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1997 in Zimbabwe, Part 23

This is the twenty 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. I was 21 at the time I wrote this.

Part 23
8/4/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe In the morning we got up too late for the YWCA breakfast so we ate bread and peanut butter that Lillith had in her bag. We left our packs at the YWCA, but checked out of our room, preferring to find better accommodation. All day we ran various errands, going to the bank (Barclay’s is the only one that will cash traveler’s checks without asking for a receipt, what a stupid rule), going to the train station to get Lillith a ticket to Victoria Falls, finding the Shaka’s Spear and booking two nights there, the first in a 5 bed dorm room, the second in a nice double. Shaka’s Spear came highly recommended but they had moved in the past year to 2nd and Jason Moyo, we had to go to the tourist information office to find that out. It was $35Z each for the dorm and $50Z each for the double. It was a strange place, but pleasant. Karen, the women who runs it actually lives there with her brother, his wife and kids. They share the same space with their guests who are mostly European, western and Asian backpackers, young and a bit wild. There are three separate houses, each with a kitchen and bathroom. The main house has a living room with a TV and VCR where movies are played almost all day. It was strange leaving my stuff in the dorm room, a room that would also be occupied and open to various strangers but nothing was taken while we were out. The best think about the place was the kitten named Sputnik and the various other cats and dogs that belonged to the place. It almost felt homey!

After getting settled, we went to the National Gallery for lunch in an ice little cafe there. I had a bowl of ravioli and glasses of cold mango juice and some nice bread. The gallery was pathetic, filled with only touristy pictures of wildlife and no real art. It was only $5Z to get in, so not a huge loss. The gift shop was nice though and I bought some cool postcards. Later we walked around city hall, where there is a huge craft market. So many cool things, but it is annoying because everyone wants you to buy something and it is all pretty expensive because we are obviously not locals. I bought a small box made of solid malachite, she asked for $150Z but I got her down to $75Z which wasn’t too bad. I must practice my bargaining skills though, someone told me that if they ask for 150 it usually means they can go as low as 50. Afterwards we sat in the park and wrote postcards until it got cold, then went to the post office to send them and headed back to Shaka’s Spear. On the way we bought stuff to make dinner: cheese, milk, carrots, juice, green beans and soup in a package. When we got ‘home’ I took a nice bath and we watched Good Morning Vietnam in the living room; then made grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and carrot/green bean salad. It was nice hanging out with Lillith, she is 28 and from San Francisco so she’s mature and has common sense. She is also pretty liberal and doesn’t get uptight about much. After dinner we watched JFK and then went to bed.

Continued in Part 24

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