Africa 2012 Photography Travels

The Chikenbus, the waterfalls – and Zim always.

I didn’t spend much time in Zimbabwe, unfortunately, as I only got a visa for four days – but still – it would have been difficult to continue my travels had I extended my stay – so it turned out to be the only option.

I arrived to Harare in the afternoon, after a long, comfortable and rather interesting busride with top-quality views. I then spent the day walking around the city, without taking any photos. I got a great impression of Harare, not least because of the very friendly people I met there that were very helful and friendly. Beside that, it was clean, very safe and felt considerably ordered. I spent the first night in Zimbabwe at a friends place, or actually, a friend I have known for some time through twitter – have I reminded you about how awesome social media is?

One of the first funny randoms I noticed on my trip was when I was told to “turn right after the robots!” I understood that the person must be referring to the traffic lights so I giggled, said thank you and walked on. When the second person started talking about robots, I realized that this simply was the way to call them, and continued my trip doing the same – always giggling on the inside, imagining robots standing on the road.

I realized I missed out on some good shots just of the simple reason that I kept the camera in the backpack. Made sure to take it out just when I left Harare – and it never got back in there again.

The next day I went to Victoria Falls through Bulawayo – another busride that I wrote about at that point. Victoria Falls welcomed me by a young girl named Megan, and her mother, driving me to Shoestrings Backpackers out of mere kindness. The moment I checked in at the hostel, I met a new friend with whom I spent the rest of the evening – chatting away about banalities and non-banalities, minds flowing. I smiled at his princess Diana accent, effortless eloquence and noted his voice as particularly beautiful before even realizing he could sing.

On my second day in Vic Falls, I took a walk and met the tourist police who were the kindest officers I have encountered so far here in Africa. (Oh, the horrors of Mozambican traffic police!) I walked around with miss Magarita for a while, looked at the river, visited the crafts market, survived a heavy rainfall and later went back to Shoestrings where I met Tinashe again.

We went with lady Leanne to the place where Tinashe, or just Nash, usually rehearses with his band. Leanne is their manager, together with Eddy – and they are seven members in the Chikenbus band who play various instruments and sing. I got the opportunity to hang along with Chikenbus to a fundraising event for the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit and as we drove out into the bush, we encountered a big fire and a red carpet in the middle of nowhere, next to the railway. We set up the sound equipment and the Chikenbus started sound checking.

A part of the fundraising event for VAPU was the steam train ride, on which the people arrived. The band played tunes which made it impossible for me to put the band in a box by category or genre – there was some reggae, there was some rock, there were some classic Zimbabwean beats – and then they played “in the jungle” and everybody danced. They were setting the perfect mood and I was completely enchanted about the Chikenbus’ own lyrics and tunes, that got stuck in my mind for many days to come.

After the show we got to board the train as well, where drinks were bought with coupons and where one of the carts was specially equipped for dancing. Party train became a reality, and we danced our way back to the beautiful and happy town of Victoria Falls.

The next morning, after a long night of talks, stars and theories, I met Arnold. He is a Zimbabwean who lives in Cape Town and was passing by Vic Falls as a part of his work, we had a good breakfast talk and decided to go visit the Victoria Falls together.

The waterfalls were amazing. We got raincoats but decided not to wear them and instead let the spraying water rain down on us. There is something about water that affects me tons, the energy it contains makes me skip around like a kid and become so happy I feel like bursting of joy. I put my camera in a plastic ziplock bag and we continued taking pictures, people laughed at us because we were so “wild” not wearing raincoats – living on the edge, I tell you! haha. We crossed the bridge to the Zambian border, people were bungy jumping, we were approached by aggressive baboons who stole our apples and to sum up – we walked for very long and it was a great day.

I met Tinashe for the last time and we shared some more hours of talking and simple, unforced friendship. People like this are the kind of individuals I search for when moving around the world, where conversation flows, when minds work well together, and when you know that this is a friend you always somehow will stay in touch with. I recorded him singing one of the Chikenbus songs and Nash dropped me off at where I hitched my ride to cross the border to Botswana.

Vic Falls and Zimbabwe made a huge impression on me. Maybe to most part because of the really great people I met and spoke to but also because of the landscapes and the positive energy. There was something about Zim that I will keep with me always – until I return.


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