The Honey Badger Does Its Maiden Long Haul To Zimbabwe
I am not a procrastinator by nature, what I can’t do is multitask. This blog has been coming along for a while now, unfortunately Murphy had a hand in the delay. What I must confess is that the last couple of months, since my last blog have been hectic. I hope to catch up and share all the latest news, high and low. So without delay I wish you all a very Prosperous, adventure filled year. Let's keep the pedal to the metal and the miles of tarmac rolling under our tyres. Sounds ridiculous but we hope to give it our best shot.
At last we managed to get our snag list completed. We ticked all the boxes. New tyres, grand they are. New custom made rims. A winch, godsend. Sat phone from Judy at Zippisat, excellent service and a good deal too. Sat phone delivered by courier with a couple of free minutes to test. Hand held walky-talkies, charged and ready to go. We do not do well with walky-talkies and found them to be more of a hassle than pleasure. We never found the good middle distance so hardly ever actually had our friends “come in”! Frustrating. With little space to spare they were an inconvenience. We had a roof rack fitted which worked like a charm.
Stocked with provisions for a month. If the shelves at Woolies were bare you know where to look. I downloaded a couple of favourite recipes and prepped a few staples for the lean days when we ran out of fresh produce. We pickled onions, made Labneh (Greek yoghurt cheese), made Biltong, roasted Rosa tomatoes and preserved them in Olive oil, made tomato sauce, Grilled and preserved Aubergine, mushrooms and courgettes. Pre-cooked a few staples like onion, garlic, mushrooms for casseroles. Measured spices for curries, casseroles and stored them in small containers. Stocked up on Stone ground flours for bread, scones and pancakes. Pre-cooked Confit of Duck l'orange and had all fresh meat perfectly portioned and vacuum packed and froze them in order of use.
Packing for a six week trip is no mean feat, taking into consideration that we’d be out of range for at least a month. No shops, no markets, no Woolworths, no Van Blommenstein’s butchery. Not only did I have to see to a wardrobe, comfortable, easy to maintain and interchangeable I had to see to my personal grooming too. The week before our departure was a circus. This was the perfect time to perfect The List. Visits to the pedicurist, hairdresser, doctor, dentist and dairy to find litres of cream for my hand churned butter.
We had all our bases covered. Packing was relatively easy, it’s summer north of Johannesburg and I had been to Mozambique in May. I could halve the T shirts and shorts and only take one bather and wrap. My entire wardrobe had to fit into three small zipper bags to be stowed in a small overhead locker and a tiny 8 hanger wardrobe.
Fortunately we had friends accompanying us for the first fortnight of our trip so Marie and I shared supper duties. A time table was set up with my turns penciled in. All I had to see to were our breakfasts, lunches and the appointed suppers. Menus had to be easy with only a few ingredients, there was no space for left-overs unless they were for our lunches the next day. Rusks with our coffee in the morning were a treat, I had one and Butch had two, 3x30=90 rusks were packed. Slap on the wrist should one of us step over the mark.
With a tiny kitchen and 3 hatches for groceries I had to do some painstaking convenience packing. Five drawers in various sizes for kitchen utensils, linens, pots and pans, crockery and appliances. There’s no space for extravagance its shape up or ship out the door. I did manage to squeeze in a few of our comforts e.g. coffee grinders, BIBO, water spritzer, yoghurt maker, electric beater and Consol Jar for bean sprouts. A girl has to have fun in her kitchen too.
The luxury of motorhome living is definitely sleeping in one’s own bed. The smell of my own linens, my favourite down pillow, my lovely duvet and snuggly throw make up for all the discomforts I might encounter along the way. A friend even managed to make up a beautiful throw using all my extra knitted squares. My heavy, Indian cotton throw brightened our space up, kept us cool at night and didn't need ironing.
On this trip the highlight has certainly been our showers. Every evening we were able to luxuriate in a hot outdoor shower. Lit up by the Milky Way we wallowed like hippos. With warm skins and fresh feet we slipped under our covers only to be eaten alive by the midges! We tried everything. Open windows no lights, closed windows with outside lights, lamps, citronella candles, Doom, Peaceful sleep, battened down hatches, closed windows, no lights but the buggers still got me. I am sure the bumps and bites on my arms, legs, face, feet and even on my palms would read like Braille. Fortunately we encountered no zing of Mosquitoes but the Tsetse flies made up for that. They had a habit of sneaking up on us, weightlessly settling on a spot and then, bang, a painful, burning sting. Relentless they are too and hard to kill. I became quite adept at swinging my flip-flops at them and giving them a really hard smack. Sometimes I succeeded. They were so sneaky and could almost outrun us on the rutted roads.
Butch of course was tasked with getting us to Mana Pools safely and in one piece. Before setting off he saw to the smallest detail concerning the truck, our camping gear, his toolbox in the case of a breakdown and all the paperwork. Anyone who’s done a border crossing knows that unless one is 101% prepared for any eventuality a bored official in the pursuit of mischief could be ones undoing. We had all our I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Just before setting off Butch heard of a FREE service Zimbabwe Tourism Association is offering whereby an agent, trained to make a tourist’s journey as pain free as possible can be hired to help at Beit Bridge. We did just that and I was pleasantly surprised and we made our way through customs quickly and effortlessly. It was crystal clear that protocol has changed and visitors are more than welcome in Zimbabwe. Police at road blocks had got the same message and we found ourselves waved through without one stop.
Since our last visit the official currency is the Zimbabwe Bond. Initially traded at an equivalent to the US Dollar. At first there was a resistance to the new currency as it has no value outside the borders. All reports indicated that we could purchase Zim Bonds at 30% less than the current US Dollar exchange rate which sounded attractive as Zim bonds are the accepted payment everywhere. I would recommend doing so once in Zimbabwe. But, do not take any home they will have no value and probably impossible to trade. So limit your purse. We are selective when paying with US Dollars preferring to honour our debt with Zimbabweans personally so that they may reap the benefits of the exchange rate.
Since our visit the Zimbabwe Bond has crashed and is rumoured to be worthless. Only US Dollars are accepted. It feels quite surreal to be writing about a trip to Zimbabwe knowing there's a "Civil war" happening as I type with little contact with Zimbabweans. I hope matters can be resolved with as little loss of life as possible. Zimbabwe deserves to be free.
The Honey Badger lived up to all our expectations as we whizzed along from Beit Bridge to Mana Pools at a good clip.
I look forward to a very exciting year, we will be a Grandparents again. So it's off to see the new littlie, a baby shower, a delivery by the Stork and a wedding which means I'm busy with my contributions to the layette and delving into old boxes looking for photographs of my daughter who never does anything in small measure.
Bibo Water Bar: https://bibo.co.za/
Yuppie Chef for my kitchen utensils bought online: https://www.yuppiechef.com/
Symmetry Fynbos Cordials: http://geometricdrinks.co.za/
Duchess Non alcoholic Gin and Tonic https://theduchess.co.za/
AC Motor Homes: http://acmotorhomes.co.za/