Sunday, November 08, 2009

South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique

Our task was to drive 650 kilometers from Johannesburg, South Africa, through the tiny country of Swaziland, and into the very southern tip of Mozambique for a week on the beach.

We were both anxious: South Africans drive on the left-hand side and the traffic jams in Johannesburg are legendary. Add the sky-high rates of drunk driving and occasional violent car jackings, and you had two very nervous American tourists.

We landed in Joburg, picked up our rental car, and cautiously made our way out of the airport and to the hotel. A minor, but very import success.

At our hotel, I prepared to take the longest hot shower in the history of mankind and watch hours of awful tv. Chris was dying to do the same, but first took care of one very important task:

Off with the 'stache!

The next morning we woke up early and hit the road.

I was really excited to see this ostrich, given that we'd only had a fleeting glimpse of one in the Botswana bush. Excited, that is, until I realized that this South African cousin was, in fact, on an ostrich farm, and not roaming free across the countryside. I thought of him later that week as I was plowing through some ostrich biltong (beef [er, ostrich] jerky).

Swaziland is called the Switzerland of Southern Africa. It was beautiful and a far departure from the dry and dusty forests of Northern Botswana.

Usually I don't pay much attention to these signs. You see them all over the place, right? 

But in South Africa, they proved to be accurate, time and time again.

We successfully (but not without minor mishaps) made it through two Swaziland borders and the border into Mozambique. We ditched our tiny car and had the resort pick us up. Which was a good thing, given that the roads in Moz look like this:

But it was worth it. Every bump, every minute of the agonizingly long drive, every aloof border guard. It was worth it for this:

And this:

But the weather in Moz was not exactly awesome. In fact, it was cold and rainy. And the visibility and massive currents made scuba diving impossible. Also, the guide said there was an unusually large concentration of ‘Mozambique Sharks’ (aka bull sharks) in the area. Big fish and poor visibility? No thank you. 

So we did other things. Like horseback riding. 

Chris was a happy camper until about two seconds after this picture was taken, at which point my horse, not liking the fact that Chris' beast was crowding his space, sent a massive kick backwards that missed the horse but struck Chris squarely in the shin. It was a bruise to remember. We’re lucky he didn’t get a broken leg. 

Despite the inclement weather, we spent a lot of time roaming the beach,

braving the wind,

and looking for sea shells.

We still had fun.

And we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Those soft South Africans, turning up their collective noses at a little rainy weather!

And then, on our very last day, the sun came out. Hallelujah!

Oh lovely sun!

And look! Still no other people!

We went into the ocean once. We promptly decided that we, too, were rather soft and unable to handle bitterly cold water.

So it was back to the beach for us!

And that, dear Internets, is the last of our Africa pictures. Hope you enjoyed them, we enjoyed sharing them with you!