This past week, we spent a couple of days in a very small country called Swaziland that is almost entirely surrounded by the much bigger country of South Africa. It was once considered almost a part of South Africa and for a long time was a British protectorate, but it is now independent, ruled by a king. Since it is so close and so surrounded by South Africa, we thought that we would be seeing just more South Africa-like landscapes and conditions, but were quite surprised by the contrast. In the areas we traveled, everything was clean. Even areas that would have been considered small townships were kept neat and clean. We didn't see a single beggar on any corner and although there was still some security, it was much more relaxed than in South Africa, indicating that the country must be considerably safer. Even though we learned it has a very small economy, it seems that what they are earning must be being used for the good of the people. There was a good sized business district and a lot of craft areas and a large craft training center. We went to several really nice craft markets. I'll show you some of those and some of the area in pictures.
A map so you can see how surrounded little Swaziland is.
Cultural village--this is the grandmother's hut, which is the largest in the village because she is the wisest. Family members came to her hut to solve problems and whatever she counseled them to do they were to do. Also, if the parents were disciplining their children and they ran to the grandmother's hut, their parents couldn't follow. It was a safe zone where everyone knew they could find peace. I like those rules and think we should all build grandmother huts.
Cultural dances; I think this dance was for marriage celebrations...
This one I think was traditionally done by unmarried girls.
And then the guys of course always need to show how brave and strong they are :)
They apparently grow a lot of fruit. We saw truck loads of pineapple, and this plant was processing something, we couldn't quite tell--apples? grapefruit? It smelled delicious whatever it was.
One of the craft markets. We bought a few things there.
Our daughter Melanie wanted a Swazi candle (sold all over the world) Here is just one of the rooms in their sales shop.
One of the craftsman forming one of the sculpted candles.
Hand sculpted candles; Melanie will have to wait to see which we chose :)
One of the places we definitely wanted to visit was this silversmith shop. They let us go back into the workshop to see them work. Today they were working on copper--here they are making an alloy which they will pour into the mold near the bottom to make the copper bars from which the bracelet will begin.
I think she is bending a bracelet, but I can't remember for sure. I was amazed at some of the tiny, tiny work they could do without any kind of magnification (working on tiny chains, etc.)
The necklace I have on (and which I bought) is silver, but notice the black? That's giraffe hair. Interesting, hu?
This is another nice shop where we bought a few things.
The seeds on this tree were beautiful and as hard as any bead. I asked if they used them for jewelry and they said, yes they did, but I didn't find any. They just called it a Swazi tree so I'm not sure the real name.
Frank relaxing at Ngwenya Glass. That is also a workshop started to employ people and now they sell their hand blown glass all over the world as well. We got a few very small things since glass is difficult to transport.
He's heating the glass for forming. In another oven they kept it warm between steps, but the funny thing was that one of the workers was also using the oven to roast his corn for his lunch. Pretty effective from the look of his corn :)
These are just a few shots of the hotel where we stayed--the Mountain Inn.
It was an old style hotel--very spread out so everyone had plenty of space and view. We had a little hike to get to our room.
But our view was amazing!
And the not so fun part of traveling to another country, no matter how small--going through customs!