This was going to be one of those long rambling posts about our wonderful few days in Hwange – a national park the size of Belgium, but alas without the chocolate shops – but the contents of this post, along with the photos were lost.
The Isuzu fared well over the muddy tracks, slipping and sliding until it finally became stuck in thick mud. It could have been a long day, just us, much to the amusement of nearby lion and leopard I’m sure, watching on while we cautiously exited the vehicle and nervously dug around the wheels lining the tracks with branches and small rocks. We were lucky. A convoy or crazy Poles came to the rescue; four burly Poles and Paul pushing, a pushy Pole driving. Soon we were on the road again.
We left Hwange looking forward to Vic Falls – terra firma.
Along the way we bitched and moaned about the Zimbabwean Police; the countless roadblocks and their various successful attempts to extract (extort) cash out of us along the way.
Disobeying a police officer.
No radio licence.
Not displaying large safety triangles on dashboard. But no one else does, including police vehicles.Arguing is pointless and it is all done with a smile of course.
And then it went pear-shaped. We checked into the fancy Gorges Lodge. Our secluded remote chalet perched precariously right on the edge of a sheer 250 metre cliff. Directly below the Zambesi River rushed by and on the other side of the gorge, Zambia. Spectacular.
At three in the morning, fast asleep, Gill was startled by a noise and woke up. I heard her standing in the darkness talking.
“Excuse me, can I help you?” She is prone to saying the strangest things.
I thought she was talking to Paul, but no. Two tall dark men had entered our room through a small window in the hall and were ushering Gill back into bed, waving a knife.
“Lie in bed, do not look at us or we will stab you.” One of them commanded.
And for the next twenty minutes we lay face down while they went through all our stuff taking their pick.
There was a moment, a frightening moment; I almost dropped a thread. I saw them coming for me, and then there was a disturbance, a gleaming shiny new camera caught their attention. We breathed a collective sigh of relief.
When it was over, they left telling us no lights, no movement or they will be back to stab us. So for a while we waited in the darkness in silence – shocked.
With no watches, no phone (not to mention cameras, computers, jewellery, jeans, shoes, jackets – virtually everything gone), we had no idea of the time.
There was no point screaming or yelling – no one to hear. And they had hidden the car keys, so we had nothing to do but wait until daylight before raising the alarm.
And then a day of police and trackers. Paperwork in duplicate, hand written, no photocopiers … and nothing.
It is a side of Africa (South Africa mainly) we had heard so much about, but not one we particularly wanted to experience first-hand.
Still, we are fine and the Isuzu no longer groans under the weight of all our luggage!
PS: No more photos. Back in Perth next week. Yay