The immigration process has been going slowly. We have just about gathered all the pieces required and it shouldn’t be long before we can send it all off. I’m thankful, it’s illegal for me “to seek employment, paid or unpaid” whilst on a tourist visa and, whilst I’m not suffering from boredom, I’m beginning to feel as though I don’t do much. A couple of times now I’ve helped out making drinks for guests whilst the Black Eagle (Aquilla verauxi) talks have been going on, being careful to stick to the shadows, and that’s been nice. 

National Parks and Wildlife Act 20:14

In the meantime, I’ve been spending my time either reading, playing Plants VS Zombies with Karry, or studying (often with Karry) for my Professional Guide’s License. Honestly, the amount of material that has to be covered is quite daunting but the tests are done twice a year, February and October, so we’re aiming for the October sitting. Karry is pretty well clued up on her Habits and Habitats, so the two of us started with the Law section, specifically the National Parks and Wildlife Act, of which we need to know about 30 pages worth of in parrot fashion. As I said, it’s daunting, but there’s time.

Halfway House

On Thursday last week, Karry, Debbie (her Mum) and I headed off to Bulawayo for Robyn’s baby shower. Robyn is Karry’s sister. It was a good five hour drive, and Karry slept most of the way, which gave myself and Debbie plenty of time to talk. We stopped at Halfway House (the halfway point between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls) to freshen up and played plenty of car games on the way too, including Cricket. 

Welcome to Bulawayo

In Cricket, players take it in turns to be the Batsman. The Batsman reads the number plates of any cars passed to score points equal to its last digit, which are totalled until the Batsman is Out. A 7, 8, or 9, however, doesn’t score and ends the Batsmans innings and play moves to the next player. My highest score, by the time we reached Bulawayo, was 46 before I was struck out by a passing lorry whose number plate finished in an 8. It kept us busy between the Police Checkpoints (there were 7 along the way where we often had to pull over for inspection of the car).

Bulawayo Streets

We arrived at Robyn’s house in the mid afternoon, but she was still at work, so we drove around to meet her Aunt Crystal, and her Gran, for tea at their house. Later we came back to Robyns where I met her and Jarred, her husband, and Thorne and Shania (Karry’s nephew and neice, 13 and 11 respectively) where we had hot dogs for dinner.

A frog we found in the garden one evening after a light rain shower

Over the next few days, Karry and I spent time with the two kids playing Exploding Kittens, and I got to meet Candace and Jacobs, two of Karry’s old friends. Jacobs, Karry and I went to a full-street flea market where I picked up several pairs of shorts for cheap, and Jacobs donated me some shirts he doesn’t wear anymore to kick start my Zimbabwean wardrobe.

The Bulawayo Museum of Natural History
When it came to the big day of the Baby Shower, I was a little surprised to hear that it’s a “women only” affair out here, but Jarred, Thorne and myself instead spent the day at the Bulawayo Museum of Natural History (no photos allowed sadly) which was a thoroughly enjoyable day out and I picked up a scorpion identification book written by Moira Fitzpatrick (remember that name).

The little bird we tried to rescue

At one point, as Karry and I were driving to her Grans, we spotted a little bird have a near-miss with a car. Karry immediately pulled over and I grabbed the little blighter, seeing it in shock we knew we needed to get it to somewhere cool and with water. Sadly, it died in my hands as I lowered it into Crystal’s sink to drink.

A skink, prised from the jaws of kitties learning to hunt

It was lovely spending time with Karry’s family, getting to meet new people (and all 18 of Robyn’s cats, including several newborn kittens), even though I did manage to electrocute myself one night on some exposed wires as I fumbled in the dark for my phone charger. 

Gizmo, and her three little newborns

One afternoon, we went out to meet Mr and Mrs Hopkins, the parents of Crystal’s husband Gary. We had afternoon tea whilst the kids played in the pool and Mr Hopkins told me about research he was doing with the African Bullfrogs – how he had discovered a new species of tree frog and explained why Bullfrogs eat some of their young (they don’t, they eat the young of this new species that cleverly lay their spawn with the Bullfrog’s because they protect their young aggressively). It turns out Mr Hopkins is the nephew of the woman who discovered the Coelocanth and is friends with Moira Fitzpatrick, a globally renowned entomologist who is head of Entomology at the Bulawayo Museum of Natural History. He suggested he may be able to introduce me sometime.

A beautiful knife handmade by Karry’s grandfather
Karry’s grandfather was quite the artisan – more beautiful knives, the hilts inset with Eland bone. He also made the case.

It amazed me the difference in weather in Bulawayo. The temperatures were a good 5-10 degrees cooler than Victoria Falls, and we even had a few light showers of rain. On the second to last day I picked up a little pouch made of Buffalo calf leather, and Karry’s Gran showed me some knives her late husband had made a long time ago. They were beautiful.

Buffalo calf leather pouch

On Wednesday, we repacked the car and made the long journey back to the sweltering heat of Victoria Falls, passing through another 9 police checkpoints. 


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