..and a few explanationsAfter a refreshing drench and a change of clothes, I was ready for a night on the town. Khanya and I had bumped into the English couple earlier and assured them that we would be back in the Spur for “four thirty to five” but by the time we persuaded Noel to guard the Chillage while the two of us and Desmond went into town, and organised the latter into action, it was actually more like six. Somebody spotted them from the car but even in Mbabane, rush hour means no four-lane U-turns so we had to let them go. It was dark and cold by now and I was glad to sit down and get stuck into some serious Coke-drinking; caffeine and sugar water.. it’s all good. Khanya introduced me to an American friend of his, Ted, who astonished me by having a full working knowledge of soccer, and a photographic memory for every single World Cup match this year. I struggled somewhat to keep on top of the situation, but didn’t have the heart to tell him I know as much about football as I do about women, as he seemed excited to have somebody to discuss it with for once.
tuesday (I think)
After Spur, we swung by the Chillage, where we found two unhappy English bunnies, and a Noel. The former were persuaded to join us at the Mountain Inn for beer and pool, the latter was informed that he should stay (a) to look after the Chillage, and (b) because six into one doesn’t go with Golfs. Come to think of it, five doesn’t go very comfortably either, especially when three of you are over six foot, but we managed somehow. The Mountain Inn is a great place, combining a stunning viewpoint over (guess what) mountains, a great swimming pool, passable restaurant and congenial bar, with a surreal level of insecurity which leads them to put up repeater signs at no fewer than four points along the mile of road between the motorway and the Inn itself. Now, bear in mind that there are no junctions, and only two corners.. well, at least you’ve got no excuse for getting lost. About five minutes behind us was Noel, who demanded that we repay him the E10 he’d been forced to spend on a taxi. It was nice to have a good old-fashioned pub night out for once, even if I had forgotten entirely how to play pool and kept slipping off the cue ball; I swear it had been greased or something.
Once we’d all got back home I was ready for bed, but Khanya and Ted took off into the valley with some other people, to attend a party in eZulwini, and I left them to it. Back at the Chillage, Desmond had spawned an enormous group of revellers and a fridgeful of beer, but, frankly, I was exhausted and collapsed into bed feeling as if I never wanted to wake up.
Judging my training to be in full swing, I leaped out of bed first thing and donned my new shirt. I took off up the road in fine form, having decided to restrict my run to a quick dash into town and back. Well, needless to say I had overestimated my ability to recover from the previous day, and I ended up walking most of the way back from the top of the hill. When I got home I wasn’t feeling particularly special and, after a shower and a drive to the supermarket, I was still a little shaky. Strangely for me, a breakfast of chocolate just made me feel ill and by the time I tracked Desmond down and shared a couple of cokes with him I was extremely tender. I left for a breakfast at the Casserole restaurant, which I didn’t eat, and then sat at home feeling ill. Eventually the English guys showed up and I suggested a little jaunt down into eZulwini, in particular to the Cuddle Puddle hot spring, which they gladly accepted.
Well, the Swazi Sun pool was cold, but the Puddle is only next door and not only was it steaming hot but it was full of children playing disorganised water polo. Unfortunately for them, the boy nearest me wasn’t tall enough to catch some shots.. ah, well.. On the way back to the Chillage we stopped off for comfort biltong, chips and a bag of crisps; I wasn’t feeling well enough for proper food. I shared the meat with Bob the dog, although he wasn’t interested in the crisps and still wasn’t ready for normal food even when Noel knocked up some brandy-marinated steak. Anne’s friend Linds (with whom I had shared lunch in Johannesburg a week ago) popped around to invite me to a braai at her house, which I accepted, but by the time I had failed to eat dinner I had to call and decline. My brother also got in a surprise call before MTN cut me off again; he’s back in the UK and it sounds like everything is funky that side, which cheered me up no end.
On Sunday morning, I felt dizzy but not particularly sick, and went to work assuming it was merely exhaustion. After two hours I called the boys and we met in town for some lunch, which, again, I simply didn’t want. It did occur to me that I had eaten less than one entire meal, total, in over 24 hours, but I just felt terrible. I left work an hour later and went home, to find Des and Noel in front of a rented “The Mummy Returns.” I sat and watched it with them, but crashed out at six rather than watch “AI” as well. After a crappy night of nightmares and confusing visions of three extra backpackers I didn’t recognise, I was definitely in the mood for a doctor by the time the sun came up.
Dr. Stevens is a great bloke. Why do I say this? Because after I explained what had happened to me, his first response was, “Ah, forget the running. That nonsense will kill you!” Given that later deduction (everybody who ate the biltong felt a bit ill, I ate most of it) suggested more obvious causes of abdominal inflamation and loss of appetite, I like the man’s prejudice against physical exertion. He dosed me up on Imodium (I love SD, you get ‘Zyrtec’ instead of ‘Zirtek’ and you lose one ‘m’ from ‘Immodium’ – still, whatever works, eh?) and sent me home with dire warnings about not eating solid food for 48 hours. Still 20-odd hours to go, you know. God, I’m so hungreeeeeeeeee.. I keep thinking, maybe I should just eat and be done with it, but frankly my head hasn’t cleared fully yet – then again, that might just be starvation!
Anyway, that’s just about it. I spent the entire day feeling pleasantly stoned, sitting in the sunshine reading ‘Hideous Kinky’ which was, surprisingly I know, a very pleasant way to spend the day. After the sun went down I struggled weakly to light a fire and gave up, nursing myself with a cup of hot beef stock. Noel turned up eventually with Chinese for everybody, but nobly kitted me out with some beef and onion soup before feeding himself. What a legend.
So; sorry I’ve been out of action so long, but there you go. At least you’ve got some pictures to enjoy (or, rather, you will once this 3-hour download of SmartFTP completes) and you all know I’m alive. Oh, and the phone is working again. For the moment.