Saturday, 13 April 2013

Great Zim I: on the road

Weekend trip to Great Zimbabwe, an archaeology and UNESCO World Heritage site, south of Harare. Remember, the one that connects to the caves to the north? But to get there is an adventure in and of itself.
When in doubt, SIPHON!

At 9am, I was picked up by our driver as planned with the rented (=paying a friend) car. Were we actually leaving on time? No. The radiator is acting up. After an hour of cooling the engine, pouring in water and coolant, it was clear this car was not the safe choice. We downsize from a petrol-guzzling land rover to a Toyota. It has a donut spare on the back tire; another hour goes in finding a new one. And of course, the issue of fuel -- we had already paid to fill up the guzzler. Solution depicted.

PS: There is no "customer service," "discounting" or validating that incredulous feeling of why the driver did not check the car the night before upon receipt. I probably could have worked my usual magic, but this transport was organized by a Colorado professor who was far too polite to haggle. His solution... "low expectations."
At 12:30pm, we depart, passing through the flat, grass-tipped savannah peppered with wind-swept trees and sun-baked corn husks to which I have grown accustomed. 4 hours, 2 $1 tolls, and 1 police checkpoint later, we arrive to Masvingo - the closest main town before the ruins.

The trusty guidebook leads us to St. Francis of Assisi church, honoring Italian prisoners of war who were brought to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) from Ethiopia during WWII in 1940s.

Some are interred here, and their ashes are stored behind their memorial plaques.

The ceiling inside is covered in mosaic-style paintings. The outside has an Italian villa feel. Contrast this with the outdoor churches of the Apostles seen frequently in any potential corner of field, full of worshipping Africans dressed in white.

We reach the hotel, and while the others decompress, I grab Jackson to drive out to the lake. We run into young boys not tending to their herds well (hiding in the bushes instead of keeping their goat / cows / buffalo off the road). But, we eventually catch the picture-perfect sunset. Breathtaking.

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