A Day in an African Village

Today we had the privilege of meeting the residents of an African village and learning about their daily lives. Francisca and Phillip, the owners of the homestead (villages are composed of family homesteads) we visited, welcomed us to their home and showed us how they lived.

Francisca, her friends and the children sang a welcoming song for us.

We went in to their kitchen which is a small building with their dishes and an open fire for cooking.

Residents at a neighboring homestead were preparing to build a new hut.

A very special part of the day was sharing tea and butter and jam sandwiches the villagers prepared for us. Francisca had invited some of her neighbors to join us for the day and during tea they introduced themselves and told us about their families. Then we did the same. After introductions, we asked each other questions about women’s lives.

Before going to their homestead, we went to a market with a list of food items to take as gifts. The list was in Shona, one of the languages of the area, so we had to get help to know what to buy. People in the market were helpful, and everyone laughed as we figured out what to get. I took a picture of three of the girls who helped us. They didn’t like how their picture looked and wanted to pose for another one.

One of the most interesting items on our list was a long bar of soap. The villagers wash their clothes by hand using a slice of the soap to rub on their clothes.

The Zimbabwe economy is in bad shape right now; they have no cash. The ATM machines are empty most of the time,and the banks often do not have any cash. People line up in front of the banks early each morning in the hopes of being able to get cash. We gave our cash for the groceries to Phanuel who charged the groceries and took the cash back to the camp staff. Most transactions are conducted via a cell phone app and no cash changes hands.

On the way to the village we stopped to talk with some women who had been occupying a tent for the last year to protest their husbands not being paid. The men, who worked in a government-run coal mine, had not been paid in five years.

I had an almost close call this morning when I ran back to my tent to get my water bottle before we left. I made a wrong turn and rather than heading to my tent, I was heading out of the camp. Lucky for me, two of the staff were walking down the road and showed me the right way to go. They also pointed out the tracks of the lions who had been on the road the evening before.

We went on a short safari before dinner. After about an hour we had only seen two impalas and a few birds and I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t see many animals. Suddenly Godfrey, our safari guide, stopped the safari vehicle and quietly said, “elephant to the right.” We were thrilled to see an elephant not too far off the road. And then we saw two elephants. One of the elephants came closer to our safari vehicle. It was so exciting. Suddenly he was only about two feet from me. Just when I was starting to feel he might be a little too close, Godfrey stepped on the gas and took off. The elephant charged after us.

Farther along we hit an elephant bonanza-at least ten elephants were walking through a field.

We spent so much time looking at the elephants that it was dark before we headed back to camp. On the way back we heard an elephant roar close to our safari vehicle and an elephant came charging out of the trees. It was all pretty exciting.