This is the fourteenth 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. I was 21 at the time I wrote this.
7/9/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
On lunch break at work. I haven’t gotten much done today by my standards, but by CHIYSAP standards I think I have accomplished much. Lovemore and I composed a letter to Lewis and Clark University, they are sending a group of students over for the “Zimbabwean experience.” I spoke with Johana Harding and Danielle before I left the US, they were part of a group visit in 1994 and in light of their experience and CHIYSAP’s, we had a few suggestions to make to their project coordinator, Dick. Lovemore, who speaks and writes great English, is way too wordy but together we managed to come up with a professional letter. I sent it first to Johanna for approval since she is so concerned about it. Then they will send it on to Dick. So I feel some sense of accomplishment in getting that done. I also did some photocopying of the book I brought, Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal. I think it will help the theatre program that I seem to have been put in charge of.
Jennie called me at work this morning, it was great to hear her voice but her phone bill is going to be very expensive! I was so proud of myself for not crying. I miss her very much but my life is slowly solidifying into an almost comfortable routine here. I am alone here, unlike at home when I had her full support and company in everything I did. I suppose it will make us both stronger.
Another week completed. It’s Friday, I’ve now been here for 2 1/2 weeks. I am actually starting to enjoy it. On Wednesday night Joseph and Talita took me with them to the grocery store. I’d been there before of course, but this was a major shopping experience. I think we spent over an hour there. Talita was shopping for her family and also her extended family in the “rural areas.” Prices are cheaper here. Her mother was visiting and the next day she was going home so we bought stuff for her to take with her. There are two grocery stores here, big ones, TM and OK. We usually go to OK but someone said they are pretty much the same. The grocery store also sells furniture, clothing and fabric. There is a bakery and a butcher too. Joseph bought me some wonderful sweet rolls for 50 cents Z each. That’s roughly 5 cents US. When you buy a loaf of bread from the bakery you have to pay for it first and then have it sliced at a machine in front of the checkout stands, only then does it get put into a bag. Zimbabweans eat a lot of meat so there is a huge case of frozen chicken. I still haven’t seen any boneless chicken breasts though. Milk comes in a plastic bag unless you want a big plastic jug of it. Juice comes in a box, but it seems that those boxes of 100% juice are not used very much by the people here. All the juice I have been served is made from Mazoe, it’s like Hawaiian Punch, a concentrate that you add water to. There are bags of little dried fish, like sardines which I found a little strange. I was actually offered some for dinner last night but I declined. They look at you with your shiny eyes. Talita joked that they will look at you from the toilet too after you eat them! The grocery trip took forever because J and T argue a lot about what to buy. Joseph is as picky as me. I talked to Clements, the chauffer, while we waited for them to decide. He lives with them and acts as a driver for them and CHIYSAP. He is paid 700 Zimbabwe dollars/month ($70 US).