Kariba – Harare – Eastern highlands
A bath was the highlight of Harare. Top to toe scrub showed me skin colour I had long forgotten. Harare a lovely, bustling busy first/second world town bathed in a purple haze of Jacaranda.
Gave me the impression of being very similar to Johannesburg but a whole lot safer. One interesting thing I noticed was the approach to potholes. Individuals in the street made an excellent job of laying bricks within the pothole. Worked a treat.
From there a short drive to Nyanga.
I had to ask myself why I do it. There was a perfectly good conference type hotel in Nyanga called the Troutbeck Inn. The watering hole and hotel of many years ago. However – I booked us into a hotel that is run from Rhodes’s old home. It seemed a more interesting option. He established a home here in the cool of the Eastern highland as an escape from the heat. On his death in 1902 it passed to the people of Zimbabwe in perpetuity.
The hotel is now a shambling old place with wonderful relics of days gone by scattered around it. Willy is certain we had Rhodes very own mattress!
Whilst indeed being very interesting its not the last word in luxury or comfort!
It is very run down in a particularly African way, set in the most beautiful garden overlooking the Rhodes dam. A troop of baboons rule the roost and periodically thunder across the corrugated iron roof. As we arrived they were clearly thrilled to have some tourists especially international ones. They proudly showed us the “luxury” room they had allocated us with a four-poster bed and some of the original old furniture in it. I was touched at how hard they tried to please us.
As we sat in the garden it appeared that there were a few party faithfuls about (ZANU-PF) which is Mugabe’s party. Two were sitting on their own in the dining room most of the afternoon with a bottle of red wine. Other security, and various hangers on were rushing too and fro with papers etc. We watched them with mild interest but no more.
Willy and I hopefully ambled the few paces down the veranda at about 6.00 with dinner on our mind. Sadly, dinner time only began at 7.00 so we had to have another bottle of wine and wait. The ZANU-PF man immediately started talking to us. After finding out who we were he launched into telling us about his meeting with Don McKinnon and Winston Peters at Mandela’s funeral. He then commented upon Jacinda’s following and her baby, then his opinion of Trudeau etc. Clearly apparent, he is a senior, and very well informed Politician. Then I asked what the incredibly well spoken woman with him did. She was conducting a land audit. When I enquired what that meant the gentleman explained how land had been taken away from the white farmers but some of the veterans had taken too much land or taken it unlawfully. They were entitled to 6 hectares each. Anyway. This lady is now travelling around the country onto every patch of land and assessing how much land each veteran is occupying and whether it is being farmed well. This is going to serve three purposes.
1. To correct the allocations
2. To make the farms more productive
3. To compensate the white farmers.
Apparently, Britain has a large fund designated for compensation and once the survey is complete they believe they will attract foreign investment and be able to eventually compensate white farmers. Suspect I was being fed a party line but it was interesting none the less.
She has to take police with her as she is not always very welcome on the farms.
Very interesting chat and once again showed – sometimes when you don’t take the obvious option you have a more interesting time.
What was also interesting was dinner. We both ordered the Kariba bream. It was delivered and remarkably was exactly the same as the hake Willy had had for lunch and just as inedible. As usual served with a flourish, with ordinary knives being replaced with fish knives Whilst the Portuguese Vino Verde made almost everything OK, the fish was completely inedible.
The next night Willy took charge and we went to Leopard Rock Hotel. Claim to fame being the hotel that hosted Princess Margaret and Elizabeth and Queen Mother when Margaret needed to be distracted from her unsuitable affairs. It is in the mould of Victoria Falls hotel and absolutely beautiful. Old furniture, old manners, just so gracious. We had a lovely night there, once again beautifully set tables and impeccable service. The scenery is stunning.
7km down the road is also the oddest coffee shop. A fellow called Tony who makes the most extravagant of cakes. And charges accordingly. But SO delicious.
Today we are heading toward Gorenzhou. Borders Kruger Park and the transfronteir park in Mozambique. Apparently home to some previously heavily poached Ellies that should have a BEWARE sign on their trunks. We will be very cautious of them.