2016-11-21 to 2016-11-22
On Monday morning John and I track down an electrical issue for my battery tender connection that I use to connect my air pump. The connection I use is also meant to connect my jump starter battery so it has a rectifier in it and will not let power out the other side. It reads 12V on a voltmeter but it won’t keep a test light lit. In hindsight this is obvious so we rip the rectifiers out of the circuit as it is more important to run the pump (at the moment, fingers crossed.) After that John joins me on his Honda Shadow for the ride into Barberton. It is nice to see some BC plates again. As John has worked in Swaziland he is able to provide me with some good advice on roads to take in Swaziland.
From Barberton I head up to Belembu Border Crossing. The South African side is nicely paved windy roads up the mountain to Swaziland.
At the South African border I have to get my bike’s carnet stamped out of South Africa. As the Belembu Crossing is a lightly traveled gravel logging road crossing there is no South African Revenue Service officer. The police officer who is acting as SARS officer for the border has never dealt with a Carnet de Passage en Douane before so I coach him through the process as I am responsible for the paperwork being filled out properly.
The Swaziland side of the border is quick, painless, and friendly. I sign into the 20 km logging road and ride to Pigg’s Peak. The mountainous area of Swaziland has a lot of forestry happening in it.
On my way south I ride by Maguga Dam which is a water storage dam for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
I settle in that night in Manzini which is the biggest city in Swaziland.
The next morning I head across the street to Carson Wheels, the local Kawasaki (along with every thing else) dealer. I am looking for an interesting route to ride south but end up being told to just take the major highway. I get a chance to talk to a few of the employees and they insist on washing the bike before I leave. I am ushered into the BMW Motorrad dealers for tea and my bike is brought to the wash bay.
Most of the locals are riding 125 cc bikes so my 650 cc is impressive here and I am a local curiosity as some of them do not know where Canada is.
After disrupting work at the dealership I head out on N8 through miles and miles of sugar cane fields.
Normally the GPS displays the speed limit; however, in Swaziland it seems to only read 60km/h despite what the signs are saying. At one point I am cruising along approaching a town and don’t notice the speed limit change from 80 km/h back to 60 km/h. Luckily one of Swaziland’s finest indicates to me that I need to pull over, oops! I pull in where all the other tourists (South African plates) are collecting there tickets and paying their fines. The police officer informs me I have been caught speeding and the fine is 60 Rand ($6 CAD) at this point I am like okay where do I get my ticket. I think he is expecting an argument and insists I look at the speed camera reading for my bike. After that I am directed to the officers doing collections and issuing receipts. It seems legitimate (and I was speeding) so I pay the fine and carry on.
An hour later I arrive at the border which is extremely well organized, you are handed a checklist, told where to park, go inside the building and work your way down the line until you are all signed off, go back to your vehicle, drive to the border guard hand him your checklist and away you go. Same thing on the South African side. Whoever is running those posts has a good system in place.
I carry on to St. Lucia on the ocean in Kwa-Zulu Natal that evening.