On Friday we decided to do a 440 kilometre road trip. We had a quarter of a tank of fuel, and the hope that Hwange’s stations would be full to the brim even if our petrol stations weren’t.
Before we get any further, let me explain that road-trippin’ a country in the midst of a fuel crisis lends itself to an awful lot of adventures involving petrol. If you are interested, read on.
Our destination was Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second biggest city and, more importantly, the home of Will’s Oupa, who has waited three months for visit.
Fortunately, Hwange did have petrol, and we stared wide-eyed as the assistant poured a full tank of fuel into our car. Somehow, we had timed our arrival just as the station opened full of fuel, and were first in line for as much petrol as we wanted. We were STOKED!
That was enough to get us to “Bullies” by midday, in time for a delicious lunch, and a spot of looking around.
I can’t say Bulawayo is my favourite Zimbabwean city. It is more run down than Harare, with less vegetation to hide the damage.
Still, we did manage to discover a cool little shopping mall where hints of Christmas were actually visible, enjoy some EPIC rain to introduce our next season (creatively called rainy season), and even find a Christmas market!
We also had an awesome time catching up with Oupa, which was the main point of the whole exercise!
Back to the petrol story; by Saturday it was time to fill up again, and so we selected our fuel queue:
After half an hour of that queue we bailed, and Will decided to try filling up after the rugby finished that night.
By 10.30pm he was back with a tank full, having tried ten different stations, and succeeded only when he offered cash-about as hard to get as petrol in this country.
So we were off to Hwange again in the hopes of finding a tank-full there, an hour away from home.
We had a brief stop in Lupane, where there was no fuel, but there was a Zanu PF local politician. Will felt this was an appropriate time to “politely discuss the problems facing the country”.
I decided it was the opportune time for a sneaky photo.
Thankfully, we were soon on our way to Hwange. Well, all three stations were empty. With JUST enough probably to get home, we made the call to explore the train for Kepler and whip up to Baobab Hotel quickly, so I could see the view and Will could relive another childhood memory.
We meandered around the run-down hotel, and eventually found our way into the cloistered, English-style pub, where four Shona men were in a heated discussion about Christ-likeness. Only in Africa!
After a quick drink looking out over the view, we were on our way…or so I thought.
Will decided to explore a little further. In typical fashion he replied to my anxious questions about fuel every corner with “I just want to see what’s around here.”
Normally, I LOVE his inquisitive nature. We have found all sorts of treasures just by looking around one more corner, thanks to him. But I confess I wasn’t so sold this time.
Then, oh glory of glories, we rounded “one more corner” to find a PETROL STATION -with a little garden even- sitting invitingly on the corner. We looked at each other agape, and drove in. We sat like idiots as we watched the assistants fill up the car in front of us, then started a spontaneous prayer and worship service when the petrol started gushing into our tank.
Honestly, we were in shock. To find a petrol station with fuel and no queue is like finding a gold mine here. And we managed it twice in the same town, when we REALLY needed fuel.
So there you have it. After an 880 kilometer round trip in a country experiencing a fuel crisis, we cruised cool as cucumbers back into Victoria Falls with more petrol in the tank than when we left.
And we still have half a tank to go now.