at Matubatuba and were thankful that we did not live there. Although
it was hot at home it seemed doubly so at Matubatuba, and the
humidity was oppressive. Our son works at Matubatuba managing
a tilapia breeding facility. That evening he took us to dinner
at St.Lucia. We left our truck in his garden and we squeezed into
his little Nissan 1400. While on our way there the southerly gales
arrived. The winds were just as fierce as we had had earlier and
his little pick-up was buffeted to such a degree that he had to
slow down appreciably.
dawned cool with heavy grey clouds that threatened rain. We spent
some time at the Talapia fish farm before setting off to for Swaziland
where we were to link up with the others on our trip to Mozambique.
was most depressing. It is overpopulated and dirty. Besides the
effects of the drought it is grossly overgrazed and in places
looked like a desert. About the only good thing I can say about
Swaziland is that their roads are good, although their drivers
are murderous and suicidal.
We were all
to meet on the farm of the a friend of Struan’s, about 18
kilometres from Manzini, called ‘EI Ranch’. The group
was going to consist of 10 people:
The old folks were Libby, Clive and I.
Then there were the younger folk, Struan, Clive’s son, who
arranged and organised the trip and his friends Steve, Grant and
girlfriend Amaree, Greg, Richard and Mike.
Besides my Toyota, Struan had a new Landrover TDI 5 short wheelbase
and towing a large boat. Grant had a Toyota Double cab and Mike
was in rusty Toyota Hi-Lux single cab also towing a boat.
We were all
up very early next morning and shortly after sunrise we left the
ranch and headed for Namaache on the Mozambique border. The others
took off at break neck speed while Libby and I took it quietly.
After all, why the rush? We only had about 130 kilometres to go
and the border only opened at 7.
The sky was
a dark gloomy grey and we encountered the odd patch of drizzle
sufficient to activate a flick of the windscreen wipers once in
We met up
with the others at a service station close to the border. They
were not only filling their vehicles but also jerry cans and boat
tanks. The price of fuel in Swaziland is cheaper than South Africa;
R3.60 compared to R3.88 and considerably cheaper than Mozambique
where it was equivalent to R5.51.
I filled up as well and was the first to leave arriving at the
border 10 minutes before the others.
Now the horse-trading
started. Within seconds of arriving at the border a black man
appears at my window. He furtively looks around then asks me,
“You want meticals?”
“Yes,” I reply, “what’s the exchange rate?”
“2500 to the Rand.”
“No deal”, I tell him, “I want 3500.
He looks horrified, and rolls his eyes; “3500?? Ill give
We haggle for a while then I finally wind up my window to clearly
indicate that negotiations are over. As he leaves another arrives
and we begin the same procedure. We finally settle on a rate of
3000 and I exchange R300.