This is the twenty 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. I was 21 at the time I wrote this.
8/20/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
After the game park we went outside of the park environs to see some small paintings on rocks. We had to trek again but I was used to the pace by now. The cave paintings we saw were not the ones that are the main attraction in the Matopos park, which I wanted to see, but our guide said that those ones were overcrowded with tourists and behind a railing. The ones we saw were just on an overhand of rock, they had been sheltered from the weather and thus preserved. These were done by the Bushmen when they lived in the area, before Msilikazi and Lobengula, the great chiefs of tribes who later traveled to and took over that area. There were drawings of people and unidentifiable animals. the figures were drawn with ‘large buttocks’ as our guide informed us and the mail figures had erections. our guide said that Bushmen are born with an erection and die with an erection. I found that a little strange and I wonder if it was simply a white perception of a tribe which they consider to be primitive. Close to the paintings was an actual cave where the Matebele people were said to have taken refuge during the war. There were a few older paintings here by the Bushmen as well and a large bin which was used to store grain during the time of hiding. C.J. Rhodes is said to have ridden into the bush, unarmed, to call for a truce. I’m not sure if it was that particular place he came to but it was in the area. I have to read Zimbabwean history again.
After that little detour we headed for the ‘View of the World’ which so captured Rhodes that he asked to be buried there. It is a high hill topped with a group of large boulders. It’s a nice view from the top but certainly not of the world. Rhodes is buried right at the top under a bronze plate simply inscribed with his name and dates, it is among the huge boulders. There is also another tomb, huge and Grecian looking, below the crest of the hill where Rhodes’ best friend and several white soldures killed by the Matabele are buried. I wanted to stand on Rhodes’ grave and take a picture but Lillith didn’t think it was appropriate so I just sat on it. The boulders were occupied by many rainbow-hued lizards basking in the late afternoon sun.
As we were walking down the steep hill to the rest area below for ‘tea,’ a troop of French boy scouts ran up the hill and began climbing the rocks, their uniforms were almost the same color as the rocks, except for the white socks. I took a picture of the rocks covered by these human insects. We went down and had tea, I just had Mazoe (orange drink). The ‘biscuits’ as they call them (I would call them cookies) were dry and the Mazoe was watery. The trip home was long but the sunset, as always, was blood red and stunning (perhaps because of pollution or dust?). Colin dropped us at the Shaka’s Spear and ran our credit cards through on the hood of the jeep. We dropped our stuff in the new room, a double this time, locked it, said hi to the cats and the grungy people sitting in the living room and went out to catch a movie.
To be continued…