TG Newsletter: SWAZILAND
(15 – 18 June 2017)
We're all gonna die one day!
And how much better would that be on a DUCATI SCRAMBLER DESERT SLED?
Ducati South Africa has given me a Sled to use for the rest of the year. They saw me drooling all over the bike at the Kyalami Festival and decided that, rather than having to keep on wiping drool off the bike, they will just cure my sickness and lend me one for a while.
DUCATI SCRAMBLER DESERT SLED
It only had about 18km on and I had to get it serviced again at 1000km. If I sneeze hard enough, I travel that distance in a day.
So, we decided to trailer to Barberton, stay over at African Rest, and then introduce Swaziland to a proper Sled(t).
We parked the cage, dropped some luggage (which in our case was an extra pantie), strapped down the tequila and left for the land of mountains.
I’ve named him Argo (Xena Warrior Princess’ horse). He falls perfectly into the classification of horse. Myself, not so much into ‘princess’.
First stop was in Barberton for a tank and stomach fill-up. But Chikita’s bike kept cutting out??? A quick strip and check, and we found the battery was on half power. Remedy: RIDE!
Just up the road was the Phoenix Hotel. It dates back to 1886 and has been renovated. We sat down and ordered breakfast, just to find out that we were their first visitors. The kitchen wasn’t ready for cooking, so we ordered whatever they could come up with. Plaatkoekies – YUM!
Chikita found a back-dirt road over the mountain on her map and off we set to explore.
The first road had a security occifer that wouldn’t let us through. The second gate had a big warning sign... something about trespassing, shooting and no love lost?!? We felt right at home and rode straight through.
Not far down this rode we came across people sitting under a veranda. Do we turn and run; or pretend we don’t speak English?!?
Colin, the farmer summonsed us closer. They were prepping for shooting practise. Luckily… shooting at a big white board being carried halfway up the mountain and not at heroins on horses.
Chikita pulled out her Manlicher!
Excellent condition. Never fired. Only dropped once.
We gave up on the mountain-road search and took the tar-path normally travelled.
The geel-oog in me loved all the geological information stops along the way. The Cape has the wine-route, Mpumalanga has the rock-route.
Showing off some of my superpowers… folding mountains!
Chikita just sniggered…
For the first few hundred kilometres is has proven to raise the riding bar for me. I’m used to a severely UNDER-powered 650 and had to get used to a 75 horse-powered 800cc that doesn’t like trotting. It wants to gallop!!!
I found the suspension hard enough to break the kidney stones I will have next year. On the road it was lekker, but off-road I kept getting slappers… from a Sled! We clicked around the preload but what I know about suspension is that feeling you get just before they read the Lotto numbers.
There was clearly nothing wrong with my own suspension!
This is a spook-dorp in Mpumalanga just before the Swazi border. It used to be a flourishing asbestos mining town. But with the equally flourishing lung diseases cause by the asbestos fibres, the town closed down. Within a week, everybody fled.
Last rounds at the clubhouse…
The old skateboard rink - my moves were sketchy!
The stories told by the men that grew up in this town in the 80’s sounds like heaven. Walks, in the mountain; dads playing golf while the kids tubed down the river. The piano, pool table and cash register all still stands around waiting to be plinked, plonked and katchinged.
Always be yourself, except if you can be a ghost… then always be a ghost! Apparently, they are immune to asbestos.
A true friend is someone that thinks your next adventure is risky and reckless; and says so while she starts packing her bags.
The border crossing was painless… for those standing on our side of the table!
But in general, Swazi people don’t like war, they like smiling. Everywhere we went!
Just inside the border of the smallest country in the Southern hemisphere is a place that makes magic with glass.
You get to stand above the workshop and watch as these wizards melt blops of glass and shape them into vases, jugs and the African big five (NOT the number – the animals). For someone that has a slight case of nelophobia, I stood jaw-dropped at the eaze they handle the shards with. And then create these beautiful ornaments!
I’m not really a gold person, so when someone offered us Swazi Gold at the petrol station, they were a bit confused when I asked if they rather have something in silver?
In the capital city, Mbabane, I lost Chikita. Argo and I did a tango on the hi-way, sweeping through the corners, as we swayed down the pass. She caught up to us again and pointed us in the right direction.
We stayed over at a well knows spot, with good food, a warm fire-place and whisky.
They have to rename Swaziland to the land-of-speed-bumps! Some of them could classify as small mountains, and not all of them are marked. Surprize speed-bump handling is a required skills course to attend before a visit to this country.
Swazi Candle Factory
A quick stop at the Swazi Candle factory.
House On Fire
We gate-crashed a function at this eclectic entertainment venue. Not that we melted in with the crowd as we played Rapunzel-Rapunzel and Don Quixote.
There was a short hike to the falls, but the adventure bikes took us to within meters of the look-out point. Even though everything looks green and lush, there is drought in the country. An indication should be that this is the biggest waterfall in Swaziland!?!
We couldn’t wait to attend the cultural dance ceremony and ran to get front-row seats.
The ladies dance this specific dance to show potential husbands that they are still… how should I say this…? Kuis?!?
Which obviously make the men… how should I say this…? Pleased?!?
A Swazi warrior tried to show me some moves…
It’s becoming clear why I’m still single.
Being the second biggest monolith in the world (monolith = single massive stone), we would have ridden past it non-the-wiser if we didn’t pin this one on our phones. It looks like a mountain, but it’s one big blerrie klip!
We had a picnic hamper in our backpacks with beer and garage paais (it is a pie with more sooibrand). We pulled into someones back yard and shared our paais with the dog. This place ROCKED!
The road back to SA was mostly plantation roads, badly damaged by lorries.
Argo has a realy good standing potition, and even with my weak wrists I could easily manage shifting in an instant to avoid the ‘white light’!
Coming over a hill, you have a millisecond to figure out what this is in front of you and what your next move’s gonna be. My move was… NOPE!
We got back to Barberton after dark, found a pub, watched the okie in blue wipe the tables at pool and fell into a cholesterol plate of slaptjips.
We stopped at the Berg-En-Dal monument on our way back to the city. A hundred and 17 years ago a lot of boertjies and a lot of souties lost their lifes because they didn’t smile.
I wore a smile the hole weekend.
I visited a beautiful country for the first time, it made me smile. I survived a trillion speed-bumps, it made me smile. I saw a country in need but the people were still friendly, it made me smile. I road a RED Ducati, it made me smile. I ate a R200 note, it made everybody else smile. I can share this with you, I hope it makes YOU smile.
CHIKITA PRODUCTIONS PRESENT:
Skinny and Chikita takes the new Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled to Swaziland. The country tries to kill us, but the Sled glides like a banana. Hitch a lift!!!
This is the biggest sponsor I’ve ever received – a trillion DANKIE’s to Ducati. But… I still need to pay for the petrol, accommodation and dop, so I can ride and write to you about our adventures. Don’t be jealous and drop me a penny. X
If you're familiar with the rural concept of the honesty bar, this honesty newsletter ain't much different... I'm a completely un-paid journalist, relying instead on readers using the honour system. You read the newsletter and then leave an amount you see fit for the entertainment you've received.
If you don't find it particularly amusing, then you fork out NO dosh. I won't stop sending you the letter – it is still mahala to those that count their coins and... I love sharing my stories.
As requested by my overseas readers, you can donate to this newsletter on my PayPal account:
You can do an EFT transfer to the account below.
my sub-6000 rev wheelies!Practicing