I don’t know about you but, when life’s little stresses get too much (more potholes than tarmac on the roads, incessant rain, ever-present mud and the definitive end to the avocado season in my case), I head to spinning class. These happen at Mbabane’s one and only lifestyle centre – Mbabane has one of just about everything including one restaurant open at night, one big supermarket, one Indian takeaway, one Nandos, one cellphone operator, one organic shop, one hairdresser worth her salt. It just so happens that the gym, restaurant and hairdresser are all in the same place: the aptly named, Serendipity. . Serendipity is built up on the hill so you can look out over an expanse of green while you surf the internet (if you’re lucky and the network is functioning that day) or sip your coffee. You can only faintly hear the highway from there. It is all very serendipitous and peaceful. Should you visit the loo, the peace goes with you…
Now, am not naturally drawn to Spinning. It is too “high energy”, the music is too loud and I don’t fancy seeing the desperation in my fellow spinners’ eyes as their legs go whirling round and their cellulite jiggles frantically. Just one more hill! In Mbabane though, there isn’t a hell of a lot of choice if you want to stay fit. Swimming pools are few and far between. They are usually an intense shade of green because they are used so very infrequently given the constant rain during what passes for summer here.
Unfortunately, lately, a lot of other people have come to the same conclusion about spinning. Serendipity is now the IT place of a late afternoon. There are cat-fights over bikes. Worst of all, the American NGO crowd have decided to commandeer it. Now I can just about take the loud music and desperation, but if you add to that an instructor and who yells out (in a particular frequency female Americans manage to reach that somehow cuts like a knife and can be heard above music whatever the volume), “Come on you can do it”, “Whoowhoo” and “That was intense!” and I have reached my threshold.
Since I didn’t immediately hit the emergency button and unclip myself from the bike, that 60 minute class gave me time to reflect. Living in Swaziland means swimming in a stream of NGO workers. Some I’ve met have been amongst the most interesting and intelligent people ever to have crossed my path. However, there is a certain sub-strata of sameness that equates to American-ness. I have nothing against Americans, in fact, some of my best friends are Americans (stop me if you’ve heard this before) but in a crowd I find them annoying. There, I’ve said it. After all, this is my blog and I’ll say what I like. I know, I know, I must make peace with this if I am to stay here long-term.
Those 60 minutes were a start. And now, my butt hurts!