Another Day In Paradise

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Day two with no power, and considering the weather forecast, that’s unlikely to change in the coming week. The rain is still flooding down, and Thor is having a blast. I have my weather phobic parrot trembling under my shirt, and the rest of the feathered horde tucked well into my hair. I, however, will do my best to ignore this terrible downpour and get on with things. My recently acquired laptop means that I don’t have to resort to pen and paper to get anything done at times like this anymore, so that’s alright, but cold baths will never be a lot of fun. A week or more with no electricity is quite normal around here. It probably doesn’t get to me as much as it does everyone else, because of my tendency to view the world through rose coloured glasses. Also, I’m generally floating around in some other place created by myself for a book. I’m a city girl, born and bred, and getting used to these things took a while, but I am used to this way of life now, and probably accept things that most “normal” people wouldn’t.

I’m sure that life here now looks pretty idyllic, apart from banging around in the dark most of the time, and compared to a few years ago it is. Zimbabwe reached a point so low as to be almost unbelievable. Quite apart from the violence and fear, the economy crashed completely. For those very few who actually had money, there was very little they could do with it. People parked their cars in queues for days in the hope of buying a few litres of very seldom available fuel. There was no food. Supermarket shelves were empty. There was no bread to be bought. Factories and shops closed daily, and driving down any main street in any city was like driving through a ghost town. Bread, flour, milk, toilet paper. All of these things that we don’t think too much about, were just not available. Very occasionally there would be rumours that there would be bread for sale, and again, people would queue around blocks with their billions of dollars of worthless currency, always hopeful. A lucky few did their shopping in neighbouring South Africa. Everyone else just went without, or made a plan, as they say here. There are some pretty resilient people in this country, so many outrageous plans were made. But this went on for a couple of years, quite a lot of people died, and things are far from perfect now.

Infrastructures crumbled. This is why we still go without power for so long. Apart from broken equipment, this country can’t afford to supply its actual needs, so we have “load-shedding”, where the power is switched off daily for a few hours. There are no fixed times for these switch offs, so you always have to have a torch handy at night, or you’ll walk into walls, as I often do.. While things have vastly improved just lately, and I’m glad we stuck it out for the duration, we still have a very long way to go. It’s still every man for himself in good old Zimbabwe. Most parts of the capital don’t have running water in their homes, and have to buy it from water bowsers that drive around and pump it into personally owned tanks or containers. The sewage system there is also unrepaired, and spills out onto city streets have led to annual cholera outbreaks now being the norm. With extreme poverty, and the lack of doctors and medicines, a large proportion of people who get this disease, or the dreaded malaria, die. I get malaria once or twice a year. It’s become a bit ho hum for me actually. I just take the course of tablets that we keep a supply of, and carry on as usual. Professionals have left Zimbabwe in droves for greener pastures. We live in a very remote area, surrounded by only bush. The closest doctor or hospital is more than a four hour drive away, and even then, helpful treatment is far from guaranteed. So you have to be ready to treat any illness or injury yourself, and it’s important to keep supplies of any drug that might be needed. I’ve got a proper chemist in a cupboard. Apart from antivenin that is. That’s proven impossible to lay my hands on, and the lack of it is a little scary.

I brushed the tip of a one and a half metre mamba’s tail with my toe not too long ago. Fortunately the top half of him was heading into a fold in the carpet, or I very much doubt that I would now be here boring you with this sorry tale of gloom, brought about by having to wait a very long time for my morning tea. We’ve had a lot of near misses with snakes, and those indigenous to this area are some of the deadliest. This house is beautiful and rambling, but it’s also old, and showing the consequences of the years of poverty. There are lots of places for the local wildlife to head in out of the rain. Hence the frogs, lizards and occasional scorpions. You have to keep your eyes on the ground when you walk anywhere, or sooner or later you’re bound to stand on something nasty. The yard is no safer.

I had an unpleasant experience with a baboon a while back, and those guys can really give you an evil bite. Sprite and I were sneaking around the yard, shooting above the heads of thieving monkeys in our mulberry tree, and laughing at them when they fell down. Told you I wasn’t nice all the time. We strolled around a mound of aloes, and there he was. I came face to face with the biggest nastiest baboon I’ve ever laid eyes on. I hung around just long enough to see the fangs, and hear the screech before I sprinted on out of there rather quickly. The dog was just a speck in the distance, brave soul that he is.

Why stay there then, you ask in surprise. Apart from occasional tantrums, when things really get hairy, as they often do, my view of all these challenges is that the lessons learned have outweighed the tribulations, and also, I’ll be way ahead of everyone else when the zombie apocalypse is upon us. I’ve learned how to survive. Warts and all, Africa will always be my first love, and I’ll hang around till the end.

Till next time, friends. xxx


10 thoughts on “Another Day In Paradise

    Jennie Orbell said:
    December 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Lovely! I’m on the next plane with my suitcase packed to spilling with antivenin etc. etc.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      December 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

      LOL! Nothing like the lack of hot tea on a rainy day to bring out the cruel bitter wind in me. 😀


    Elaine said:
    December 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Brilliant blog entry, Jo. Love how you tell things as they are! Keep it up as apart from all the tribulations you have to endure in your country, your blogs still allow me to see it through appreciative eyes. 🙂 x


      jorobinson176 responded:
      December 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Thanks Elaine! It’s a good place to be now, but it hasn’t always been, and there’s always the possibility that it will all head south again when good old politics kick up a gear in a while. I’ll have to invade the UK then. 😀 xxxx


    angus48 said:
    December 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I guess heading for the outhouse wearing snakeproof boots and gaiters might become normal again. Thought about getting mongooses or ferrets to help with the snakes? How about a poop lobbing trebuchet to deal with the baboon? From experience I can tell you that scorpions and spiders, you just have to mind where you extremities are at all times especially if you drink from canteens that have been near the ground.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      December 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      I like the sound of the poop lobbing trebuchet Angus Day. I’ll just be off to google what it is now. And gaiters look good with anything 😉 Seriously though, I’ve had a glancing sting from a scorpion. Nasty little buggers.


    angus48 said:
    December 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Angus48's Blog and commented:
    Still want to complain about that traffic light or the road detour that makes you three minutes later than usual?


      jorobinson176 responded:
      December 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Not to mention not being able to open Twitter in the rain tonight 😦 Suffering indeed!


    chocolategirl46 said:
    December 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Jeez Jo your a brave soul but then again, life would definitely interesting where you live. Me with everything I need at a fingertip gives me pause to salute you:)


      jorobinson176 responded:
      December 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      It’s pretty good these days Carol, but I like the saluting – thanks 🙂 xx


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