One of the most striking details that I noticed while in Swaziland was the distinct sense of personal space and propriety. One situation that struck me as particularly clear example of this was the bus system.
In all the African countries I have traveled in, the most common and affordable way to get around is to take a “bus” – bus means a big van that follows a route, and picks up anyone on the street going more or less the same way. In Mozambique this sort of transportation is called a chapa (pronounced shah-pah), in Ghana it’s called a tro-tro, and in Swaziland it’s called a kumbi.
Chapas in Mozambique (and for that matter in South Africa and Ghana) get filled to the brim with up to 24 people, basically as many passengers and boxes that can possible squeeze into the car. The door man will hang out of an open sliding door, clinging to the closest person and roof. Each time someone gets out the rest of the row either has to move out quickly and hop back in, or the cornered passenger literally craws over a row of passengers to exit.
In Swaziland however, it was like being on a different planet. Courtney, Sarah and I sat there in shock and loving all the extra wiggle room as strictly 12 to 14 people got on. 3 people per row and no squeezing! Perhaps not quite the same adrenaline rush as the fear of missing your exit or drop off, but totally impressive nonetheless.