Zambezi’s Will

KaribaTraveling by train is a luxury that I rarely pass up. In Zimbabwe these opportunities are few but I managed to confirm a second class ticket on board the “express” train from Bulawayo to Harare. Five of us crammed into the small cabin meant to hold one more, with me being the only foreigner.

One guy, an older gentleman, was hammered and through slurred speech and wobbly hand gestures he tried to explain to me the back story of British rule in Southern Africa.

At the same time one of the other guys, also well on his way to being drunk, wanted to regale me with stories of his brother who now lived in Wellington New Zealand. He seemed to find it unusual that I did not know his brother.

Eventually the sixth and final member of our Harare bound band enters the cabin. Realizing the festivities ongoing he quickly joined in with the idea of catching up.  Continue reading Zambezi’s Will

A Travelers Worst Nightmare

Matopos National ParkI don’t meltdown often but sometimes something happens that you know is your own fault and screaming won’t help. An internal assault takes place where your mind and body go to battle because there is nothing, and no-one else, to blame. Today was that day for me and the realization of my neglect came in the middle of nowhere surrounded by globe shaped boulders quite content to balance precariously on top of each other as if all the world was in perfect harmony.

It was a metaphor for my day but I didn’t realize it then.

The worst thing that can happen on the road is the loss of travel documents, tickets, and money. I strap this all to my body when I am traveling and unless you take my pants off chances are you’re going to be fresh out of luck if you think you will be able to swipe my stuff; unless of course I leave everything that is valuable sitting on the bar of the hostel. Continue reading A Travelers Worst Nightmare

Zimbabwe Express

P21 ZimbabweTraveling by bus in most developing countries can more often than not be an exercise in patience and mental fortitude. From the bus depot to the “middle of nowhere” where you will inevitably break down is an adventure all its own. The journey will be fraught with time delays both mechanical and cultural; if you have a schedule, forget it…it will be of no use.

The landscape will no doubt be gorgeous, the weather warm, skies blue, and you will be in the same figurative boat as many others; in that you find comfort. There will be laughter and chatter as the bus departs and turns in the direction of its destination.

From here it is just a matter of time before an “oh-so common” scenario will play out.  Brace yourself as there is almost no way of getting around it. Take a deep breath, relax, and console yourself with the fact that all control of your day has now been relinquished.  Continue reading Zimbabwe Express

Soweto’s Stark Contrast

Hector PietersonSouth Africa intrigues me on many levels; what follows will add another layer to that. Today reinforced my feelings of guilt for being white and also shook my core as the brutality of the system that had ruled this country for so long rose up and punched me square in the gut; the type of impact that lands just slightly below the rib cage leaving you winded and at a loss for both breath and words. The reality of the apartheid experience came into focus, vivid and penetrating; as much as it could to an outsider who had not lived through it.

The first shock upon entering the “SOuth WEstern TOwnships” was the disparity of wealth. It was never more apparent than in the section just outside the city limits of Johannesburg. An area known throughout the world for its stand against the educational policies of apartheid in June of 1976; it’s here that a conglomeration of townships became known as Soweto.  Continue reading Soweto’s Stark Contrast

The Stories of Kruger

DrakensbergMist hovers like a veil, caught between a blue cloudless sky and jagged rocks of the landscape below.  Colors of rust, yellow, and green make up the northern spur of the Drakensberg Mountain range and as the heat of the dawning day begins to rise, so does the white halo; leaving in its stead a panorama so gorgeous it has been named God’s View.

The range is a stunning and natural gateway to one of South Africa’s premiere destinations; nothing could be more fitting to enhance the anticipation.

In 1926 South Africa realized the need for the protection of large swaths of land and the wildlife contained within, so established the first of its national parks. This park has grown to become the most famous in the country.  Any visitor is almost guaranteed an uninterrupted view of four of the “Big Five” along with many more magnificent creatures that roam the 7,580 square miles of savanna.

Continue reading The Stories of Kruger