I’m going to visit Africa again! This time it’s for three months. Just travelling, only me and my bagpack.

The new blog for the new journey is here:

East Africa Blog.

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(Around) Jan 25 – Feb 05, 2010. When I left the bus at PE’s dodgy ‘central station’ I felt like coming home in some way. Most of the international students where gone, though, so only a small fraction of my friends were left.

First I went to Rolf, my former landlord, we had a drink, and I told him the whole story of my trip – the huge party in Cape Town, the red dunes in Namibia, the endless swamps and the even greater hospitality in Botswana. I told him about the priests in Bulawayo, the train ride to the Vic Falls, the friends I had made in Zambia, my return to Zimbabwe, the nights in the wild, about the lions and the elephants. While having another drink I continued with the family I met there, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the underwater world.

I got the stuff I had left at Rolf’s two months earlier and moved in at a friend’s place. She lived nearby in a flat with a large garden, so there was a lot of space for braais and parties. After a few days of chilling out, trouble began. I had given my friend money to pay her landlord for my stay. But one day – I was home alone – he came back and it turned out that he knew nothing about the deal and had never seen a cent.

To make a long story short, the guy was huge, a serving officer in Afghanistan and he made it pretty clear that I had to leave within five minutes. So my money and my room were gone, I even left my beer jug from the German club, my tent, and some more stuff behind. But no problem at all – I found a new place to stay the same day with very very cool flatmates I had a nice time with.

And then I had to leave. To say good bye to Africa was hard. I knew I would come back one day and I was looking forward to continue my studies back home, new intellectual input, and seeing my friends again – but still. It’s always hard to leave. And it’s safe to say that the previous eight months had been by far the best of my life.

Up to now.

Mozambique is slow. Even slower than other Southern African countries.

14th of January 2010. My first impression was the lengthy procedure at the border post including an officer that tried to trick me. He wanted to make me pay way too much (or maybe, though not very likely, we just had a genuine misunderstanding). Nearby there were some dodgy-looking guys hanging around. I purchased a new sim card from them (my sixth) and changed some US dollars into Mozambican “metical”. The rest of the day I would try to get to a small town at the coast called Vilanculos where I wanted to do my first dives since Port Elizabeth. Thank god there was no direct bus connection – so I had to improvise, again.

another long ride

I got lucky – a banana trader gave me a ride to the next medium-sized town. Of course we talked about his job and he explained how his business works, what quality levels of bananas there are, and how they come about. I got off and took a minibus to Inchope, a town a bit further east. A fascinating detail of that trip was that there had been forest fires in that region so everything left of the road was burned and still giving off clouds of smoke. The roadway had apparently stopped the fire so it was a complete two-part environment: On the right side there was a rather thick forest with no sign of a fire at all.

Arrived in Inchope I was pointed at bus station half an hour away. Under a scorching sun I tried to find it asking around a lot as the “bus station” had no sign or anything. Finally I found some people sitting in the shadow of a wooden cottage waiting for the same bus. They told me it should arrive within the next hours. A girl around my age named Listance Makadi Mtukudzi was travelling to Vilanculos, as well, and we started to chat. She was from Zimbabwe (distantly related to the famous singer) but had left her home years ago to find a job and a future in Moz. She had lost both her parents to the disease that kills most parents in Africa. Her English was great and she knew her way around, so she was of great help. She recommended a good backpacker in Vilanculos and – because it already was late – she arranged that an employee of the place picked me up with a quad bike.

Bazaruto Archipelago about 30min away from the mainland.

Vilanculos is a tourist trap. Nevertheless as it was completely off-season I was alone in a ten-bed dorm. The same night I had dinner at the nice outdoor bar and watched a white guy playing pool with some locals. He invited me over, bought me a drink, we chatted, and played a couple of matches. He was an entrepreneur from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa on a business trip and he visibly enjoyed to party while being away from home. Later that night we went to a nearby bar with the locals. He didn’t want to get his wallet out all the time and therefore gave me a lot of money to buy everyone drinks. On the way home the South African was wasted what didn’t stop him from driving his bus through the deep sand that covers the roads near the ocean. A quite exciting trip. A lot happened during the following days. Listance showed me around, I spent a night at her place in the local ghetto. I even met other exchange students from my home university in Germany (tourist trap…).

under the indian ocean

And then I went diving. Unbelievable. The Bazaruto Archipelago was amazing, the diversity of life around it remarkable. The water was calm and much much warmer than in South Africa. The visibility was ten times as good. The environment under the sea alternated between superfine bright sand and the reef that was fully covered with beautiful corals in all colours of the rainbow. We encountered man-sized green turtles, lion and crocodile fish, star puffers, honeycomb stingrays, devil rays, and much much more – all at arm’s length. The moment you reach the bottom of the sea you suddenly become aware that the world we know is just a tiny bit of the richness of life our planet accommodates.

I did four dives in two days, each day with a short break on the archipelago – a scorching heap of sand sticking out of the water. There is almost no shade but an awesome 360° view on the Indian Ocean and sometimes fishermen with their boats that might sell their catch.

Fishing boats at the Bazaruto Archipelago near Vilanculos.

Fishing boats at the Bazaruto Archipelago near Vilanculos.

After a few days I left town and took a minibus to Tofo – another tourist trap but also famous as a fantastic diving spot. I did two dives there seeing several species of rays, including the giant manta ray. On the way back of my last dive we were watching dolphins accompanying us when our captain stopped the boat, distributed the snorkelling gears and told us to get off the boat. He had spotted whale sharks. Whale sharks are ginormous. They can get over 12 meters in size and can weigh more then 30 tonnes. It can be dangerous to swim in front of them because – although they feed mainly on plankton – they might accidentally swallow you. Swimming with them was mind-blowing.

the homeward journey

The following days were coined by boring travelling. I wanted to spend the last days in PE with my South African friends, so I wanted to get back quickly. I took a bus to Mozambique’s capital Maputo and spend the day there with some South African girls I had met back in Tofo. In the evening we took another bus to Johannesburg. We arrived very early in the morning, I said good bye and waited for the sun to rise. I bought a ticket to PE, locked all my stuff away and discovered Jburg with only a hundred Rand in my pocket. Disgusted with the city centre (what an ugly place) I visited some important buildings and the Constitution Hill with the Old Fort Prison complex and the constitutional court. Already the same day a took another bus all the way to PE where I spend the remaining ten or so days. Days that didn’t quite go as I expected…

My hospitable family in Harare.

My super friendly and hospitable family in Harare.

I stayed with my new friends and former “tent neighbors” at their house in Harare for two or three days. They had a huge house, a couple of cars, and an ultra-light airplane. They weren’t rich but they knew how to get stuff. Even a slow version of the internet!

Harare is not a very nice capital, though. As always, the poverty and the associated crime is worst in the big cities. I could hear gunshots at night and my family told me stories about a friend that had been shot for taking the wrong turn. Some members of their family had lost their farms in the controversial land redistribution of 2000. There also were water problems (shortage, cholera epidemics etc.) but my friends had their own water supply. They knew pretty well how to manage and stay happy despite all that.

Great Zimbabwe's great (but mortarless) wall.

Great Zimbabwe's great (but mortarless) wall.

When I left, the father brought me to the bus station and I headed for Great Zimbabwe – a ruined city and former capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe (about 800 years ago).

I had my own guide there (I was the only visitor) and while wandering through the old city we had time to talk. Not only about the ruins, the king’s mountain and the old traditions – but also about my guide’s life, his past, and his plans for the future.

I stayed there for one night only. I drove to Mutare the next morning where I wanted to get my visa for Mozambique. I arrived at sunset and had to really rush to a hotel. There was no time to find a camping place or to choose the best accommodation. I wanted to get off the street in this unknown city before it got dark completely.

The next day, the people at the embassy were as slow as expected and it took them two days to put their seal into my passport. When it was almost done, suddenly the only person who could hand the passport back to me was gone. They probably expected me to offer a bribe. But I do not bribe. So I used my old strategy and – closely monitored by armed guards (the good old AK 47 again…) – took a nap in front of the office. Two hours later I had all I wanted. On the way back to the city centre chance brought it about that a guy stopped me asking whether I wanted to go to the boarder. I affirmed and he offered me a seat in a truck heading for Mozambique. The price was very good. It was a weird situation and an odd coincidence so I didn’t know how to evaluate the situation. Was it a scam? I took the chance, though – and soon reached the very different Portuguese part of Southern Africa…

The king's hill as seen from the Great Enclosure.

The king's hill as seen from the Great Enclosure.

The Great Enclosure as seen from the king's hill.

The Great Enclosure as seen from the king's hill.

from zam to zim

The border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is dominated by the view onto the huge artificial lake providing electricity for both countries – North and South Rhodesia as they used to be called.

Hippo teeth I had found near Lake Kariba.

Hippo teeth I had found near Lake Kariba.


Before crossing it to leave Zambia I wanted to declare the hippo teeth I had found at Lake Kariba, so I went to the Zambian Wildlife Authority. Although I had pictures to prove that the animal already had been death I was not allowed to keep the teeth. Accordingly – after a good talk and a cold drink (nice people there) – I sadly left behind my booty and went on. Of course not before spending an hour to change some money into US dollars…

After leaving the Zambian border post behind the way led me over a giant bridge, similar to (but way bigger than) the one at the Vic Falls border where I had left Zim after my first visit. It was a looong walk on an incredibly hot day – and everyone was slow, sleepy, and soaked with sweat.

After getting the visa on the other side I had no real idea where to go. I knew I wanted to go to the Mana Pools National Park – I just did not know how. Standing there contemplating, a small minibus with only a few passengers caught my attention. They turned out to be a salesman plus family and employees returning from a business trip. Zimbabwe’s economic situation is still pretty bad and so it is always profitable to import supplies from the surrounding countries. Their boss was doing paperwork so I had to wait for his return. I had a good chat with his workers and was impressed by the way they talked of him. Their words were full of respect and trust. They told me that he was a good man and that he would certainly allow me to accompany them – what he did, indeed. The entry to Mana Pools was on their way – lucky me, once again!

an odyssey in a nutshell

We drove on a small road through the vast Zimbabwean wilderness, enjoying a view that changes entirely along with the seasons. The long summer rains turn a dry and dusty veld where large herds of thirsty animals can be seen from far far away into a vibrant, thick and green forest.

Finally we reached a little trail leading to the National Park. A group of people were sitting in the grass waiting for a ride as well. They were employees and inhabitants of the park – but due to president Mugabe’s corruption and mismanagement there is no money to provide them with vehicles or even fuel. I thought I could just go along with them but they told me I needed a permit to enter the area. The office to get the permit, however, was kilometres away for some reason (?), and my ride had already left me behind. Here is the (very) short version of the following 24 hours:

Finally into the park.

Finally into the park.

Walking to a nearby Tsetse fly gate – waiting there for a ride while watching the guards playing with huge knifes and showing me the ‘prey’ of the day (which of course were flies) – hitching a ride on the oldest truck I have ever seen – getting off at the national park’s office – getting the permit – hitching another ride together with one of rangers to a petrol station to get cans of food for the next days – hitching back (not that easy, it was already getting dark) – having dinner with the ranger’s family – sleeping at the office, guarded by a guy my age armed with an old AK-47 in the case lions show up – hitching a ride into the park on a pick-up truck the next day… puuh!

expulsion from paradise

Finally I was there. I had read so much about this place – its unspoiled state, its beauty and remoteness. All that was true and way better than I had imagined. No fences, streets, road signs or rules. Only a handful of people and certainly no other backpackers.
I went to the park’s chief officer to register – instead he destroyed my hopes and plans immediately. He told me he did not want me there, that I would not be allowed inside the park because I did not have my own vehicle. He did not believe me when I told him I had no money for an own car and he made his point very clear. I boiled with rage and disappointment. I had come so far and now it should be over? I went to the people that had brought me in and they agreed to fetch me on their way out. I wanted to see at least a bit of the surroundings a took a walk. There were monkeys all over the place, hippos wallowing in the Great Zambezi river and large old elephants picking the best leaves from even larger and older trees. Finally I lay down in front of the office and took a nap. Hours later when I woke up there was a woman standing in front of me. She had a severe look on her face – but then she asked how long I wanted to stay. They had decided to grant me access to their kingdom…

garden of eden

Typical morning toilet at Mana Pools...

Typical morning toilet at Mana Pools...

The park was unbelievable. A world heritage site of about 2,500 square kilometres, full of life and safe from unauthorized hunters. I pitched my tent right in front of the river and about 5 minutes away from a little settlement that accommodated the park’s workers and their families. I was instructed to build a fire every night and to let it burn until dawn to keep the predators away. The animals responsible for most deaths, however, are hippos which can be highly aggressive when you get in their way. The river was full of them.

Like I said, the park was almost empty of people. At the office I had seen some fishermen on their way out and there was one family that had pitched their tents within sight. I have to admit I was happy about it. After all, I had slept guarded by an armed ranger the night before and it did not become clear to me why out of a sudden sleeping alone outside should be safe. The family (father, mother, two boys, a bit younger than me) turned out to be from the capital Harare and thereby counting among the white minority of Zimbabwe. I learned a lot about Zimbabwe’s history and politics and it stroke me that, after having suffered so much under the rule of an openly anti-white leader and an ongoing everyday harassment, the family had managed to avert becoming racist themselves. The father and the older son spoke Shona and acted skeptically but respectfully towards the blacks inside the park. The family started to invite me over for breakfast and dinner after realising my miserable food situation. They had two four-wheel drives and two boats and took me with them on several occasions.

A chameleon crossing my way.

A chameleon crossing my way.

They showed me how packed the park was in terms of wildlife. Hundreds of impahlas were grazing together with herds of buffaloes, zebras, and waterbucks. At night the lions and hyaenas awoke and I could hear them roaming around the tent. Taking a leak always was a thrilling enterprise.

face to face with lions

With the help of my neighbours I was able to extend my stay a bit longer and I had to find a way to wash my clothes. I went to the little settlement nearby to trade in some soap and a bucket. I talked to a couple of people, played with their children which were curious about that white guy, and made friends with one of the ranger’s oldest son. He invited me for dinner and offered to show me around on a walk through the park. Of course I accepted and we spent an hour hiking to the pools that gave the park its name. The variety of animal life was astonishing. Suddenly my ‘guide’ grabbed my arm and told me to be quiet. He pointed to something in front of us that I would have never seen without him. I would have walked straight into an entire pride of lions. One male and nine or ten females were lying in the shadow of a large tree only about 50 metres away from our position. I was stunned. Of course they quickly noticed our presence and we stayed there a couple of minutes watching them watching us.
We decided to change directions to avoid a second encounter with the predators which led us to another discovery. The smell of decay was noticeable half a kilometre away. Something big had died.

The elephant had died of Anthrax only a few hours ago.

The elephant died of Anthrax only a few hours ago.


We were curious and followed the smell through the dense undergrowth. As we came closer we found an elephant that had died of anthrax only a few hours earlier. Lying directly in front of me the real size of those animals became clear to me the first time. We had to hurry because nearby animals would pick up the smell as well and would not hesitate to fight for a proper meal. My fellow went to the elephant’s back and pulled out the bristles of his tale. Despite being illegal those are used for manufacturing bracelets and he later showed me how to do it only using water and a razor blade. I took a couple of them back home as a memento of these unexpected events. We visited the four pools watching hippos and crocodiles seeking shelter in the cool water and then went back – exhausted and hungry for some Sadza (as they call Pap in the Shona language).

My guides and buddies living inside Mana Pools.

My guides and buddies living inside Mana Pools.

I cannot write down all I experienced during my stay in the park but when I drove to the capital Harare with my camping neighbours I looked back to something I will never forget.

I just delivered a speech at my varsity’s international day. It was addressed to those students having their semester abroad upcoming. I promised to upload the slides here.

Presentation – International Day (pdf, 2 MB, german)

If you attended the presentation and if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to facebook me or write an email!

from zim to zam

In the early morning of December 31 – still on the Zimbabwean side – I went to the Victoria Falls the first time. It turned out it wasn’t early enough so I was surrounded by crowds of Asian people with cameras (the perfect cliché). It still was pretty impressive but I found it hard to get in the right mood with so many others around the place. So I didn’t stay long, went back to my tent, packed together, and set out for Zambia.

The border checkpoint was about half an hour away so I could walk there. I wanted to stay near the border for another day to visit the falls from the other side as well – this time alone. I knew that people would get totally drunk that night (as it can often be observed on New Year’s) so I decided to go to bed soon and visit the falls as early in the morning as possible. After partying all night no one would be able to disturb the falls before sunrise.

a new year gift

The Victoria Falls on the Zambian side.

The plan worked out and a few hours later – thanks to some social engineering and an unlocked gate – I saw the sun rising over the Victoria Falls as the first visitor in 2010. It was astonishing standing alone on the brink getting soaked by the surf. Although the falls are more than a hundred metres deep the water being vapourised from the impact on the bottom is coming all the way back up and you can see drops of water floating right in front of you, standing still for half a second until they fall down again to merge with the river. There are quick showers of rain that are restricted to the falls’ vicinity and for most time of the day you’re able to see a rainbow.

By the way, the second person at the falls this morning (who sneaked in as well) was another German guy, awesome photographer and Africa correspondent of the swiss newspaper ‘Neue Züricher Zeitung’. We had a great talk about Africa, its politics and future and about his trips through this and other continents. You can see his impressive photos here.

on the road again

Still on the same day I packed my things, bought some bread and a couple of chakalaka tins, and started for a national park in the south which seemed to be so difficult to reach that I didn’t expect many people there. Its hard to get around in Zambia without a car, it’s a vast country and the infrastructure is – although in good shape – restricted to the ‘higher populated’ areas. As I didn’t want to loose time I took a regular bus and dropped off after a long trip in the middle of nowhere just before dusk. I had to walk another five kilometers away from the street to finally get to a campsite. I didn’t want to pitch my tent in the wild as I did not have the chance to ask the advice of someone familiar with the wildlife in this area.

Well to make it short, my thoughts on visiting the remote national park totally got screwed. Everyone told me that it was almost impossible to reach without a car and that I should abandon my plan. So I drove all the way up the Zambia’s boring capital Lusaka, bought some malaria prophylaxis there (finally!), and went to the taxi rank to catch a ride to Lake Kariba – the world’s largest artificial lake and reservoir in Zambia’s south. It took only minutes to find the right mini bus – but it took them forever to gather 12 people to actually leave. After about three hours of waiting the ‘manager’ (the guy who’s yelling the final destination all the time and is gathering the money) and I went for a couple of beers at a drinking hole nearby. I assume it was one of those opportunities you shouldn’t miss.

Bottle store at Lake Kariba.

booty at lake kariba

Finally arriving at the lake I realised that it was a pretty high class hotel town and that it would be difficult to get around on the cheap. The summer was almost at its peak and it was unbearably hot. I wanted to do a trip with a boat on the lake so I walked to the part of town where the locals live and tried to find someone who had a boat I could use for an hour. Finally I went to a little bottle store and asked there. The owner Musa (the guy on the photo with the white shirt) thought about it, closed the store (how cool is that?) and brought me to a point at the lake where we two boys were using a small rowing boat as a ferry service for the locals.

A joyride on Lake Kariba.

Finally, I ended up spending the day with those guys on the lake. We chatted a lot, had some drinks, they showed me their way of fishing, and we even found a dead hippo on a tiny island nearby (I took its teeth but I had to give them away again at the border station). Before I left to Zimabwe again, Musa showed me the great reservoir dam and even drove me all the way to the border. He is one of the guys who really made my trip as fantastic as it was. After only a few days in Zambia I was already on my way to Zimbabwe again – a country that turned out to become maybe the most memorable one of the whole journey.

Article in the 'Stuttgarter Zeitung'


My story made it in the local German newspaper “Stuttgarter Zeitung”!

The headline is “Through Africa with a tin opener and a toothbrush”. My notion that Southern Africa is not the way Europeans think of it (friendly, welcoming, safer than often propagated) – made it into the paper.

I think the reporter really got the point.

Here’s the online version.

Here is the offline version (pdf) – with kind permission of the publisher Nord-Rundschau.

all the bad stories…

Thinking about entering Zimbabwe was the first time I didn’t feel quite confident during my trip. I wanted to stay there for only two days to get to Zambia and return later on the way south if it was safe – but still: Zimbabwe is ranking second in the Failed States Index (after Somalia) and I had heard a lot of terrible stories about cholera-contaminated water, empty stores, high crime rates, brutal police and military forces acting on their own authority and about Zimbabwe’s worst criminal and president, Robert Mugabe. This guy commited countless crimes against humanity and is directly responsible for thousands of deaths. So I decided to take reasonable precautions and to gather some information about the status quo behind the border before departing.

St. Marys Cathedral in Bulawayo

It turned out that my friend in Francistown had a cousin who was a priest in Bulawayo – a small town near the border which was supposed to be my first stop anyway. We called him and he offered to organise a room for me in the administrative building next to their cathedral. I agreed and got on the road.

I took an overloaded mini-bus to get to the boarder where I bought my visa and hitched a ride further east to Bulawayo. I got off near the cathedral, took a look around, and found a filthy but somehow functioning neighbourhood. A lot of people were sitting around, sleeping or selling completely useless stuff on the pavement. I was not sure how to judge this place’s safety – especially being an obvious tourist and having all my valuables on me – and met up with my friend’s cousin, father Pius, soon. I accompanied him for some work at the local township and joined him and the other priests for a huge dinner later. So my first day in horrible, feared, and avoided Zimbabwe ended with ice-cold beers and a good talk with a dozen of priests and their archbishop. Not that bad, is it?

a familiar face

The next day I met up with Abulele, a Xhosa friend of mine from Port Elizabeth. She was paying someone a visit nearby and we took the chance to have a coffee and a walk through the suburb. We tried to find Malaria prophylaxis for my tour through Zambia and Mozambique but it turned out to be completely impossible. All they had were old little plastic bags with a drug that is known to have severe side effects (something like “horrible, slow, and painful death”)…

Train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls.

Therefore I decided to try it without and to consult a doctor as soon as any symptoms would develop. I said good bye to Abu, had another meal with my priests and took the train up north to Mosi-oa-Tunya. What the world calls ‘Victoria Falls’ is a gigantic waterfall and Zimbabwe’s best-known tourist destination (the latter scared me but I didn’t want to miss it anyway). The Victoria Falls are only about 400 km away from Bulawayo but the train needed more than 15 hours for it!! It was a very old diesel-powered train with antique interior made of wood and brass. Not only that the train drove really really slowly – it also stopped every now and then to drop off people in the middle of nowhere. There were hours without even a single thatched hut in sight. I liked this old-fashioned mode of transport but still was glad when we finally arrived.

trapped

My fears about Victoria Falls being a tourist nightmare were totally realised the moment I got off the train. This town is one single artificial tourist trap. It has its own little airport so that you can fly in without seeing anything of the actual county. It is stuffed with nerve-rackingly persistent merchants, souvenir shops on every corner, high prices and those alternative, individual crowds of backpackers everywhere. I decided to pitch my tent away from the town centre, pay the falls a quick visit the same day and leave to Zambia the next morning.

an aspiring country

The Republic of Botswana with its rather small population of about 2 million is a country on the up educationally, economically (diamonds & tourism) and in terms of medical health – except for a huge problem with HIV/AIDS. Because of the latter, life expectancy dropped by almost 30 years from about 70 in the mid-90s to about 40 only a decade later. Nevertheless the country is full of happiness, hope, and trust in a better future.

lions usually hunt at night

With a mekoro through the Okavango Delta.

I started the tour through the country by travelling to Maun via the small town Ghanzi in the Kalahari Desert near the Namibian boarder. It wasn’t easy to get there as the small bus I was travelling with dropped me 50 km before the actual town at a junction from where I had to hitch-hike the rest of the way. The driver’s comment was that I should be pretty safe as the lions usually hunt at night only. The good thing was that the family who finally picked me up actually was on its way to Maun as well – which of course made things much easier.

Maun is one of Botswana’s bigger cities with a population of about 45,000. It is located at the world’s largest inland-delta where 18.5 trillion litres of water spread across the land and convert it into a green and fertile area.

My family in Francistown.

I didn’t find a way to stay away from other tourists here, but I enjoyed my time anyway. Doing a two-day trip with a mekoro (which is something like a punt) and spending a night on an island within the delta was definitely one of the highlights during my stay. After a few days I decided to move further as I wanted to spend Christmas at Kagiso’s place (a fellow student) in Botswana’s second capital Francistown.

Traditional wedding in Botswana.

Francistown really was the end of being a tourist (or a “backpacker” – people with backpacks hate those “tourists” with suitcases) and the beginning of a more African way of life. My friend’s family was so overwhelmingly friendly that I felt like being part of it within a few minutes. They live at the edge of the ghetto in a corrugated-iron house without electricity but with as much hospitality as you would never find (or I have never found) in Europe. It was an opportunity to learn a lot about the local customs, the way there party, the way they cook, live and love .

Zimbabweans packing up for the trip home.

I stayed there over Christmas. Christmas at 38 degrees without a tree but with a big part of the family coming together to celebrate – and loud electronic music coming from next door. I ruined the meat, something I will never forgive myself.

A few days later we went to a traditional Kalanga wedding. It involved a long ceremony with several hours of waiting to be allowed to come in. A goat was slaughtered, we had crushed meat and I was introduced to the family’s daughter.

So much happened during my time there. I tried to slaughter a chicken with a blunt kitchen knife. The knife broke so I left the killing to Kagiso that knew better how to do it. At Francistown’s central district I saw one of the buses leaving for Zimbabwe. As the supply situation is rather bad there many people buy their stuff in Botswana to bring it over the boarder. You can see the result on the picture.

Although I really enjoyed my stay and really was impressed by Botswana I had to say good bye again and set off to meet my friend’s cousin – a priest at the town of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

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