The Swiss Guard

The Papal Swiss Guard is actually Swiss.  They are mostly from Zurich, Luzern and St. Gallen.  The Swiss Guard has been responsible for the Pope‘s security and the protection of the Vatican for around 500 years.  Back then, Switzerland was a poor country whose citizens worked as mercenaries all over Europe as there weren’t sufficient jobs at home.
The Papal Swiss Guard’s first and deadliest engagement was on May 6, 1527 fighting the forces of Charles V during the sack of Rome.  Their efforts enabled Pope Clement VII to escape the Vatican.

To be a Papal Swiss Guard, you must:

  • Be Swiss
  • Be Catholic
  • Be a man (they aren’t opening it up to women anytime soon)
  • Be at least 185 cm (5 ft 8.5 inches) tall
  • Be between 17 and 30
  • Have a high school diploma or professional degree
  • Have completed basic training in the Swiss army
  • Apply
  • As you can see from the first photo above, you must also be able to rock a uniform

 

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Bongwe – The Coolest Farm In The World

We were invited to Bongwe (which means baboon), the farm of Animal Lover and The Hostess With The Mostess.  From the balconies, we could hear but not see the baboons.
Animal Lover and The Hostess With The Mostess could not have been better hosts.
They did everything they could to acquaint us with the local culture.  Animal Lover even brought out the Vuvuzela.
They drove us around their land to see animals (with babies since it was early summer), taught us about South Africa, had a braai (barbecue), took us on a great little hike, took us to the top of a mountain to watch the sunset, to an amazing place for a lovely brunch and on a local shopping trip.
 
The even thought to show us local sights that wouldn’t appear in guidebooks, but they knew we would find interesting.  Above, you can see impala carcases dragged into a tree by a leopard.  The leopard didn’t have time to eat it before a wildfire swept through.
From zebra, to meerkats to a mama warthog with her babies, to wildebeests and giraffes, we appreciated their efforts to show us the amazing wildlife.
They have giraffes roaming their property!  We fell in love with the giraffes.  They were so curious that they actually came to check us out.
We learned that elephants remember when one of their companions is killed by a  landmine.  Their memory results in avoiding the area.  This changed migration patterns in some areas of Africa!
Impalas are also known as wildlife’s McDonald’s because of the frequency and ease with which they are eaten.  Plus, they have arches (shaped like the golden arches of the McDonald’s M) on their keisters.
They are truly wonderful people.  Our time with them was the highlight our trip and we can’t thank them enough.