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Zimbabwe Mountain Club

Posted by on November 13, 2011

I was a bit disorientated this morning when I awoke in a different place, but then I remembered where I was and breathed a sigh of relief. I spent the morning organizing my belongings since I threw them haphazardly into my bag the night before then I charged all of my electronics that I hadn’t been able to do without power. Jake had to work in the morning so I hung out by myself and relaxed.

I had been in touch with the mountain club of Zimbabwe but hadn’t been able to meet up with them previously. I didn’t have anything to do in the afternoon so I decided to join them on their Saturday afternoon hike. They were meeting at a place called Sam Levy Village so I got directions there and walked a bit and caught a combi the rest of the way. Sam Levy is an outdoor, upscale shopping mall that has all sorts of shops. I had lunch at a wonderful Greek Café and was able to buy a large bottle of water for the hike.

I arrived a bit early so I could check out the shops before the hike. I think I saw every white person in Zimbabwe! It was so strange to see so many pale people after being among everyone else. I guess the white people have segregated themselves into several areas in Harare and Borrowdale (where the mall is located) is one of them. There was a great variety of shops and I was even able to find the specialty battery I needed for my UV water sterilizer. But the place is sort of strange: there’s a huge stature of Paddington Bear next to one of the shops and everywhere there are these plastic cutouts of Disney characters! It’s so weird! Also, people are really into Christmas here and there are already lights and trees everywhere. They even strung lights on all of the palm trees, which looks quite odd. There seemed to be some good restaurants and I think it would be a good place to hang out and people watch on a nice afternoon.

At 1 pm I met up the mountain club people. There were 11 people altogether (only one black woman) and I was the youngest by about 15 years. Everyone else was quite older and some didn’t look in such great shape. We piled into two cars and headed out to Gasura, which is north and west of Harare, about 30 minutes out. We parked in a guy’s yard and set out on our hike, which was up one of the larger hills in the area. It was very hot, well over 90 degrees, and the first part had no shade so I was glad to be wearing my SPF 50. We basically cut across some fields then started hiking straight up the hill side over the granite surface. Some people were very slow moving so those of us at the front had to stop several times to allow them to catch up. Mid-way up we got under some tree cover and a breeze came up which made it nearly pleasant.

I met some very interesting people and had some good conversations. Nearly everyone is native Zimbabwean and they told me a lot about what it was like in the country from the 1970s until the present. I cannot imagine living in a place like this and watching your country go from being one of the best on the continent to seeing the entire economy fail and watch mass emigration occur. It’s just so sad. One woman had been a farmer all her life until the government took away her farm in 2005 just because she’s white. The land now lies fallow and produces no food while everything is imported from South Africa. And there’s still racial tension here; it’s not nearly as bad as in South Africa, but the white people I talked to certainly don’t approve of the black culture at all and I got the sense that they think pre-independence was better.

The hike overall was great and when we reached the summit, the views were spectacular. You could see so far into the distance and look down on the nearby farms and out at the other granite hills beyond. Descending was quite fast and we were back at the cars by 5 pm. We drove down the road a bit and stopped to have tea and biscuits (cookies) which was quite a treat after a hot and dusty hike. After 20 minutes we piled back into the cars and headed back.

One really nice lady drove me back to campus so that I could get back before it was too dark and I really appreciated that. As I was walking toward Jake’s place, he drove up in his car and gave me a lift the rest of the way. Jake had just been running so after we both showered we went to the grocery store to get some supplies for dinner.

The Spar (it’s a big grocery chain in southern Africa) near his house is really nice and they have great produce and a good selection of everything. We decided to make pasta with a vegetable sauce and salad. I have not been eating enough vegetables here so it was great to get some vitamins. Although his knives are not so great, Jake has brand new, very nice pots and pans and I set to work making sauce while he made salad. It was so nice to cook with someone, even if it wasn’t my Jacob. I bought tri-colored pasta thinking it would be with spinach and tomato but it turns out the pasta was just dyed with food coloring and a lot of the green leaked out into the boiling water!

We had a great dinner and drank a bottle of wine between us. It was a nice evening with good conversation which was such a treat for me. Suddenly it was 1 am and I realized that Jacob and I agreed to talk on Skype so I called him up and we chatted for a few minutes before I went to bed at 2.

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