Thursday, August 15, 2013

South Africa To Swaziland And Back

We drove out of Swaziland back into South Africa around noon, and headed for Hluhluwe (pronounced Shashlooey to rhyme with "phooey") Game Reserve. We stopped at the same candle factory that we had visited five years ago. Prices are considerably higher than they were. Good for the Swazis if they can make some profit, but we decided just to be window shoppers today.

We stopped for lunch at a Wimpy's in a gas station plaza. Craig, our guide, advised us against using the ATM as "there have been problems." Yes, we've heard of such problems.

He and another tour member skipped lunch to make a police report at the station or detachment just across the street. It seems that when she flew from Australia to South Africa Jet Star Airways, despite being affiliated with Qantas, refused to check her bag through. Whatever happened in this comedy of errors, her bag did not arrive when she did, and when she eventually picked it up, she realized it had been ransacked and some of the contents stolen.

Another tour member mentioned that they had been advised by an airline employee not to check their bags too early at JNB, as it gave thieves time to steal from them. It appears from these tales that JNB is still having problems, even though the same problems were headline news on our previous visit.

We enjoyed some marvelous sightings in another open game-drive vehicle and are staying overnight at the Protea Hotel, Umfolozi River in Mtubatuba. Another funny detail about dining in Africa can be added to the list: Craig, our guide, informed us that the hotel told him a food delivery truck failed to arrive so they wouldn't be able to serve items from their a la carte menu.

He told them that many people wouldn't be that hungry and shouldn't be forced to choose a full-price buffet or skip dinner in this somewhat isolated location. The hotel offered to sell a half-price buffet as well, allowing people to choose certain items.

It was all too complicated for us, and we ordered the full buffet, which was generally quite decent, and offering a good variety of dishes.

The cost was about $16 a person, cheap by North American standards.

We're going to bed early tonight as we have our last early wake-up (Yay!) at 5:30 a.m., to get us to a boat cruise, after which we'll drive to Durban.

We're continuing to enjoy ourselves and meeting a lot of nice people in our tour group. Incidentally, the group is comprised mainly of Australians, with one other American couple (Kentucky), an Irish family, and a Maltese couple, who speak to each other quite regularly in Maltese, a language the wife tells us is Semitic and somewhat related to Arabic.

Our connection is terribly slow at this location, so we'll attempt to post some more photos of our Kruger game drive within the next 24 hours if possible, since we've now fallen one game drive behind, along with a lot of other sights that we at least find interesting.

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