“You have brains on your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss
The last three weeks have been the most unique weeks of my life. It really is difficult to even know where to begin! I have been blessed by so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, landscapes, people, and culture that makes Swaziland my new home away from home.
So many things I want to discuss warrant their own blog post that will likely follow but for the mean time I want to just paint a picture for you of how I have been living the last couple weeks. This post won’t be published until 7/4 at the earliest because I haven’t had phone service before that. This means I have been almost completely without contact from friends and family at home and also absent from the Internet completely. One advantage to this is that I have been fortunate enough to have no clue what is going on in the presidential race.
I am writing this blog on my phone at 5:00am. Why? Because I have woken up nearly every day around 3:30-4:30 since arriving due to the 100+ free range chickens that wonder freely on our property. Swazi roosters differ from American ones in that they don’t care if you want to sleep until 6:00, you’re on their time, Swazi time!
I live on a homestead with my host family, the Dlamini family. We live on the side of a mountain in a very mountainous region of Swaziland. The chiefdom I live in is called Nkamanzi, which is equivalent to living in a rural township in the US. The nearest town that you might be able to find if you google search is called Matsapha.
My family has given me my new SiSwati name, essentially making me their adopted son. My name in Swaziland is Ndoda Dlamini. For the next two years, this will be how I introduce myself and the name to which I will respond.
There are so many wonderful things about my family! One thing I love is that I live with 8 boys between the ages of 3-30. Everyone in my family is terrific. An interesting thing to know about this family is that my Babe /baw-bay/ (dad) is a brother to the King of Swaziland and a son to the former Swazi King. Babe is a very wise and wonderful man who I love to talk to and I couldn’t be more happy to be hosted by him and my family.
Besides living with a bunch of awesome boys and my Make /maw-kay/ (mom), I also get to live with our family’s dog, Dice. She is a great dog and makes it easier to adjust being away from my pup Missy and all of my other critters. Dice typically sleeps outside my room and greets me whenever I go outside.
I have my own personal room that is detached from the other houses on my homestead. It is approximately 10’x 10′ and has a TINY bed, a small table for cooking and a small gas stove like what you would take camping.
I (and my family) live without running water. All of the water I use for drinking, showering, doing dishes or laundry come from a nearby stream. I do my laundry at the stream by hand and it took me over an hour to wash 3 days worth of clothing (yet they lasted me about 2 weeks). My BoBhuti (brothers) have shown me the way to properly wash my clothing and were quite impressed how quickly I caught on. To drink water takes preparation, I have to book my drinking water, let it cool down, and then filter it effort it is safe to consume. In total it takes about 15 hours to have any drinking water.
85% of all food my family cooks is done outside over a fire with a Dutch oven.
Like I said, this is just to give you the most knowledge of my current living conditions and how much it differs from the US life. All in all, the last few weeks have been incredible, overwhelming, and exhausting at the same time.
All in all, I am in love with Swaziland.