Archive for swaziland

not a typical sunday

you’ll be happy to find this post with no pictures. there is a reason for it. this is a post about how one simple sunday of just plain plans to visit the Namaacha Waterfalls about an hour from Maputo and to stamp aldo’s passport on the border with Swaziland became my nightmare…

That morning I has woken up with only one worry and told karen: “no matter what happens today, I will be sitting on this couch at 9pm. I cannot miss G’s A last 5th season episode… no matter what!” she laughed. Little did i know I was about to think it was the most impossible thing to do.

We left Maputo, me , aldo, karen and martim, after a quick breakfast at the Cristal and drove to Namaacha… the trip usually takes about an hour. It tooks us 1 hour and 30minutes because I was stopped by the police for going 20km/h more than what I should’ve… and off we went again.

The first thing on the list to do was just drive to the border, drop off aldo and martim to get their passports stamped and then go see the waterfalls… karen and I would stay inside mozambique waiting to pick them up again when they were ready… 15minutes passed… 30minutes passed… 45 minutes passed… a call from aldo saying:

“they won’t let me in. I have to stay in Swaziland, go to the embassy at the capital Mbabane and get a new visa… it can take up to 30days”

Panic didn’t reach my face straight away, I had karen right in front of me and my first thought was to not let her see how wierd this day was about to get. But she’s too smart… and when I said on the phone even in italian “what do you want me to do” she knew something was up. He explained to me that there wasn’t much alternative to the idea of staying in Swaziland, either I joined him or he’d stay there by himself. I confess… I cried, because not that he was in danger, but it reached a limit in my heart. I am so fed up with these idiots that wake up on a sunday morning and decide to control people’s lives, even when they are legal. 

I excused myself with karen and martim, put them on a chapa to Maputo, explaining that one day I’ll make sure they see the Namaacha Waterfalls and the Limbombos Dam… one day… not today.

As soon as their chapa left, by the way, chapa is the minivan they call taxi buses, I’ll explain as soon as I get up the nerve to get into one. Anyway, they got on, they left and I quickly turned around the car and drove straight to the border building. I left Mozambique without saying a word. They asked “conversation questions”, I simply didn’t answer, I didn’t even look at anyone, I was angry. Too angry to speak.

Next step was to enter Swaziland, it was easier, it’s not their fault Mozambique border patrols work like shit, so I didn’t talk but I looked at them… never ever was I rude. Only because I decided that being silent was my best medicine for the nervous system.

I called by “bosses” and told them, between tears and angry words that I was about to enter Swazi to pick up aldo and sleep in the capital Mbabane, in order for the next day, monday be ready at the Mozambican Embassy to take care of business. But fortunately, Sergio didn’t let me panic too much, he let me know, asking first if I was up for it mentally and phisically, that if I drove to Mananga, the Swazi border with South Africa and cross onto ZA from there, he assured me it would be a piece of cake… easy peasy. From there all I had to do was drive to Komatipoort and enter Mozambique through Ressano Garcia. If by any chance we couldn’t, we could drive to Nelspruit and sleep there and go to the Mozambican Embassy the next day. He asked “if you drive slowly you will be home for dinner, but it’s a long drive and exhausting to go through 3 border patrols in one day”

To which I answered “I’ll be home before 9pm. Just won’t talk all the way there”. aldo gave me permission to drive silently and off we went.

In 4 hours I drove throught 3 border patrols and 3 countries.

By the time we arrived at the Komatipoort border I was about to collapse, not only did I not talk but in the mean time thought so much about myself. As we entered the last border building I had run out of things to critise this system, and for that I kept silent, and before I started taking care of my own papers to get into Mozambique, I waited for him to have his own permission… it would be the second to last step before home. So we waited. And waited. And 40 minutes later there is was, his permission. He could enter from here, but not from Swazi……… go figure these idiots.

I got my things together, papers and all, for me and the car, and drove off… now I spoke, now I let it go. No more Namaacha Border, no more of these horrible experiences, no more embarassing moments. I am done with this. From now on I am not doing this anymore. And I’m sure he’s giving up on it too. It seems that things will get resolved soon, his DIRE and permits and whatever… but seriously… if only state workers would get their shit together this would be a better place… but no, for some ridiculous reason, it serves some sort of purpose. If they would concentrate on getting the thieves, and corrupt polititians, and abusive drivers.  

To stop this right here, I will only tell you this: at 8:50pm I was sitting on my couch, with FOX LIVE on and G’s A starting the most horrible and most intriguing episode ever. Couldn’t have been a better ending for this NOT typical sunday.

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swaziland #001

aldo needed a new stamp on his passport, so we decided that traveling again through that horrible South African border would be too much for just a stamp, so this time we said, let’s have lunch in MANZINI, the italian named town in SWAZILAND. i was already meaning to go there seeing that i have traveled this country in search of things, places and pieces of my families story, it seemed fair that i would go to Manzini, to see the school where my dad’s sister studied and played basketball, just like me!

and off we went, to what we now know as THE SWITZERLAND OF AFRICA. or at least until now… you do know i’ve been to 3 countries in africa don’t you?!!!? of course you didn’t, but i’ll tell you: 3 COUNTRIES!!! so now i can say that of ALL of these, SWAZILAND = SWITZERLAND! see the similarities?

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ok so let’s start by explaining this photo above, there is a giraffe there, “where’s waldo the giraffe”, and of course i know that there aren’t any of these in Switzerland, but apart from this one giraffe and other 5 zebras (we are in africa in case you forgot!) we saw thousands of cows! and what does switzerland have? lots of milka cows. so that’s your  first clue.

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Swaziland is compared to mozambique not chaotic, there aren’t people everywhere, the border on Swaziland side was perfect even with the big spider above our heads, not even a bad moment… on the mozambican side, i had a fight with the guard. there is green everywhere and everything is cultivated, not burning and waiting for the sun to make potatoes out of light. 

people are all very gentle, they don’t stare as much at you and this in a place where we saw only two other white people.

it has a king, with 30 wives, much like Switzerland has a bank empire filled with 30 million accounts with laundry money. 

it has italian named cities, like Switzerland has an italian region.

enfin… so many similarities, except this one i think is slightly greener. indeed it was a positively surprising place to visit, no expectations, just a really, really nice lunch in Manzini.

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the green big blob is the KRUGER PARK, just below it there is a sort of a circle, that’s SWAZILAND, on the right next to the ocean is MOZ and on the right side of the park and swazi is SOUTH AFRICA. it’s like finding a treasure in this continent.

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i couldn’t leave this place without a KFC lunch, i’ve been dying to go to KFC. no sorry, eventhough that was a very good junk food lunch in this country of cows (?!), i couldn’t actually leave without going to see this place. my aunt Nelinha’s school, i hope, because i didn’t confirm before hand that this was the correct location, but following instruction of her sms it seemed correct. it’s still a school and a Catholic Centre.

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you said in front of the cathedral, so i’m sure it’s this school. if it’s not… pretend. because we only have to go to SWAZI again next month. new stamp.