Hello FAB folk! These diary entries were meant to be up over the weekend but what can I say? I have enjoyed my little Zimbabwe escapade so much so that I cannot help but cherish it through these diaries, so to make up for the delay today you get two diary entries – Day 5 and Day 6. Enjoy!
Day 5 of our trip around Zimbabwe kicked off with a 8am start – thank goodness for small mercies as we probably all needed some sleep following the festivities of the night before. Bidding our farewell to Musangano, we followed the trail south to Mutare – the border town a mere 8km away from the Mozambique border and Zimbabwe’s fourth largest city – and of course our tour leader Felicia’s hometown. After about one police check every 5 minutes in the course of an hour’s journey, we finally got to see Mutare from the vantage point of the hill which welcomes you to the city.
It was also here we stumbled upon the artwork created by sculptor Fanuel Gombarume and I just couldn’t help but turn my lens on to cheekier finds while the prim and proper gents opted to chat to the artist instead.
After an hour wandering around the markets and the bustling city centre of Mutare, we were back on the bus heading towards the Sakubva district where we were all invited to home-cooked lunch of sadza and beef stew at the home of Felicia’s brother and sister-in-law who were the most amazing hosts to a bunch of foreigners taking refuge from the heat and hunger pains.
Two hours and probably around about 300 frames of pictures amongst us of the friendly Sakubva locals who did not mind our cameras pointed at them one bit, we were back on the bus to speed off to our next destination: Masvingo. Having left the police checks every five minutes and the blazing midday sun behind us, the rest of the journey was a breeze and it was not long before we reached the Birchenough Bridge over the Save River. Located 62 km from Chipinge in theManicaland province of Zimbabwe linking Mutare and Masvingo, the bridge was funded and planned by the Beit Trust, a foundation chaired at the time by Sir Henry Birchenough and designed by Ralph Freeman who was also the structural designer on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Looking as far as the on to the Save plateau as we crossed the bridge on foot, as it was a Saturday, we got to see the villagers washing their laundry and bathing in the cool waters of Save.
Our next mini-break is by the The Zion Christian Church Mbungo Estates in – one of the largest churches in Africa – in Masvingo as we parked on the side of the road and enjoyed the dipping sunset. We zoomed past Masvingo town centre as the evening fell and with the power out, the streets were dark yet peaceful in the Zimbabwean twilight.
By the time we arrived at the Lodge at the Ancient City, our lodgings for the night, it was pitch black and we are perhaps too tired to have a look around yet still thoroughly impressed by the grandeur of the structure built around a granite outcrop in the same style as ancient city of Great Zimbabwe and the dining hall-cum-lounge reminiscent of a Medieval banqueting hall fit for kings and queens.
After yet another buffet of butternut soup and meat, rice, potatoes and vegetables, it was time to hit the internet. While Lodge at the Ancient City is one of the hotels that provide wireless internet, the chances of getting good speed and connectivity remain slim to nil, so after another two hours of most of us press and bloggers fighting to blog, upload images or Skype home, it was lights out and we made our way down the winding pathways to our luxurious lodges with high thathched ceilings, double beds and opulent décor. Hey, once you’ve dined like a queen, it is only fair you should sleep like one – considering the next day we will be visiting the sacred grounds of the ancient kings of Great Zimbabwe.