Day 5: 20 December 1996

Friday , 20 December 1996, it was already 8h00 o clock when I was writing my memories down, waiting to the other ones to leave the campsite and to visit the major Natural Historical Museum of the Southern Hemisphere. The group was split up in two, some wanted to visit the museum, the other one, wanted just to walk in Bulawayo.

We were a bit too early , the museum was not open yet, so Robert and I did a walk in the park of the museum, where a lot of old locomotives were placed, as also huge birdcage with beautiful tropical birds were seen, we played on children toys which were placed also in that garden. At the backside of the museum we could find an enormous statue of Cecil Rhodes. At 9h00 we were allowed to enter the museum. The museum was too big to visit in a few hours, so I noted some interested things down, but couldn’t follow the others who went much more quick through all the different halls. So Robert came to ask me if I wanted to join the group to enter the city of I would stay longer in the museum and walk alone to Bulawayo . Of course the choice was quick made, even I would see the hall with all the stones, I didn’t want to walk alone. So he told me they would wait outside for a few minutes, when I came outside nobody .. So I was afraid, no map and I thought they were playing a game .So I walked around the museum and called their name , but no answer. Fortunately I waited for a few minutes at the main entrance, while I saw them coming outside … they just had visit another hall instead of going away. I swept away my sweat!

So Robert, Sharyn, Tara, John, Lize , Catherine and I walked towards the centre.

I wrote some main words down during my visit, with the hope to find afterwards some more information concerning those topics. Information found in the Natural Historical Museum of the Southern Hemisphere.

 In the center we had a lot of fun, again a new game, batter for all kind of status. 

Bulawaya Market

It became really a game, For a small soapstone statue I only had to pay 40 Zimbabwe Dollar, then a wooden chain for only 5 Zimbabwe $ and I have got even a Njaminami additional to this. The Njaminami is the God of the Zambezi. The moment Robert showed me the soapstone couple, I really want to have one like that, so I started again to my batter expedition. After a while I found a small Hypopothamus also in soapstone, so I bought this, the other statue: the couple , I bought for my special friend. Anyway after this game the called me ‘the bargain queen’. Well, some jealous views from the other girls, who had to pay much more for the same statue. For me it was just a game, while Sharyn paid a 15 Zimbabwe $ for the same statue for which I only pain 5 $ . At the end everybody found it funny, even the black men were laughing with my game and played also. Just before we returned to the campsite we had to do something extra … buying Zambezis for the next two days. We entered the supper market and bought a few pockets of Zambezis. With in the left hand the pockets with the Zambezis and in the right hand the pocket with all the soapstone status we left to the campsite. When we almost arrived, another man tried to sell some status, I was aware of my weakness, but tried to ignore the man. At a glance I saw the statue I really wanted … the couple, so I borrowed some money from Robert and bought it, …this was really the statue which I gave at the end to my friend.

It was noon, when we came back from the visit of the Natural Historical Museum and the centre and it was really a good morning. While the other were eating some hotdogs I kept it by some breads with cheese. We all were ready to leave and to enter the first game reserve. Dylan would stay at the camp site because the English girl Ann would arrive that afternoon. A small minibus was driving fast on the campsite and a white smiling Zimbabwe Philip jumped out.

I jumped next to the drivers place and was sure of a superb view for the rest of the day. We drove direction Matobo Hills, a impressive rock formation with the dwala’s. 

 

The Matobo park covers an area of 2000 kmē ….Belgium covers an area of 30.519 kmē . So the remark from Robert ‘this park is larger than Belgium’ is not true at all. The amatobo or ‘bald -headed hills, as Mzilikazi , zulu warlord and founder of the amaNdebele Nation, called them, are in fact very old: over 3000 million years. This moonscape of endless granite humpbacks covers a huge area south of Zimbabwe second city, Bulawayo. So the most spectacular section is the Matobo National Park, with painted caves, wildlife , dams and the World View grave of Cecil Rhodes. The Matobo Hills have been inhabited for 40.000 years, first by the San-hunters, later the Torwa, then by Changamire and his Rozvi , who was finally edges out by the Zulus. The surrounding hills and plains , conflict focus of Shona dynasties, Ndebele armies and British colonists, are redolent with history, myth and memories of a thousand battles that once reverberated within them.

The rock formations were really very impressive, each strange formation they gave a special name, so is there the combination of the dwalas which were build in such a way , that it is like a mother close to her children.

 

Mother and child

Once we entered the game reserve a lot of animals were seen for me for the first time in my life in their real natural environment . Philip was joking the whole time while driving, he kept a small microphone in his hand and explained all the things seen in the environment. The first animals I saw during this journey, after the baboons were the zebras.

Do you know the difference between a female and a male zebra ? The female zebra has black stripes with a white background and the male zebra has white stripes with a black background …

Then we saw the warthog with its piglets.The warthog is usually gray , but takes on the color of the local mud in which the animal frequently wallows. A crest of long , erective hair extends down the full length of the back and is raised when the animal is under stress. The snout is typically pig-like and the canine teeth develop into long curved tusks, most noticeable in boars. The tail with its tuft of black hairs is held erect when running. This is an animal of savanna and open woodland and is most active during the day. Groups usually consists of sows and their piglets or of single males.

When driving very slowly through the park , Philip saw a white Rhinoceros , but he found it too dangerous to come closer, therefore he first decided to find another truck to be with more people. So he drove fast now, to find the others. Fortunately we found them quite quick, so with the both cars we drove back to the place we saw, or Philip saw the white Rhinoceros. Both guides decided to have a first view without us, and with a big smile they came back and for once … only for once we were allowed to come out of the car to come closer to the white Rhinoceros.

Rhino and baby

 My adrenaline was rising when I saw two white Rhinoceros a few meters away from me, a mother and child grazing close to each other. It was amazing to see how much wrinkles those animals had. We had to stay very silent, just because we were so close, but Philip whispered to us, that they couldn’t smell us neither, because we where sitting in the good wind direction. Later the father was coming closer to the baby and mother and it was an apart feeling. We had the opportunity to see them as first, the others were waiting, so we returned really silent to the place were the minibus was waiting, so the others could have a view.

It was a breath-taking moment.

The white Rhinoceros is bigger than the black one, it has a white -square lip to graze, the other black lip is to eat leaves. The white Rhinoceros is much more heavier (2-2.5 ton) than the black one (1.6 ton) , but the black one is much more dangerous and aggressive than the white one. The white one has a very poor eye sight. The both release on sent and hearing. The white one can run with a speed of 30km /hour. Although we speak about black and white Rhinoceros they both have the same color: gray. The small baby we saw was a 15 month old pig.

Once we were all back in the car again we were so exciting, nothing could be wrong for the rest of the day. A few minutes later we saw another group of White Rhinoceros, again really close to us, but now we stayed in the car, they had seen us also, so this was too dangerous to leave the car. We were at that place with a few cars, also other tourists, so we drove a bit forward again backward, just to follow them after the small bushes. We saw a 12 white rhinoceros together … quite impressive .From then of on we saw a lot of impalas with babies and zebras. We started to count them, but after a while we lost the count. To distinguish the impalas from the other game, Philip learned us some tricks : It is a medium sized antelope . The upper-parts are reddish - fawn, becoming paler on the sides, and the chests, belly , throat and chin are white. Each buttock has a vertical black stripe.

So we arrived at the beautiful view ‘ the Lushongue’, where Robert took a nice picture of me. 

 

A half hour later I saw my first giraffe in company of a few zebras. 

The first giraf on the trip

It is remarkable that zebras always wanted to be accompanied by some other animals, these is for safety reasons. Later on we saw a Zebra together with a Wildebeest . At that moment I really was fascinated by each animal I saw. We had to break very hard , because there was a ‘zebra crossing the zebra’.

You know the Rhinoceros and the elephant once had a big discussion. The Rhinoceros explained to the Elephant that he wanted to be the king of the huge animals, the elephant didn’t agree at all, because he was much more larger than the rhinoceros. Ok said the rhinoceros lets do a competition, so they elephant didn’t know which competition the Rhinoceros had in mind, but he agreed. So the next day all the paths in the park were covered by huge packets of shit everywhere from the Rhinoceros and the elephant couldn’t produce at all such an amount, so the Elephant had to accept the high productivity of the Rhinoceros and therefore accepted the fact that the Rhinoceros became the king of the huge animals.

Between all the jokes of Philip we saw a lot of birds also. I was never so interested in birds as that day, maybe because the guide was explaining so funny all the small details of the birds that I could recognize most of the time an identical one myself later, the species we saw that day were the Horn bill and the Lori.

The whole afternoon it was really cloudy, sometimes a shine of sun appeared. So the promised sunset on the Great World View would not be for us. Anyway we wanted to go to there, so after another long drive we arrived at that place. We first passed the Malewa dam , or also called the ‘Devils plaid ground’. On the dam we had an amazing view, at the left side we had the flat water at the right side of the dam we had huge rocks which covered a small steep valley, those rocks came down due to high water showers. To stretch our legs we left the car for a few minutes, …to continue our way to the Great World View … so if anybody was not in the car could he raise his hand …

We continued and saw 2 Bushbucks : It is a medium sized (30- 40 kg) antelope and varies considerably in color and pattering according to region from light to dark brown with only a limited number of light markings to bright chestnut with numerous white stripes and spots. Only the males carry the short , sharp horns. We saw some more warthogs , they were so funny, especially the small ones, when they are running , their tail is high in the sky. Furthermore we saw some Kudus: they are large antelopes, gray-brown with 6 to 10 vertical white stripes down the sides of the body. It has large rounded ears, a bushy tail which is dark above and white below and in case of the bull, distinctive long spiral horns. Philips added some remark, do you know why the Kudu’s are called Kudu’s ? The male Kudu has large wooden balls, so if he is running, the balls beat against each other and make following sound: Kudu Kudu … a bit further much further in the bushes Philip could detect the Sable Antelope, so we didn’t see it immediately and the slogan of the day was: ‘Reverse’. This was the magic word if we didn’t see a certain animal and we wanted to see it, The word ‘reverse’ was sufficient to get a fast drive backwards. So the Sable antelope is the national animal of Zimbabwe , the sable antelope is a magnificent antelope and is easily recognized by its large size, 230 kg, the jet black coat (in the bull) contrasting with the white under parts and heavily ridges , back-curved horns. The horns are carried by both sexes, but those of the cow are less robust. Cows and young bulls are usually reddish-brown to dark brown in color with white under parts, while the calves are pale reddish-brown. The black and white facial markings are conspicuous in both sexes, as is the mane which extends from the top of the neck to just beyond the shoulders, while the Fish Eagle is the national bird of Zimbabwe, the fish eagle is easily recognized by the white head , chest back and tail and the contrasting chestnut belly and shoulders and black wings . The loud yelping call of both sexes , often given in duet. It is one of Africa’s distinctive sounds. Occurs in association with almost any water habitat. Feeds almost entirely on fish.

We didn’t see so far the fish eagle in reality, only a statue of Fish Eagle in soapstone on the ruins could be detected.

So drove finally to the magic place, the Great World’s view in the Matobo National Park, the place were Cecil Rhodes is buried, and where his immense and brooding spirit hovers with the black eagles over Zimbabwe’s turbulent history. Philip gave us a long and interesting explanation of the history of former Rhodesia and the life of Cecil Rhodes. Cecil Rhodes was born in 1853 and died in 1902. It was the first president of Rhodesia. He was British, and bought a huge piece of ground of the King to start with mining. He started in Kimberly and reached Bulawayo. Cecil John traveled to south Africa because of poor lungs. He made a fortune in diamonds there, became prime minister of the Cape Colony , connived in the run-up to the Jameson Raid (which lead to the boer war) and set out to extend British influence from Cape town to Cairo. By 1895 Zimbabwe was known outside Africa as Rhodesia, after mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes, Salisbury was the capital.

So after his explanation we walked up to wait for the sunset. Massive balls of stone form a natural amphitheatre surrounding the hilltop grave of this charismatic imperialist. 

There is nothing elaborate about it: simple, austere, the bald inscription in bronze is cut into the granite at one’s feet. Falling away on all sides is a giant’s playground of knuckled hills, Kipling’s ancient granite of the north - ridge after ridge to the fiery horizon. We waited more than an hour, and after a whole afternoon rain we never suspected that we would see a sunset, but Philip told us about his special sun remote control … which really worked. All of us were really silent, enjoying the atmosphere , the long distance view, we could even see Philips new home country … Which one Philip ? , well Belgium, because I shall marry you soon.

Linde en Philip

 The first time in my life a man asked me to marry on the Great World View. A nice idea , although I first have to forget my secret lover. So after joking , a lot of group pictures were taking with the pure sunset. 

Sunset at Great World View

Also wedding pictures were taken.

Chris, Robert, Pauline, Catherine, ...

 Another group really got a hard job , to hang 12 cameras around his neck and make pictures with all of them.

The sky was really orange, when we drove back on the rugged roads, back to our main campsite. Everybody was really satisfied from this prefect day, we were even singing in the minibus, and laughed a lot with some African traffic signs , our reverse triangle get in Africa as additional remark: GIVE WAY. While singing and laughing we had to break very strong for an owl who was sitting in the middle of the road. In the same atmosphere we drove until we reached the campsite. The new one, the British girl was arrived, she looked already drunk or she was really noisy. She was talking very loud and asked for a lot of attention. We all were disappointed because the atmosphere so far was so good and suddenly a new one was entering in our group, one who hadn’t the way of behavior we wanted to have at that moment. It was like we acted already like animals. A new specie was entering the group and we couldn’t accept her in the first moment. So there was only one voice that evening: Ann’s voice. We started silent to the preparation of our dinner, a barbecue. I installed the chairs around the campfire while the meat was burning and a few of us started to brainstorm to get ideas for our T-shirts we would press once we would arrive in Vic Falls. Of course the map of Africa should be the back-ground, the trip must be mentioned also, as also the Larium. Most of us were taking Larium against Malaria. Larium is a strong medicine, were some can loose their mind for a while. So we thought Annelise had really problems from this medicine. I was already convinced it weren’t the medicines. Also the aquarium must be mentioned on the T-shirt as a few bottles of Zambezi’s ..our famous beer. After brainstorming I tried to write a letter … but Ann’s voice distracted me. I installed myself in the aquarium and wrote a nice letter. After a while more of use entered in the aquarium , to avoid the voice of Ann even Dylan entered and we discussed on the different maps the detailed course of the trip . We finished our evening with a few around the campfire and it was late when we went to bed.

Next day: Day 6: 21 December 1996
Previous day: Day 4: 19 December 1996