I love going home to Zimbabwe. It is breathtaking seeing familiar beaming smiles; faces that I haven’t seen for years but still look the same with the exception of new wrinkles. What made this time round so special is that I had 3 first worlders with me.
My mum picked us up in a combi van from the hot air condition-less Harare airport and we headed off to a family home turned lodge. There was no time to rest, this was a quick stop to drop off luggage before heading out of town.
I had forewarned the group that they were about to become a minority but they were still in awe. Driving through town showed them a once booming city that was now mostly dilapidated filled with people going through the motions. Kids played in the pothole filled streets unsupervised with a soccer ball made from plastic bags stuffed into each other. Eventually we were driving through the country passing villages with mud huts and cows being herded. It’s easy to forget Zimbabwe’s economic and politic situation out there.
2 hours later and after paying my respects to family members no longer with us, we drove into one of my favourite childhood places. Chinhoyi Caves and the Sleeping Pool. These caves lead down to a slippery stone dark stairway to the most beautiful blue pool below. There are a network of other caves however these are closed off to the general public. The self guided tour takes about 45 minutes. These caves take me back to my childhood when my mum would pack all my cousins into the car and take us on a day out. I have been there so many times, I know the route so well but my eyes light up every time I stand at the foot of that slippery stairway.
It was late by the time we got back into Harare. It was down to pizza to fill our bellies. The bestie decided to step into the local supermarket while we waited for our dinner. All eyes were on the white man with dreadlocks and he loved every minute of it.
The night was spent with a mosquito net around our bed protecting us from the malaria carrying insects. The night was filled with sounds of hooting owls and chirping of crickets.
The next morning was an early start. A 5 hour drive to a national park that allows you to walk with lions, Antelope Park. After picking up my dad on the way we arrived at the park and began our safari trip in an open jeep. We spotted the likes of giraffe, antelopes, zebras and deer. We drove past the lions who were safely on the other side of the fence resting for the day. Our final stop took us to a herd of elephants, we were offered rides. I declined as I have heard of how elephants are ‘broken’ in order for humans to be able to ride them. I do not agree with this method as it is animal cruelty. Our guide insisted they are trained safely however my mind is hard to change. We did get to feed the elephants later. How tiny we are compared to these magnificent and intelligent giants.
We had a 6 hour return trip to make so we did miss the walk with the lions activity. The night drive seemed to take so long. I just wanted to get home, have a hot shower and climb into bed. We had only been in Zimbabwe for 2 days but we had done a lot. I didn’t get the chance to catch up with family but I’m glad the 3 travel companions took a step out of their comfort zones.