After leaving Nyanga, we took a side trip into
and drove through another whole new world.
First we went up over a very high mountain pass.
came out of the trees at the top of the pass, we were looking out over
a big valley filled with hundreds of villages. Then
we drove down a steep,
twisting narrow road into one of the Tribal Communal Lands areas.
In the TCLs (similar to our Indian Reservations) the
native people live in the traditional way, in small village groups, each
ruled by a headman.
also has a Nanga, or witch doctor, who cares for the medical and spiritual
needs of the people. The earth was very red and obviously fertile, because there were
literally thousands of people.
The view was awesome!
Goosebump awesome! Mile
after mile as far as the eye could see were people, rondavels and crops!
Every scrap of land seemed to be under cultivation,
even on tiny terraces on steep hillsides, and, in this area, we saw a
lot of bananas growing, in addition to the usual mealies.
Because the rainy season was just starting, everyone was in the
fields getting ready for planting.
We saw people ploughing with yokes of oxen and lots of people working
their plots by hand with badzas (grub-hoes). Because
the country has suffered from drought for several years, everybody was
very happy that the rains seemed to be arriving this year.
One question that we kept asking each other is how can people who
live in mud huts always wear clothes that are so spotlessly clean and
tidy. People typically wear
white shirts or blouses and they are always immaculate.
We have yet to see a dirty person anywhere in the country.
From the Honde
Valley, we drove
pretty little regional town of Mutare,
at the very eastern end of the country.
We stayed at the Inn on the Vumba,
a small, but exquisite hotel, surrounded by bush.
We saw our first Vervet monkeys and baboons here!
In our room was a small complimentary bottle of an excellent
local Chenin Blanc, which we managed to dispose of before dinner.
At dinner, we had braised oxtail, new potatoes, broccoli and fresh
eggplant, with a Muykuyu Merlot that was to die for!
We could be talked into staying here does anyone want to
buy a nice farm in Oxdrift?
The next morning, we drove around the Burma
This is a loop road about 80 km long that took us through some
spectacular scenery. The road
into the valley was quite possibly the steepest grade we have ever negotiated.
It was certainly steeper than a 24%
hill we once drove on Vancouver
The road through the valley led past tobacco farms, banana plantations,
orchards of oranges, guavas and some fruit we didnt even recognize.
At one point the road was only a few meters from the Mozambique
A very beautiful drive taking us through some
amazing countryside. The forest
closed in over the top of us in some places and I felt I was truly in
the African jungle! Light
filtered down through the leaves and vines giving a soft, ethereal effect.
What a thrill!
At the end of the valley, the road climbed up through
tea plantations, coffee estates and then forest, again.
The pavement ended, the road got narrower as it got higher and
we wondered if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but eventually we
got back on the pavement again.
the top we could look out for miles over Mozambique.
What a beautiful view!
|Down into the Burma
||Tobacco curing shed
We drove into Mutare, found a bank to change
some money, filled up with petrol and pointed our Peugeot south towards
From Mutare, we headed south into the hot, dry
area of the country, which is called the Lowveldt.
Almost immediately, the terrain changed to desert and we
saw our first baobab trees. The
baobab, more than anything else, will always evoke Africa
for us. It looks as if it
was planted upside down, with its roots in the air.
Most of them are at least 600 years old and the trunks can be 20 feet in diameter. Instead
of wood, they are made of a substance like corrugated cardboard.
They can survive at least ten years of drought without a single
drop of rain. Right now they
have beautiful, white flowers, but later in the year they produce large
fruits which look something like coconuts.
These nuts contain cream of tartar (thats where it comes
People love the baobab
trees and look after them much like the saguerro cactus in Arizona.
It is illegal to damage one and if there is a baobab tree
where you want to build a house, you have to build your house somewhere else.
||Susan and a baobab tree
The Lowveldt is very dry and very hot, but many,
many people live there.
seems to be nothing but dust and rock, but there are people everywhere
and many villages. Herds of
goats, donkeys, sheep and the occasional cow graze on the side of the
road. One remains very alert
while driving, because cars do not have the right-of-way!
Some areas are irrigated and the contrast is startling.
Suddenly, there are fields of corn standing 6 or 8 feet high.
Obviously, the soil is very fertile and only needs water to make
it produce. Apparently, deeper
in the Lowveldt, towards the South African border, they are getting fantastic
yields of sugar cane, bananas and other tropical crops where ever they
manage to bring in water.
|Kyle View Resort
||Kyle View cottage
Our destination for the night was Kyle View Resort:
a rustic sort of a place, which looks out over the Lake
reservoir. It was very beautiful
and quiet, but not exactly five-star quality.
it probably was a five-star place in its heyday, but is in need of some
power had gone off when we arrived and they gave us candles to use in
our room. Later we had dinner
on the patio (by candlelight).
The patio looks out over the dam
(reservoir) and it was
very beautiful in the moonlight!
Very romantic! A
local company was holding its staff Christmas Party on the same patio,
complete with a braaivleis (Afrikaans
for barbecue) and a great deal of beer.
The ambience was very dynamic! We
met a couple from South Africa,
who were holidaying in the same area. Steve
had lived in Mutare as a
child, so he was able to answer some of the many questions
we had been saving up about the things we had seen over the past few days.
We had been feeling a bit like a visible minority at that point,
so we enjoyed their company over dinner.