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1997 in Zimbabwe, part 5

The men of CHIYSAP and me

The men of CHIYSAP and me at my welcome party

This is the fifth 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.
Part 5
6/29/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
I had porridge this morning, it was actually very good. Florence asked me if I ate pork so I suppose I’ll be looking forward to a lunch or dinner of strange bits of what was once a pig. I’ve been giving away a lot of my meat because it’s just too much for me to handle.

Later…I just got home from a trip into “town” (Harare). I went with Francis and Trust. I am slowly getting more direction oriented. I think I could find my way home from the Zengeza 3 bus stop. I still don’t know my address yet, I need to have Francis write it down for me. On the way to down we stopped at the main bus stop for all the local and national routes. Florence works at a clinic near there so we walked her to work. This household is unusual I think because everyone works.

Near the main bus terminal there is a large flea market, open fruit and vegetable market and a place where crafts are sold. There are some beautiful things there, very cheap. A woman offered me 6 woven coasters for $3 Zimbabwe dollars (that 30 cents US). I think I will do my Christmas shopping at that place. I like the baskets the best, there are also many things carved out of polished wood and stone. Hippos are very popular with the tourists it seems. People stare at me everywhere, because of my color I’m told.

Harare is like downtown San Jose, some tall buildings, hotels, offices, and lots of upscale (for this area) shops. We walked through some beautiful parks in the city center. The thing that I found the strangest was that all the national government buildings are right there. Harare is Zimbabwe’s Washington DC, not its Sacramento. The building where the President has his office is right there, you can walk right up to it, along with the Supreme Court and House of Parliament buildings. The three of us (Francis, Trust and I) walked around the city, I don’t think they go there very often but it was nice of them to take me around. Some images of downtown Harare

We had lunch at the Chicken Inn which is a fast food chain that serves KFC-like chicken, as well as burgers and fries. It was greasy and not very good. The chain’s motto is “Luv dat chicken,” strange.

Some people and things here are odd parodies of things at home. The style of dress that I see among the young people is that of the mid to late 80’s, the stuff I was wearing from 6th grade to 9th: bright colors, sweaters with designs woven into them and decorative patches attached. Most of the people wear Ked-like sneakers. A lot of the men wear cheap and often ill-fitting suits. Hats are common: berets, newsboy caps, baseball hats and knit ski caps. Hardly anyone has brand name clothing and if they do it is worn proudly and often. Some of the younger, cooler, guys wear baggy pants and big logo t-shirts. Nike and Addidas are popular status symbol brands. I’m not sure if the style of dress has been influenced by the older American sitcoms that are shown on TV, or if this is simply the clothing that is available. I stand out no matter what and I’m discovering that it doesn’t really matter what I wear. The current plan is to dress as I normally would. I feel most comfortable in my jeans and flannel shirts.
Continued in Part 6

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