This is the twenty second 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.
8/4/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe The next day I went to work for a little bit but then met Lillith in town. It actually wasn’t that simple because I thought that Clemens, the CHIYSAP chauffeur was going to give me a ride into town but after waiting for an hour I hiked to the bus stop with my heavy pack, really pissed off by now, and caught a bus into town and the a taxi to the Sable Lodge, a backpacker’s place in town where Lillith was staying. We took a taxis to Mbare, where the long distance buses leave from. Once out of the taxi in those places you are instantly surrounded by men trying to herd you into their bus. It is really annoying and they are just trying to get your money. I just picked out a bus that looked decent and we got on. Only 60z dollars to Bulawayo, a 7 hour bus trip. The ride was uneventful, just long. Those cheap buses stop a lot along the way and at each stop the bus is surrounded by people holding up their wares to the bus window and banging on the bus and sssing at you to buy something. It is nice to be able to get a snack without leaving the bus, but some won’t take no for an answer. I bought a drink and some roasted maize but it wasnt very good and I ended up throwing it out the window. People have no compunction about littering so it is becoming a bad habit for me to just toss things on the ground when I’m done. No one else seems to care, Chitungwiza is covered with litter and trash which is seldom collected and more often burned in the gutters alongside the road and it the open fields.
We got to Bulawayo after dark and had no idea where to go or where we were. We went into a restaurant called the Checkered Flag to regroup and figure out where to stay for the night. It was a sleazy joint but was full of motorcycle paraphernalia (Bulawayo is apparently known for its races). We looked up some places in Lonely Planet and then got a taxi to take us to a pay phone to call some of the hostels. The only one who’s number was still in service and had a double with the YWCA so the taxi dropped us there. It was huge and only 40z each. Our room was nice, it had a sink and four beds so we got to choose which one was the most comfy. There were two showers and two bathtubs in our section but when I went to take a shower I discovered that that none of them had locks and there was no security whatsoever in this communal (men and women) bathing area. I wanted a shower so bad that I didn’t care, at least it was hot. Afterwards we wandered around trying to find a Chinese restaurant, but even together we didn’t feel that safe so we ended up at Nando’s (again). I feel like I eat there all the time but at least I know that the food is always good. After dinner we just went to bed. Bulawayo is lacking in nightlife as I’ve discussed before.