Sometimes what you expect to see and reality can be so dramatically different. Unknown to us, we found Swaziland is a hauntingly beautiful land of undulating mountains. Huge tracts of domesticated forests at different points of growth and harvest dominate most of the country. Amid this striking setting, people cling to life in dire poverty. Nearly a quarter of the county is infected with HIV/Aids. The living conditions and mortality rate is dire.
In prep for our visit we had done our homework on the tiny Kingdom located almost entirely in South Africa. As a part of our research we watch Without the King. A documentary on the Monarcy, and specifically the King’s eldest daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso. The movie portrays the masses as being on the verge of a overthrowing the ruling body. We did not witness any outward evidence of civil unrest. We witnessed a people eking out a meager existence. A people clinging to life in anyway possible.
So why visit Swaziland? We truly count our visit there as a blessing. Amid difficult circumstance there is hope. We met hope in the people with whom we interacted.
We stayed at the Forester Arms Hotel outside the capital, Mbabane. Roughly a 30 min. drive through the mountains and forest to an isolated tree plantation. This charming retreat is very comfortable and the food was very good. They serve both dinner and a full to order breakfast. The hostess of this impressive oasis is an amazing woman. Our interaction was limited, as we only stayed a night, but we witnessed the kindness she exhibited to her extensive staff was only exceeded by her graciousness to us as guests.
You really must visit Swaziland. The natural beauty is compelling. Swazi crafts are also impressive. But most of all, go to Swaziland to learn about yourself. So many life lessons are learned when you witness happiness and hope amid abject poverty. The Swazi situation is difficult to witness, but you will be the better human for the experience.