Monday, November 21, 2016

Novembre Zim

My father in law is renovating a lodge on lake Kariba, at Tiger bay. He invited us over for the WE, so we did what all responsible parents do, we took the kids out of school and headed straight for the lake.
So we thought. The car was packed with suitcases and food, the kids in, all sharp, ready to go.
It just would not start.
Bummer. Not a cough, just the dry noise of an unhappy engine.
That feeling when you are at the height of expectation and then it just does not come,... a serious anti-climax.
I saw the day before that our fuel gauge was not working, so went to get some diesel just in case, filled the car . It started. It was just very dry, and parked on a slope, on the sand pit the kids use as their fairy tale land, filled with cliffs and caves. No Diesel no go, Diesel go.
Act 2: ready (again), off we went. Only 60 km up the road, 5 police road blocks later, the cars starts to overheat. F***k.
To make the story short, we go back home the same night.
It felt like karma, maybe for taking the kids out. Or the car's way of expressing discontent at a compliment my wife made on another car, the legendary Landie sensitivity. So, only a day late, with a borrowed car, we get to the lake. We spend the next 4 days in the middle of the bush, kids mostly in the pool, fishing in the evening, just chilled.

We did not catch anything. People believe it is because of the very low level of the lake. The bad rainy season combined with the way the dam is managed and electricity produced empties the lake. There is less water coming in than taken out. The entire lake dropped of over 4 meters. Harbors are nearly dry, with boats clogged in small space, and the entire ecosystem of the lake changed. We did not really see any oxygen weeds or others, which are normally plentiful on the edges and are the breeding ground for fish. No weeds, no fish. But stunning landscapes.

Lots of elies, hippos and crocs. Far too many crocodiles indeed.
The WE in Kariba was welcome. We returned to Harare, to learn that the school was offering the possibility for parents to not bring their children to classes, because the city dumpsite was on fire. The smoke packed with heavy metals, arsenic, cyanide and other nasty things was a bit too close and did not seem to stop at the school compound's boundaries.
Hot stinky and dangerous.

Finally rain came. It has been nearly 8 dry months, and a heavy build up for it, with record high temperatures over the last couple of weeks.
Dryness and heat, the grass brittle, the trees in flower, and many, many fires. Smokes turn the sky pink and pastel when the sun goes down, flames provide exquisite views when they set a hill alight in the night, but they burn, clog the air and stretch the nature to its limits in the last months of winter.
With rain, dust settles, the sky clears up and the nature breathes.
Temperature dropped significantly. 2 weeks ago we were sweating over 34, and rains dropped the air to a humble 15 in a flash. That is as radical as an ice bucket challenge, unprepared, with nowhere to escape.

 Back to realities. Headlines packed about corrupt officials, outrageous salaries of civil servants and party cronies, political wars,... Unpleasant.

The economic situation is dire. There is no cash available, banks only allow people to take 50 usd per day, and businesses 500 usd. People queue for hours to get their money out of banks. Old faceless dollars that you need to scrutinize closely to figure out if its a 1, 2 or 5 dollar-note. It is not easy to live in a place where everyone struggles to have cash, where plastic and cell-phone based payments become the norm. Now there is the threat of the introduction of the "bond-notes", a type of monopoly money, backed by nothing, the government wants to introduce on parity with the USD. People just fear that their accounts will be changed overnight, and that they will receive bond notes, spiraling again in hyperinflation and scarcity, as it happened first decade of the millennium. It is very frustrating to see the way this place is managed and led, the level of corruption and embezzlement. Very sad.

And upon return from Kariba, we just heard the choice the USA made for president and government, and felt the world was in a worst place than the day before. Very disappointing, sad and scary. The rise of populists, extremists and fundamentalists are never good news. The fact that they congratulate each others is also concerning.
I guess it's karma for having the Cubs win this year. Against all the laws of the universe,... heavy toll.
We should head back to the lake, away from civilization, networks and information overload, and live on fish.
Oh, no, I forget, we could not catch fish,...