July 29, 1998

Zimbabwe: What's Cooking Restaurant, Masvingo

Uncertain of the time because my watch has tragically ceased to function.

Good few days. Bulawayo's a very nice little city. Train journey's about as cheap & comfortable as your average backpacker lodge - makes you wonder if it'd be smart to just spend your whole time shuttling from city to city on overnight train.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Saturday the 25th, drove off with the Possum medical students in Mike's (old Rhodesian) minivan to see granite outcroppings, Bushmen paintings, little villages and old ruins. Caves like gouges in a rock wall, with 25,000-year-old paintings still etched on the wall. Got lost trying to find ruins and came upon a lonely rondavel with solar panel & TV antenna. Returned for dinner, went downtown, saw movie - THE ASSIGNMENT - returned.

Sunday, loitered for awhile, went to the National Gallery only to find that it was closed, so walked to the pleasant Botanical Gardens and spent the afternoon there, returned to Possum, packed, ate, left. Rode to Bulawayo with Tom the sharper-than-he-seems American, a couple Brits, a couple French, the usual backpacker column, all put in the same car. Roved down to the buffet car for a round of port in plastic cups. Armour-plate windows, wood panelling, and PLEASE REFRAIN FROM EXPECTORATION signs.

Got into Bulawayo on early Monday morn, fought off the hordes of lodge touts and taxi drivers and went to the v. nice Africa Sun lodge. Scuppered plan to take day off and went straight to their Matopos tour. More Bushmen paintings, there even older, amid stunning backdrop. Cecil Rhodes' grave, at Malindzidzi or View of the World, one of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen, valleys of otherworldly granite formations twisting towards the sky as far as the eye can see. A game drive amid white & black rhino, sable antelope, giraffe, wildebeest, and more ridiculously implausible columns and piles of balancing rocks. Returned to Africa Sun and discussed the problems of the world over many beers & cigarettes - and some lethal slivovitz - with three Dutch guys and a Slovenian couple. A very good day indeed.

Yesterday, rest & relaxation & recovery. Traipsed around Bulawayo's wide streets and very pleasant parks, spent a couple of hours in its extremely impressive Natural History Museum, read newspapers and drank coffee, changed money, nothing strenuous. Back to the lodge, played some guitar and a couple games of pool, drank & talked with the same crowd as the previous night.

Today a travel day: a few hours on the bus, trying to listen to Joan Osborne on my Walkman over the bus's extremely loud music. Tomorrow, Great Zimbabwe.

Great Days (to date)

* Meknes, Volubilis, and the muddy olive grove.
* Roving the markets in Marrakesh.
* Sand mats across the Sahara, to Angela-Andrea's party.
* Carnivorous trees and the epic night in Kayes.
* Dogon country, day 2, up the escarpment.
* Ouagadougou, God Is Love, 5th Element, Cup-Winner's Cup.
* Voodoo drumming festival in Ghana.
* Navigating in the cab through Nigeria.
* Truck stuck; Land Rover to chimps & rainforest.
* The Mount Cameroon climb: 'nuff said.
* On foot in the bush in Mana Pools.
* Bulawayo train, Matopos tour, and slivovitch.
(later additions)
* Grand trek through the Vumba, blackjack at Leopard Rock.
* Trekking from Heaven Lodge through Chimanimani to Mt. Binga.
* Rafting at Victoria Falls.
* Sossusvlei, Windhoek, and Joe's Cafe.
* Stellenbosch, Cape Flats, and Mama Africa.

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