Published: March 5th 2012March 5th 2012
Developed, organized, friendly, plenty of choices are things that we were not expecting to find in Zimbabwe but from our time here so far we have been amazed at how easy this country actually is. The media has made this country sound like a horrible place to visit and travel to but the reality is completely different. The media portrayed Zimbabwe as one of the most dangerous in the world just few years ago but the situation is different today as it was then. Of course the security can be changed radically in every Africa country and advisable to check the situation before your departure. Especially in Zimbabwe you’ll notice that the tourism is going slowly forward and tourists trying to find a way back to this amazing country. One piece of advice for travelers going overland through Africa, start North and head South as this way it gets much easier as you go along. Starting in a place like Cape Town and finishing in Nairobi is what night mares are made of and we had no idea it would be so different from country to country.
Firstly we are finding that the people here in Zimbabwe are more eager
to talk to us, of course locals want to talk to foreigners around the continent but here and the more south we get it has less to do with money and just have a pleasant chat. We fell a lot safer here in Zimbabwe as well than other countries and we have just spent the last week in the two largest cities in this country, even walking around at night time. For first time we don’t avoid strangers and try to talk back to them since it is a pleasure to share new ideas and experiences. It is hard to ignore such nice and super friendly people, and we are getting stuck on our way as we are meeting so many interesting people around this country. The sellers do understand a simple “no” and wish you a great day, nobody tries to pull you or convince to buy some item on the street. In previous experiences we have had to become rude to people as we couldn’t get rid of them and they didn’t understand a simply ‘no’. We don’t like to ignore people but you won’t come far if you’ll pay attention to everyone and they will make sure
to use you… but Zimbabwe is different and already in Mozambique we felt this kind of vibes since they don’t rely on tourism or the touristic part is less developed and it is the best time to be there.
In Harare especially we felt right at home and had a great time getting to know the locals. It is here in Harare that we even felt like we were both back in Europe. A suburb there called Borrowdale is where the whites of the city mainly live and it has everything you would hope to find back in the Western world. In particular a shopping mall called Sams Levies which does not feel like it belongs in Africa. It was a place full of whites, modern building, designer shops etc and we felt that we were back at home, it was a sad feeling really to see it as the world is becoming so Westernized and people are losing own traditions and cultures. We think we were more than surprised that this kind of stuff exists in Africa since the media make Africa like a dark, suffering and often a war continent. The dark and suffering Africa exist as
well of course but the situation isn’t bad everywhere so we shouldn’t generalize this like ‘whole’ Africa problem. We are guessing that South Africa is like Zimbabwe and even more developed but all over the whole country so we are extremely glad we have explored more of the Africa we imagined before coming down south and see the unseen Africa for many people. In fact it has been experience rich to stay with the white locals and get a taste of their daily life in Africa. Quite fast we understood that our touristic reality is completely different than the locals’.
We were hanging around with the locals all the days and we guess we have experienced more local life rather sightseeing the cities as the big cities look quite same – more or less developed and stressful lifestyle but this is a part of Africa experience. We have visited several pubs, talked and shared the knowledge with different people etc. One night we went out for a stand up (a comic) night and we couldn’t believe that the color of skin is such big deal here in Zimbabwe. Actually 99% of jokes were relating to skin color which was
quite sad to see and we didn’t find the jokes so fun like other Zimbabweans. We found out that in Western world it is almost “illegal” to talk about different skin colors and the political jokes are dominating but in Zimbabwe is vice versa - to discuss about the political questions is unacceptable and to talk about the skin color is widespread and normal. For sure it has been a great experience and we were able to explore this country from a deeper perspective.
It has been strange and interesting to observe the locals on the streets etc. it shows the difference between white and black here in Zimbabwe. For example, almost every day we took the public transportation to the city center in Harare and we were surrounding by the locals all the days. We noticed that the public transportation takes just black people and when we waved down the minibus on the side of street so people were looking at each other with a surprise face because they were not used to see white people on the minibuses or by foot on the street, and especially in Borrowdale area. Oh and if you were talking to the
locals in the minibus so they didn’t know what to say or do. After a while they figured out that we are tourists and maybe understood the case. We were walking quite a lot around the area we stayed and some white people slowed down or almost drove off the road of surprise and stopped to see if we are ok or our car broke down on the road. It has been so interesting to see the confused faces and we came closer to the real life in Zimbabwe. The tension between whites and blacks are quite big which has been hard to face as we think that everyone is equal and in our countries this differencing wouldn’t occur.
In Bulawayo we had a relaxed time and we were able to stay with some locals once again which has been great. We were eating the local food which remain from saza (maize porridge), colorful gravy and tasty meat (beef or chicken). Well this kind of food has been all over East/Southern Africa but in fact the taste varies. Our hosts took us to an awesome Zimbabwe live concert and we really liked this kind of music. Otherwise in Bulawayo
isn’t a big deal at all and often is a stopover to Victoria Falls destination. It is the second biggest city after Harare with wide streets which are called first, second, third etc. street so it is impossible to be lost and everything is reachable by foot which makes you enjoy the town fully. The market has been a highlight for us as the locals are friendly and you’ll have a great chat with everyone whiles you are pursuing some colorful vegetables and fruits.
Our conclusion would be that Zimbabwe has surprised us in many different ways and in our touristic reality – we really like this interesting and amazing country. We think everyone needs to experience this kind of country by themselves. Well now is time for us to get to an overnight train from 1950 toward one of the most famous nature wonders in the world – Victoria Falls.
There are more photos below