Next morning, as we are making our way out, I am greeted by my friend... Actually, I am not sure if he deigned to notice me.
In the car port, we find our bikes freshly washed by someone of the hotel crew. Great service, well worth the tip.
As we rise into the hills, we enter a very dense, almost disorienting fog.
We decide to wait it out a bit - having coffee, of course. While sitting at the window, I watch the dogs sleeping in front of the silks store across the street - and have a heart attack every time a vehicle rushes by. The dogs don't even move.
It was my first time on the African Continent. Anything I saw was so exotic to me, like being inside of a travelogue movie!
Next stop: Sudwala caves, where we do a bit of off-bike sightseeing.
Stopping by the BMW dealer in Nelspruit for some parts for the bikes. The place is actually nicer than many dealerships back home.
We are offered more coffee while waiting, of course.
Taking gas. This was a novel custom for me: as we were pulling into the stations, we were quickly approached by the competing attendants - each of them desiring our business and hoping to get the tip.
On the way out of town, we see yet again smoke rising from the fields. That was a big story during our trip: lots of wildfires, both intentional and accidental.
OK, now it's getting even exotic for me.
We are at the border - crossing into the Kingdom of Swaziland. The formalities are quick, we pay the Swazi road tax, chit-chatted with the border guard... and that is it. Welcome to a place that I kept reading about in all those adventure travel books I devoured in the youth.
Swaziland has a weird economic configuration. It does have high-value production (agriculture and mining) - but, on the other hand, three quarters of the population is employed in subsistence farming.
How did they know I would be coming this way, after pigging out on the trip?
To maintain the hippo look - let's have more 'stuff'. We pull into a picturesque lodge along the road.
It looked as there was some money being spent to upgrade tourist infrastructure of the country. I was told that in the days of apartheid it was a prime weekend destination for South Africans: like many repressive regimes, theirs was very concerned by morality and vices of their subjects, banning gambling among others. Thus, Swazi casinos thrived at the time.
Lewis, of course, connects instantly and makes friends with everyone.
A typical sight both in Swaziland and South Africa: 'taxi'. These ubiquitous minibus taxis are the main mode of public transportation, in particular for the members of lower economic class - carrying well over half of all South African commuters.
We were repeatedly warned to watch out for these vehicles: the taxi drivers are are well known for their disregard for the road rules.
More local color.
Lewis trying to remember to stay on the 'wrong' side of the road.
Stopping for overnight in a picturesque lodge - bikes protected from the evening rain...
... while we hang out in the dining rom/bar.
To be continued...