It’s been a quiet few days here in Zimbabwe, which isn’t a complaint. The weather seems flat out adamant in refusing to cool down though we’ve discovered that Karry’s room is a little cooler than the Rondable, so we’ve been sleeping in there and both of us have been resting much better for it.
One of the things I love about Zimbabwe (though it’s what many people curse) is the vibrancy of the insect life here. It seems that every few hours I spot a new insect to capture my attention, and sometimes, like with the Wandering Glider Dragonfly (Pantala flavescens ) below, I even manage to capture a decent photo.
This one was sat on a twig in a tree right outside Karry’s room and refused to move until I was practically touching it. Even then it only flew away far enough to give an indignant circle before landing right back on the same twig defiantly.
In the mornings and evenings either side of Karry’s working day, we often sit and drink tea with her Mum and Chris, her step father, and their guinea fowl, Chicken. Chicken is a bit of a character, quite playful if a little aggressive towards me sometimes. I’m trying to overcome my fear of being pecked, so at the moment it’s clear who rules the roost, and if Chicken doesn’t want me near the table, then I sit further away.
Speaking of tea, it has to be commented that Tanganda, the local brand, has to be my favourite. It’s grown in Chipinge, south east of Harare, from stock originally smuggled out of India in 1924 by Mrs Florence Phillips, the wife of a tea merchant, and has become the most common brand in Zimbabwe. Though I must also state that, whilst I’m yet to start missing England, I am missing fresh milk, something that, as with many other things taken for granted in England, is nigh on impossible to get here in Victoria Falls.
Admittedly, this is true both ways. Some of my colleagues at SAGA refused to believe that Creme Soda in Zimbabwe is green. I hope the above photo puts pay to any disbelief. Their Fanta is also a much more vibrant orange but, from the ingredients, it doesn’t appear as if there are any additional additives to the UK versions.
In between drinking tea and soft drinks, when Karry is working, I’ve been keeping busy either by writing, reading various nature books (notably; Beat About The Bush, Mammals and Birds [Carnaby 2013]; Field Guide to Insects of South Africa [Picker, Griffiths, Weaving 2004]; Spiders, An Identification Guide for Southern Africa [Filmer 2010]) to study, and occasionally playing on my Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita consoles.
When Karry has free time, she’s been growing plants to put into some pots outside our new house. I’m not 100% certain what’s growing in her little tray at the moment, though I do know that apparently at least one of them is a poppy. Whilst doing a little weeding on Tuesday, we were joined by a friendly Garden Locust nymph (Acanthacris ruficornis). Apparently as adults, these little bugs are exceptionally strong and their spiny rear legs can break human skin when they kick. This little one has a way to go before he has that ability.
The food has been magnificent too. From the very best burger patties I have ever tasted, and succulent steaks, to mango mousse, pesto chicken wraps, and light salads, I’m eating well and have discovered that I do quite enjoy cold meats. This came as a surprise to me as, historically, cold meat is not something I would have eaten, nor salad for that matter!
Today, Karry is out guiding a lovely group of Swiss guests around the Victoria Falls. Some of them also want to see the Victoria Falls Hotel, so we’re not certain if she’ll be back in time for lunch, but she’s hoping so. The blistering heat refuses to let up, and town becomes almost unbearable around midday. She’s also not been feeling great, full of a head cold but smiling and being her usual chirpy self in front of the guests. It’s something I truly admire about her, how friendly and upbeat she always is with everyone. She’ll always laugh and joke with people, regardless of how long she’s known them and I’ve seen how it puts everyone at ease right away. It’s a skill I’m watching to learn; years of living in England where people are naturally a little more terse and tight-lipped with strangers, makes it seem quite an alien quality, but nobody acts shyly around it. If there is one thing that can be said for the Zimbabwean people, it’s that they genuinely are amongst the friendliest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. All of them.