Zimbabwe Report #5

Our last few days in Zimbabwe were filled with activity.  Thankfully we split the 8 hour drive into two days as it is much more difficult to travel by car than in the states (no rest stops, few gas stations and no where to stop for snacks – not good with kids in the car).  There is a spot between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls called “Halfway,” it used to be a bustling stop with a nice hotel, shops a pool to take a quick dip in and numerous farm-stay type lodging.  It’s like a ghost town now.  As we pulled out of the parking lot after a quick bathroom break we spotted an ice cream machine and popcorn at the back of a gas station.  We joked that we all wanted ice cream knowing that it probably wasn’t working, so we would settle for popcorn.  Scott got out to get some popcorn and soon gave us the thumbs up that they had ice cream.  I had never seen the boys move so fast.  Yes, it was working and we enjoyed the best vanilla soft serve of our lives (okay, maybe it just tasted that way as we’d gone several weeks without any ice cream – oh, the horror!).
He also got us a big bag of popcorn.  I thought for sure the rest of the trip would go smoothly as we were enjoying both of our treats.  I had however asked Scott to get two large bags of popcorn, one for the front and one for the back seat (moms think of these sort of things).  He looked a little sheepish and then explained that he only got one bag of popcorn because the gal bagging it was using her hand (that had just handled the “dirty dollars” to fill the bag and as she spilled on the counter and cash register, she continued to put it in the bag.  Yuck!  Suddenly popcorn didn’t sound so great.  As far as the “dirty dollars” go, it is amazing how gross the US currency is.  Since they no longer use the Zim dollar, they use South African Rand or USD.  They have lots of $1 and $2 notes and they are so worn out and dirty that the ink is nearly worn off them.  They are brown and soft, thus known as “dirty dollars.”
The drive felt much longer than is was… mostly for me since I was sitting on the front middle bump over a very hot gear box.  It was raging hot outside and no cars have
The positive side was that there was very little traffic… doesn’t mean you can drive as fast as you want.  Right after we asked that question, Jonathan (our PH/guide/host) was waved off the road.  He was speeding 23 km over the speed limit and the police told him it was a $20 ticket.  He laughed and accused them of fundraising… they liked him so they lowered it to $10.  The police aren’t in cars, so theoretically, you could just drive right by and pretend you didn’t see them wave.  I think they are so grateful to the ones that actually stop that they cut their fines in half.

After the long, hot ride, jumping into the beautiful pool at the “Ultimate Lodge” in Victoria Falls felt like heaven!  Surrounded by lush plants and perfectly manicured grounds, we felt like we were in Hawaii.  Russell, the owner of the lodge, pulled out all the stops for our short stay.  Our first evening he brought in dancers and musicians for entertainment.  The dancers actually pulled the boys up front and taught them some tribal dancing – this will be a great part of the show!

Since we didn’t get to go out tiger fishing due to high water, the chef cooked some for us for dinner.  It was delicious, much better tasting than looking.

The following day we visited the falls, it is too beautiful for words.  Just an amazing sight, truly a wonder of the world.  Soaked to the bone – from the mist – we ended up jumping in puddles and having a huge water fight.

Later that day, we walked to another country and watched our camera man, Travis, bungee jump from the Zambezi bridge on a 111 meter jump!  The boys loved hopping from one country to another, “I’m in Zambia… jump… I’m in Zimbabwe… I’m in Zambia!”

We took a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and watched hippos feeding and saw lots of birds.  We finished the day with dinner at the world famous “Boma” where we were dressed in traditional clothing, complete with face painting.  As soon as we sat down, we had to have a “ceremonial” drink of sorghum beer… yes, all of us… the boys still haven’t forgiven us as it was about the worst tasting stuff any of us had ever tried.

The rest of the dinner was a culinary delight as we dined on mupani worms, smoked crocodile, ostrich, warthog, cape buffalo, peanut butter rice, nemo beans, boiled peanuts and a list of other traditional foods.  Rolling out of there, we felt ready for our next adventure… off to Namibia tomorrow!

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