With a nervous excitement about us we left Pretoria station on Saturday evening. We have been waiting and preparing for this moment for months and the start of our 80 day journey was finally here…
After spending ages on the border, and passing through at least ten road blocks, we arrived at the Bulawayo bus station 17 hours later; tired, hungry but in good spirits. Here, one of the nicest people I have ever met was waiting to greet us. I “accidentally” met Jack Bishop on a previous trip when my friend stumbled into his office at the Bulawayo train station trying to find a toilet. After we realized we were not at the toilet we turned around, but we were quickly called back by a friendly voice from inside the office; “Come in my friends! Come in, have a seat…” And believe it or not, that we were, friends from the very first moment we met.
It is now 8 months later and we had the privilege to stay at his home for one night. Jack introduced the team to his wife Caroline and daughter Melissa. From the moment we arrived at the Bishop family’s house we felt welcome. Upon arrival we were treated to a (very) late breakfast with pap, sausage, bread and eggs; and just a few hours later for dinner we had T-Bone steaks, sausage, chicken, pap, rice, potato salad and coleslaw! We were amazed by, and thankful for their hospitality.
The next day Jack and his family, with the help of his childhood friend Shane, took us to a rest camp on a farm just outside Bulawayo. Here we enjoyed a quick cold swim and an international game of pool which the South Africans won. After a very busy week and a long bus ride the previous day, this was just the rest we needed.
On the way back home Jack and Shane took us through the areas they grew up in. We listened to great stories about Jack (a.k.a. Grit), and Shane (a.k.a. Harlem) and their adventures with the Sensational Seven. They spoke excitedly about camping in the bush for three weeks, surviving only by hunting little animals (or stealing a chicken or two). But growing up had it’s challenges. Zimbabwe was also segregated in those years and Jack had trouble getting into the same places his coulored friends could get in, because as he put it himself, “I am as black as a tar road you know..” When we drove past the police station they actually spoke quite fondly of their run ins with the cops, which seemed to be just another source of entertainment. With a satisfied nostalgic look on his face Shane remarked, “Life was good, no regrets. No regrets…”
We stopped at home for another “quick” braai and then we were off to the station to catch our train to Victoria Falls. Every one went to the station to greet us, which was really special. We regretted that we could not stay longer with these lovely people. Many people (including Jack, who works at the train station) advised us against using the trains but we were quite impressed.The train left at 19:30, right on time and the ride went smooth! It was a very enjoyable experience compared to the bus from the day before. The train arrived early, so early that we were not even quite ready to get off. It is interesting to note that the Greyhound bus which has a good reputation was very late, and the train which has a bad reputation was actually early!
We did not spend much time in Victoria Falls, everything is expensive and there are touts all over the place trying to sell you accommodation, expired Zim dollars and transport. We headed straight for the Zambia border where we crossed the magnificent Victoria Falls bridge. The falls seems quite full at the moment and we are looking forward to get a view of them up close. Tonight we are camping at Jollyboys backpackers, and we plan to visit the Lubasi Children’s Home here in Livingstone tomorrow to see if it may serve as a possible MIA2012 outreach point. We are heading to Kazangula on Thursday where we will spend time at a missions school. Overall things are going great and we are thankful for this great opportunity! Our team has covered a good distance the last three days and we are looking forward to our first entity visit. We will keep you updated as much as possible, thanks for reading!
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