Welcome back everyone! And sorry for the long lack of posts, its been very hectic over Christmas and New Years, with much visiting of family and travel. I have been keeping notes however, and fully intend to catch up to the present. So we’re going a bit back in time, way back to 2009!
A few days after we got back from our first trip up the the vumba, Annie arrived. A friend of Sophie and mine, she flew over from Birsbane to spend the remainder of the Zim leg of the trip with us. Unfortunately for her, the day after her arrival, or rather, the day of her arrival, as she was delayed and only actually got her in the early hours of the morning, we had some rather painful chores to do in the city. We needed to extend our Zim visa’s, and also to buy Mozambique visas for our upcoming road trip. Two seemingly simple tasks in most countries, in Zim I knew were definitely going to cause us grief somehow…
Now, the city of Harare is one of my least favourite places to visit. It is busy, crowded, dirty and hot, and usually I am there for some completely undesirable purpose such as renewing my Zim residence in the immigration office, as was the case today. The first thing we had to do though was meet with a friend of Sophie’s from her last visit, Emmanuel. He is a local musician, somewhat outspoken against the government as I would imagine it would be difficult not to be as a musician in the current envirnoment. Over the years since we were last here he has had a rough time, and after unsuccessfully seeking refugee status in the UK, he is back in Zim hoping for the best with the new joint government. It is very interesting chatting to him, he tells us about his life in Chitungwisa township where there is much poverty and sewage runs in the streets. Despite his situation though he is glad to be back home and hopeful for the future.
We stop to look in the supermarket on our way to the immigration office. I am amazed at how well stocked it is, with just about everything you could want there on the shelves. It is a stark contrast to the last time when supermarkets were almost entirely empty and most shopping had to be sourced from South Africa. The prices however are now in US Dollars and most of the imported items are much the same price as they would be in Australia. The local produce however is still quite cheap and I am glad to note that alcohol prices are still intoxicatingly low. Local spirits are as low as three dollars a bottle, and even imported liquor is less than half the price as it would be in Australia, US$12 for a bottle of Gilbeys Gin for example. Beer is a very reasonable 60c a bottle or so.
We buy a few niknaks and carry on to the Immigration office. If you live in a first world country, Zimbabwean municipal offices really have to be seen to be believed. They are old, dark, dirty, smelly buildings. If you imagine a once good looking building that has had zero maintenance for the last two decades. They also invariably involve a lot of queuing on uncomfortable benches. This paricular one however, had just closed for its lunchbreak and would only open again in two hours time.
Now regretting our frolick in the Supermarket we walked to the Mozabique embassy. The guy at the gate with an AK tells us that they are closed, and that they are only open until twelve. We will have to try again tomorrow.
Dejected we walk back to the Immigration and join the queue that as already formed in the 30 seconds it takes us to walk up the dark grimey stairs. After some time we reach the counter and the guy flittingly explains that we don’t need to extend our visa and it wouldn’t be a problem at the border, next please. We hang on there a bit longer poking a bit more information out of him to make sure this would indeed be the case, and finally satisfied, we leave. Harare city 2 – Us 0.
The next day we are at the Mozambique embassy at eight o clock sharp. We go through the security gate. The metal detector beeps in alarm as I walk through, but the guy with the AK doesnt seem to mind so we go on. There is no staff present so we have to explore a bit to find our queue. Half an hour later some staff appear and the queue starts moving. We finally reach the desk. US110 for a visa in a British passport! I can’t believe it! The girls only have to pay half as much. We cough up and I leave, hissing, but glad that I won’t have to come into the city again anytime soon.

Welcome back everyone! And sorry for the long lack of posts, its been very hectic over Christmas and New Years, with much visiting of family and travel. I have been keeping notes however, and fully intend to catch up to the present. So we’re going a bit back in time, way back to 2009!

A few days after we got back from our first trip up the the vumba, Annie arrived. A friend of Sophie and mine, she flew over from Birsbane to spend the remainder of the Zim leg of the trip with us. Unfortunately for her, the day of her arrival, as she was delayed and only actually got here in the early hours of the morning, we had some rather painful chores to do in the city. We needed to extend our Zim visa’s, and also to buy Mozambique visas for our upcoming road trip. Two seemingly simple tasks in most countries, in Zim I knew were definitely going to cause us grief somehow…

The city of Harare is one of my least favourite places to visit. It is busy, crowded, dirty and hot, and usually I am there for some completely undesirable purpose such as renewing my Zim residence in the immigration office, as was the case today. The first thing we had to do though was meet with a friend of Sophie’s from her last visit, Emmanuel. He is a local musician, somewhat outspoken against the government as I would imagine it would be difficult not to be as a musician in the current envirnoment. Over the years since we were last here he has had a rough time, and after unsuccessfully seeking refugee status in the UK, he is back in Zim hoping for the best with the new joint government. It is very interesting chatting to him, he tells us about his life in Chitungwisa township where there is much poverty and sewage runs in the streets. Despite his situation though he is glad to be back home and hopeful for the future.

Next we head to the immigration office  stopping to look in the supermarket on our way . I am amazed at how well stocked it is, with just about everything one could want there on the shelves. It is a stark contrast to the last time when supermarkets were almost entirely empty and most shopping had to be sourced from South Africa. The prices however are now in US Dollars and most of the imported items are much the same price as they would be in Australia, so VERY expensive by Zim standards. The local produce however is still quite cheap and I am glad to note that alcohol prices are still intoxicatingly low. Local spirits are as low as three dollars a bottle, and even imported liquor is less than half the price as it would be in Australia, US$12 for a bottle of Gilbeys Gin for example. Beer is a very reasonable 60c a bottle or so.

We buy a few niknaks and carry on to the Immigration office. If you live in a first world country, Zimbabwean municipal offices really have to be seen to be believed. They are old, dark, dirty, smelly buildings, imagine a once good looking building that has had zero maintenance for the last two decades and you begin to get the picture. They also invariably involve a lot of queuing on uncomfortable benches. This paricular one however, had just closed for its lunch break and would only open again in two hours time. Damn.

Now regretting our frolick in the Supermarket we walked to the Mozambique embassy. The guy at the gate with an AK tells us that they are closed, and that they are only open until twelve. We will have to try again tomorrow.

Dejected we walk back to the Immigration and join the queue that as already formed in the 30 seconds it takes us to walk up the dark grimey stairs. After some time we reach the counter and the guy flittingly explains that we don’t need to extend our visa and it wouldn’t be a problem at the border, next please. We hang on there a bit longer poking a bit more information out of him to make sure this would indeed be the case, and finally satisfied, we leave. Harare city 2 – Us 0.

The next day we are at the Mozambique embassy at eight o clock sharp. We go through the security gate. The metal detector beeps in alarm as I walk through, but the guy with the AK doesnt seem to mind so we go on. There is no staff present so we have to explore a bit to find our queue. Half an hour later some staff appear and the queue starts moving. We finally reach the desk. US110 for a visa in a British passport! I can’t believe it! The girls only have to pay half as much. We cough up and I leave, hissing, but glad that I won’t have to come into the city again anytime soon.