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Friday, August 13, 2010


The last of our kickballs. 
Entering a new country is scary, you just don't know what to expect; especially when the country in question is Zimbabwe, where media stories present the mind with more than enough fodder for fear. Collapsed economy. Failed State. Robert Mugabe. Food scarcity. Hyperinflation. No fuel. Looting. Nationalization. The list goes on and on. But what we found was a varied and beautiful landscape inhabited by the most incredibly resilient, friendly people who, despite a long history of hardship, have remained absolutely curious (and hopeful) about the world around them.

Of course, with a leader as inept as RM, the infrastructure of a once prosperous nation is absolutely in ruins; so much so that when you do come across a beautiful garden or village you stop and take pause. In a country crumbling to rubble, the aesthetic of a few resilient souls is illuminating.

A school on the edge of Lake roof, over 50 kids to one classroom and absentee teachers. Unfortunately, this is quite common in rural Zimbabwe. 
In the land fiasco (reforms) of the 90’s, businesses and farms were taken away from the colonists and handed over to native Zimbabweans, sometimes over night. Arguably some sort of reform was necessary in a country where the majority of the people were left hungry while 70+% of the best land was owned by 4000 white commercial famers. But handing working farms over to unskilled laborers proved disastrous. Food shortages ensued, the currency collapsed, shopkeepers were unable to supply goods and many people starved. Even today the fallout from these land reforms is visible to the visiting eye. One experience in particular stands out. One night we rolled into a campground that looked nice from a distance, but once inside you quickly discovered that the cottages were inhabited not by travelers, by the new owner’s extended family; the once beautiful thatching had disintegrated and fallen in, replaced haphazardly with scraps of plastic…a makeshift substitute for a roof. Goats had replaced tourists, the swimming pool, a veritable mosquito breeding aquarium, and the bathrooms resembled something you might find in a 3rd world prison. When the owner came over to tell us to be sure to secure all our belongings in the car or they would be gone by dawn, we left. Apparently one occupied camp site was too much to look after. But then again the fallen down electric fence and vacant guard post warned us as much. But these experiences are just a part of the whole of Zimbabwe, a country oozing potential…someday. And from what we can discern one only has to look as far back as the recent past to see what the future holds.

Our first week in Zim we toured Hwanke National Park, Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and Mana Pools. From there we worked our way south through Harare and down to The Great Zimbabwe Ruins, a 15th century fortress perched among giant boulders where a powerful kingdom once stood. Once home to over 20,000 Great Zimbabwe is Africa's largest archeological site south of the pyramids. Environmental degradation and over population eroded the once great kingdom and by the 18th century (when the whities happened upon it [I won't saw discovered it, as the locals had known about it for centuries]) only a handful of people remained living among the stones. It was breathtaking. We loved it. The name Zimbabwe hales from this site, meaning great stone house.

And we loved the company we met along the way. Good experiences are magnified through good company. Thank you Pantelis (Greece), Jordan (Vermont), Carolyn (Hawaii), the brothers from Lake Oswego, Trevor and Derek, you are bright stars in our hearts. Where else on earth could you sit amidst ancient ruins partaking in debauchery (beer shotguns) with a posse of kids young enough to be our own then wake to a holy Christian revival led, ironically enough, by the spirit of a dead American Zionist preacher from Tennessee. Ever heard of William Marrion Brenham? No? Neither had I, but apparently he has a large following in Zimbabwe and we have a new set of acquaintances because of him.

The following link will take you into the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, our Christian revival and our first days in Mozambique (you can distinguish these photos by the palms).
We love having you along for the ride. We are halfway through our journey, but nowhere close to Cairo. So we've decided to step up the pace a bit. When we saw a sign pointing south the Capetown 1,000 miles and north to Cairo 5,000 miles we started to panic. We might skip Zambia and Malawi, but then again, we might not. From here (Tofo, Mozambique) we're headed north up the coast in search of tropical warm waters and coco gelato in Isla de Mozambique. From there we'll decide where-to-next.
Big love and coconut kisses from us,



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