A Walk on Zimbabwe's Wild Side

Dear Family and Friends,
Take a walk on the wild side with me today in Zimbabwe. After months of ugly politics, devious politicians and the main opposition party tearing itself apart, we are all feeling the need to escape, so come along with me and see through my eyes.

After a day of walking and talking, exploring and laughing there’s nothing nicer in the wild than sitting outside after sunset waiting for the night. This is the Zimbabwe we all know and love so much. The fire in a small depression flickering and sparking, gradually settling into a gentle heat low enough to cook on. Bend down, make a little hollow with me, drop potatoes wrapped in foil into the embers and nestle them in place. Check your watch, twenty to thirty minutes, turn over half way and supper will be ready before you know it: a smear of home-made butter, thin slices of spicy chorizo, a tablespoon or two of home-made relish. Heavenly. Settle back and allow the raw wilderness to seep into your soul. As night falls the fireflies appear, orange flashes in the darkness, flickering their secret messages to attract mates. Put your hand out to touch them and they are just the gentlest of whispers as they seem to slip between your fingers.

The huge riverine trees hold a myriad of secrets and creatures here but you have to wait until they are ready to appear; life here is at their pace, not yours. Time enough to think about the people you have met today, this amazing diversity that makes Zimbabwe so very, very special. The young man who went to Botswana to find a job of any sort to survive, selling maize on the roadside, working in construction and now back at home in his last year of university. We talk awhile, laugh, share experiences and stories and then sit tapping away at our laptops a couple of tables apart, earphones in, united with the same hopes and dreams for the future of our country and our place in it.

The night deepens and the bush babies (night apes) scream in the trees, shrill and insistent, this is their time now. Perhaps tonight you may see a hippo emerging from the river and coming to graze on the lush green grass. Maybe it will be a genet running low to the ground, spots and blotches on its golden fur, long bushy tail, it sniffs everywhere, looking for insects. An owl glides silently, effortlessly through the darkness and the fire begins to settle into the heart of its embers. I think about the muddy river in front of me, invisible now in the darkness, ravaged by gold miners for the last three years. Upstream they came with their huge machines, unstoppable, untouchable, ripping up the banks, excavating right in the river; nothing was safe or sacred in the insatiable lust for gold. For a time we thought this beautiful wilderness was lost forever but the miners have gone now, the gold rush is over, the gold is depleted and nature is beginning to reclaim her own. No one knows how long it may take but already there are the smallest signs that it has started and hope is restored day by day.

At 3.00am the bush baby screams so close that it wakes you. The campfire from the night before, ever comforting through the darkness, is still alive, orange embers brightening in the gentle breeze. It takes only the slightest effort to tuck a handful of dry grass amongst the embers, push the logs in a little and get the kettle onto the heat. Sit and watch with me. The canopy overhead whispers, leaves move gently in the breeze allowing only glimpses of the spectacle of the night that you know lies overhead. A shooting star flashes across the darkness and is gone in an instant but that briefest of moments allows you to commune with the place where you know your heart is, with times long past, friends and loves that have come and gone.

The kettle on the fire is simmering, join me for a cup of lemon tea or steaming coffee in the darkness.  It’s almost 04.00am, an owl is near, its low hum-hum call warning that its nearly time to take cover before the dawn. A momentary glimpse in the spotlight and there is the bush baby:  big eyes, long tail and creamy fur, it moves along the branches, its screams getting further away as it heads to its secret hideout. Dawn is coming, a faint glow lifts over the mountains. A splashing in the river tells you the hippo is back in the water. Another day awaits us in this beautiful Zimbabwe.

Returning home from such beauty and serenity, I apologise for including these last sentences that follow but they must be known. I end with a message of support and deep empathy for scores of senior school students at Saint Faith’s Mission School in Rusape who were pursued and set upon by police and their dogs. Terror, horror, shame. Suffer the little children, we are so pained.   
There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, thanks for reading this Letter From Zimbabwe now in its 24th year, and my books about life in Zimbabwe, a country in waiting.

Ndini shamwari yenyu (I am your friend)
Love Cathy 22 February 2024. Copyright © Cathy Buckle  https://cathybuckle.co.zw/
All my books are now available on Amazon and Kindle www.amazon.com/author/catherinebuckle  and on LULU www.lulu.com/spotlight/cathybuckle2018. Please visit my website for further details, to link into my social media sites, to contact me or to see pictures that accompany these letters https://cathybuckle.co.zw/

Copyright 2024 | All Rights Reserved | Powered by WILD & JAG / GAME & HUNT