Harare, Zimbabwe (Photo Diary)
On over ten occasions, when we were stopped by police on the way to Harare, our initial dread was unfounded; all they wanted to know was “So, how are you enjoying Zimbabwe, shaa?”. We were heading for the capital to pick up a sim card, some dollars (it’s cash only here, no credit cards and the Zimbabwean dollar has been replaced by the US) and to plan the next stage of our journey.
Mad Bob's advice on billboards on the way in to Harare. Incidentally, we were warned that if we see smart motorbikes with flashing lights, Mugabe's cavalcade is on the move and we must get off the road as far as we can go to make way or his body guards will open fire with RPMs which are like AK47s but with revolving barrels. The ambulance that follows up the rear is not for any other casualties except in the event that Mugabe himself is injured.
Arriving in the city in the late afternoon, we had assumed that we would easily find a safe place to set up camp but with so few tourists coming to Zimbabwe for so many years, every campsite mentioned in our guide books had closed long ago. Thankfully a guard at one of these disused plots of unkempt ground suggested that we try the Cleveland Dam. It is not signposted and has no facilities apart from a tap but what fabulous views and sunsets. As far as we can tell, this is the only place left to camp in Harare.
We managed to pick up some of the local "brain kicking" beer that the Great Zimbabwe guides had raved about called Scud (apparently as in scud missile as it sends you to the moon) or Chimbuku. It is made from the drought resistant crop, sorghum and they described it as like food and drink - so filling you don't need to eat. On the banks of the Cleveland Dam we gave it a whirl but decided that this foul smelling, sour gruel is definitely an acquired taste.
The following day, there was much excitement when I entered Harare’s almost inactive Information Centre. Someone actually ducked out to buy a pen. Lachlan waited with the car, expecting me to return laden with shiny brochures but I came back empty handed as there was only one of every faded, dog eared pamphlet I picked up and they all read “Do not remove”. The staff, however, were informative and explained that camping around Zimbabwe is now, for the most part, only possible within national parks… where dogs are not allowed. We were going to have to get creative. As I thanked them and said goodbye, all of their screens flicked back to Facebook.
How to clash on Harare's streets.
Surrounded by a swarm of begging street kids, we browsed this vibrant market and hoped we might find craftspeople to develop products with for Vagabond Van.
Along with these beans displayed in recycled cans there were mounds of dried fish and huge sacks of tobacco.
We bet this beauty sells a lot of fruit.
Harare jukebox featuring the all time greatest hits.
Market traders in the making.
Not what we were looking for. The hunt for Vagabond Van products continued.
Spied patterns through patterns.
Gloriously kitsch, but unfortunately most of the textiles were made in China.
That psychedelic artwork should include the word 'hustle'.
Shame it doesn't taste good.