Zambezi Kiwi

Living in Zimbabwe

The final week with mum and dad

September 28, 2018

We definitely kept the best for last.

We kicked off our final week with mum and dad by heading into the national park again. We asked the Good Lord to let us see more wildlife, and as dad said, he probably giggled.

There is just no way images can capture what we saw, so you’ll have to add a dash of imagination to it all. It started happily enough. We saw the long, elegant necks of giraffe and rounded the corner of the road to see a group of the gracious creatures, ready to cross the road in front of us.

We carried on and watched with delight as elephant, not 50m from us, bathed in a little stream to our right.

We saw a herd of wildebeest (ugly creatures, by the way). We stopped to gaze out at the golden glow of evening stretched across the Zambezi River. We decided to head home.

And that’s when it happened. A herd of elephant, crossing the road right in front of us. We stopped to admire, then realised they were coming our way. Before we knew it, the elephant were grazing not 5m from us, while a HUGE bull elephant approached from our left. Behind us was now a queue of cars 10 long, and to our right, yet more elephant.

Mum nearly died. How her heart is still working I have no idea, because she was flapping, and huffing, and puffing, and telling dad under all circumstances to MOVE. Of course, that was the one thing we honestly couldn’t do. At one point Kepler broke into hysterics, her performance of terror was so convincing.

In the end, a group of well-seasoned national park visitors drove us past us, laughing, in their huge landrover, and went straight through the herd.

Throughout this time, Will was vomiting his heart out with what we now know was a local bug that went on to hit all of us throughout the week!

Anyway, the next day was my birthday gift to dad; whitewater rafting down 31 kilometres of the Zambezi River, over 19 rapids, a little under half of them grade 5. There are only 6 grades.

I’ll let the video speak for itself…sorry about the swear words Grandma. We didn’t choose the music!

After that adventure it was my turn to be sick (more on that another time), before heading to Victoria Falls Hotel for High Tea with mum, church one final time, and then the airport. How did we find ourselves there so quickly?

Suffice to say there were plenty of tears. After all, this is the end of a wonderful season of being close to my parents for six years, and the start of a new adventure in the far flung wilderness of Victoria Falls.

We were so grateful mum and dad could visit, and get a little taste of life over here with us.

IMG-20180923-WA0010.jpg

 

 

 

Visitors round 2: Mum and dad

September 25, 2018

Sorry about the silence, good people. The day Oupa left we collected my parents from Victoria Falls International Airport, and since then we have been running around playing tourist which meant hardly a moment for writing.

We kicked things off with a few days of rest, letting mum and dad get over the 36 hours of transit between New Zealand and Victoria Falls!

Next, we showed them around the place, including Victoria Falls, and just enjoyed sharing every day life together. We checked out Shongwe Lookout, the local eateries, and hit the national park after church on our first Sunday together.

We were blessed to see a giraffe not 5 metres from us, and all ohhhed and ahhhed at the views of the Mighty Zambezi.

The following week involved Will and I running around like headless chickens sorting paper work, the generator (for power cuts), and saw mum and dad do a few things around the house to help out.

The swing is still a favourite!

IMG-20180915-WA0006.jpg

Our friend Phil also took us on a village tour, which you would ordinarily pay megabucks for through a local tourism company.

Instead, we got to float around the village, by ourselves, asking all sorts of questions while Kepler made friends with a little boy a year younger than him.

The family who lived in this village have, with some help from Phil, been doing all sorts of experiments to try to make life a little healthier. There is the manure-fuelled gas stove, for example, which prevents women from having to cook in smokey conditions inside the kitchen over an open fire, so keeping eyes and lungs a lot healthier. The hand-made clay kitchen, with coloured plates, was stunning!

There was the innovative “tap” outside the toilet made of a big plastic bottle tied by a string to a foot pedal, which when pressed tipped up the bottle and poured out the water. With no need for dirty hands to touch things, the risk of passing on contagious disease is greatly reduced.

It was all pretty cool, as was the vet clinic across the field and the chicken and goat herd Kepler got to see up close.

 

 

 

Finding our feet (and avocados)

September 16, 2018

So after a couple of weeks in Vic Falls I feel like I’m finding my feet.

I can find everything I need for the immediate future, and we are starting to think about what comes next.

Things like sourcing furniture, stuff for an office, and how to make our house look like home.

I’m even driving both my car and Will’s, whipping around the local roads avoiding potholes, other drivers reversing from any angle, animals, pedestrians and humps.

We’ve learnt that the loud ‘CRACK’ followed by a thud is a Tik tree pod exploding and falling to the ground.

We have learned to expect the sound of helicopters carting tourists over the Falls most days, and the Steam Train hooting throughout the evening as the drivers earn spare change letting tourists into the drivers’ seat…who would do that?

We know that jumping in the deep end of our pool will result in body freeze, despite the 30+ degree Celsius temperatures (tragedy). We have been told in hot season (next month), we will be glad for it being a “colder pool” (read FREEZING!!!).

We have even contemplated murdering our Guinea fowl at 2am when they wake us up squawking. In the end we gave them back to their old owner.

We have had our first, honoured guest in Will’s Oupa, and even caught up with Uncle Tertius and Aunty Erica who live 20 mins across the border in Livingstone, Zambia.

The best thing about Aunty Erica is that she always exclaims ‘sherbert!’ because she doesn’t swear, but she is a blackbelt in Karate.

But perhaps my favourites discovery, after our garden, is these babies:

GIANT AVOCADOS!! We have basically eaten them non-stop for lunch since we got here, since they are 99 cents per KILOGRAM.

It’s probably about time to show you around the house and garden next, so stay tuned.

We have pets

September 11, 2018

Soooo many pets. But no dog. We are still waiting for a labrador to have puppies, so that we can collect one for Kepler.

In the meantime we do have plenty of animals to keep us going.

First up, Shylock the Tortoise. We so named him for his tendency to hide whenever he senses, well, us. To be honest I’m still wondering if we shouldn’t call him Sonic for his ability to rapidly disappear.

Next, Penelope, Clarence and Josephine the Guinea Fowl.

They are ridiculous.

Will also managed to catch a picture of our elusive Trumpeter Hornbill’s, Donald or Melania. It is hard to tell which is which from so far.

Technically, these guys aren’t pets, but they basically live here so I’m claiming them.

Finally, we have some fruit bats, also elusive, that tend to serenade us to sleep with a rhythmic squeak that sounds like, in the words of Oupa, someone is trying to blow up a bicycle tyre.

They are not really pets either, but they haven’t left the property since we got here, so I’m claiming them too.

That’s our collection so far, not to mention the ants whom I have been battling since we arrived, with success, because I remembered them from my Ivory Coast days. If it fits in the freezer or fridge, it goes in the freezer or fridge. From flour to fruit to biltong.

The Great Fuel Shortage

September 7, 2018

To be fair, we were warned. For days we had been watching the queues outside the two (official) fuel stations in Vic Falls grow.

But, we reasoned, queues in Africa are kinda part of everyday life.

This is me at the supermarket, for example:

Will had heard a rumour through his contacts that fuel was about to run out, but he thought it was…just a rumour.

Turns out it wasn’t, and that alongside the dramatic drop in water pressure each evening, the surging power/power cuts and the touchy hot water supply to our house that we haven’t quite figured out, we need to think about fuel.

As it happened, by the time our first guest had left (Will’s Oupa), we hardly had enough in my car to move it…and just enough in Will’s Pajero for me to go to the airport and pick mum and dad up!

(That’s Will twinning with Oupa below, and Will’s aunty and uncle visiting from Zambia).

Apparently, these fuel shortages aren’t too rare, although the trucks make it up within a few days so life can carry on as normal.

So, technically, this wasnt THE great fuel shortage, it was just the one that taught us about them!

Because just as my car hit the red light, Will’s starter motor gave up the ghost!

For two days we were essentially trapped at our property with mum and dad (fortunately jetlagged and unwilling to do anything). We were, (also fortunately), well-stocked on the food front thanks to my supermarket dash the day mum and dad got here (see above queue).

Finally, Will got word through one of his contacts that both petrol and diesel had arrived, so he set off to fill my car.

Two hours later he returned, with 20 litres in the tank…the petrol was rationed!

All of this has been happening alongside a minor crisis in our residency status, which still hasn’t come through thanks to a stuff up from our team.

That means our container can’t cross the border without generating a big tax bill…and the container is due in a few days.

Suffice to say Will spent most of the time in the petrol queue praying, and if you are the praying sort, feel free to join us.

In the meantime, I will be hoarding as much food, water and (eventually) fuel as I can!

Finding fresh produce

September 6, 2018

As you may recall one of the first ‘culture shock’ moments I had here involved fresh produce.

I don’t know why. Perhaps my cheese and chocolate addiction hid a secret obsession with healthy food.

The point is, I did find it terribly discouraging…until the next day when Jackie arrived.

This lady is sort of one of the heartbeats of Vic Falls. If you need something, she can source it. If there is a battle to fight with council over corruption, she’ll fight it. If there is a tree to be saved, she will save it (actually kinda essential in this hot climate).

Jackie knew I was new in town, and knew I would be facing some, well, differences.

She decided to give me a whirlwind tour of the place, and honestly, by the end of our morning I was almost singing with joy.

First stop was a fresh veggie FARM!

That’s right. Row upon glorious row of FRESH PRODUCE!!! So flipping fresh you actually walk along and order it to be plucked from the very soil for you. And it is stupidly cheap.

Lettuce, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, the list goes on. The only catch is the need to get it home and into the fridge asap, because it will literally wilt in your hands.

I cannot tell you how delariously happy I felt to realise my produce would be fresher than I even imagined.

I’ve even discovered one just around the corner from us!

Next up, we whipped around Chinotimba, which I will tell you about another time, and discovered an electrician, general house wares store and butcher (also the supplier of fresh milk in town..it is all UHT here).

As we whipped around in her old Mazda pick up, which Jackie swears she will be buried in, she told me how she had wanted to give me the tour just to ‘soften the blow’.

There it was; another moment where I glimpsed the kindness and consideration of people here behind their tough, Mazda-driving exteriors.

Finally, up we whipped around the supermarkets and I got a closer look at exactly what was there.

Suffice to say I arrived back home armed with way too many veggies (lucky we have so many animals, more on that in the next post), and extremely, over-the-moon happy.

Shongwe is a goer

September 4, 2018

The building at Shongwe Lookout is well underway!

We had our first visit the other day, and Will was champing at the bit to get into things.

About 30 builders seemed to be on site, all kitted out in matching construction gear and ALL going for it.

The foundation for the office and reception area is close to being laid, as are the foundations for all of the rooms.

Yet to be touched is the main house, which still has renters living in it, and the dining/bar area.

Kepler had a blast running around barefoot climbing mountains of sand or whacking everything he could with giant ‘sticks’…until mum ruined the fun.

Keeping shoes on that child is proving to be an exercise in futility.

Anyway, it was wonderful to see Will come alive again. He is slipping back into his African groove no worries, and is already thriving on the idea of the challenge ahead of him. It is very cool for his wife to see!

We are both starting to feel a little more oriented now that we have internet and an idea of where to get everything, which I’ll enlighten you on in my next post.