May 14, 2003

Zimbabwe

I crossed Victoria Falls bridge this morning and I'm now in Zimbabwe. After paying my visa ($30) at the immigration, I ended up at Shoestring Backpackers located conveniently in the town center. I wanted to drop my bags there for a couple of days and go with my daypack to Buluwayo via train. Unfortunatly the situation right now in Zimbabwe is somewhat a mess because of fuel shortage and terrible inflation (or deflation, depending on the point of view).

On monday 1$US = 1200$ZIM, the next day $1400 and today is 1600$ at the black market. The official rate is worth shit and you get 500 times more money on the black market, so you'd better not get cash from the bank in Zimbabwe. I withdrawed some $ from Zambia as the buy/sell rate is nearly similar and make it interesting, unfortunately you can only retrieve 400000KZM ($80) at a time, so your bank is pretty much happy.

Anyway, as I said I wanted to book the night train for Bulawayo, but everyone is switching from bus to train so it was full. I then went to the 'bus station' and was told there was no bus leaving to Bulawayo...mmm.... of course it was a trick of the idiots there in order to have more people in the taxi minibus. The 1st class/sleeper is 5500$ZIM (4$US) while the bus should be around 6500$ZIM, not a terrible difference these days. It looks like buses start around 4:30AM this morning, so I will try to catch the early one and stop in Gweru.

I leave all my bags at Shoestring Backpackers as I will only be in Gweru 1 or 2 days and I'd better travel light in this country considering the number of people being stripped from their possessions. You'd better look poor with no valuables.

I will try to roll myself in the dust for better appearance

Internet here is slow as hell and this is a miracle if you can get any web page in more than 5 minutes. Fortunately due to deflation, it is no more really expensive, think about 800-1000$ZIM (0.5$US / 30 min) and about 20 bytes / seconds (when it works).

I went to the Falls from Zimbabwe side (20$US) and this was worth it as this is more impressive from this side. Of course you get drenched and you see nothing but mist most of the time, but that gives an idea of the flow of water and I tried to make a couple of pictures/movies without flooding the camera ( I got a poncho for 500$ZIM out of the park which is good value compared to Zambia - 1$US)

By the way, I said a couple of days that the water was at its highest since 1999, it looks like it is more about 1958.

Dr David Livingstone statue at Victoria Falls Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side

 
Posted by stephane at May 14, 2003 06:27 PM
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