Sawubona from Siteki! We made it!
The long haul overnight was fine – some even slept. Next a transfer through Jo’burg airport with tired kids, too many rucksacks and irritation at yet another airport security check led to mango sorbet for breakfast to cheer everyone up. Then it was time to head onwards to Manzini on a teeny tiny plane. Riches accounted for more than 50% of the passengers on board.
We received a warm welcome at the airport, despite an epic and very public tantrum from Elsie. We looked up mid-discipline to a row of smiling faces at passport control, giggling and cajoling and trying to cheer up frazzled parents and whimpering child. We were then escorted by several members of staff to collect our many and heavy bags. They pushed trolleys, made phone calls to find out where our lift was, played with the kids….
Typically our welcome wagon did not arrive as promised, but it did eventually and we were whisked off to our new hometown. We had (thankfully) arranged to stay at a farm bed and breakfast for a few days to give ourselves time to get our house at the hospital ready. Mabuda Farms is a magical place, owned by Helen and Jono Pons who have lived here for twenty years, raising 4 children and Jono working as an ophthalmologist at the Good Shepherd Hospital. It’s difficult to explain just how kind and welcoming they have been. It transpired our hospital accommodation was nowhere near ready and the car we have inherited non-functional… Helen and Jono have taken us shopping, lent cars, provided further accommodation, a braii and wise counsel. We’re grateful for a soft landing here.
Our first few days have been spent trying to sort out our accommodation and wheels. We’ve had a couple of trips into Siteki town for shopping. The town consists of a couple of tarmaced roads, plenty of small shops and a couple of small supermarkets. I’m surprised by how much we can get here…. However it’s all pretty expensive, with most basic items costing more than they would at home. The shops seem busy, despite the average income being around £8,000 per year. However, it should be kept in mind that around 90% of the population are subsistence farmers so average is not the most descriptive statistic to use. Some Swazis are making a lot of money, most are not.. but who are these people in Siteki buying honey that costs £5 for a small bottle? Or have we in the northern hemisphere (or maybe just the UK) just got used to cheap food… ?
We are fairly conspicuous in town and the kids get a lot of friendly attention. Everyone wants to talk to them, and they seem to be enjoying it. Micah gets passed around between admiring ladies and loves every minute. We get dodgy looks if we wheel him around in the pram and admiring looks when he’s tied to our backs. It’s a friendly place that we have instantly warmed to, and I’m hoping we get the opportunity to get under its skin and see beyond the surface.
Away from the car maintenance and sorting out a place to live, we’ve experienced some beautiful sunset walks on the farm, the kids have been loving the small swimming pool, playpark (ours for the year!) and getting to bump down a dirt road in the back of a pick-up. Noah has started drafting a blog post of his own, Elsie has been trying to wean Micah on raw veg, Nick has dealt with some ridiculously large hairy spiders, I’ve put an end to an ant infestation, got to drive an old school landcruiser, and microwaved a lot of supernoodles. We’ve also been absolutely baking as it’s around 35 degrees this week ! A heat wave for the end of winter… forecast says we’ll have to make do with 24 degrees next week.
1. Thank you that the kids are doing well, that we have enjoyed such wonderful welcome and hospitality at Mabuda and that we are continuing to receive generous donations.
2. That we’d settle in our new house – protected from any dangers- that it would quickly feel like a home.
3. That we’d be able to get a new car at a good price.
4. That Nick can get a good start to work asap and that there would be interesting opportunities for Jenny at the hospital.
5. That we’d find good help/childcare.
6. That we’d continue to build good relationships at the hospital, find fellowship and really get to know local people.
7. Health and safety for all
Thanks! More soon !