Masvingo - Day 15

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Africa » Zimbabwe
October 29th 2008
Published: November 6th 2008
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We set off early only to discover after we had left the park that I had a puncture in my back left wheel. It took us two old fogies about half an hour to change the wheel and we were very hot and very dusty by the end. My first puncture - and I hope the last! This all happened in the village of Chiamanimani where the good lady said we must visit the Anglican church. We did, and there, just as she said, were three wonderful stained glass windows above the high alter at the East End. Apparently, a church somewhere in Essex (I think she said) during World War II was very worried that it would be destroyed by Hitler’s bombs. So they “exported” these windows for safety to this little church in the (then) Southern Rhodesia - were they remain today. What a lovely, surprising story!

Anyway, we set off retracing our steps for about 12 miles before branching off heading due south through these lovely hills. It amazed us to drive through ever more and more huge plantations of gum and pines, and ultimately, wattle trees. There must be millions of acres of mature wood growing there. Some had been destroyed by fire but most of them were intact. But nobody was working them at all! There were absolutely no signs of felling timber, moving it, replanting, or any industry to speak of in the odd timber mill we passed. And of course we then realised that there is absolutely no money available in the country to work these sorts of industries. One must have cash flow, even if only to pay the workers - and there were certainly none of them about.

The road we drove down was totally deserted. It made us feel more and more sad about this beautiful country. However, at the southern end of the range of hills were some rather more active and prosperous looking estates cultivating all sorts of produce - from bananas to proteus. This gladdened our hearts a bit.

But we were hurrying on as Gt Zimbabwe was our objective and we faced a hundred or so miles of driving through lowland scrub with but one significant punctuation mark - the Birchenough Bridge, built to cross the Sabi River. This bridge looks exactly like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then, on reading the guide book, we learn that it was designed by the same Mr Freeman and that it was built in the 1920s. This was another surprise for us, and the bridge looks pretty good. Just short of our objective, we refueled in the very pretty little town of Masvingo, surrounded by flame trees decorating the wide streets, before continuing on to Gt Zimbabwe, the famous archeological site.

Here we went to the official campsite which, as we are now getting quite accustomed to, had very good ablution facilities, and we located ourselves under some lovely shady trees with a water stand pipe nearby. All that travelers like us really need. In just over two weeks of travelling we have only bush-camped twice - not from choice, I assure you, but from necessity. The camp facilities are a great compensation for the inability to free camp miles from anywhere or anyone. The further south we go, the more difficult it is to meet those last two criteria. We had a lovely starlit evening and a very comfortable night.


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