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DECEMBER 12, 1999

In spite of our best efforts to ignore reality, our tickets say that we have to catch the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt on Tuesday afternoon – how rude! 

I am nowhere near ready to leave, either.  There are still many things to do and to see.  The climate, of course, has nothing to do with our reluctance to leave!

 On Sunday, we have a braai (barbecue) in the garden, with the family.  Sitting in the shade, eating steak and boerwors (farmer’s sausage) and drinking cold beer isn’t a real bad way to pass a Sunday afternoon in December!  We also have the opportunity to try Chibuku, the beer that the African people drink.  It is made from millet or corn and has the consistency of thin porridge. 

I would describe it as gruel! 

Apart from tasting a bit sour and yeasty, it isnít too bad (as long as you chew it well).   If you were very thirsty and there was nothing else to drink, it would go down OK. 

It is drinkable and no more sour than say commercial buttermilk, but I could do without the bits floating in it!

The braai -- Joseph does most of the work Susan tries chibuku

Chibuku is sold in two-litre brown plastic kegs, affectionately called ‘scuds’.   A scud costs Z$15 (about 65 cents).  None of the white people we were with had  tasted it before.  They think we are pretty bizarre for wanting to try it.

 On Monday we visit Chipungu Sculpture Park, where native sculptors work and display their art.  They create beautiful works from local stone such as verdite, serpentine, springstone and opalstone.  

African Verdite is a beautiful, dark green marble-like stone that is apparently fairly rare.  Zimbabwe’s deposit of this stone is of the highest quality found anywhere.   Most of the works are traditional native figures but some are abstract shapes; they are all very beautiful.  The park contains hundreds of pieces and there are 40 or 50 artists and helpers chipping away everywhere.

Chapungu Sculpture Park

 On Wednesday we visit The Lion and Cheetah Park, just outside the city.  

It is very well done and has large drive-through areas for the larger animals and a walk-through area for smaller animals and also for babies.   Like Chipingali, many of these animals originally arrived injured or orphaned and are no longer able to survive in the African bush. 

The animals are in enclosures, so it isn’t as big a thrill as seeing them in the wild, but they have some baby lions that are being raised on bottles.  At feeding time, they let them out of their pen and allow us to feed them. 

They are terminally cute.  Their paws are as big as dinner plates, which gives some indication of their eventual size.  They try to roar fiercely at visitors with their baby voices and just love the attention. 

 

We also watch the the larger lions being fed.  The caretaker rolls a wheelbarrow full of beef into the enclosure and makes each lion politely take a turn. 

We did notice that they feed the leopards from outside the enclosure, though. 

 The animals are all very conscious of feeding time.  The cheetahs pace the fence, waiting impatiently, and the lions call back and forth from their separate enclosures, during the hour before feeding.  The sound of a hungry lion makes your hair stand on end!  They are all well fed, getting a good-sized chunk of beef once a day, whereas a wild lion might survive for two or three weeks between meals. 

We see our first eland, more giraffes and some blesbuck.  

There is also a baby cheetah, a gigantic tortoise and an assortment of wild cats, dogs and hyenas.  Hyenas are really homely looking creatures.  I guess you could call them the sanitary engineers of the African wilderness, as their diet consists of the dead and dying! 

We are invited out of our car to touch and take pictures of a young elephant.  There is a keeper there with a rifle, just in case!  The drive-through part of the park gives us our first opportunity to see zebra close at hand.  We get a bonus because there is a baby zebra in the herd.  One of the advantages of visiting during the off-season is definitely the occasional opportunity to get really close to some of the animals as the keepers have the time to spend with us. 

 Another day we go shopping, to a mall on the outskirts of the city.   It is very modern and as nice as any mall in Canada.  Shopping is fun here with the favourable exchange rate, as long as you are buying goods made in Zimbabwe.   We buy a couple of books, though, and discovered they cost nearly twice as much as they do at home.  One day, Susan is allowed to go shopping on her own and she is a naughty girl! 

Indeed, I was VERY, VERY naughty!  I’m not sure how we are going to get through customs on the way home.i

One evening, we set out to sample the local nightlife.  Our first stop is a bar called the Keg and Maiden, affectionately referred to by the locals as the ‘Scud and Nannie’.  We are entertained by a well-dressed, but extremely intoxicated black fellow.  He orders tequila, licks the salt, tosses down the tequila and then eats the lemon – peel and all!   The bartender is as astonished as we are.  

 Speaking of bartenders, I must tell you that the Shona people are a particularly good-looking race!  None of them would be over six feet in height.  Their skin is smooth and the colour of dark chocolate and they all have bright, white smiles.  Their facial features are well proportioned and the shape of their head is almost dainty which gives them a very neat appearance.  The men have wide, wide shoulders and tight little butts!  Iíll let Bob describe the women, but they are good looking as well. 

There are some very interesting breasts in this country!

Well, I guess four weeks vacation wasnít enough time for him to notice anything else about the women!

The instance of AIDS in this country is very high and they say that there is a whole generation missing.  This might account for my impression that everyone here is young!  We read a newspaper article, which said that Zimbabwe used to have the highest life expectancy in Southern Africa at 69 years.  It is now the lowest at 34.  One can look, but one doesn't touch.

 Altogether, it has been an awesome holiday!  The climate, the scenery, the friendliness of the people and the hospitality of our relatives has made it just wonderful.  Apart from the fact that it costs rather a lot to get here, it is a wonderful place for a holiday. 

 Locally-produced things like food and clothing are inexpensive and accommodations are available in a wide range of prices.  One could probably visit here in the off-season without booking rooms ahead, but apparently during school vacations and the high season that would be difficult. 

We will certainly never forget our trip to Zimbabwe and we have promised ourselves and everyone else that, one day, we will be back for another visit.

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