The day started early as we embarked on our journey to Mbuluzi, a small game reserve in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
With our first of many border crossings ahead, we were eager to see what might be in store for us going forward.
Our mission was simple, clear the border as quickly as possible
Just before arriving at Lavumisa, we picked up our fellow team member, Kath, who would be joining us for the day's adventures.
Our spirits were high as we charged forward towards the Kingdom of Eswatini.
The border crossing turned out to be far smoother than expected, comparable to a Formula 1 tire change in fact, thanks to recent renovations that streamlined the process.
We crossed into Swazii with ease, greeted by the lush landscapes and fields of sugar cane that stretched as far as the eye could see.
We arrived at Mbuluzi Game Reserve around 3pm, far earlier than expected.
Heading to the front desk we met Mike and Tracy Oog as well as Phiwo, the team leader for LiC’s Eswatini team.
During the introductions and chats, we were made aware of the fact that we would need to take some firewood with us from the gate to the Jackson’s house (family friends of Dean who had very kindly opened their home to us for two nights).
As the back was full, the only option was to secure it to the roof. The responsibility fell upon myself.
After some 10 minutes and a few swear words, I was semi-confident in the knots I had tied.
Seeing the road we would have to take through the park, my semi-confidence changed to pessimism.
As we arrived the wood was hanging off the side of the roof, but still attached.
Not my finest hour, however, things could have been worse. We unpacked and settled into our new home (for the next 2 days anyway)
By now it was late afternoon and Kath, Dean Emma, and myself decided to stretch our legs with a run, whilst Rhino (Ryan's new nickname) stayed behind to do some fishing.
We returned expecting to see the volume of the river much lower than when we had left.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the case, “not even a nibble” said Rhino.
Perhaps butternut is not the best bait for barbel. That night Emma made us a veggie stir fry and we discussed the plan for the morning.
The next morning Dean, Emma and Phiwo set off at 6:30 to collect the school kids, while Rhino, Kath and I stayed behind to set up the classroom on the veranda overlooking the river.
The kids arrived in two vehicles with Swati music blaring from a very large speaker. We danced over to the classroom and showed the students their seats.
From the onset, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite days of the trip so far.
The team-building games were a great way to kick off the lessons and capture the kids' attention.
The birding activity was a clear favorite for the kids. Splitting into two groups they searched the garden for posters of birds we’d hidden earlier.
With the help of Phiwo they used bird books to identify each species.
It was great to see the kids get so animated about birds and confident with the justifications of species.
We wrapped up our teaching sessions with presentations on the "big five," sharing information about Africa's iconic wildlife.
The students were split into five groups and each presented on one of the big five.
A special mention to team Rhino who captivated the whole class with their hilariously informative presentation, we ended the class with the Cheetah race activity, which Dean made us do twice because he didn't win the first time.
The second race yielded the same result.
As the day drew to a close, we treated the students to juice and sandwiches.
But we couldn't end the day without a bit of celebration. So, we cranked up the music, and the classroom turned into a dance party, with students and teachers alike letting loose and celebrating life.
By now it was about 2 pm and the kids needed to return home. They piled into the two vehicles and we waved them off from the carpark.
After a long day of games and teaching there was no better way to unwind then with a Braai, Sebebes and watching the Springboks' first game of the rugby world cup.
The second country of the trip ticked off and what a wonderful place the Kingdom of Eswatini turned out to be.