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Published: August 7th 2007
Well I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was going to Zimbabwe until I got back to Mozambique; I know how some of you worry. I’ve been here since Saturday and it is so different than what anyone could have expected. It is really the first place I’ve been in Africa that really feels safe to walk around at night. The people really do seem genuinely nice. They offer help and don’t expect anything in return, or at least don’t ask for it blatantly like they do everywhere else. It is nice.
The last couple of days, Ben and I spent in the Bvumba Mountains, just outside of Mutare. It is beautiful up there. But that isn’t the really amazing part. We first had lunch/tea at this really posh tea room. It was the best chocolate cake I might have ever had. The next day we played 9 holes of golf at Leopard Rock Hotel. It is supposedly really famous, but I don’t know. Who would ever expect to be eating chocolate cake and playing golf in Zimbabwe. Oh yeah, the cost. For 9 holes, club rental, balls, tees, and a caddy I paid 200,000 Zim. Sounds like a lot,
but that is <$8. Not bad huh.
Now onto the money, which is such a joke. I changed money on Saturday at 21,000Z=$1, and yesterday at 26,000Z=$1. The official rate is 250Z=$1, but you don’t ever change on the real market. Inflation in Zim is a bad as people say. The official rate is 2000% but it is really higher than that. Ben was here in February and changed money at 6000Z=$1.
Shopping in Zim is a real experience. I spent all day yesterday looking for socks and razors. I didn’t find either. I was worried that Zim was going to force me to grow a beard, something I’ve resisted for 19 months so far. But I found some disposable razors today so I won. I guess I can’t say that I didn’t find any yesterday. I found a Mach3 razors for 560,000Z, yes >$20. That is ridiculous. But what is funny is that the supermarkets are huge and clean and contain all kinds of things you don’t normally see in Africa. I found body wash and exotic shampoos that are ridiculously priced but I can’t find a simple sponge to clean a pot. There is no sugar to
be had in town, but I have my choice of about 6 different kinds of powdered milk. It is all very strange and random. It is really sad the financial state of affairs here, especially since it was such a prosperous country once. The only real hassle is finding somewhere to change money and the law states that I’m actually supposed to pay for everything in USD at the official rate. That would make Zim outrageously expensive. My golf day would have gone from $8 to $800, outrageous.
All of this and the bad press mean that there is almost no tourist industry anymore. Ben and I were the only ones on the golf course and every where we have stayed we’ve been the only guests. There are going to be some things in Zim that I want to see that I won’t make it to because it is either closed or nobody goes there anymore and I don’t have a car.
Oh well, don’t worry. I’m very safe and having fun. I’ll probably be here another week or two and then it is back to Moz. I’m headed to the Chimanimani mountains and then the Great Zimbabwe. Click for Bvumba Mountain Pics
I want to apologize to those who have read my last few blogs. I really feel like I’ve missed fun things and interesting stories because I’ve felt lots of pressure to be a short time on the internet. So another quirk of Zim… I can’t find razors but I have cheap broadband internet… go figure.
Anyway, here are some more things that have come from Moz that I want to record and a link to Moz pictures at the end. When I get whale shark and manta pictures from my friends I’ll post them, if they let me. 5 Questions
In many African cultures it is considered rude to just say hello and then ask your business. You are expected to have a conversation about “how are you?” at the very least before you ask for anything. Meeting travelers there is sort of a protocol like this as well. It is the “5 Questions”
- What is your name?
- Where are you from?
- Where did you come from?
- Where are you going?
- How long (are you traveling, have left, are you here, any of the above)?
That just seems to be what you do. In Tofo it became really silly and you got tired of asking and being asked them. Francine came up with the idea that she wasn’t going to ask them anymore, she was going to ask people their middle names. We all liked that idea. That night I actually tried it and had a great time, trying to come up with strange questions to ask each other… ok, maybe you have to be there. Other short bits
- Thanks to Helen for teaching me how to sew in Vilanculo
- Thanks to Jo and Heidi for showing me how to make beans quickly, it came in handy in Vilanculo
- Old SA story. Deandra and I spent the night reminiscing while they tried to guess how old I was. I guess it was because I was sad that Levert died, that and I remember DJ Jazzy Jeff and “Parents just don’t understand”
- It was great to cook in Vilanculo and Sani, I missed that. But it just isn’t real economical by oneself
- Surfing is fun when you suck at it, if you aren’t alone and everyone sucks
- Meer Kats look funny when chased by horses
- Sipping milkshakes at Inhambne
I guess that is all. I’m sure I’ve missed stuff again. Oh well, it is written down somewhere in the annals of my mind.
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