Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Being a Tourist for the Day

As part of our orientation last week, we spent a day driving around to the major tourist destinations around the school. While I'm not a big fan of the "get off the bus, take some pictures, get on the bus, next place" kind of deal, it was nice to get some of the touristy stuff out of the way.
First, can I just share how wonderful the view is from the school? This is the view looking down into the valley when driving down the road from the school into town. (WK is literally at the top of a mountain above Mbabane).
Our first stop on the most touristy day of the year was a glass bowing factory, where these guys were making all sorts of fancy figurines and containers.
Then, we went to House on Fire, which is a performing arts venue in the middle of the bush. There's a big arts festival called Bushfire that's held there every year, and is a pretty big deal at Waterford. The place itself was really cool, to the point of almost being surreal. Everywhere you looked, there was some sort of mosaic in the wall, or quote carved into the ceiling, or funky metal shapes growing out of the ground. I think Doctor Seuss would have liked it here.
^This is the main "Shakespearean Globe Theater" or whatever. Essentially, the main stage.
Next, we went to a candle-making place with a bunch of traditional-looking art for sale. It was the kind of thing that would have really interested a middle-aged, classy, artsy woman, but since it was hot and humid, and I had already seen a bunch of art stalls at the glass blowing factory, this stop didn't float my boat. But, since I was playing up the tourist mode, here are some pictures.
Finally, since we're in Swaziland being tourists, no complete tour would be complete without a safari. So, we went to the Mlilwane Game Reserve, which I have to admit, despite my annoyance at being a tourist, was really gorgeous. These pictures don't even do it justice.
 Once you drive through the game reserve, there's this sort of "traditional Swazi village," which is really just a resort. We didn't stay there, but rather just had lunch there, but that didn't stop us from finally just laughing at how overwhelmingly touristy the place was. If you were on a tour, and had one day in Swaziland, and came here? You'd think that the entirety of the country lives in grass huts and wears big pieces of red cloth for their clothing.
^This was not a joke. We tried to walk across the grass and found that there was indeed an overly aggressive hippo there.
No matter how much I hate being a tourist, I have to admit that after such a long day on a bus full of of a bunch of us who hate being tourists, we returned to Waterford hot, sweaty, and in surprisingly good spirits. Now that we've got this touristy thing out of the way, we're settled in, and getting into a routine, we've agreed that we live here now. It feels like home - not somewhere where we seek out grass huts to take pictures by :)

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