Sunday morning I was extra eager to be up and about as the day’s activities including my visit to Antelope Park and my bush walk with lions. Truly a dream come true for me.
It was a relaxing morning spent outside in the front yard as the men of the Dingwa clan spent several hours cleaning their respective vehicles. Not unlike North American men, African men will also spend hours washing, buffing and shining their prized possessions – their vehicles, including cleaning and polishing their tires. Now this activity baffles me, especially here in dusty Sub-Sahara Africa for as soon as you leave the yard you are driving in dust and all visible signs of your efforts are obliterated. Oh well, men will be men.
I had a wonderful morning sitting the front yard watching the men work so hard physically, including Tim who was cleaning Granpa’s car and visiting with Mr. Dingwa. However, this visit started to take a turn for the worst when he found out what my intentions were for my visit to Antelope Park. He was utterly shocked that I would even contemplate trying to touch a lion, let alone snuggle it. While he heartily endorsed my visit to the beautiful Antelope Park, he did not want me to go any where near the lions.
Things escalated when a rather heated and tense discussion in Shona took place between Lawerence and his father which concluded with his father saying in English that Lawrence had informed him that it was absolutely useless to tell me what I could or couldn’t do when it comes to my lion adventure. Now I could understand Mr. Dingwa’s fear. All Africans have a very healthy fear and respect for the king of beasts who have roamed free in their areas and are known for their ability to kill. As my host, Mr. Dingwa felt very responsible for my safety and well being. But like the rest of the Dingwa males he had to accept the fact that there was absolutely no dissuading me on my plans to get as up close and personal with a lion as I possibly could.
And as this was my only offence all weekend – Lawrence had not had to give me an electrical shock once as I was on my very best behavior – Mr. Dingwa finally accepted but did not condone my plans for adventure that afternoon. Quite frankly no one could ever talk me out of this dream, not even Buche for who I have the greatest respect. I was snuggling a lion even if it killed me 🙂
After a very long and full day attending the wedding in Masvingo and visiting Great Zimbabwe it was after 9 pm before I arrived back at the Dingwa household. I was welcomed with open arms and it seems that my arrival had been patiently waited for many several of the household occupants. First of all, Mr. T (Tim) would not go to bed until he saw me and had a chance to hang out. And Mrs Dingwa and Yolanda had a special meal ready to prepare for me.
During our visit the night before, Mrs Dingwa asked me many questions about Canada, my life there and what I enjoyed eating. I had casually mentioned that I missed seafood the most as it is not plentiful here in Botswana. I also told them that I really enjoyed brown rice. So guess what was prepared for me to eat that night at 9:30? Yes, seafood and brown rice.
I swear that I gained at least 5 kilos while staying with the Dingwas! I feel like I did nothing more than eat which is an important part of African culture. In fact, here it is one of the primary ways of extending hospitality and it is incredibly rude to not eat or clean your plate! So for my visit I was a good guest and ate everything that was put in front of me except as a small eater I did commit the unpardonably offence of not always cleaning my plate. It was rather funny at times as both Mrs Dingwa and Yolanda would sound just like my mother telling me to finish my food 🙂
They were able to forgive however after I made Lawrence explain to them that when ever we dined together he always finishing my food for me! So at least they knew that I was willing to try all of the Zimbabwean dishes including Kapenta, a tiny dried fish that is served whole fried with onions and tomatoes. They are eaten with traditional staple meal called Isitshwala/sadza.
Interestingly enough when I described some of my favorite foods there was almost complete agreement among the Dingwas’ that they rather not try them. But I suspect if they visit Canada they will show the same respect for trying new foods as I did.
After being so thoroughly spoiled with meals being prepared for me even when I arrived home late, I think I need to find someone to cook for me more often 🙂
As soon as Chenia and her mother finished in the Masvingo police station getting a police report on the accident filed we quickly set off again to make it to the wedding.
This was an outdoor Zimbabwean Roman Catholic ceremony which was taking place in the lovely gardens of Peter’s Lodge.
As the wedding was already in progress when we arrived, we quickly were given seats so that we could watch the final twenty minutes or so of the ceremony.
While the bridal party left the site for a while to have pictures taken, the rest of us moved to the lawn where the reception tent was set up and I was continued to be introduced to all of the many family members, who seemed delighted that I was joining the festivities.
I have to admit that the dining part of the reception was a little overwhelming for me. Or should I say, the buffet line was. Our table was right next to the Elders table and of course they proceeded everyone into the buffet line. I was escorted up following the elders by another one of the Aunts of the bride who was sitting on my right. She took masterful control of me (yes, I know an impossible task) and was determined that I have the best treatment possible at this wedding. So into the buffet line up we got along with her 7 year old granddaughter.
Well, the line up was positively claustrophobic for me as everyone was rushing to get into line behind the Elders and there was absolutely no room to even breath. My chaperon had a tight grip on me and was determined to not only keep me in front of her in the line up but to also not lose an inch of ground to anyone else. So I was pushed, prodded, stepped on and feeling ready to jump out of line but knew that I couldn’t as it would offend. Luckily once we got up to the plates and buffet tables one of the Elder’s happily stood a side to let me in line ahead of him. With my meal secured I was able to retreat back to the safety of our table and enjoy the excellent food with Chenia’s family.
Mrs Hwehwe is a great “Gogo” (grandmother in Shona) and she is Gogo to both of the little girls in the picture in white dresses. The slightly older one just visible to the left of the picture gave me a new party trick to try out at the next formal event that I go to. As we were sitting eating our meal, which contained rice, I looked up at one point to respond to someone across the table from me. While looking up I noticed that the young lady in a beautiful white formal dress had her spoon down her top digging out rice from her chest area. I was totally in awe and can’t wait to practice that technique myself 🙂
Now I am sure that you are all on pins and needles waiting to hear about my most embarrassing moment. Well, I am definitely getting to the moment and it isn’t sticking a large spoon down my chest in search of food.
Following our meal the DJ started to play music and Chenia’s mom and aunt had promised to show me how to dance traditional African style. So up we got to boogie off our amazing meal. The tradition at weddings here is that the bridal party enters the reception dancing and are led in by a dancing female contingent. So here I was smack dab in the front of the tent and bridal walkway dancing away to the delight of those accompanying me. I know, I have no shame. But the worse was yet to come. Apparently my dancing antics where preventing the bridal party from making their grand entrance. It took the DJ several tries to drown out the antics of my own personal dance party to get us to move out of the way. Oh dear, but this still not the worst!
So my dance team made way and up the aisle came the bridal party
The women who lead the bridal party in to the reception, not only dance, they do this wonderful sound that is hard to describe but the instant you hear it you know that it is a celebratory sound. It is what really distinguishes weddings here as African. And this sound is what really ended up being my most mortifying moment at this wedding.
I know, holding the bridal party’s grand entrance up just wasn’t enough for me. It is truly a wonder that the bride didn’t have me forcibly removed from the premise. I guess the fact that her Aunts were the ones responsible for my behavior saved me.
So here is the description of my single most mortifying moment ever!!!!
Following the formalities of the reception there was more dancing. Of course twinkle toes just can’t get enough and Mrs. Hwehwe and her sisters/sister-in laws couldn’t wait to get me back on the dance floor. And back on the dance floor (grass) we went. I guess you could say that I truly got into the moment and was obliviously dancing away attempting to incorporate the traditional dance moves that I had been taught earlier. Somethings require your full concentration.
The next thing I know the reception had ground to halt and I am being fully surrounded in a full circle by virtually everyone in attendance. The women are making their celebratory noise, the men are clapping and shouting and there must have been a dozen camera phones out and filming a white girl who can’t dance! I truly just wanted to disappear in that moment!!!! But again, all of the cultural training I have been getting obviously is taking effect. I remained in the middle of the dance circle with my other partners in crime and prayed for the song to end. Which it eventually did but I was prevented from leaving the dance floor when I wanted to….
Yes, there are videos of this. Me in utter embarrassment. No, I don’t have a copy yet but I am living in fear of a version showing up anytime on YouTube. Chenia has video of it but I have yet not received a copy from her. I am not sure that I want to see it! Nor am I sure what I will do with it if I do get a copy.
Yet somehow throughout all of my outrageous behavior, the bride didn’t hold my offences against me and actually thanked me for coming to her wedding. That is true class. And her aunts. They were utterly delighted with me and my behavior. Apparently so was the majority of the attendees. They were thrilled that I came and participated so enthusiastically. They were still talking about it the next day I was told. I was even given a gift by the family of 3 meters of traditional material so that I can have a traditional dress made to attend other events. And yes, I was invited back!
Buche’s daughter, who is an expert seamstress is currently whipping up my new dress for me. I will be sure to show you a picture of it. However, after this escape I have sworn that I am never attending another wedding here in Sub-Sahara Africa, ever! Lawrence’s response to that was two-fold:
He and I are invited to another wedding here in Botswana in July and he determined to make me attend with him
He says that I have to come to his wedding.
Perhaps by then I will be over my mortification. Who knows? Not having the incriminating videos going viral on YouTube will help 🙂
My good friend Lawrence had decided that he wanted the two non-family females in his life to spend time together and bond so my Saturday entertainments in Zimbabwe were entrusted to Lawrence’s Zimbabwean girlfriend, Chenia.
So into her capable hands I was entrusted and the day’s activities were to include her cousin’s wedding ceremony, reception and a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Great Zimbabwe. Accompanying us for the day would be her mother, Mrs. Hwehwe and two of her other beautiful daughters, Anesu & Kuda. In order to accommodate all of us passengers Lawrence also graciously allow us his lovely car to travel in.
Having been told to be ready to leave for the day by 7:00 am as we were travelling to Masvingo for the wedding I was up bright and early at 6:00 am to bath in my cold water and get dressed. The early departure was necessitated by the fact that it is an approximately 3 hour drive from Gweru to Masvingo and the wedding was scheduled to begin at 10 am.
One of the other cultural adjustments that I have had to make here in Africa is the flexibility in time. I try to be an extremely punctual person although ask poor Buche about the time that I left him waiting for me in the BONASO parking lot for 45 minutes because I simply was so busy that I had no idea what time it was. So generally I attempt to be ready in advance of when I need to be. However here in Africa when someone says they are picking you up at a certain time, that time can have flexibility of anywhere from 1/2 to hours later. You learn to take it in stride, trust me.
All of this to say, I was ready for the appointed time however our actual departure first from the Dingwa home and then from Gweru itself was slightly later than scheduled. Once on the road with Chenia driving her mother and sisters were kind and attentive pointing out landmarks and interesting sites, relating history or local culture and asking questions about me and life in Canada. All in all it was a very pleasant drive and uneventful until we reached Masvingo.
Entering Masvingo it was necessary to gas up and grab some juice & water from a nearby shop. Following our stop, Chenia headed out of Masvingo for the wedding site, which ironically was named “Peter’s Lodge” located about a 30 minute drive past Masvingo on the way to Great Zimbabwe. Masvingo is a good sized city and there was a far amount of traffic entering and exiting the city on this Saturday morning. Unfortunately on our way out of the city we were involved in a minor fender bender leaving poor Lawrence’s lovely Mercedes front end rather sorry looking. Luckily other than damage to Lawrence’s car there were no other repercussions of the accidents other than I got to visit the Masvingo Police Station! and we ended up being significantly late for the wedding only arriving in time for the last twenty minutes of the actual ceremony.
Following a busy but mostly pleasant day of sightseeing, meeting Lawrence’s friends and hanging out we headed back to the Dingwa household where I had my first opportunity to meet Lawrence’s mother, his sister, Anna along with her son Tim (Mr. T) and daughter Tina (Dolly).
Neither of Lawrence’s parents actually work in Gweru. Mr. Dingwa works in the financial field in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe which is approximately 300 kilometers from Gweru. Mrs Dingwa teaches at a school that is approximately 1 and 1/2 hours away from her home. So their routine is return to their home in Senga, Gweru every Friday afternoon only to leave again at 5:00 am on Monday mornings to spend the work week living close to their work.
Friday evening was going to my first opportunity to meet Mr and Mrs Dingwa. Also arriving that evening was Lawrence’s sister, Anna and her children. Her husband, Tafadzwa was staying at the house while he completed some Master’s exams at the University located very close by and wrote his final exam on Saturday. This was why we scheduled our visit to Zimbabwe for this particular weekend as it gave Lawrence the opportunity to see his sister and family and me a chance to meet them all. Even though it meant that the house was full to the rafters and not enough beds for everyone. But more on that later.
I have to admit that initial greetings and introductions with Lawrence’s family went extremely well and the gifts that I had brought with me were graciously accepted except Mr. T pointed out to me when I presented Mrs Dingwa’s German print blue fabric to her that she is known as “Mrs Brown” as that is the color that she wears most often. Oh well, now she has a different color to wear!
When Anna had arrived with Tim and Dolly, I couldn’t help to exclaim how beautiful Dolly was. Of course in true diva style the fourteen month old absolutely preened! I guess she comes by it honestly given the way that her uncle Lawrence struts proving some traits are hereditary.
Once introductions were completed, the men disappeared to meet their father at a local watering hole while I was left alone with the Dingwa women. Do men never learn? How on earth could Lawrence possible think that it was safe to leave me alone with his mother and sister for hours? We had a lovely evening visiting, trading Lawrence stories and planning out his life – that is what he gets for leaving three strong and determined women who care about him alone for hours! The poor boy no longer stands a chance as we have plotted out his life for him and have the will power and initiative to make it happen!
All in all a wonderful way to spend my first day and evening in Zimbabwe. Thank you ladies!
Finally fed and appropriately attired in a dress, I was set to explore Gweru and surrounding areas. Having a tour guide who grew up in the neighborhood was a decided advantage even if his tour of childhood places only took a half hour for me to see given that he was never very adventurous as a child.
A drive to nearby suburb/village Shurugwi yielded the following picture that just doesn’t hold the same fascination for Africans as it does a Canadian:
Our first stop downtown Gweru was mainstreet where I waited in the car while Lawrence popped into a store to get a Zimbabwe sim card for his phone.
While waiting in the passenger seat of the Mercedes and defending the car from the parking enforcement officers newly instituted in downtown Gweru, I heard a female calling my name. Sort of an odd feeling given that I was newly arrived in a town and country where I did not know anyone other than Lawrence. It turned out to be Lawrence’s Zimbabwean girlfriend, Chenia who I had spoken to a number of times on the phone.
I guess that it was easy for her to recognize me as there were no other white women in Mercedes about town, ha! Plus, she had seen numerous photos that Lawrence had taken of me and sent to her while she was finishing up her Social Work degree in Lesotho. As we chatted and compared Lawrence notes we drew a little crowd of other friends of Lawrence so that by the time he had returned to the car and me, a full party on the sidewalk was taking place. Leave it to Cheryl!
The rest of the day was spent sight seeing and hanging out with Lawrence’s friends and family. All in all an excellent day and wonderful introduction to life in Zimbabwe.
Friday morning dawned bright and early in Senga, Gweru.
After only a couple of hours of sleep and emerging from under a significant mound of blankets attired in my thermal long johns it was time to start explore my new surroundings, the Dingwa homestead. Dressing in a pair of comfy stretchy pants that I normally only ever wear inside my apartment I headed out to the kitchen that was bathed in sunshine and echoing with the sounds of roosters crowing from the next door yard.
The ruler of this domain is the Dingwa housekeeper, Yolanda. Even though it was only 7 am and Yolanda had not gotten to bed the night before until was safely ensconced in my bed, she was up preparing for the day. This preparation includes lighting the fire outside in a lean-to in the yard to heat water for bathing. Currently parts of Zimbabwe including Gweru are facing significant water shortages. So water for the day’s activity must be trickled from the outside tap very early in the day while still available. Once the household is up and moving around the water is then heated to be used for bathing in a small wash basin.
The other difficulty facing the household was the lack of electricity. Yes, I know it is a curse that I am carrying around with me! It seems that early in the week thieves had decided that it seemed like a good idea to steal the diesel petrol out of the transformer that powers the neighborhood. So, no water. No electricity. Can you spell A.D.V.E.N.T.U.R.E.
So clad in my comfy stay at home clothes I went in search of a hot mug of tea. Before I had a chance to ask or even blink I was whisked out of the house by Yolanda, my new friend who informed Lawrence that we would return shortly.
Having no idea where I was going or why and dressed in clothing that I would never step foot outside of my apartment in, I gamely went with the flow. Why not? Lawrence had just moments before said that he wanted to take me for a walk around the neighborhood and that I didn’t need to get changed so I felt reasonably comforted that I wouldn’t offend anyone by my wardrobe choices.
Off we set with Yolanda beaming broadly and greeting everyone that we encountered. I was excited to see my surroundings in the light of day having arrived in the dark of the night. Soon it became evident that we were headed to a tiny strip mall of shops located a very short distance from the house. Once the shops were in sight, Yolanda informed me that we were purchasing eggs, bread and milk for breakfast. She was obviously proud to be showing me around and off! I was just as eager to experience life in Senga, Zimbabwe.
After popping in and out of several of the shops it took some unearthing to locate eggs to go with the milk and bread that were more readily available. To say that I stuck out in the neighborhood like a sore thumb would be an understatement. Even dressed as I was and looking more than a little rumpled after such a short period of sleep it seemed that I was still good enough to attract a proposition or two. However, I was in safe hands and we soon had accomplished our tasks and returned home.
Due to the electrical cut and the need to cook on a single gas burner to would take Yolanda time to prepare our morning meal so Lawrence, his brother-in law and I adjourned to the sunny yard to wait and chat. Of course, my appearance in the neighborhood was attracting significant attention and there were numerous drop bys and people to meet and greet. While chatting in hushed tones with the Dingwa’s lovely neighbor about the political affairs of the country who dropped by the yard but the Voter Education team bringing polling and voting information about the upcoming election in July. Oh, and yes, I am still dressed in my comfy clothes and waiting for Lawrence to zap because I am not properly attired for this more traditional culture.
Zimbabwe has been ruled for more than 30 years by President Robert Mugabe who is currently 89 years old and showing no signs of retiring. There are many issues at play in Zimbabwe including poverty, economic uncertainty and upheaval, land reform displacing white farmers and political repression to name a few. For this political junkie, it was a dream come true to be so fully and quickly immersed into a real and honest dialogue on politics so soon in my visit.
Each one is unique and special. To me, they symbolize new territory to explore and adventure on the other side of concrete walls, fences and cranky immigration officers. You always have that heart stopping moment or two as you hand over your documents wondering if you will make it through or not. If all of your paper work is in order. Is your immigration or customs officer having a good day or bad? Some you are happy to visit again and again. Others, well let’s just say once is enough. They are a challenge to be conquered but not to be repeated.
You need to keep reading to discover how I feel about the Ramokgwebana/Plumtree boarder post between Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Having left Gabs at 4 pm which was much later than anticipated due to work commitments Lawrence drove straight through from Gabs to the border posts with no stops except at a tiny petrol station just a couple of kilometers from the border. We were pushing to make the crossing before the border closed for the night at 10 pm and thankfully we made it by 8:30 pm with time to spare.
Pulling into the parking lot on the Botswana Ramokgwebana side we noticed lots of activity. Given the time of night, Lawrence had figured that the crossing wouldn’t be that busy. As we exited the vehicle with me desperately seeking a toilet to relive my rather full bladder the size of the immigration ques became extremely obvious. So like the good traveler that I am, I sucked it up and got in line to hold our place while Lawrence was doing toilet reconnaissance.
When he finally arrived back to the line up looking relieved and happier my stubborn gene had kicked in….any surprise there??? As the line up was moving at a reasonable pace with new participants arriving all of the time, I wasn’t going to jeopardize my spot by slipping out of the que when it was simply mind over bladder. Given that I did not have the Dingwa household address to rattle off for the immigration officer, I needed to remain with Lawrence so we could go through immigration together. Plus, he had to do additional queuing in order to take his car over the border.
Interestingly enough the large majority of those in line were Zimbabweans going home for a visit. Let’s just say that Zimbabweans are much more polite and friendly to stand in line up with than some others. In fact, I have fond memories of a Zimbabwean gentleman coming to my rescue in the visa line up in Gaborone when I first arrived in Botswana. For those of you who missed that story you can find it at https://cheryljdalziel.com/2012/09/29/back-to-the-immigration-office/
I digress. The que was long but friendly and eventually we wound our way to the front and through the paperwork without a lot of fuss or questions. Whew!!! But it is always easier leaving a country than entering in these parts….
Exiting the building ahead of Lawerence, who was finishing off the paperwork to take the car through the border I made my mad dash to the toilet with a bursting bladder. Now before I go any further I just want to reiterate for the uninitiated that public and even sometimes private toilets in Africa are not for the faint hearted. They are an adventure in and of themselves. Like border posts, some are better than others…others, well let’s just say that going in the bush is far more preferable.
My best travel advice to date is that “Never, Ever visit the toilets at the Ramokgwebana border post”!!!!!! EVER!!!! My friendship with Lawrence could have ended because of this. Seriously! It is by far the worse toilet that I have ever made use of anywhere that I have been in Africa. I still shiver and cringe just thinking about it.
When in Africa as a female you always carry a roll of toilet paper or tissues on you for use as public toilets never have toilet paper. So it is a given that you carry your purse with you when visiting the necessary. So picture this if you please……a beyond filthy rest room, zero toilet paper and toilets that you simply didn’t want to get within fifty feet of but a bladder beyond bursting. It is simple, you consider it yet another adventure and go for it. So I earned my skills as an acrobat.
Huge purse over my shoulder (now where to set it down), wad of tissue out, the infamous denim skirt hiked up and panties down and a healthy fear of coming within two feet of the toilet seat……..another lesson learned, the longer the delay in visiting the necessary, the fuller the bladder…the longer it takes to relieve it. After maintaining the balancing hovering act for what felt like far too longer the desperation to exit my surroundings was almost equal to my desperation for visiting in the first place.
Quickly exiting the toilet stall which only redeeming quality was that it actually had a functioning lock mechanism (another rarity in Africa) I beat a hasty path to the equally filthy sinks to at least rinse my hands before making my way to the car where a pack of hand wipes were gloriously awaiting me. While standing at the sink two elderly ladies joined me. To my surprise they were actually giggling. Figuring that they like many others that I encounter were not that use to white women within their surrounds I just smiled and greeted them formally. Feeling as if I had paid them the respect that they were due, the giggling only got worse.
Finally as I was turning to leave the room one of them addressed me and said I quote “You have a naughty skirt!”
Remember this was the skirt whose malfunction before I had even left home had started my adventure off. Thinking that perhaps the fitted style of the skirt was too modern for her, I simply smiled, nodded and again turned to exit.
Then she stopped me again saying I quote “No, wait your skirt is naughty”. She then pointed down to my rather ample booty which was prominently on display as my naughty skirt was caught up in my panties. It seems that in my acrobatic state of attempting balance a purse & body in the hovering position and then haste to exit the downright filthy disgusting stall I had inadvertently caught my skirt in my panties. Thankfully they were clean and cute and this wonderful woman prevented me from walking out of the door into the parking lot where it would feel like half of the population of Zimbabwe returning home would have been treated to a sight to behold.
With a proper thank you this time and a far more respectful exit I arrived back at the car more eager and ready to arrive in Zimbabwe then you can imagine. Fortunately my entry into Zimbabwe through immigration and customs was far less eventful and we were soon back on the road with me at the wheel.
When you arrive in Zimbabwe through the Botswana border post of Ramokgwebana you are entering Plumtree, Zimbabwe. Don’t you just love that name? Feeling lighter and happier although it was now almost 10 pm at night, I was set to do the approximately four hour drive to Lawrence’s home in Gweru. Passing through Plumtree, Figtree and other small towns on the way to Bulawayo where we going to stop to grab something to eat I was in the groove in the driver’s seat….
Until I was rudely stopped by the Zimbabwean police at a road block literally in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Having been warned by Lawrence in advance that the police in Zimbabwe are not always your friend (like Buche tells me they are here in Botswana) I was at least somewhat prepared. Pulling to a stop, which frankly was a little more difficult as I was driving slightly faster than the speed limit was if there had of been any signs telling you what the speed limit was suppose to be, I put on my most charming smile.
Lawrence lounging in the passenger seat next me claimed that he has never seen such a transformation in me. Lawrence has seen many aspects of my personality including my penchant for independence and beating him up in public but he had never experienced me being “charming”. He watched enthralled as I simply charmed my “Zimbabwean Police Officer friend”. Less than five minutes later I was departing the road block with a smile and wave for my new friend, who hadn’t once mentioned that I was speeding. Nor was any exchange of cash necessary which is incredibly unusual as this is the purpose of the road blocks in the first place.
Back on the road with the most charming drivers we soon arrived in Bulaway, Zimbabwe’s second largest city and one that Lawrence has actually only visited once or twice before. So at midnight I was navigating through a city I had never been in before seeking food. Success was easily at hand and arriving downtown it was simply as easy as parallel parking with a captive audience watching the oddity of a white woman chauffeuring a Zimbabwean man at midnight.
While Mr. Small Bladder visited the men’s room ( I was not going down that road again determined to wait until we arrived at the Dingwa household) I stood in line to order food. Are you recognizing the pattern here? I certainly am :0 While patiently waiting to order after driving for a couple of hours I need to stretch out my legs. Then a great song came on and I was a goner. You guessed it, the impulse to dance couldn’t be controlled. Lawrence returned to the sight of me wiggling in line while the manager was yelling “you go girl” and a growing audience appeared at the plate glass windows looking in from the street. To be honest to you, I wasn’t really even dancing that much. Just more wiggling in time to the music. Honest! However, do to the growing crowd and spectacle someone in the back decided to abruptly shut off the music so that the white girl could calm down and the crowds disperse.
With a brief dance reprieve, food in my belly and back in the driver’s seat I was ready to push on to make the final drive to Senga, Lawrence’s village within Gweru. As we entered this stretch of driving we encountered road construction site after construction site. Each one was marked by “robots” traffic signals indicating when to pause or proceed. Not to lay blame here but due to extenuating circumstances and pressures I perhaps proceeded through a red light that I shouldn’t have. But in my defense so did two others before me and it was 1:30 am in the morning.
Well, that simply led to my second police halt of the night and my brief time in Zimbabwe. I must have set a record! This time I didn’t even try to charm this one because I knew it would be a mistake to even try. However I did make the mistake of showing him my driver’s license…BIG MISTAKE! You see in Canada if a police officer asks to see your license you immediate produce it no questions asked. In Zimbabwe you avoid it all costs. It took my friend Lawrence more than 40 minutes of discussion with the said police officer to get it back for me while I waited patiently and extremely quietly in the car which is hard to do at 2:00 am.
When Lawrence finally returned to the car after 2:30 with my PEI driver’s license in hand, I was willing to forgive his making me wait to pee at the border post. Fair is fair!
This portion of our adventure finally ended half an hour later when we arrived at the Dingwa household to a warm reception even though it was now 3 am. An hour later warmly ensconced in bed under so many blankets that I could have smothered but needed because it really was that cold I was ready for a couple hours of sleep before I continued my adventures again early in the morning.
It has been tough to write up my blogs due to power outages, intermittent internet connections and too much work – okay, and the occasional poolside afternoon nap.
So to hold you over until I get my next post written here is an adorable picture of Lawrence, his nephew fondly known as Tim or Mr. T and his always adorable niece Tina. Tina is rarely called anything but Dolly because she is so tiny and adorable like a doll. In fact, when I first met her Friday night on her arrival, I told her how beautiful she was and she absolutely preened. At 14 months you can tell that she is going to be big trouble when she is a teenager. And I made sure to tell her father that on many occasions. Given the fact that she is totally spoiled by everyone, now including me, she will surely be a diva. Boys and daddy beware!
By the way, I spent the entire weekend trying to convince family members that I wanted my hair done exactly like Dolly’s. Nobody is convinced other than me that it would be worth a try. What do you think?
Well, I made it home from an adventure of a lifetime very late last night or should I say very early this morning.
The trip was fantastic and jammed full of fun and adventure. I have fallen in love with yet another African country. I was spoiled like a princess at the Dingwa household and was even invited back with or Without Lawrence.
I can’t begin to describe how fabulous it was but I will try in subsequent posts. But for now I leave you with a teaser of some of my pictures of my once again living out a dream…..
Yes, I hugged a lion and rubbed it’s belly!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here is the proof and only a small taste of my up close and personal lion experience
I did what Buche, Lawrence and Mr. Dingwa said I couldn’t possible accomplish. Proving once again that I am either the most determined person on earth or crazy. Some would say a mix of both. Either way, I lived out yet another one of my dreams. However, my mother will be relived to know that I didn’t bring one home with me! (that was actually her first comment when she learned that I was moving here to Africa that I better not bring home a lion) I am actually supremely delighted to have just prowled the bush with them and get in a hug or two.
Meet my new friends who are almost a year old lions who I had the privilege of accompanying on a bush walk while they learned to hunt and try to play with me but that is a whole other story that you will soon hear about.
Stay tuned for lots more about my lion adventure and Zimbabwe trip.