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Truck, tent, truck, tent, mall, truck, shop rite, truck...

One night in Zambia, One Hour in Harare, Bulawayo and a Birthday!

August 5th
On the road again... And again and again....
I'm going to be honest, I can remember each of the campsites we were at but besides that the days, where we were and what mall/Shoprite/coffees shops we stopped at in between all start to blend together... so here is what Thom kept track of in his journal so we'll just go with that. Not that there was very much to report on anyway...but things do get better after this post so stay tuned!

5:36 AM and we are pulling out of camp!
Kelly took a Benadryl as we were warned that it would be a LONG day.

12:50 PM back on the road again after a "bush toilet" break - 3 hours to the next stop - a MALL!?!?!?!? Or rather to our great surprise a Shoprite!!!

We didn't come to Africa to go to a mall ... But I sure do appreciate the ATM and selection of wines to stock up on with my "Italian Ladies Wine Club"

Anyway we stop for lunch. Several of our group are expressing their feelings about the amount of travel time spent on the truck in the heat of the day, the fact that there is nothing to do or see on the way and the "grind" of the trekking...
Let's just say we are not the only ones beginning to wonder what we read when we read the Trip Notes for this vacation!
Our stop is for about 45 minutes and then back on the truck...
30 minutes more and we arrive at our campsite for yet another ONE NIGHT STAY! We pass random zebra as we enter the campgrounds. (Ha ha do you like how spoiled we got from the Serengeti and Crater that now we just refer to the zebra as if I saw some deer on the side of the road in Pennsylvania.) After dinner some of us go to the bar which was a pretty cool structure for a few beers. The drinks are CHEAP - 10 Kwacha ( $1.60 US). Rose had told us to spend all of our Zambian Kwacha since our next destination, Zimbabwe did not accept them so we did - no worries Thom still had enough to buy several beers, and tomorrow we would be able to get more money in Zimbabwe -...aka- US DOLLARS. After drinks bed - another early start ahead.

Wednesday August 6th
We've been up since 4 AM,
...already we have eaten two meals and several snacks (one meal on the truck) and we have crossed the border into Zimbabwe.


Snoozing and reading fill my time (Thom who never reads is now reading his second book on this journey - get the picture?)... We had a 5 AM breakfast and we broke camp around 5:30. We would have left earlier but someone (Thom) lost his sunglasses. He thought they were on his head and he dropped them while boarding the truck. We would come to find out that they were actually rolled up in our stowed tent when we unpack and set up in the next site. Bonus, magically they didn't get crushed!
It will take 3 hours to get to the border crossing and then another 4 - 5 hours minimum to get to Harare, the Capitol of Zimbabwe where we might get a chance to walk around before moving on to our camp for yet another one night stay. Wahoo!!!!!
Not much to see on the way. The truck is hot, we are tired, stiff, bored, and really sweaty! Oh wait there is one of the world's largest rivers (Kind of dry though)...

Oh too late, no time to stop and look. No matter, we're going to get to Harare where we might get to walk around and maybe see some city traffic - We're really getting tired of this!
Harare was kind of a let down too as we had maybe and hour or so to walk around but not much to do or see. The trip notes said to check out the National Museum but it was closed and to see some garden but Rose said you would have to take a taxi and it was 30 min away...ok then. It seemed like a real business type of city from what we gathered in the small time we were there. Tall skyscraper type buildings and men in business suites.
Well with so many options to choose from (said sarcastically) Nancy, Alana, Thom and I decided to do what any bored person kept in a cage would do with the first chance of freedom - find a bar.
We go to what is actually a hotel and step downstairs to the bar only to have every person there turn and stare at us. And why shouldn't they? All the local men at the bar were dressed in suits with collared shirts and ties... and here come the dirty white backpackers in their bandanas and kaki hiker pants...ha ha ha! But there was no problem and everyone was actually very friendly or at least kept their comment to a language I couldn't understand. We had one drink and got the scuzziest, most worn down American two dollar bill I have ever seen as change. Yay!

Thursday August 7th
More of the same - get up early, pack and go, another LONG day on the truck. Get to the next site. Tomorrow is Thom's birthday!!!

August 8th - My Birthday!!!
We slept in today maybe we left around 7:00??? - we only have a 6 hour ride.
While at a rest stop Thom takes some photos - SLICE STOP.
Pizza Slice (makes sense)

Slice Groceries (ok I'll buy that)

Chicken Slice (hmmm)

Creamy Slice (now you're pushing it a bit I think)

Police Slice Base (!?!?!?!)

Thom also took photos of two busses that were loaded to the sky.
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They can load the busses that way since there are no bridges to go under in this area - pretty wild. Can you imagine trying that at home?

Eventually we made it to Bulawayo. We stopped first briefly in Bulawayo to get some supplies and I got a Birthday card for Thom for everyone to sign (I opted for the Rainbows and Hearts option over the Christmas card)
Then to camp to set up, a little SLICE of paradise - no really - Burke's Paradise - really nice!!!

After lunch the owner, Adam gives us the 411 and then we go into town. Bulawayo is a nice small town, rather modern and filled with some comfy amenities.
Once there we have 3 hours to browse. Thom, Christine, Nancy and I go to the Cairo To Cape Town Bar for a birthday libation.

Next we visit the Cultural Arts Center, where we are charmed by the curator and purchase a few items.
Then off to the National Gallery.
Not a large place but FINALLY, a place that has original art work!!! Thom had been looking for some since we began. Now don't get me wrong, cultural art forms are lovely but...
Every town has the same touristy sHtuff!!! Not here. Original works, done in unique styles.

Thom and Christine tour the museum while Cool Aussie Nancy and I head to the local markets in search of a jumper (also known by us Americans as a Sweat Shirt...lol)
Thom treats himself to a nice print (HAPPY BIRTHDAY) and has a great conversation with the artist and a few of his fellow artisans. So happy for him that his Birthday landed on this day and not one spent entirely on the truck!

At 5 PM we meet the others and head back to camp.

Back at camp Thom sat watching the sunset, while frogs serenade.

I went off to use the WiFi and soon after the sun sets it is dinner time.
Thom gets a balloon decorated chair waiting for him in honor of his birthday.

We ate dinner, had birthday cake, the group sang and wished him Happy Birthday!
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...and after all of that Bob sang an original song he wrote for Christine in honor of their anniversary which would come tomorrow. It was a beautiful evening.
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Tonight we get to sleep in a bit. 8 o'clock breakfast and then off to see some Rhinos!!!

Posted by Kelly Rose 11:20

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Sheer delight!! Until, prime time birthday bash - complete with photo of "the Man". Happy birthday Thom. So pleased to see you got to celebrate with Kelly and friends in a far away place called - piece of paradise....Love, Mom and Dad

by Mom and Dad McLaughlin

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