2015 - Member Doings Report - Zimbabwe
April 24 - May 6, 2015
by Anne & George Stoll
This was our third trip in as many years to this amazing country. In a short ten days we saw and learned so much, and although the long hours on an airplane seem to get harder with each trip, we came home invigorated and excited by what we discovered – so much so that I quickly became involved in an international effort to get the Zimbabweans some help with protection of their archaeological sites. This help is urgently needed – the country has been ravaged by the years of fighting and political upheaval. Though it’s calm there currently, their archaeological sites have been sadly neglected and some rock art sites have been damaged and vandalized. Trying to help with this has meant lots of email and assorted consultations – and while we still want to be supportive, I’m now trying to back away from writing proposals and the like in order to focus on what we saw and more upcoming travel. So before I forget how wonderful Zimbabwe was, let me share just a bit of it with you. We were accompanied by our two Shona friends and guides, brothers Willard and Farai Nyambiya (pictured with George below). We traveled east from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, into the countryside and for days never saw a white face. People everywhere were friendly and polite and many speak English which is taught in school from an early age. The U.S. dollar is the official currency in Zimbabwe, and our crisp greenbacks were much appreciated. In the countryside, food is quite cheap and fresh and as this was harvest season, people with extra to sell sat along the highway with heaping bowls and buckets of fruits and veggies for sale. We stayed in two decent motels with good plumbing for $60 a night each and were happy for the rooms, as we needed electricity to recharge camera batteries. The whole country lost power for a day while we were there. It apparently happens a lot. These people (below) are harvesting peanuts – pulling them off the green plant and letting them dry in the sun. The round house in the back is the kitchen (above) with interior walls plastered with dung, water in buckets and highly polished floor. The cooking hearth was in the floor just out of sight. People used to grow a lot of tobacco but the old brick drying barns are not much used now. We drank a lot of mahewu – hard to describe the taste but it’s delicious and very nutritious. It’s a thick liquid made from slightly fermented “mealie pap” (corn meal) and was often our lunch while on the road.