Ah yes, the flight to Johannesburg of 15 hours. We decided that instead of stopping over in London or another European city and having an 8 hour layover, we would suck it up and get it done in one shot. We're tough, right? (Who knows where that price of $1,038 came from. Not on any ticket we saw.)
He told us he is lucky to have a job, but only makes enough to barely support his family and send his children to school. We had brought some school supplies and decided to give them all to him. It made our hearts happy to see the joy on his face.
Bar prices...a glass of wine and a beer for $7. The currency in Zimbabwe is the US dollar. The Zimbabwean dollar was inflated to the point where it was worthless, so it was abandoned in 2009 and the $US was adopted.
Our first stop was the post office where we saw the first of many carvings. The vendors are quite aggressive, but not in a scary way. After Egypt, we can handle any vendors! Ed bought the first of many little animals. So far, we were resisting...
The walls and floors of the huts are made with earth mixed with dung and they are painted different colours using charcoal, ashes, water and soil.
In the foreground, you can see their showering facilities.
This is outside one of the sleeping huts, which was also immaculate inside. They light small fires inside close to the door as it does get cool at night. I wish we had thought to bring some solar lights, which are becoming very popular. They plant flowers outside these huts as the snakes don't like them.
Primary and secondary education is no longer free in Zimbabwe as of 2002. Churches and other charities have set up schools for those whose parents cannot pay for them to attend regular schools. Some of these schools produce the best scholars, as these students take nothing for granted and see it as a way out of poverty.
Everyone we met in Zimbabwe is very outspoken against the President, Robert Mugabe. He has been in power for 36 years and his reign has been known for human rights violations, putting him up there with the world's worst dictators. Corruption is rampant in Zimbabwe. $15 billion recently went "missing" from the mining of diamonds.
Unemployment is between 60-80% depending on who we spoke to. The population has gone from 15 million to 12 million. Prostitution and AIDS are serious problems. A campaign to provide condoms was condemned by the Catholic church so people are unsure what path to follow.
We left lunch with our heads full of information and with heavy hearts for the wonderful people who are living in such unfair conditions.
Sam did a quick detour to the Big Tree. It is the oldest and biggest baobab tree in Zimbabwe, estimated to be at least 1000 years old. It is said, although it is doubtful, that David Livingstone, the explorer and missionary, visited and carved his initials in it in 1855.
While we were at the tree, two vendors selling carved animals popped out of the bushes. Barb and Ed made another purchase while we chipped in for a giraffe. Sam told us later it is illegal to sell on the side of the road as many people have been killed by elephants.
We met our tour guide, Manuel; our driver, Mbusi; and our travel mates, six New Zealanders. Should be a fun safari!