Day 239-243


ZIM 27th - 31st July 2007, Zimbabwe

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Day 239 27/7. Drifters, 24km W of Mutare, Zimbabwe
18°55.79'S 32°29.94'E. Miles today 103, Total Miles 22730
Geesh, now that was bad timing. We just managed to join the immigration queue at precisely the same time as about 200 Malawians, who were planning on making their way across Zimbabwe on route to SA in search of work. So, it was a long wait but they were very interesting and I was glad to be speaking English again. Just couldn't get the grasp of this Portuguese thing. Anyway, turns out Mr Tony Blair isn't so popular here in Zim and we had to fork out $55 each for a visa and another $25 for road tax. Watching the bunch of Malawians all squash into the back of a truck and head off into yonder, all they seemed to have with them was a pristine looking passports, no shoes, bags, nothing, just passports. "What will you do when you get there I asked" I asked, "Oh, I don't know, building work or something?" But where will they stay? Whose gonna look after then, I wondered? Rob told me to relax, he was sure they had it all sorted but I wasn't so sure. The first town we drove through was Mutare. On the surface it all looked rather grand. Not sure what we were expecting but it all looked pretty normal to us. However, on closer inspection, the tell tale signs were there. Signs outside fuel stations stating "no petrol/no diesel" and long queues from the doorways of shops. Consulting our somewhat out of date LP, we headed for an "overlanders paradise" called Drifters, a few km away. The caretaker was delighted to see us and showed us a place (after more emergency gardening) to camp beneath some trees. We worked it out that on our exchange rate that it would cost us 30 euro CENTS each. He gave us a room to use the shower and loo (the loo wasn't actually working but hey, the thought was there) They had a small pool with icy water and we splashed about and enjoyed the last of the day's sun. Just as we were cracking the first beer, the owners came walking past and she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw us. " Oh my goodness darling. Look!" she says to her husband, "Real travellers! Wow, we haven't had any of them for a while. Goodness, are you ok, are you comfortable?" We assured them we were just fine and we had a good old laugh about Mr Mugabe's antics.
Day 240 28/7. The Rocks, Harare, Zimbabwe
17°52.71'S 31°03.86'E. Miles today 189, Total Miles 22919
9 tweed road halfway houseThe Eastern Highlands were looming around us and we so wanted to explore this region but could only go as far as our fuel range would allow us. Along the road, we discovered the Halfway House. Great little farmstall, shops, butchery, coffee shop and more. We bought some sausages (that was all the butchery had, honest!) and an enormous avocado pear, just like I remember them to be. My mom was born in Harare and her and my dad lived here for a while before moving to South Africa to breed. We spent some time here as children on holiday. Reaching Harare, we drove around looking for yet another "overlanders paradise" called The Rocks. Clearly looking a little out of place and lost, we were followed by a lovely man called Mr Russell, who showed us the way but explained that unless they were expecting you, the campsite wasn't open. He invited us in to the clubhouse next door for a drink, which was a bizarre experience. A dingy expat hangout filled with old Rhodesians eating steak and drinking whiskey. Mr. Russell was very kind and organised our nights camping for us, while feeding us some biltong. I like this man! We had to pay in foreign currency for this one, which was $5pp and actually quite a nice place, just a little deserted and I am sure there was something living in the pool. We decided to go and try and find my parents old house and with much help from the locals and random text messages from my dad, we found it. No. 9 Tweed Road. A cute little house in a very posh area. Beautiful tree lined avenues surrounded it, with immaculately maintained houses but no sign of life other than the odd local wandering past intrigued by our obvious loitering. After taking heaps of photos for my dad, we headed back to our paradise to chill out.
Day 241 29/7. Antelope Park camp, 8km S of Gweru, Zimbabwe
19°30.41'S 29°43.23'E. Miles today 182, Total 23101
que's in zimMr Mugabe, bless his soul, has ordered shopkeepers to halve their prices and in response they have taken most of their stock off the shelves. He then passed a law that states "No empty shelves!" so they have taken to lining the shelves with rows of Cornflake boxes (something which doesn't appear to sell well here?) There is also a severe shortage of basic commodities like bread, oil, sugar, soap, candles and matches. Not all that helpful with the endless power cuts. Leaving Harare, we had heard that The Antelope Game Park was a nice place to camp and wow, what a shock we got. A fully operational game farm and campsite with food, electricity, hot water and loads of tourists. We were so overwhelmed by their hospitality here, we booked ourselves on an hours bush walk with a group of lions, where our only means of defence was a rather flimsy looking stick. Should the lions get aggressive, we were simply instructed to "Do not run, just point the stick at him and shout - No!" Hmmmm….yeah, right. On our return, thankfully unscathed, we were horrified to find out that the bar was a non-alcoholic one (Now, what's the point, I ask?) so we opted for their tasty buffet dinner for $10. odd things

lion cubs ally and puss
Day 242 30/7. Municipal Campsite, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
20°09.56'S 28°35.64'E. Miles today 117, Total 23218
If you didn't know what Zim was like before and you just drove through, you would wander what all the fuss was about, as everything appears normal. But it's weird here. So different than the rest of Africa. Nobody lives in the countryside. It's empty. Yet, the towns are buzzing. There's also very little traffic on the road but I guess that's because there's no fuel at the moment. We spent a long day driving covering some miles and we ended up in Bulawayo, in their municipal campsite. In it's heyday, I bet it was lovely but sadly, now it looked a little tired. We wandered round the town a bit, which seemed calm and fully functional. More Cornflakes boxes though. Glad we stocked up on food beforehand. A quite night followed, wishing we had more access to fuel to explore more of this country and find out what the hell is really going here!
Day 243 31/7. Zimbabwe to Botswana border, Zimbabwe
20°32.37'S 27°44.38'E. Miles today ?, Total ???
ruinsDrove towards the Botswana border with many other Zimbabweans all wanting to do some cross border shopping and re-fueling. We stopped at the Natale Ruins, and after refusing to pay $10 pp to look at a pile of rocks, we were allowed to pay in local currency (which amounted to $1 pp.) They were pretty impressive actually and on the way down, I chatted to the guard about the situation here. He told me that yesterday he went into town to buy some soap but there was none to be found. He and his wife we washing themselves with Surf, a clothes washing powder. I was horrified so dug around in a few boxes to find a couple of bars of soap to give to him. He was SO excited, he ran off to show his wife. He's so gonna score tonight! Absolutely no problems leaving the Zimbabwe border, in fact we were told that now that our carnet was stamped, "We could be on our merry little way." So long, Mr Mugabe and thanks for all the sausages!
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