Another week behind me and new country in front of me, After two weeks, it is finally time to get going and discover some new places. If I could I would (stay) but then, I would probably travel forever, so let's keep it not as Good-Bye but See-you-later Zimbabwe!
Zimbabwe was amazing already when I was here first time years ago and it was even better this time. With the resignation of Mugabe and new temporary currency, it looks like the better tomorrows are about to come. Everyone I talked to - be it a farmer, driver or a doctor - mentioned the politics or Mugabe in one way or another. There is hope and there is so much more to come. Although people still love Mugabe as the leader, vast majority agrees that his departure was long overdue. He did some pretty cool things for the country, starting with the independence, but everyone has its time.
Ngomakurira - sacred mountain and an amazing hike
The last week I spent in Harare and surroundings. I spent some time with guys from Simuka Africa - a local NGO full of skilled local professional volunteers working on ending child marriage and sharing their skills with youth, so they can find job easily. Zimbabwe has great infrastructure, relatively healthy population and amazing education (everyone can read and write and majority in two languages). The only (and major) obstacle to success is the high unemployment. Due to the super-high inflation (everyone was trilionnaire here) in 2008 and therefore unstable (later non-existent) currency and undemocratic system, most of the companies pulled out of Zimbabwe, the farmers mover away (their land was taken away) and so no new jobs were created. Quite the opposite, jobs ceased to exist. There were times, when Zimbabwe was probably the richest country in Africa (and well above the average of many - mainly Eastern European countries), it is not even that long time ago.
Students in their uniforms, waiting for their class to start
But now to some more positive vibes... The people of Zimbabwe are amazing, welcoming, hospitable and helpful. It is a country full of amazing places to see and things to do, that honestly you can spend year just ticking things of your list. I already mentioned Matopos and Great Zimbabwe, this time I skipped Victoria falls (but honestly, they too are stunning) but there is still much more.
I spent few days running around Harare, looking for postcards. To fund my journey I decided to send postcards to collectors for small fee, but let me tell you - to find cards in the city is a nightmare! I managed at the end, and sent well over 15 cards. Thanks to that I also found myself in the National Gallery, which, I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed. Seeing the photo exhibition from the day when Mugabe resigned was something. Young energetic people, old grannies that for once left their fruits stalls by the road and joined the celebrations and families with children - all together, all celebrating.
Apart from that, there are few cool parks, 3D cinema, cathedral and few churches and all the (sometimes boring) things that big cities have. The usual rush, busy lifestyles, many cars and sometimes a traffic jam. I instead decided to hang out with friends from Simuka, who took me to Norton to their project and during the weekend we went for lunch and a small game drive, to see some impalas and zebras. People here are considerate and go out of their way to make sure that all is good, when Adrian, local doctor who volunteers for Simuka, drove me home, he stopped just to get me some chinese take-away for dinner, so I don't have to cook in the evening. Thai vegetarian was amazing, but getting all the care was making me feel guilty at times :)
My couchsurfer, with whom I am staying, is an English teacher at local international school. He has a huge house with plenty of avocado and macadamia trees. Those of you who know me, you know that's paradise. All that was missing was to have some chocolate-bush in the garden as well.
One of the most amazing hikes in Zimbabwe was my Saturday hike to Ngomakurira mountain, where at the end of the hike you can find ancient cave paintings. The whole walk was something amazing, even though just when I reached the peak (and only then) it started to rain. And when I say rain I mean proper, heavy, downpour rain, when it rains cats and dogs and who knows what else. Having no raincoat, just a small jacket-like thingy I tried to hike in the nearby trees, which were not many. I did my best to protect all the electronics I had as I surely am not in a position to get new camera, phone and e-reader. Luckily it seemed my karma was good enough and by the time I reached the bottom of the hike I was all dry and ready for few more drops.I hitched back to 40 km distant Harare and after realizing I walked over 18 km that day, I ended the day with some nice meal and warm bed.
Weekend and the whole week was full of action, now lets see what Zambia has to often. I already know that shall everything go according to the plan (which I - for once - have), I will be visiting one of my Bookfeeding libraries, which I started 2 years ago near Lusaka. After that, who knows?