Nyanga Notes


Some thoughts and observations from Lori. The contrast between the airport in Dubai and the one in Harare was jarring. From the ultra-busy, aggressive name-brand consumerism, glitzty hub with slightly terrifying customs and immigration agent to the single-digit number of gates, random line-ups, and baggage handler/customs assistant who was eager to show us photos of his children on his cell phone.
I didn’t really know how I would react to Zimbabwe but I didn’t expect to experience the first-world guilt as a physical sensation; I find that my chest feels compressed and heavy. Yet people don’t want to be pitied. How can I transfer my sadness into a useful emotion? I feel helpless. Person after person standing at the side of the highway, some trying to sell produce or other goods while others are hitchhiking to somewhere. Regardless of economic status, people are dressed with care – no pajama pants worn in public here. I think the saddest part of extreme poverty is the waste of human potential. On the flight to Harare I watched the movie The Man Who Knew Infinity about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who died in his 30s from TB but whose formulae are still in use today. It highlighted how genius is not dependent on culture or economic status (but life expectancy is).
I feel so naïve I don’t even know when I’m making a faux pas. When we asked our driver Tafadzwa about his family, he just said it was complicated. It was so awkward when one of the nurses we were introduced to suggested we could take her to Canada. Ditto our second driver. Everyone seems to be hoping that things will get better but then they will express pessimism at the likelihood of this happening. The ongoing emphasis on security is somewhat unnerving. Our first night in Harare we were on our own in a luxurious house and had locked up as instructed. The small dogs’ barking and howling woke us from a deep sleep and it was very difficult to go back to sleep afterwards. I’m glad I didn’t notice the baseball bats in each room until morning. At the cottage in Juliasdale near Nyanga we had the bizarre experience of wanting to go for a walk but being locked in our fenced yard and having to wait until the caretaker came by the house again. We haven’t felt unsafe, however.

We have seen a couple of lovely hotels but they have no visitors.
Our first driver graciously took us to the Lion Park near Harare our second day in the country. While it could be criticized for having animals in captivity, we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the lions’ enclosures and how healthy they looked. Too healthy for how close our car got to them during feeding time! The zebras, giraffes, and wild pigs also had a lot of room to roam. The attendants were knowledgeable. We have seen baboons and wildebeest in the wild.
The hospital at Nyanga is less busy than we expected. Basically there is not enough money for it to function or enough money for people to attend it. The pharmacy is heart-breaking – insulin has not been available for 6 months let alone any more mundane medication like hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure. HIV, TB, and anti-malarial medications are readily available as these meds are funded from organizations outside Zimbabwe. I am learning about first-line medication for all three conditions – never encountered in community pharmacy in BC because of central dispensing for the first two conditions and the rarity of the third.
But humour is ever present. People are consistently polite, kind, welcoming, smiling and often laughing (esp. when we try to speak Shona). We had a very funny moment today when Paul asked our driver what music he listens to and he started blasting Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69!

19 thoughts on “Nyanga Notes

  1. Ted

    Thanks Lori,
    Thanks for the reality check.
    I your little note made me feel like i’m there,
    Ramanugen was mentioned in Good Will Hunting.
    If you have time, I recommend the podcast, “Revisionist History”.
    Love from the Pimm’s

  2. Lana

    Thanks for the update! We are definitely thinking of you and wishing you well in this adventure…I’m sure it’s overwhelming and even hard to condense into words!! We are enjoying the posts – thank you & take care!

  3. Thank you Lori
    Thanks for the wake up call.
    I recall Ramanugen mentioned in Good Will Hunting. Gotta see infinity
    Podcast you should hear is Revisionist History.
    Blessings and love
    The Pimms

  4. Tonia Salinas

    Thank you for the continuous updates…they are thoroughly entertaining and allow you to feel like you are part of the exciting journey:)

    Toni

  5. Rhonda Zeunert

    Very descriptive account of your adventures so far. Love reading of your experiences.
    Thank you for sharing. I agree with Michelle, “keep them coming”.
    Rhonda (& Rob)
    PS: Good to know Bryan Adams is popular outside of North America. A little taste of home for you all. 😉

  6. John E Gentles

    Apologies for not following more closely, but know that you are all thought of often
    and your musing cause me to pause and consider …. love to all, stay well.

    1. Such a small world. The wedding that the British couple on our safari attended at beaver mines was Karen and Jill ursells double wedding. Karen married their friend Pete Said.
      How are you doing? Once we get settled in Kamloops after July maybe you could come for a visit and we could escape to a winery or something.

  7. The reality of life in Africa is something that gives me the same feeling of heaviness in my chest. My prayer is that it does not go away just because I get used to living here. That would be complacency and I try hard to not yield to it. I totally relate to your pharmacy tales! My practice has changed from back in BC as well 🙂 I encourage you to see the beauty and joy of the people around you. It is there if you look for it. Thanks for posting!

  8. Campbell Johnston

    Great to hear of your experiences, lovely scenery at Troutbeck and the Pungwe Falls if you can still get there? My old stomping grounds as a 14 yr old fisherman! Enjoy! Stu J.

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