Apologies for the hiatus, FAB people, but slow to no internet during our 12-day road trip round the nooks and crannies of the world of wonders that is Zimbabwe has meant a delay in bringing you my day-to-day diary of my travels. Now back in the UK and reunited with my high speed internet, here comes the rest of my Zim diary.
Day 3 in Zim and so far so fab. We left Harare behind at 7.30 to start the four hour road trip to the Inn on Rupurara in Nyanga where we’d be staying overnight. On roads that stretched as far as the eye can see under the clear Zimbabwean skies, the journey proved smooth and fun as we drove past Mabvuku, Ruva and Macheke towards the Eastern Highlands
Rumour has it that a British couple on the brink of divorce went on holiday in Zimbabwe and it was at the Eastern Highlands they fell back in love with each other.
Halfway through our journey, we stopped over at the aptly named Halfway House – a quaint little white-washed house with a thatched roof which housed a grocery shop, antiques and souvenirs shops, a pub and an eatery around a lush courtyard to the back. I had the chance to look around the Curio shop – a treasure trove of curious little finds from print fabrics to vintage suitcases (I seriously considered investing in one had it not been for the shuttling around in Zimbabwe and the return flight back to London).
The criminally inclined amongst us – no names mentioned (*cough* David, Henry, Mark *cough*) – couldn’t resist the temptation to lounge on the nearby rail tracks and pose for pictures. I guess at this point, I should tell you a little about my partners in crime – David Mbiyu of Sixoone Media, proud Kenyan based in the UK and our designated photographer number 1 who often gets lumbered with the task of getting the touristy shots of others (More about our designated photographer number 2 Pascale later), Henry Makiwa, proud Zimbabwean based in the UK, a great journalist and press officer all rolled into one and a freelance FAB contributor and of course our resident Mr. DJ, and Mark D’Entremont from Philadelphia, former teacher, chef and travel and food connoisseur and a lovely gentleman with such zest for life that if it were not for the years between us and the fact that my mum never mentioned a sibling, I would have thought he was my long-lost brother.
Our second and last stop on the way to Rupurara was the buzzing commercial town of Rusape where we had the chance to walk down the streets and converse with the friendly locals who couldn’t resist a photo op with us – no model releases required! What was surprising about this quaint little town was while it took us a while to find a bank in Harare, here in there were three opposite each other on the main junction, as well as numerous supermarkets, local shops and a vegetable market. With droves of people walking down the streets and strolling in and out (‘cos people do not ‘dash’ in Zimbabwe – they stroll, swagger, saunter, but never dash!), Rusape looked a postcard picture commercial centre.
I walked into a bookshop to find a book on Shona names and found out that the name Tinashe means ‘We are with God” – what a fab name with a powerful meaning, right? Who says you can’t get a bit cultured on a road trip?
Inn on Rupurara finally appeared atop a pine-clad mountain offering spectacular views of the rolling mountains ahead. The lodges, built in Cape Country style with extensive use of local stone and wood and almost hidden on the hillside, provide the perfect retreat for couples who want to enjoy a romantic getaway cooped up in the mountains with nothing but serene surroundings (In our case though, I was coupled up and not so loved up with the Lithuanian tour operator Ieva Barkauskaite).
Once settled in our rooms with our roommates, we made our way to the main building to have lunch on the terrace overlooking the valley to Rupurara Mountain. While my pasta was much welcome, as travel agent Pietro from Rome who barely spoke a word of English would agree, it most certainly was not al dente (and with this, al dente became our little inside joke at any meal serving pasta).
After lunch, while most opted for a game drive safely tucked in the confines of a 4×4, the brave-hearted (cough!) amongst us, namely Henry, Mietani Khumalo of Zimbabwean Embassy in London (47 going on 17, a crazy-sexy-cool lady who was just Tani to us) and yours truly. While much of the game viewing required some subtitles for those of us not conversant in Shona (Ummmm that would be me), it was exhilarating to get on top a horse, ride for a good two hours and not fall off and break any crucial body parts. A few giraffe sightings along the track and fresh mountain air were a bonus as well!
Dinner was a quiet affair in the main building – a cosy lounge where we tucked into cheese and onion roulade and butternut soup for starters and enjoyed a delectable steak served with rice potatoes and vegetables for the main course. The rest of the evening was spent fighting with a low speed internet connection and it was only at 2am when asked if they could lock up the main building I realised I had not established much more than editing a few images, sampling a little bit of BKay and Kazz and Skyping home my Day 2 diary. Little did I know that this was still the good times when it came to the simple bear necessities of life like high speed internet connection, as who knew what the rest of our Zimbabwe tour would bring?