Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And Boom Goes the Dynamite

(The title of this post has no relevence except the fact I have overused it all week, and will probably continue to do so)

Here in Swaziland, New Years or "Happy New Year" is the big holiday. Unlike in America, where Starbucks red cups and black Friday and cyber Monday (really...?) coalesce to create a perfect storm of consumerism, Christmas is more or less just another day here. Despite a celebration on my homestead, the 25th passed with no mention of Jingle Bells or Jesus...As kind of a Scrooge, I enjoyed this downplaying but found myself missing my Griswold-esque family and 5 Lesley Lane comforts.

Nonetheless, Christmas was an adventure! Some other volunteers and myself decided to go "camping" to the Ngwempisi Gorge, an absolutely stunning treehouse-like structure built into the rock face of a mountain, overlooking a river. The treehouse provided some shelter from the elements as well as bunk beds, a kitchen and running water. This was welcome to me, since my last camping experience was with Girl Scouts, and we were a little more "Troop Beverly Hills" than most. Between hiking among waterfalls, straight chillin' in a tree house, showering without a curtain on a precipice (also, the 'throne') and a little Swazi home brew, it was a most excellent time (thank God for the home brew, it made me not notice how soaked I was in my bunk during the rainstorm). I didn't take any photos, and even if I did it wouldn't have captured the beauty of it.
Me and Rubes a little damp but ready for a Christmas Eve feast at Malendela's!
Shower/Bathroom on a cliff overlooking the gorge. No shower curtain or door needed.
This is where we hiked down and back from. Photo cred goes to Root!
Christmas cocktails. Mojitos. No boiling of water necessary.

Troop Beverly Hills or Troop 5658?

Later that day, I decided I wanted to go back to my site to spend Christmas with my family. Little did I know the Manzini bus rank (see previous post on Manzini bus rank) would be a disaster. It's beginning to look a lot like...a shit show! The grocery store looked like a zombie apocalypse was coming and everyone was stocking up: bare shelves and hoardes of people in line. Frustrated, I left my basket, food-less, and without handi-gas to catch my bus. Which is jammed. Standing room only and everyone is already celebrating (drinking) on the hot, crowded vehicle. Going to be a long ride. Somehow I get a seat later in the ride and pay to go to my home. I dose a little despite the decibel level and when I wake up, I am in a completely unfamiliar place. The border post. Its night time and being out at night is not only a bad idea (note: there is a serial rapist named "Scarface" on the loose in my neck of the woods, can't make that up) but against our security protocol. Needless to say I am freaking out, on Christmas Eve of all days. They drop the frantic umlungu off at the police station, where I wait while someone is interrogated next to me. Thankfully my host brother came and saved the day. Turns out Christmas in my world is all about family, both here and at home. Sorry to be corny, but maybe Swaziland has made me realize I am not so Scroogey after all.

boCamara and a Delgrande. Merry Christmas!

To a paraphrase from a recently-reread book, by "enjoying the process" we can be happy all the time, elongating the gratification that comes from getting a reward or even the moment right before it. This is something, among other things, I am trying to remember when things seem to go very wrong here. Which they do a lot. I hope the New Year will bring more realizations like this and less freaking out when things get hairy. Considering the New Year happens to be 2012, I will need to be calm when Patient Zero is confirmed. Just kidding....heh heh.

Random Swazi Fact of the Week: Fireworks are totally legal and they are sold everywhere. I am going to bring a bunch of them back to my homestead for the New Year, Gandalf-style...I am also going to try to use less Lord of the Rings references in the New Year....NOT. The Hobbit trailer is out people!

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