Harare, Zimbabwe

Trip Start Jun 05, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Up at 5:00 am.  Is this starting to sound familiar?  Not many people would pay big money for a vacation that required getting up at 5:00 on a regular basis.  We took the tent down and Kioko was a little late with breakfast yet again.  Something else that is getting a little too familiar for my liking.  We had eggs, toast, sausage, cereal and bananas.  We hurried with the dishes and the clean-up, and were on the truck by 6:02 am.  I slinked into my sleeping bag as it is cooler than in the northern countries.  As we were pulling out there were 5 giraffes silouetted by the sunrise but I didn't have the camera ready.   Marlene asked if we could stop but we didn't.  This made all of us mad.  It would have taken 30 seconds and would have quite possibly been the picture of the whole trip.  I slept in my sleeping bad until 8:00.  Thank goodness that the drive needed to relieve his bladder because I was about to bust but kept thinking that the border shouldn't be that much farther.  Supposedly there is a geocache at the border.  We shall see.  We made it to the border around 8:30 and waited, waited, then waited some more.  The people in the group had no problem getting the visas and it was actually the nicest building we had been in for a border crossing.  Marlene and Ernie thought that they were not supposed to pay because of an arrangement their country has with Zimbabwe, but nonetheless, they were charged just like we were.  The problem was getting all the proper paperwork in order for the truck.  None of the crew had been at this specific border before as it was the first time for this new route that Intrepid has because of problems traveling through Mozambique. This change to the Intrepid plan is the reason for three crazy long days in the truck.  While we waited we watched yellow babboons.  There was a truck covered with a tarp that had corn inside.  Within a couple of minutes there were more than 25 babboons jumping from one truck to the next.  The ones that were getting corn were looking around and you could tell they were thinking, "I hope no one sees me!"  We had to keep the door to the truck shut because it is very common for a babboon to run onto your truck or go through an open window looking for food the tourists have stashed in the seatbacks.  We were able to get very close to these babboons, but even though they are cute they have big teeth and can carry disease so we had to exercise caution. 
     Finally, around 10:00 we and received all of the appropriate paperwork and were able to travel.  I finished the novel Heat Wave as we continued south through Zimbabwe.  We got stopped at a police checkpoint and all three of our crew were out with the police.  It seemed to be a very heated discussion.  We were watching and trying to figure out what was going on.  We didn't find out until later what happened.  Apparently at the previous checkpoint the person was trying to stop us.  I saw the guy kinda half wave, and I had wondered at the time if that meant stop, or if they were waving us through, ultimately assuming that if we were supposed to stop it would have been a halt signal given.  Kioko assumed this too and waved back at the guy.  The guy, as it turns out was trying to stop us for speeding, which I can tell you is not true because we never even got up to the speed limit which was maddening. The workers see that it is a tourist truck and assume they can "milk" us for a little money, and that we won't want to take the time to fight the accusation of speeding.  When we didn't stop, that guy radioed ahead to the next checkpoint and said that not only had we failed to stop, but that one of the crew mockingly waved.  The driver finally agreed to pay a $20 fine and I am sure the "police" just pocketed the money.  We stopped for lunch at noon for lunch meat, peanut butter, and apples.   We were set to leave at 12:40.  It was not that nice of an area where we sat to eat.  It was on a sharp curve in the road, the grass had been burned and there was standing oil.  Ernie said if a vehicle lost control we were all toast, and I think he would have been right
    Miles and I spent part of the afternoon making a list of places in the U.S. and the world that we want to go.  Then Miles worked a crossword puzzle, and I rested my eyes.  We went through a town called Karoi that had lots of local stalls set up, and then through another town called Charhoyi but do you think we stopped despite my asking....of course not!  We just kept driving, watching the money we spent on this trip being used to only spectate out the window.  We continued towards Harare and I looked at Victor's map.  I asked how much a taxi would cost from town to the campground and he thought only about $6-7. Apparently they are going to drop us by the Harare Gardens, but I am waiting to believe it when I see it.  Miles and I continued to play dice games to help the time pass, and finally we got dropped off at Harare Gardens and were given 30 minutes and told that we could not be given more time.  We literally ran trying to find a market and had no luck.  We went through the garden and each got an ice cream bar on the far side of the gardens.  They were only 50 cents each.  Then we waited and waited for them to come back and pick us up.  They would not let us have extra time, but then they were the ones that showed up late.  It was getting dark, and to be honest, this is a pretty scary town.  They got back 25 minutes late so as it turns out we would have had time to look for the local market.  Victor knew that he was in hot water, so he sat up front with the other two, cramming 3 people into a two seat cab while the 4 of us had 24 seats to spread out in.  We drove to the hotel, and the driveway was so incredibly narrow that not only did it take us forever to pull into the lot, but it will take even longer to back out in the morning.  The hotel looked decent but the restaurant was closed, their is no bar to watch tv or get drinks, a generator is running really loud, and we are camping on the lawn of the hotel. 
    We saw a little boy so we gave him a volleyball.  His mom was cooking dinner over an open fire within the walls of the hotel, but it was unclear if she was a worker or if she was squatting in the out building.  We had a dinner of rice, vegetables, and chicken.  We got a Sprite at the reception desk, but they had no change for the money we gave.  The atmosphere was very strange, and I couldn't put my finger on what was going on.  The last 5 days have been less than desirable, so I have spent a large part of the drive thinking about how I could confront Victor about all the upsetting things on the trip.  I have written them out, thought about the most tactful way to approach each issue, and finally asked if we could meet.  He listened, admitted mistakes in a few areas, then said that hopefully changes can start taking place as early as tomorrow.  I think in his mind he wanted to tell us where to stick it, but there are probably rules against a guide bad mouthing a tourist.  They probably have the motto that the customer is always right, except in this case we really are right, and have tons of detailed facts to prove it.  We went to the tent, and despite the incredibly loud generator we were able to fall asleep worn out from another long driving day. 
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