A trip to Zimbabwe was not on the original plan. However we managed to organise a day trip with our Zambian tour hosts, Hemmingways, at the last moment.
The border with Zimbabwe is only a few minutes from our hotel. However getting through the border is not that quick. We spent around an hour and a half waiting to be processed. From our van I could see the border gates, and also a soldier carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. We are taking a lot of pictures, but I restrained myself from taking one of him as it seemed better to err on the side of life than death. Chaos is the only word that describes the border. It has trucks parked everywhere, both coming and going. The road is mostly mud and has deep holes everywhere. A lot of people travel on foot and bicycle. Women carry much of the heavy loads on their heads. Eventually we got through the Zambian side of the border and headed across the railway bridge that is kind of in no mans land. A great view is to be had of Victoria Falls from the bridge, so it is worth it. We then arrived at the Zimbabwean border and a similar process was involved getting through there. There were military personnel moving around, none with guns that I could see, and of course the endless flow of human traffic on foot.
Ken, our tour guide for this part of the trip, took us around many of the hotel sites in and around the town of Victoria Falls and then he took us out into the townships. These are where the people live. Areas which many do not see. Poverty is extreme. Unemployment would be close to 100%. What little money is there is often spent on alcohol. We saw a man in a wheelchair which had been donated by Rotary International. How he manages everything else is beyond my imagination.
What we were told is that the women we saw going across the border would go there from Zimbabwe to Zambia to get very basic food. They would buy grain in sacks and carry it back across the border on their heads or via any other means if they were lucky enough.
This day trip saddened us both. It is really too hard to describe further.
Charley - 17 March 2008
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