We touched down in Bulawayo without any issues, well except for the usual Air Zim stomach lurching dip you inevitably get as you’re descending, and headed straight to Motsamai Lodge where Jim and Erin would be staying. My family stayed there when they were in Bulawayo in 2014 and loved it, so we figured it would be the perfect place for Jim and Erin to also put up for a few nights (check out the lodge here).
Given how early we had flown in, the Coulton’s room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we stored their bags in the office, quickly grabbed something to eat, and headed off to Bradfield shopping centre to grab some supplies before heading home (ekhaya) to see our family. We were all knackered after a late night, ridiculously early morning, and for some, a few too many bevvies the night before, so poor Jim and Erin struggled through meeting Baba (Dad) and staying awake. But they bravely soldiered through until we finally put them out of their exhaustion misery and took them back to Motsamai for a nap. We too then headed home for a nap ourselves!
That night we dined at KwaNobuhle (home of Nobuhle – Mama) or casa de Sibanda with a yummy home cooked dinner and Jim and Erin finally got to meet Mama (Mum) and umnawmi (our younger brother) Dalu.
The following day, after packing Mama, Baba and Dalu into the car with a mountain of supplies for Mapate (our rural home where Lindani’s paternal Grandmother’s memorial was to be held), and seeing them off, we headed back to Motsamai to pick up Jim and Erin who were waiting very patiently for us (I think they were starting to get into the groove of the waiting game in Zim ;)). At dinner the night before Baba had invited Jim and Erin to also come to Mapate, and happily they decided to come, so with a now shortened stay in Bulawayo for them, we made a plan to get around to still see the things they wanted to see before we headed to Mapate the next day. For our first stop we made a beeline to the Natural History Museum in town.
Lindani for one was a happy camper on entry to the museum, finally scoring a National Parks employee who recognised me as a ‘local’ given that I’m his wife, and therefore only charging me the local rate instead of the foreigner rate. It’s the small things 😉 After such excitement, we casually wandered around the museum for a while, checking out the animal exhibits as well as the hall of man, and hall of kings. But no trip to the museum would be complete without making Lindani nervous by (supposedly) getting too close to the live snake exhibit. Mission accomplished! Lucky for us though we all made it out unscathed and lived for the next adventure 😉
After the fun of the museum we had worked up an appetite so grabbed some oriental pies for lunch (delicioso by the way!), before hightailing it to Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage (approximately 30km southeast of Bulawayo). Unfortunately it was only once we got to the orphanage that we realised that they were closed on any Mondays that are also a public holiday, and it just so happened it was a public holiday and a Monday! So given that we would be heading back past Chipangali on our way to Mapate the next day we made the decision to return in the morning, and instead head back towards town to go onto the Khami Ruins (approximately 22km west of Bulawayo).
Lindani wasn’t so lucky this time, us foreigners paying $10 each and Lindani paying $4 to see the ruins (not exactly breaking the bank, but as he reminds me, it’s the principle of it ;)). Anyway, we all managed to stump up another HUGE $1 each to have one of the National Parks guys, Melusi (also a Sibanda), take us around as our guide.
Our National Parks Guide, Melusi.
I must admit, the ruins were very cool to see and it was amazing to think that there was a whole civilization living there at one time, felt like walking on hallowed ground. After checking out the ruins, we headed back to town, picked up some Pizza Inn pizzas (I CANNOT visit Zim without having Pizza Inn pizza :)), gobbled down dinner at home, and then dropped Jim and Erin at Motsamai before scooting home and crashing for the night.
The next day we were off to Mapate, so Lindani and I headed over to OK Mart in the industrial area to pick up some supplies, before swinging by Motsamai and scooping up Jim and Erin. After a stop at Ascot shopping centre for more supplies (we don’t travel light!) we packed up the car and finally headed off to Mapate. As planned, we stopped in at Chipangali on the way through, before proceeding on to Mapate. Obviously Chipangali is exactly what the name says, a wildlife orphanage (and you can check them out at the link included above). Sadly, the first time we went there (on my first trip over to Zim) they were meant to have Rhinos, but poachers had actually broken in and killed them, right there in the orphanage.
These foetus specimens were creepy but interesting!
After 2 hours on the road we finally hit Gwanda (the largest town near Mapate), where we stopped to check on the truck heading to Mapate with drinks for the memorial (making sure there was enough!), and the carcass that was being cut up to feed the masses. Lindani was even treated to a “ahhh my guy!” moment (complete with a hand shake) with a lovely security guard at the supermarket 😉 (for those who don’t understand the reference, Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, basically makes reference in one of his shows to those moments when a black man dates a white woman and other black men essentially congratulate him on his ‘achievement’. It sounds far fetched, and some people have quite the opposite reaction, but every now and then it does happen lol
Anyway, riding on a high of our celebrity treatment, we then happily pressed on to Mapate, enjoying the soothing vibrations of the corrugated dirt road as we watched the sun go down on our final stretch home.
Peace and love xo