Well – on the road again. After a short stop in Hong Kong, a restful stay at Johannesburg Country Club and an absolutely awesome weekend of “Year of 78” reunion we are in Zimbabwe. Johannesburg was restful and fun. Small incident that made us laugh was a trip to the hairdresser for Willy. He eschewed the pavement haircut and went to a place in Parkview. After discussions about how short (it was already pretty short) the lady took her buzzer and cut two stripes up the side of Wlly’s head. Then disappeared for a time. He had a long list of chores that day so was impatient but couldn’t walk out with two stripes down one side of his head. She duly came back and apologised for the wait. Haircut done. Willy hates bits of hair down his neck – so eyeing the hairdryer asked if she could just blow the bits off his neck . She leant down and blew with her mouth spitting all over his neck. She apologised and wiped it off with her hand leaving Willy with her smeared spit down his neck. Willy not happy.
The border crossing at Beit Bridge held it’s usual quota of shenanigans. Queue’s forever in the hot sun. Fortunately a lovely police man (never thought I’d see the day I referred to an SA policeman as lovely) escorted us to the correct place as we were floundering with where the next step happened , what it was, and how to get there. He convinced us we looked 60 and could therefore go straight to the counter. We weren’t that bold but did join the inside queue (as opposed to the 4-5 hour outside in the sun queue). The fixer we had pre-arranged to meet us on the Zimbabwe side didn’t materialise but we were helped by a man in a uniform with handcuffs and a revolver who miraculously took us to the front of every queue, round the back of buildings, to side sheds, papers were stamped , passports shuffled, more papers produced, they were stamped and we were done. At the back of the car a deal was done US $150 was reduced to US $55 and a mere two and half hours later we were free!
Beautiful Country Club gardens
We proceeded to Nottingham Citrus estate where we were meeting Robin and Lauren Nixon. Robins parents were close friends of my parents in the Bulawayo days and indeed from then on. Clare and Mum kept up a written correspondence to be envied. It’s a huge pleasure to reconnect with them when we come up this way.
Kuduland camp on The Limpopo
We stayed at Nottingham estate – a citrus farm of humungous proportions. 600 Tonnes of citrus processed daily. I absolutely salute the owner – one Keith Nott and his father and now sons who established it around 1956, disbanded it and pulled out the trees during sanctions and have rebuilt it since the 70’s. It is an amazing operation, employing over a thousand individuals, running two camps, along the Limpopo, and a packing and juicing shed that is a technological sight to behold.
It is completely solar powered. The solar panels are in a huge field and provide electricity for all workers, houses, and the packing shed. The deal is, if anyone damages them – they are to be brought to Keith, he will then deal with them appropriately and everyone will continue to get free electricity. However, should the perpetrator not be caught he will cancel the free electricity deal and the workers will again pay for power. So far (some years down the track – not one panel has been damaged or stolen)
Rock paintings by Bushmen travelling around the area from Botswana.
A particularly special part of our stay was the Fly Camp. This where, in a gorge, they dump the pulp and second grade oranges at the end of the day. The elephant and Eland and baboons come and feast. It truly is a sight to behold. At first there were just Eland and baboons. The eland feeding quietly and docilely and the baboons squabbling and fighting. At dusk the elephants arrive, running in their excitement chasing the Eland and baboons away and gorge themselves. Once they have been there awhile they calm down and the frenzy subsides allowing the baboons and eland to drift back onto the edges to feed. They are tolerated there by most of the elephants as long as the baboons don’t squabble. The teenage elephants however perpetually harassing the eland and baboons chasing them away in shows of fierceness.
Keith Nott spent a few hours with us up there with wonderful tales of elephants, hyenas, bushwars. I can’t imagine how many times in the difficult years in Zimbabwe he has wanted to give up, how problems may have seemed insurmountable and yet he has built such a successful business, providing employment and education for so many. A real achievement.
Jonny Roberts – if you read this – he is waiting for you to find those cultivars he was after!!!