July 02

Tags

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. “

landscape

The above quote from St Augustine was given to me by a friend before I left the US.  I think it is so true – you learn so much from travel.  I arrived in Swaziland and immediately was struck by the natural beauty of the place.  It is very mountainous in Mbabane ( pronounced bah bahn).  Large boulders everywhere, some are even incorporated into the houses. I’m staying 10 minutes outside the capital and in what feels like a remote area.  But the facilities are great- I have a flat screen TV, WIFI, adequate heat and some lovely views of the flora and fauna.  And I have been keeping in touch with friends and family with the amazing Whats App.

unit 7

I also see Vervet monkeys scampering around often– very cute but I am told they can be a pest looking for any food.

monkeys

I am trying to observe the different bird life as well as the southern night sky.  The picture below is of an aloe plant and if you look closely you will see some green birds with white eye circles trying to get nectar I think.

aloe

The kingdom of Swaziland is a land locked country of about 1 million people and ruled by King Mswati III.  He has several wives and many children and reigns along with his mother.  The country was a British protectorate until gaining its independence in 1968.  The King is the head of state and appoints the country’s prime ministers.  Almost everyone here speaks English and I am trying hard to learn a few words in SiSwati.   It is not easy!

I have mentioned before the AIDs/TB crisis that is ongoing here. I was shocked to see that the average life expectancy was 60 years in 1990 and now is 48 years due to the HIV infection rate, other opportunistic infections and infant mortality.  The HIV infection rate is the highest in Africa and the life expectancy lowest in the world.  The King has set a goal to be AIDS free by 2022.  It is an ambitious target.

I am getting settled here and exploring a bit.  I joined a gym and attended a pretty challenging aerobics class!  And yesterday there was a pig roast at the US Deputy Consular office for the Fourth of July celebration.  Work is still coming together with some more clarity for my role this week.

All for now.