Archive for September 13, 2008

Harare, Zimbabwe

September 13, 2008

I’m now in Harare, Zimbabwe!  All my Zambian friends think I’m crazy!  But what an experience and Harare is not as bad as everyone has made it out to be!  It’s a decent size bustling city with some unique high-rise architecture.

 

Robert Mugabe, Thabo Mbeke and Morgan Tsvangirai are in one of the conference rooms in the hotel I’m staying in (The Rainbow Towers) banging out a power sharing deal for running Zimbabwe!!!  They came to an agreement yesterday and on Monday they will do a ceremonial signing and give the details of the power share.  I might want to exit before that, just in case the people aren’t happy with the details of this agreement!  If you have been keeping up on current events, you know this is the biggest thing happening in Africa at the moment along with Jacob Zuma’s charges being dropped for corruption, etc. in South Africa giving him the go-ahead to run and replace Mbeke as the South African president next year.  Mbeke is here in the hotel and is the mediator for the negotiations for the power share between the Zimbabwean leaders Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai!

 

Hotel I stayed in where Zimbabwe leaders negotiated an agreement

Hotel I stayed in where Zimbabwe leaders negotiated an agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I leaving Harare today heading to Masvingo to visit the Great Ruins of Zimbabwe…I hope…I’m located one of my 3 missing check-in bags and may have to hang out another day for the rest of them!

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

September 13, 2008

Well the 12 hour bus ride from Joburg to Bulawayo turned into a 17 hour bus ride after spending several hours getting through each border and customs having to check the purchases of all the passengers…there were hundreds of grocery bags that had to be claimed!  The bus drivers (we have two of them each take turns driving) weren’t in any rush either…stopping along the road to buy items like, sacks of oranges, mealie meal (corn meal), bread, bottled sodas, etc.  I expected this would be the case, but 17 hours???

 

The blow out of one tyre about 45 minutes outside of Bulawayo was the final delay and actually the shortest delay of them all.  Everyone chipped in to help change the tyre (how it’s spelled here) and other busses and trucks came to the rescue to provide additional jacks to get the bus lifted to the proper height.

 

I finally arrive in Bulawayo…hot…tired…smelly!  Now I get to met and greet folks and spend the rest of the day smoozing!  I arrive to the Hilton Hotel in Bulawayo and find all the chiefs of Zimbabwe having an annual gathering!  Wow, don’t think I’ve been around so much royalty…ever!!!!!

 

While in the Holiday Inn preparing for my meetings, I actually run into an old acquaintance, Grace, who previously work at Elephant Hills and Frontiers in Vic Falls and now runs Sales at the Hilton in Bulawayo and Chris, one of the tour guides/drivers of Touch the Wild in Hwange National Park…talk about small world…the folks I was meeting were impressed!  Enough that they comped me lodging in all of the locations that I would be staying over the duration of my Journey in Zimbabwe!

Johannesburg aka Joburg or Jozi (South Africa)

September 13, 2008

We land in the newly renovated Joburg Airport (in prep for the 2010 World Cup) an hour early and 3 hours earlier than my original flight from NY would have landed.  I would have never made that connection…great deal!!  So I thought.  My 3 check-in bags never made it on the plane!  Lost bags in Joburg…Ugh!  They are infamous for going through your bags when your bags are sitting around lost and helping them selves to your belongings!  Most of my contents were donated clothes.  I carried on two bags that have a change of clothing for 3 days as well as two laptops, camera and other gizmos!  It’s hard pretending that a carry-on bag and a back pack aren’t 100lbs!  But you must carry on the important items if you want to ensure you’ll have them when you reach your destination in Africa! 

So know I’m on the bus ride from Joburg, South Africa to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  I’m a little worried because I wasn’t able to make the Greyhound Bus schedule work for me so I had to down grade to a not-as-nice bus company…everyone one this bus has done their shopping for the month in South Africa and are now traveling back to Zimbabwe where they can no longer purchase such necessities.  I don’t know how they make it all fit in the storage compartments and a lot of their goods are sharing the seat with them!  The bus is making this crazy rattling sound when we go fast, so It may take me longer than expected to reach Bulawayo!

Tomorrow morning when I arrive I’ll have been traveling 3 days without a shower and have to meet a few General Managers who manage safari lodges, tour packages and ground transport.  I hope they can give me a room before I meet them!  Phew!

San Francisco to Johannesburg

September 13, 2008

My 6:00 a.m. departure from SFO to NYC was replaced with a 7:30am departure.  That doesn’t leave me much time to make my connecting flight in NYC to Jo’burg.  I tried changing it to the red eye the night before, but you don’t have many options when you are flying on Frequent Flier Miles!

 

I’m bringing lots of used clothing to handout on my trip…clothing that co-workers and friends have donated.  I have 3 check-in bags full of them and I didn’t want to leave any behind because they are needed desperately.  On the United Website it said excess bags were $100.00 each…so I figured I’d swallow that cost because I didn’t have my act together to ask for monetary donations to cover that cost…come to find out that the international price is $180 per bag!  Yikes!  I could live off that for 2 weeks in Africa!

 

I get to the gate early expecting trouble and of course the thunderstorms in New York were causing delays…my flight was going to be delayed for at least one hour…I put on the puppy dog face for the supervisor at the United counter and she moved me to a United flight leaving soon to Wash DC and getting a connecting flight that would get me into Joburg almost two hours early…nice!  She called up and had my bags transferred over to the new flight.

 

I avoided the storm by flying into DC and not NY and arrived early…but international flights board much earlier, so by the time I grabbed a bite and made my way to the check-in counter they were ready to let me on the plane!  Everyone one the plane had a row of seats to themselves…plenty of room to stretch out for the 15 hour flight to Joburg, South Africa!

Zambezi 2008 – San Francisco to Africa

September 13, 2008

Africa 2008!!!

 

So another Daring Journey has begun!  This one is a solo recon trip.  I’ll have friends and vendors meeting me along my Journey to assist me in making this trip happen.

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