A Traveling Christmas

Avon excited to see the Ocean at 5:30am
Why is it that no matter how long your holiday is,….it just never feels like it was long enough. I mean I am right here back at work and I am thinking…gosh I meant to do this and that and gosh where has all the time gone…what was I doing???? Well I will tell you where all that time went

This Christmas was a Zimbabwe Christmas. It was the Christmas where Avon and Reagan get to meet all the relatives that never made it to our weddings and to see where Maita and I spent a majority of our time. I would like to tell you that we had been planning it for months…but you all know that isn’t how we work….

So the Wednesday night before our road trip we concluded that Mozambique would be our best option for road travel, with the beach and good seafood being the top of our list of reasons. We had heard terrible stories about the roads in Mozambique…but we also heard they had improved. As dad says…. “What the heck?” and as Maita would say “It would be an ADVENTURE!” I decided to take charge of the holiday agenda and budget and called and looked for places to stay…Yup only 3 nights before we were to arrive.

After many calls and inquiries we found a location to stay – The Blue Moon Lodge which was close to Inhambane, which according to my calculations was about half way between Swaziland and Mutare. The drive there was an adventure in itself …from crazy drivers in Maputo to unpredictable tar roads. I say unpredictable because you would drive and all of a sudden the tar would end and only be on the left side of the road…then on the right (under construction). If you were to drive at night you would have been driving into wet or untarred road because there was hardly any warning. On top of that the heavy trucks would drive like they owned the roads. To make my story telling easier I decided to break this blog into days.

Day 1 Swaziland – Inhambane (Moz):

This was probably the most adventurous day because none of us had any idea where we were going to stay …other than it was called The Blue Moon Lodge!. We arrived there when it was dark and we were all sooo hungry and somewhat irritated because we had really had a long day of driving. We had to park our cars 500m away from the lodge because that stretch required 4×4 cars. I really wish I had taken a picture of all of our faces when we were all packed in the back of this 4×4, driving in the dark and leaving our cars at some random house with no fence or gate or anything. My Gauteng crime fear really kicked in at that moment thinking, “We would never do this in Jozi.” All I could see out my dark window was sand and palm trees. I remember saying. “Lord please may this place be decent…..”

But when we got to the resort we were blown away by the romantic blue lit pool and a lovely dinner for 6 all set and ready. It was like an oasis in a dessert found by 6 wise men and women. After we enjoyed a nights swim and a delicious plate of fish and prawns under the stars we just stayed up laughing about how crazy the ride was in – “How about that ride in?!!!!” was our line of the night. Dad even admitted that when we were packed in the 4×4 he was thinking “What was my daughter thinking when she chose this place?!” Thank goodness the place was absolutely beautiful and the food delicious. It was also peaceful as we were the only guests there that night. I think it took that crazy ride in for us to really enjoy the spot.

Us trying to be seriouse

Avon’s God moment 🙂
Writing in the sand is so theraputic.
Avon walking back from the beach
Day 2: Inhambane to Vilanculos. Avon and I woke up with the light of the sun and decided to take a walk down on the beach. With no concept of time we got dressed and headed down, only to find out later that we had woken up at 5:00am lol. The walk was peaceful and breezy. After breakfast we took an easy drive to Vilanculos with no idea where we would be staying but after popping into 5 different resorts we were absolutely boggled at the price of most to the places and how fully booked it was. I am talking $180US per a person at some places. Just as we were about to give up hope we found a wonderful spot with air conditioned rooms, huge beds and a cosy lounge with DSTV. It was like a guest house and once again we owned the place. We had prawns and linefish (after my crab experience on our honeymoon…I was a bit weary about eating prawns). But GOSH it was so delicious. The joke of the night was: We asked our shy, reserved waiter if he could move all the tables because we wanted to dance after dinner.  We also requested that he switched the lights on and off while we danced. Lol. We were joking. But he actually went to ask the manager. They were cool with it. Lol. …No we didn’t dance.
Day 3 Vilanculos to Vumba (Zimbabwe)

Along our drive to Zimbabwe we met 3 French girls driving in the same direction. I must admit I thought they were pretty brave driving from Botswana –Jozi- Mozambique-Zim. My dad ended up being a heaven sent angel because they were running out of petrol and there was no petrol in the stations. Dad managed to put his negotiating skills and fluent Shona to the test and bought some petrol on the street, stored in huts. I was worried about the Mutare border because I had never been through it. But I was shocked to find that the whole process was quite a breeze. Other than the Canadian VISA which costs an arm and a leg and the unexpected French VISA, the whole experience was good. Lucky the French girls were with us because they didn’t know they had to pay for a visa for 2 days in Zimbabwe. It was a bit emotional for them coz they were going to drive back…but we reassured them that this was probably why you girls met us! Gods plan is always for the good.
Our destination that day was Genaina Vumba which is situated up in the mountains about 25 km from Mutare. My aunt Lorraine the little guest house there hidden in the trees up a meandering road. That night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner by the fire place with the company of the 3 French girls. It was funny to hear their different travel stories and how they deal with the Mozambique police – they end up acting like they don’t speak English whenever they are in trouble with the cops. Lol. Pretty good move I thought because half the time the Mozambique cops are nagging about something small like – “where is your triangle, or your reflector vest!” This is something that South Africans don’t normally carry around.

Day 4 Vumba to Watershed to Harare

Along the drive to Harare I would keep having moments where I would think “Wow Avon you are here with me…in my country!” We even got to visit our High school Watershed College and that even felt crazier we gave our Husbands the tour of our old stomping ground. It was funny seeing the school through their eyes. They were shocked and realised that they were spoilt at their boarding school. I mean they had tiles we had floor. They had painted walls and we had White Wash..which would come off on you if you rubbed yourself against the wall.

Watershed was a place which always seemed lively when we were there but now it seemed forgotten. Looking at the buildings and trees gave me a familiar and yet a not so familiar feeling. It was as if I was walking in the scene of a movie that I had watched the night before. A movie that was good and yet sad at the same time. A lady who was walking by with kids asked us if we used to come here. I jumped back to reality. “Yes!” She told us that next year is a huge reunion year for the school and that we should come.

When we arrived in Harare everything looked the same to me. The Masasa intersection was still busy with people where everywhere. The Harare Drive road was still the same. I really wondered what had changed much.

Day 5: Harare Tour

Checking out the view of Harare

This is the traveling Crew 🙂

Day 6: Kumusha

One of the main reasons why we were coming to Zimbabwe was so that Avon and Reagan could meet the relatives in Kumusha. In the Shona culture, Kumusha represents a person’s home village, where they are rooted. Our Kumusha is called Mondoro and it is about 1.5 hours outside of Harare.
It was a wonderful experience seeing our men just embracing the Shona culture. Greeting everyone and showing their respect- they were both so patient. Our relatives embraced them as if they were always family (Avon and Reagan). It made me think of the time when my Mom (a white woman) first came to the village to meet everyone. She always said she felt welcome and here I could witness that welcoming moment she felt.

It amazes me how the people of the village remember every visit. I say the people of the village because neighbours will know you came to visit. The visit would be like a fairytale told around the fire. One Auntie told us of the time when we came to visit and Hama just started dancing around the fire. Apparently he could barely walk at the time and everyone was saying that it was the ancestors that got him to dance. I can barely remember that moment…it was like 22 years ago. Sitting around the cooking fire talking in Shona got me daydreaming because I couldn’t understand most of what was being said. I daydreamed about a conversation of two gogos talking about our visit because I am sure our visit would be the talk of the village for months. The daydream began with one gogo visiting her neighbour after ploughing the fields. She would be so proud of the story she would be sharing with her friends. It would all be Shona…but my dream I could understand it.

Gogo 1: “Remember the white lady brother Ranga married.”

Gogo 2: “Yes …. Amai Kanyadzo (mother of Kanyadzo)!”

Gogo 1: “Eish they both came with their two daughters, Kanyadzo and Maita!”

Gogo 2: “Maiwe (Gosh)”

Gogo 1: “Sho they brought their two husbands to come and meet us! They are Icoloureds….very handsome ones! My friend you should have seen them greeting us…ha ha ha…. (while clapping her hands) one couldn’t clap his hands properly. It sounded like he was clapping and not greeting. But hawu, shame they were trying hard. We killed a Roadrunner (wild chicken) for them and cooked sadza ne mariwo (veggies). I was even worried that they would not eat our food, you know city people. But shamwari (My friend)….. they ate the food like they had never tasted roadrunner before! It was just a wonderful time. We prayed for them and asked for blessings. I even got a Christmas Box with oil, soap food and lots more!

Gogo 2: Yo yoy oyo …Christmas Box My dear. You are so fortunate!

Gogo 1: “Eish but it was too short!”

Gogo 2: “At least they came to show their respects. Your ancestors must be turning in their graves.”

Well that’s just a Kanya daydream.
Everyone was so proud to have us come into their homes…as we went from hut to hut. I struggled a lot with the smoke and my bum was sore from sitting on the floor. For Avon and Reagan I think it was hard for them to see Mom sitting on the floor and them sitting on chairs. Especially when they were told that they had to respect Mom the most. Their sign of respect would be to ask Mom to have a chair. Avon even asked Dad but Dad was like “No, no no…sonny that is not done here!”
What fascinates me about this part of the world is how they cherish everything. You could give them a towel 10 years ago and it will still be there. Everything is utilised and efficiently too, there is very little waste. It just makes you wish you could have brought more because you know they would appreciate it.

Avon and I posing like we live here.

This is the Kitchen hut, all plates are on display.
Dad sharing his wisdom!
Even in the rural of places…Mugabe is present
The womens feet sitting on the floor. It was sooo hot
Avon and Reagan as Mango gatherers
Th Chicken was a present for Avon and Reagan. Lol Reagan thought he had to kill it lol.

Us posing by the Pump

You must wash your hands before you eat
Food: Road runner, Rape, Pumpkin leaves, Sadza, Lentles and Rice, Peanut butter Chicken.
The Men enjoying the food.
Me in my Daydream

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Day 7: Chicken Inn or Chicken Out.
Maita and I took our men to see Borrowdale Village. We walked around and watched people doing their last minute shopping. This “mall” used to be the place to be and you were bound to see someone you knew. But as we walked every face was a stranger. The guys had planned that they had to try something from Chicken Inn and Creamy Inn. So with the little dollars we had we went and bought 4 pieces of Chicken Inn and 2 caramel dip ice-cream tubs. We stuffed ourselves while driving home for dinner. But I think something didn’t sit well because we all had runny tummies for days after that episode. So word of advice…maybe stay away from some of the fast food places in Harare … especially Chicken Inn.

Day 8: Christmas Day

We had a wonderful Christmas day starting with church in the morning and a Christmas party at Auntie Connie’s afterwards. The Christmas party was quite momentous because so many relatives were there and half of them I was meeting for the first time. We danced, prayed and ate.

Dad and his Christmas Presnts His Face says it all 🙂

Cousins Having a good time at the Christmas Party
A party would be a party with out the MC
Day 9: Drive to Lion and Elephant.

We left Harare at Noon and headed home (Johannesburg). It was actually quite depressing to leave because it was quite short. I guess all good things have to come to an end. The plan was to go to Zimbabwe Ruins but we got there too late and it didn’t seem like it was worth spending 40US for all 4 of us to see the place for 5 minutes. So we took pictures by the sign and headed to our final destination – Lion and Elephant hotel by Bubi River. The road was pretty dangerous because of the cows and it was pretty dark, but Avon did a good job getting us to the hotel safe. This Hotel has a lot of memorable moments because we usually stay here when we drive to or from Zimbabwe. We were the only guests at the dinner table when we ate but it seemed like by this time we were used to it. After some very good laughs and 2 glasses of super cheap wine we were off to bed.

Day 10: Zimbabwe to Johannesburg

I woke up with a terrible head ache and feeling very dizzy which made me regret having those two glasses of wine the night before. But that didn’t stop us from hitting the road with our final destination being Johannesburg. The border was super easy with no difficulties which made me feel like angels were with us the whole journey. Once we got to the South African side we were relieved to be on smooth tarred roads. We stopped and had a wonderful breakfast and were able to be home by 4pm. It is strange arriving so early because we are used to arriving when it is dark.
If feels so strange being back at home. The holiday really felt like it went by so quickly. I guess it means that we had a lot of fun – coz time was flying . Well I hope you all had a great holiday too.

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