Zambezi Kiwi

Living in Zimbabwe

One year: The hazards of going home

August 29, 2019

We made it. One entire year on the other side of the planet. One entire year in what is, essentially, a different world.

I was actually pretty emotional reflecting on the moment this past week, but when it came I suddenly realised something: I’m heading back to New Zealand soon, and I’ve picked up an awful lot of weird habits from a first-world perspective. If they slip out, I’m going to look like a real twit.

So now, I have to confess I’m feeling a little concerned about setting foot in the land of the long white cloud again. Quite honestly I think it will feel like a shock to the system.

In no particular order here is a list of the things I’ll probably end up doing:

  1. I’ll forget I don’t have a maid, and will pile up dishes at my parents’ house expecting them to just disappear. It’s amazing how fast you adapt to having home help…
  2. I’ll stand waaaaayyyyy too close to people in the queue at the supermarket expecting someone to try to push in front of me. If your body parts aren’t touching here, you aren’t queuing right.
  3. I’ll drive over curbs, on footpaths, and pass in town. If I get pulled over I’ll express surprise that there are road rules, and that the idea of a “road” is taken so literally.
  4. I’ll keep asking people if there is “ZESA” (power) or water at their house as a general topic of conversation. When they look at me strangely I’ll ask what rate we are using against the US dollar.
  5. I’ll go into shock when I first see the fresh produce in the supermarket and will start tenderly stroking vegetables I haven’t seen in a year as I dribble and cry quietly.
  6. When shopping in general I’ll ask the assistants what price items are today, in which currency, for every single item I’m interested in. Despite the clearly marked price labels.
  7. I will literally cry when I first taste fresh milk again. Then I will drink litres and litres of it even after my dad gets angry and tells me to stop. I’ll buy UHT milk just so I can pour it down the drain and burn the package.
  8. I’ll keep glancing around nervously when we go for a bush walk, and will say things like “this is lion country for sure” or “was that an ele?”
  9. I’ll have a look of pure terror on my face when someone suggests swimming in the Waikato River. When I get asked why, I’ll yell “the crocs and the hippos, you idiot!”
  10. I’ll smack Kepler in public. When I get arrested I’ll be extremely confused and keep saying “but it’s legal here.”

Awkward habits aside, it has been a big year. I think Will and I will be processing it for a while yet, packing it neatly into our memories and studying how it has shaped us as people, and as a family.

There have been PLENTY of horrible lows involving sickness, stress levels we didn’t know a human could survive, and feeling we let everyone down by some stuff up or another.

But I can’t deny that Vic Falls is now firmly under my skin, because on the 25th of July at 11pm I heard the call of the hyena in the night, and felt my heart glow at the beauty of the sound. Then I caught myself thinking “mmm, I’m going to miss that in New Zealand”. I knew then that the good friends we had made, the natural beauty we had come to love, the life we’d forged here and the strengths and talents we’d seen for the first time in each other well outweighed the hard stuff.

So there you have it. A year in, and I’m quite happy in my new home.

8 thoughts on “One year: The hazards of going home

  1. Natalie says:

    This post has made my morning, laughed in my head so much reading it! I have so loved following your blog this past year, I’m so glad you’ve survived, and it’s a bit fun that you are now so au fait with what it means to be a Zimbabwean! 😂 I really hope we get to see you all on your sojourn back in Aotearoa, and meet little Zambezi Kiwi #2. This piece makes me want to sneakily throw out your luggage and stow away in your suitcase when you return, if only to feel that tingling thrill as you hear the moaning grunt of a lion or the whoop of a hyaena in the night. You’ll probably find after a while that that taste of UHT in tea may become more familiar and desired than fresh milk, for the memories it conjures up. But probably long after the ceremonial box burning and caressing of fresh produce wears off! 🤣


    1. Yeah, it has been fun reflecting! I definitely can’t imagine enjoying UHT milk, but I’ll take your word for it 😂. Would love to catch up, but I don’t know whether or not I’ll be making it down your way…trip up 😁


  2. Viki Johnson says:

    Oh my gosh, totally laughing out loud!!! Please do all of those around me so I can laugh at you! Except smacking, I may go feral!

    Can’t wait to have you home for a bit, but it really does seem that Zim is your home now!


    1. Haha! Alright, I’ll do my best- and yes, feeling a little torn between two worlds already!


  3. Geoff Crawford says:

    Thanks for your updates/ blogs We enjoy Your refreshing honesty, of how life is in a new “home ” and how it is shaping you as a individual, mother, wife and mistress of your domain, as you have risen to face what ever it is that’s thrown at you. I’m sure your parents and siblings resonate with you, thinking back to school years separated by distance and culture in the Costa de Ivory. As for Life of the Crawfords it has been “normal” for us, in that it includes – Christine’s bone density scan was less than encouraging after missing an infusion a year ago. Had 3 then refused a 4th, thankfully she has been and had a 4th. Her blood tests look good for Ca and vitamin D but has still lost bone density, so we have lifted the supplements again $$$ the pension is great for paying for the extras For me Work Site Heath and safety has been ramped up a few notches. I finally got site certification for the sea weed ⁸fertilizer batching plant. The 1st inspection was in the first week of April (previous inspector had missed a few things and the compliance bar raised even higher) Christine has stopped doing creche for women’s study and is now joining the study after more than 40 years of caring for the children. she is enjoying learning even if her heart breaks when she hears the children upset (her movement is limited by osteo pain) I’m still working for Johno, lots of alterations come my way. Goodwin’s renovation has been massive no room untouched roof scullery and kitchen. They are moving in on the 5th (Robyn has enjoyed Luke’s cooking and coming home to food ready to eat) Angela has started “Niche Tiling ” along with finishing their latest home, a few small pieces left for her to do for compliance Lester is back at Heathcotes as traveling sales man, Ashton 15 is going on a mission trip with a family from Bridges and is fund raising, Noah 12 is quite a delightful young man fitting into Vicky’s Amplifi group program well Deane is working for a local contractor (home most nights) and is doing most of the digger movements so is learning to use them on site as well, they are doing all of Jonos site works. (I still remember taking you and Laura on an overnight coke run to Auckland in Deanes truck, you didn’t sleep a wink) Bianca is bus driver for Kaipaki school and for the 2 still at school with Lacrosse basketball etc the boys (Jerome 15 and Kayarn 18) start training Monday 6.30am home by 9.30pm ready for tea. Kyarns is building a snow hut as part his outdoor education this week at Ruahpahu then off to a basketball tournament in Rotorua, no rest for Bianca. Thaila 22 lives at Martangi with Miles a tiler and lost her job a few weeks back not sure what she is doing. They do homers at the weekend and make more $ in 2 days than working all week. Reon 21 is back home (flating didn’t work out) so is taken to Hamilton and back every day, he works as a concrete layer, curbs foot paths etc and does the health and safety (not bad for a blind lad) We are enjoying our Rscc involvement not sure if you get the live stream via Facebook or web, some kids are doing camera work switching etc Phillp Johnson is a natural, Danniel Potham was switching last Sunday Your parents are, as always, fully involved and we appreciate their work Jared and Jess appear regularly at Rscc Logan is a great dad (no need for me to steal /comfort bubs) Jeremy and Kath are a real blessing and he spoke highly about his time with you.

    Keep the blogs coming Love to you all See you at Christmas Geoff and Christine


  4. Julie says:

    Are you going back for good to NZ?


    1. Hey Julie, just to have baby and for Christmas with the family, then we return to Zimbabwe at the end of January.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Julie says:

        I see, I’m sure after a year you are only getting your head around things there!


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