Everything is still fabulous here in Zimbabwe! I can’t believe I only have a few days left, but there is still plenty left to experience and lots of time to spend with the lions. The days are still jammed packed, filled with activities, hanging out with other volunteers, and exploring the Falls area. Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe in general seem to be a bit better-off than Zambia, even though Livingstone is relatively very close. The town is much more of a tourist area and despite the recent economic crash here in Zimbabwe due to inflation, they seem like they’re in a better economic position. The schools have enclosed classrooms and supplies for the children, the school kid’s uniforms are much more professional looking (I’m not sure how many children at Libala Basic School in Zambia could have afforded such uniforms), the people here seem to be well-fed and of a normal weight compared to those in Zambia (who were quite thin), and the houses that I have seen seem to be larger and more well-kept. If I am correct, I believe Zimbabwe is actually one of the more wealthy countries here in Africa… I’ll have to check to make sure that is correct however!
We got the chance to visit painted wild African dogs at a conservation near Mesuwe lodge where the lions are kept. These dogs are endangered and a rare sight now days here in Africa. The dogs were actually bred at another conservation on the other side of the country but the dogs require a lot of room to survive and thrive thus they were transported to this nearby conservation to be released. They are to be released later this week thus they were still in their enclosure and very neat to see up-close and personal. They are all radio-collared and they will track and research their activity on the conservation land in hopes that they will thrive, increase in number, and ultimately create a strong herd that can survive the wild. To be blunt, they weren’t very “pretty” animals, quite ugly actually, but they were neat animals too see—they were disproportional with very small, skinny legs and oversized ears. As we drove to the conservation site, we also were lucky and got to see wild zebras… definitely a neat sight and what amazing animals they are!
I was assigned the midmorning activity of CES, conservation education in schools, along with a few other volunteers. On our way to the school, we passed by a police checkpoint and were literally flagged down (with what looked like a neon shirt) to pull over. I guess our open-air truck is not currently licensed. This wasn’t all that big of deal however as we were able to proceed with bribery. Of course we’re sitting in the back, not really knowing what is going on at the time but they explained it to us later. Basically, because of the poverty and such low wages the police officers are often bribed with just a few dollars to essentially look passed the issue and act as if nothing happened. So by bribing the officer, the truck doesn’t have to be relicensed, we were able to bypass without any sort of documented problem, and life was great for everyone… I guess this is pretty common. Hmm—bribery. When we got to the school (a different one than the one we taught at last week), we learned that we were teaching outside as there weren’t enough classrooms. So the sixth graders literally have class outside on the playground area… they have a blackboard and are expected to pay attention to their school work as other children are on break around them and having fun… you can only imagine how great of a learning environment that is. Surprisingly however they focused pretty well and unlike last week, the kids were able to understand English which made teaching a whole lot easier! Today’s topic was the circle of life which went over fairly well as they didn’t really have any background information on the topic.
Tonight we left the lions a bit early and headed over to a gorgeous hotel, the Safari Lodge, where we enjoyed an African sunset. Words don’t even explain how remarkable it was—a sunset sky over the bush with a watering hole and animals… absolutely perfect! We all were able to relax after a long, hot day of work and watch the sunset… what a perfect way to end the day!
Also, funny story… so earlier today during the afternoon break, Lauren, Kerry (a new volunteer staying in our lodge), and I were all chatting a bit in the room. We had just seen a huge baboon outside and were literally just commenting on how big it was and such. So our door doesn’t exactly shut and latch completely 100% of the time. This has never really been an issue and if we’re in the lodge, we usually just leave the door propped open or whatever. Well, as we chatting, we looked into the main room area and noticed that the large baboon we were just talking about was in our lodge… oh crap. Baboons don’t have the best reputation and are actually pretty dangerous animals so we freaked out just a bit… we yelled, quickly shut all of the room doors so that at least it would be trapped in just the main, center room but fortunately the unexpected and unwelcomed guest left after hearing our screaming… I’m sure our reaction would have been pretty enjoyable to watch but it was a bit scary and unexpected… I’m just glad he left!
Like I said, I can’t believe there are only a few days left here in Zimbabwe. The time has gone far too fast and I’m enjoying all of the time with the lions like usual. However, I have also really enjoyed getting to know the local staff that we work with, the other volunteers, and the city of Victoria Falls!
I have been able to upload quite a few pictures to facebook and even if you don’t have a facebook you can still access them with the following links so enjoy: