Chitimba, Kande Beach, Lilongwe, Harare, Gweru
08.07.2011 - 19.07.2011
Greetings from Zimbabwe! If you’re lucky, this could be a shorter than usual chapter, as I have had a somewhat lazy week.
Chitimba was a nice place to stay, we were there for 2 nights but it was a bit windy to make the most of the beach. There were some stalls outside the camp selling all sorts of woodwork, and if you go out and look it’s pretty much guaranteed you will be taking some of their items back into the camp to try and sell for them, for a commission of course. I ended up with 4 shops’ jewellery, a carved keyring and another guys carving to practice my sales technique. No sales. We met up with a couple of other overland trucks at the site and practiced our chanting for the upcoming Truck Olympics, held at Kande Beach. As we left camp the next morning we blasted out a bit of Simply the Best, We Will Rock You, Eye of the Tiger and We are the Champions to wake them all up and everyone cheered us all the way to the main road. I think we had already won those Olympics. We stopped to get some piratey outfits at a flee market at Mzuzu then at 11am started our first official truck party. One more stop along the way at Nktata Bay to pick up some more wood craft (went a bit wood crazy) then we arrived at Kande Beach. Bar dancing is encouraged so the night was spent practicing more moves and chants. Everyone also had a laugh at breaking the law, as farting is illegal in Malawi. We all actually wanted a fine written up for a Silent & Deadly or a Loud & Proud. A few guys went into MbaMba village in the morning to pick up our pig for Pig Day…day of the Truck Olympics. It was slaughtered in camp before I woke up and by the time I walked by was roasting over the fire. We were onto the punch by brunch which probably wasn’t a great idea for Olympians but, after losing the tug of war, we worked on our cheating skills and managed to win enough other rounds to WIN! My super glue came in handy for the egg & spoon race, and we all picked up a few parasites thanks to Lake Malawi in the final round. Things did get a bit serious when a girl from our truck bit a guy and drew blood. We got into our pirate gear and carried on the night as very ungraceful winners.
Last Monday I did a village walk through MbaMba which was interesting. Seeing the process of growing cassava and making it into bread or flour, seeing the homes and kitchens and the local school and hospital. It’s hard when a 15 year old girl comes up to you with a letter asking to be supported as her and her little sister have no parents and the little girl, about 2, keeps hugging you and tugging at your arm. I seemed to be assigned 2 local guys for the day, Spiderman and Happy Hippo, who try to sell you their specialty all day. They really ware you down! If that was their sales tactic, it worked. The guide later made me a necklace out with one of the pigs teeth….haven’t quite brought myself to wear it yet, I think I ate enough of his crackling that the tooth would just be rubbing it in. In the afternoon we all went and played a game of soccer against a local side, and to our surprise (& definitely theirs) we won! It was fun, hot and dusty. In the night we went into the village again and had dinner outside Robert’s (our village guide and pig chef) house. The food wasn’t great but the 30+ kids that came to dance for us after the meal was. It was so funny, they obviously study rap & hip hop videos as they dance so provocatively! I mean hip thrusting and grinding on each other! Then we were taken 2 at a time to dance with them, and I am not sure if these photos will make it to facebook as it was SO inappropriate. Obviously they don’t know any better but to have 5-10 year old kids bumping and grinding on you…..a little uncomfortable! A good laugh though and you constantly have these kids tugging at your arm for a hug, or grabbing your hand and placing theirs in your and closing your hand around theirs. Very cute.
We left the next morning for Lilongwe. We had 2 nights there, and there is not much to see. Our free day I spent in town trying to send some things home (all woodwork so hopefully it makes it) and other than that, I think the most memorable thing was our campsite stinking of wee.
After Lilongwe we crossed into Mozambique and followed the Tete corridor, an old gun running route. I love passing truck weigh in points as we all have to cram to the front of the truck to make the back lighter, and the one time we got caught we had to bribe the guy with a book. Everyone just laughs at us though, it must be weird to watch. We bush camped at Changara for the night and then crossed into Zimbabwe the next morning. I would love to have spent more time in Mozambique. We drove through Harare, which is a pretty well developed city centre and nice suburbs around. Passed the sign “Be a Winner – Defend yourself from HIV – Get circumcised today!” which I think is worse than Uganda’s “Avoid Morning Sex Africa” as the guy on the sign is a Zimbabwean soccer player, and arrived at Bird Par camp site, on Lake Chivera. “Don’t worry, we have killed the croc that killed 18 people last year, and the one that comes up on to the shore, he’s ok”. It was interesting that night having an ‘illegal’ conversation with a couple of guys who work there about the situation in Zimbabwe. In February this year Mugabe’s militia stormed the camp site and again tried to take the land from the owners. Saturday a few of us went back into Harare for some Nando’s and to look around the shops. The Matatu there was ok but the drive home was a lot more complicated. After 2 short rides and being dumped out when they realised where we wanted to go, we finally got a car to take us back and then a couple of tag alongs as usual jumped in just for the ride and to make us all that much more squeezed in. We hitched 2 rides back from the main road to our camp, crammed in the boot of 4wd’s with firewood and whatever else. (Don’t worry Mum & Dad, there were 6 of us). Sometime between here and the next morning my wallet has disappeared. I had been so happy the day before, as we were offered a dorm room upgrade for $4 a night and I decided to stick it out in the cold tent instead and save $12 and also did my own washing instead of paying $5….$17 up, $500 and 3 cards down.
On Sunday after lazing around much of the day, watching Zebra’s walk through the bar, I went on a Rhino boat trip around the lake and finally was able to get close up photos of White Rhino’s. We saw about 6 on the lakes edge about 5m or so from the water.
Yesterday we left Harare and are now in Gweru at Antelope Park.Tomorrow I have booked lion cub viewing and lion feeding. This afternoon I did an hour elephant ride. It was good but I was a bit disappointed when half way through we asked how the elephants came to be there and not in the wild. We had been told they were orphaned by culling in the north, however our guide today said they were just bought from a guy who used to breed them and sell to game park. I am hoping it was the language barrier. Oh and Africa is FREEZING! What the?! The days are ok as long as you are in the sun, my pastey skin still manages a burn. But on the truck we look like we are in Antarctica and the nights are so cold now I am onto sleeping in my clothes, big jacket and double layered socks and still wake up freezing so I have to put my bag of dirty washing on my feet to keep warm(er). I am wearing socks with thongs! WHAT a tourist! We ran into a truck going the opposite direction to us, and they have told us where we are going there will be some nights in the minus degrees!!!!!! Zanzibar is calling my name already to go back after the tour I think. On a morepositive note, the stars out here are amazing. Did a bit of star gazing last night and saw 3 shooting stars…until we started to frost up and had to retire to the fire.