Date : 7th March, 2014
Time : 54’28” (Severe overheating)
Total Distance Run to date : 160 km
Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/460279030
Swaziland, for those who don’t know it, is a landlocked country mostly surrounded by South Africa but also sharing a border with Mozambique. Unfortunately for me, there aren’t any direct flights to Swaziland from either Mozambique or Lesotho (my two previous countries) so it wasn’t the easiest of days.
Up at 6 a.m. after a bad night’s sleep; transfer to Maseru’s Moeshoeshoe airport ; fly to Jo’burg ; sit in a bus on the tarmac for 20 minutes ; sprint through airport ; get onto next plane (20m from where we’d been sitting in the bus) ; fly to Matsapha airport in Swaziland ; and then try to work out what to do with my bags before flying back to Jo’burg that evening.
In fact I’d been wondering all week what to do with my bags given that I was only in Swaziland for a few hours and didn’t have a hotel to go to. Luke the ‘ever patient travel agent’ had confirmed there were no left bags facilities at the airport and I hadn’t come up with any alternative ideas. Would I have to walk the 10km carrying / dragging my bags along?
In the end, I told everyone at the (small) airport about my challenge and my problem. They reacted like almost everyone has. At first they laughed at the madness of it all, and then they helped. There are times (many of them on my travels so far) when human nature seems to be in good shape.
A secure place was found for my bags and, since we couldn’t think of a better route, I started running along the main road from the airport to Manzini. And, for the first time since I’d been in Africa, the sun was out.
Somehow I didn’t really appreciate how different the weather conditions were from those I’d experienced to date and the effect this might have. However, I did notice that I was slowly getting hotter and hotter. By km 7 I was struggling and by km 9 it literally felt like my head was being boiled.
By now I was on the outskirts of Manzini and feeling pretty desperate. I spotted a shopping centre and reasoned that it would be cooler inside. I crossed the road, made my way in, and, ignoring the many odd looks, started running round the ground floor.
After a bit I noticed that the distance on my watch didn’t seem to be moving forward much. In fact it wasn’t moving at all. Aaargh – the GPS wasn’t working in the shopping centre.
I was utterly exhausted by now and the last thing I needed was to be running any extra metres. I went outside and ran around the front of the centre where at least there was some shade. Or there was until the security guard moved me on. The last 500m in the sun seemed to go on forever and at the end I could hardly walk – and thinking wasn’t too easy either.
It took an hour of resting, eating and drinking before I could move properly again and I went into Manzini. But I don’t think my brain could have been in full working order as I still didn’t protect myself from the sun.
Manzini’s a lively place which, I was pleased to see, takes a strong stance against the degenerate practice of public hair ‘plating’ (picture above).
After broiling nicely in the sun for another hour or so, I took a taxi back to the airport and watched a full blown thunderstorm unleash itself on Swaziland before the flight back to South Africa.
One more transfer and I was back at the hotel in Jo’burg where I took a look in the mirror. My face and neck were a bright glowing red and I finally realised how much the sun had hit me. Mad dogs and Englishmen..