This is the third in an ongoing series of posts that capture journal entries from my incredible trip to Zimbabwe in 1997. You can read more about my motivation for the journey and why I’m revisiting it now in the original post.
6/28/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Morning in Chitungwiza. I’m finally here. A few days ago, yesterday in fact, I would have said that I hated it here and wanted to go home, but now I’m a little better. I’m truly in the third world now. Mark and Tony were great, but their luxurious white life is not to be mine here. The bus I took to Harare was the size of a minivan, seating 6 of us comfortably. All other passengers were white South Africans or Australians. We stopped every so often at Ultra Shells, gas stations with restaurants bathrooms and convenience stores. We ate out of a picnic basket brought along by the driver. It was all very nice. we got across the border fairly quickly, although I was told not to mention the computer equipment. It was a 13 hour trip and I passed the time talking with an 18 year old South African boy named Jayson. He is staying in Harare for a little while with relatives and has a car there so maybe I’ll spend some time with him while I’m here. No one has a phone in Chitungwiza so I have to make my phone calls at work. The landscape was not so interesting, but still very different from home. Very dry and dusty, hot; we went over some hills or mountains. Zimbabwe has large rock formations in many areas so I saw a few of those. Mostly trees and dense brush. I saw a few large trees that looked like baobab trees along the side of the road. It is warmer in Zimbabwe than it was in South Africa. When I wake up in the morning it has been overcast, I force myself under the fall of the cold shower which causes me to see my breath hanging in the air in front of me as I stand between the cement walls of the small room that is both toilet (without a seat, my thigh muscles have been getting stronger) and shower.
The bus left Johannesburg at 6:00am and arrived in Harare at almost 7:00pm. I sat in the hotel for a while waiting, it took Joseph a while to find me. I realized later that his vision is not very good. He also has some interesting teeth, and I thought European teeth were bad! They brought two cars and I met everyone outside in the dark. Joseph and Talita, who run CHIYSAP, their daughter Claire (I thought her name was Cle for a while, but it was just the accent), Francis and his wife Florence, who I’ll be staying with, and their small son Kuda. We drove the 25 kms south to Chitungwiza. It is an all black town, like the townships of Sowetto and Alexandria in South Africa. I was told later that it was originally built to house 30,000 people, it now holds 1.5 million. Needless to say, the people that live here are very poor. This place is huge and right now it all looks the same to me, hopefully I’ll be able to find my way around soon. I’ve already talked to one of the guys in charge of motor mechanics to try and find a cheap motorcycle for me so I can get around on my own. Right now I am dependent on Francis’ failing car (it has questionable brakes), my own two feet or taxi/bus, very frustrating. I need to go into town (Harare) but won’t be able to go until Monday. I wrote some email though, so people wouldn’t be worried about me.
Continued in Part 4