A Swaziland Season: Things to Remember

IMG_9167Our family has six months left here in Mbabane. There are so many things I want to remember. “There is such vibrancy of life here,” my husband says. I nod my head.

IMG_5972Swaziland can be so beautiful that it makes you stand still in awe. I never tire of taking in the sight of lush green mountains and big, beautiful flowering trees that surround us, or watching the way light filters through wide banana leaves.

Life here is slower, and teaches us to be more patient. I am grateful for the stillness of early morning, when I can see both the moon and the sun, and dew glistens on the flowers.

IMG_7093Sometimes, rain falls so hard it sounds like drums on the ground, blurring the lines of the mountains and landscape. It washes out roads. Fog envelops our house, its milky swirls obscuring the windows.  Then, skies clear to reveal a gorgeous rainbow, followed by bright, burning sun.

IMG_7865In Malkerns, I overheard these directions: ” Just go down Rainbow Road until you pass all of the chickens where the pineapples are.” I don’t know where that leads, but the description made me want to go there, too.

I’ve discovered how colorful (and funny-looking) birds, lizards, butterflies and grasshoppers can be, right here in our yard (and sometimes in the house). And how animals are cheeky, like the time a monkey took our toast.

And how a stick is not just a branch, but can be used to stir a pitcher of juice, to start a fire, build a home or a market stall.  A stick can become a child’s toy, assistance for walking up hills, or provide protection from wild dogs.IMG_7388I want to hold the images in my mind of:  The emanating smiles and joy of people here, who have so. very. little. Women in dresses working in the fields, babies blanketed to their backs. Hope House_MacdonaldBarefoot cyclists,truck beds crowded with workers braving the elements, children herding cows, wheelbarrows so full of logs, children and heavy loads, one wonders how it doesn’t topple over. Men wearing ski hats in very hot weather. Earth and stone houses with corrugated tin roofs. Tall, spindly Century Trees, and flat, spreading umbrella Acacias. Bone dry river beds, til the rains come.  Men sitting in the dirt by the road, wearing animal fur headbands and loin cloths.  Grilling corn and meat on the roadside- the fire even burns in the rain- not sure how they do it. Burning orange sunsets. And the popping colors of markets.

IMG_4898Hearing the clicking sounds interspersed in lilting siSwati language. Listening to our son speak Zulu. Roosters, peacocks, songbirds, crickets, people singing in the distance, horns and happy cheers at football (soccer) games.  The silence.

I love that our gardener eschewed a mole in our garden by smashing fresh ginger and garlic into a paste on a rock, mixed the paste with water, and poured it into all of the holes. ( It worked!  Who needs pesticide and chemicals)?

I also love that we can pick bananas, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, and avocados right outside. And how delicious the mangoes are here. The salty taste of biltong and the rich, melting flavor of braised oxtail.

We don’t take it for granted that we drive 15 minutes from home and see Zebras. And check the hot springs for crocs before going for a swim.IMG_9146IMG_3985





There are so many bits of magic that I hope we can remember to hold in our hearts.

“Let yourself be living poetry.”  -Rumi




19 thoughts on “A Swaziland Season: Things to Remember

  1. Oh Tracy, how I look forward to seeing you again in Columbus or Atlanta and to see the girl who has had such an unusual adventure and who has taken advantage of it in absorbing the unusual and the lovely and the interesting and the questionable. It is such a contrast with American life, and gives you a fine perspective. I love you and want to hold your dear hand again when you come back / You must come here to see me .I can imagine Mary Dana;s joy at your coming back. Love peg

    • Peg, I cannot wait to see you and hold your hand and get a hug! You are such an inspiration with your art, music, writing, recipe contests, book ideas…a real renaissance woman! We will find a way to visit while we are home. Much love to you, Tracy

  2. Tracy, we are at Emily’s and Walter’s, and she has shared this new blog! Love, love, love your photographs! Ramsay is a handsome little boy!

    Jerolyn Carroll

    • Thank you so much, Jerolyn. I am pleased that you are enjoying the blog! You never know when you put yourself out there how it will be received… Swaziland has been an amazing experience for us. Hope you are well!

    • Eva, thank you so much for reading my blog! I am still figuring all of this out; apologies for the delayed response. We look forward to seeing you at home soon! Love, Tracy

  3. I love reading all about your adventures! Reminds me of living in Naples, Italy…..we look forward to connecting with you and Brad and sweet Ramsay when you get stateside again!

    • Thanks, Barbara! I wish you were here to go to all of these gorgeous hotels for high tea with me. Look forward to seeing you and your new home when we return in the new year! Much love, Tracy

  4. Hi Dears!
    Wonderful words – you ARE gifted, Tracy, and the exquisite photos – will remain on my website for a long time – to enjoy again and again -while imagining the sounds of your world. Thank you so much for sharing your life, your beautiful world – yet one so touched by poverty and quest for survival. I am proud and happy that your world and the people in it – have met such an exemplary, loving American family. You make us all proud! Thank you! Take care and know that you are in our hearts – always. ‘Til we meet again –


  5. You two are the very ones who should have had a chance to live this adventure. You took advantage of the experience , Gave of yourselves, know it now fully, and will carry it with you the rest of your lives. I am sure you also touched many other people there who will remember you as well. Thank you for letting me hear about it. Very generous of you!! I hope to see you both, and Mary Dana, sometime in the near future. You are making us Ugly Americans look good over there, I am sure. When you get back. I would like to go to Columbus and see you, or you and M.C. come here to visit me. In the meantime, I wish you all the best in the world. Love Peg Gary

  6. What imagery! You do have a way with words and Photography! They are both amazing. Feel like I am right there beside you. Wish I were.

  7. You won’t forget Swaziland Tracy nor will Swaziland forget the MacDonald family. A blessing in a lovely world.

  8. Great post Tracy and beautiful pictures! Miss you guys…. And glad that you guys are still having a wonderful time, even with the occassional cheeky, toast robber monkeys.

  9. I agree with every word you wrote. You made me feel like I was back there and wish I was. You are so good with words. I know you guys will miss the area when you return to the chaos of the states. Love you guys much

    • Hey, Sharon, I’m so glad you got to visit Swaziland in person to know how beautiful it is. We really will miss it, but can’t wait to see family and friends, too. We love you

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