We were planning to sleep just outside the Golela border but since Bertus did not give us issues we pushed through and reached the border at 14:00. Before we “cross over” we had to inform the banks that we will be using our cards outside of RSA. After roughly 15 minutes of talking to a machine, getting cut off because of bad signal, talking to a machine again for 15 minutes, getting cut off I decided to selected the options that will get me talking to a human being the fastest. Within 5 minutes all our cards were activated and we set off for the border post. Our very first one with Bertus.
Just before we left Cape Town I received very strict instructions from a friend on how to behave at a border post: Shut up and let Clayton do the talking! Since I cannot really argue with that logic I decided to follow his advise and we had our passports stamped at the South African border within a couple of minutes (me smiling and nodding like an idiot at everyone I see). We drove over to the boom to hand over our gate pass that will get us into Swaziland. After a good 5 minute wait at the gate two lovely ladies made their appearance. We were hoping to skip through without an inspection but it would seem that we were out of luck. We had to open up the bonnet which meant I had to get out of the car so that Clayton can pull the lever while I push down. This must have seemed slightly dodgy to them and I could see we are going to have a problem.
I lifted the bonnet and saw with smug satisfaction that they immediately lost interest after seeing the chaos under the hood. They peeked here and there, poked a couple of boxes and bags. Happy that no weird noises escaped and nothing popped out that would force them to investigate further, they decided that we could go through. Just as I gave a sigh of relieve the one lovely official pointed to the toothpaste and said she wanted it. Toothpaste? I could’ve sworn she didn’t have half her teeth left so starting to brush now would really not make much of a difference. Not sure how to handle this, I looked at Clayton – he needs to do the talking because the words that came to my mind would end up with me going to jail over toothpaste. That was really not on my bucket list for this trip so I put on a smile and nodded (the nod was more of a nervous twitch). Clayton handled it like a boss and before I knew it we were waved through the gate and directed to the Swazi Border, toothpaste still in our possession.
Not even 10 minutes later we were cruising down the highway. The biggest hold up was again the official at the gate but he was too distracted by Bertus to really give us any issues. To say that we were happy would be an understatement. After more than a month of emotional draining situations, most of the time uncertain whether or not we should continue with Bertus, we finally made it to a different country in our little, red beetle! We were elated… until we realized that we did not make any plans for accommodation for the night and without internet we were pretty screwed. Coast to Coast had a couple of places but they were all in northern Swaziland, almost 2 hours drive from where we were. Luckily I downloaded an app called iOverlander the week before (that happen to work offline) and we found a sleeping spot not even 40km away, straight ahead on the main road.
Nisela Safari Lodge was quite nice and the people were very friendly. Since they were in the process of renovating the campsites and it looked like it was going to rain we decided to sleep in their traditional huts.
Chuffed with our new accommodation we went to the bar to have our very first Swazi beer (Sibebe) which tasted a lot like Windhoek Lager but just more expensive. Since we were big spenders now, staying in a hut and all, we decided to splurge a little by eating at the restaurant. We ordered a ¼ chicken with chips and pap to share.
The novelty of the low door soon wore off. Going down on your knees, in the ground (that turned to mud after only a couple of raindrops) was more of a schlep than anything else and I could not help but feel sorry for the Swazi people.
There was apparently method to the madness of the low door: back in the day the huts did not have a lockable door so anyone could just walk straight into your house if the door was normal height. With the door so low the uninvited guest would have to crawl inside head first which gave the occupant the opportunity to stand next to the opening and smack the poor guy on his head with a knop-kirrie.
After all the excitement of the day we went to bed early just to be woken up a bit later by strange noises originating from our tummies. The noises were soon followed by cramps and not long after the queasiness set in. How stupid could we be? Of all the meat options we could choose we took chicken! Images flooded my mind of us crawling in and out of the hut, in the mud and rain, running to get to the bathrooms. Fortunately the situation did not get much worse and we escaped with only a warning… this time round.