Getting to heaven by driving through hell.
3/21/16 - 3/23/16 78 °F
After our day touring the urban circuit in Harare, we boarded an Air Zimbabwe flight Monday morning en route to Victoria Falls International Airport. The flight lasted an hour or so, followed by a two hour bus trip to the Ivory Lodge, located on the perimeter of Hwange National Wildlife Park.
We drove on Highway A8, the only way to get from the airport to our destination. I was mesmerized by the landscape beyond the bus windows -- sometimes dry and cracked from drought, then interspersed with an inexplicable, lush green. Rusty red hills formed at the bases of the trees -- termite mounds. The images that really captured my attention were the roadside communities that lined the highway. They were the picture of abject poverty: a thatched roof hut, a leaning shanty with a tin or tar paper roof, an outhouse, a clothesline aflutter with color. These communities were all roughly the same, perhaps with the addition of what could have been a cooking hut. Perimeters were marked with upright sticks, beyond which a small patch of maize or millet starved for hydration. No water, no electricity, no address.
Our journey took place at midday, and kids walked the highway from their primary school to their huts; some in neat white socks and uniforms, others in uniforms sans socks or shoes. The riverbeds we passed were dry as bones, evidence of this year's drought and the reason for the meager subsidence crops in those front "yards." Riding on this air conditioned, ostentatious bus made me feel awkward as I gazed on these meager homesteads.
We were greeted by our gracious host, Jamie, and a trio of kudu milling about at the back watering hole. There is a main lodge comprised of a dining room, sitting room, office/library and bar, all of which is open air. After our two hour (air conditioned) ride, we were dusty and grumpy, so the ice cold towels Jamie handed to each of us were refreshing and welcome. Then we were shown to our rooms, each of which were a hut on stilts with open air windows.
Another in a set of stark contrasts that define Zimbabwe.