad! Before going to bed Kinzy decided to do her hair in a crazy way and everyone else joined it! Hey we are in Africa! Today was probably one of the most amazing days of my life and I wish I never had to leave. I love it here! -Emily
Fourth of July Shenanigans
Date: Jul 10
Hey hey hey everybody! Today, we were woken up at 4 AM by Sonja to start our Independence Day celebrations. We all slept and wailed along to Joel’s guitar on the 2-hour ride to our new destination: St. Lucia! Upon arriving, we dragged ourselves off the truck and then hopped onto the safari vehicles for our first game drive of the trip. Still a little groggy, we headed out to see our favorite animals in the freezing cold. Thankfully we all were given hand-woven blankets and amiable drivers to keep us laughing. Swept away by the magnificent valleys and panoramic mountain ranges, we forgot all about our lack of sleep. No one got to see any giraffes, but each vehicle got a glimpse of a family of lions, two white rhinos, one zebra, Pumba, African wild dogs, and an elephant. Seeing the animals in their natural habitat was something incredibly unique and exhilarating for the crew. It definitely gave many of us a new perspective on how we treat animals back in our countries, and how rare this experience was. Along the way, some of the natives were collecting some of the wheat from the area to give color to different products that they make. Their faces were covered in orange powder, their hair wrapped in vibrant cloths. The smiles on their faces truly lit up the valley they lived in. The people here are exquisite, their way of life so different and intriguing. I can’t wait to learn more about their culture and their love for life. Next up, we stopped for breakfast in a little picnic area. The hotdog buns with butter, cereal, muffins and fruit gave us a little taste of home and happiness. I have to say, I indulged in the bread. Two and a half rolls of it. Oops! Afterwards, we finished the drive and headed back on the truck towards our lodge for the night. Thinking it would be similar to camping, we suited up for another night of sharing 1 shower. To our surprise, there were suites of 4 beds and 2 showers. What a treat! We happily threw our layers on and dashed over to our boat cruise. We were treated with African chocolate bars, coffee, tea, some soda and pizza. Let’s just say we were all pretty hyper after that. Especially when all the hippos popped up from the water. We now have at least a thousand pictures of baby and mamma hippos alike. After some good bonding on the cruise, some went to the store to buy snacks and converters. Then we settled down for a dinner of roasted potatoes and chicken and honey-glazed carrots. We ended the night with a great nightly meeting and sparklers! What’s 4th of July without some fireworks? Today was definitely a big day for the group, and was by far the best Fourth of July I’ve ever had (no offense, mom and pop.) Tomorrow we set out for some more adventures, and we simply cannot wait to sleep in real beds! It feels like we’ve known each other for ages. This group is wonderful, and I’m so glad to be sharing these moments with them. Peace out. Kelsey
Date: Jul 12
Today we woke up around eight for a light breakfast of cereal, hot chocolate and rusks. We were excited to voyage to Tofo Island to do some community service and play with the local children. After a ride to the beach in the back of a pick up truck where we were all piled on top of each other we were excited for the boat ride over to the island. After seeing the boat we realized we would have to take two trips to avoid sinking. The first boat headed off to the island eager to work, while the second group hung out on the beach waiting for the boat. I was on the first boat ride and after we arrived and set down our backpacks and sleeping bags, we played games with the children. However the language barrier was difficult but we were able to run around and play some soccer and give piggy back rides. After the wait for the second group to arrive everyone was hungry. By the time everyone made it to the island rain had begun to fall. As it began to clear up we were seated for a late lunch of rice, pasta, crabs, and mussels prepared by the chief of the island and his family. The food was so delicious there was almost none left. Because of the rain the locals suggested we start work tomorrow, so everyone decided to play with the local children. While they played Josephine, Jared and I offered to help the women with the dishes. We washed all the dishes and helped dry them even though neither of us spoke the same language, which was difficult at times but we managed to get everything clean. It was a great experience! Then we walked along the coast of the island with kids and continued to play games until it got dark. We ended the day with our nightly meeting and then another great meal prepared by the chief. Everyone was exhausted after our long day so we headed to bed early, we all snuggled into one room with our sleeping bags smushed together on the floor, excited for a day of work tomorrow. xoxo
Wet and Wild
Date: Jul 12
After a long night of sleeping on top of each other on concrete floors, we woke up for breakfast which ranged from common American traditional cereals to fish. We followed our leaders, Amy and Joel to the island’s school where we took turns fashioning a wall and playing with local children. Due to the language barrier, our activities consisted mostly of tag and tickle fights. After the wall was finished and games were played, we handed out our donations to happy and eager children. Shortly after, we said our painful goodbyes and headed for our voyage home on tiny wooden boats. Over 20 kids piled in two small boats in the rain made for quite an adventure. After waiting about 20 minutes on the mainland, our pick-up truck came to take us back. We all snuggled up in warm blankets for a sleepy ride back. Once back at the lodge we were treated to a delicious pasta lunch made by our beloved Monga. The group split into two, some off to their much anticipated snorkel adventure and the others took the afternoon to relax. Some even got their hair touched up. I went to the market with Sydney and Josephine to shop around and eat unbelievably good donuts prepared by a local chef. When it began to rain we took it as a sign to head back. Then we awaited the return of our wet, cold and excited snorkelers. Later that evening we went to go see the beautiful sunset on the bluff since it is our last night on the beaches of Mozambique. We headed back for dinner and showers and then ended the night with a great meeting and watching Juno in the hotel lobby. Live Long and Prosper,