Tuesday, January 13, 2009

return through Zimbabwe

Sunday around midnight, after the weekend in the car, the last members of the family finally arrived home. Let me back up and tell you how we made it.

On the 4th we started the two day trip to South Africa through Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of southern Africa. Sounds like a painfully trite expression, but it is true. Seeing the current situation in Zim first-hand was painful. We used to go there to stock up on goodies we couldn't buy in Mozambique. One journalist described hundreds of dead donkeys (roadkill of the semi trucks shipping goods through to countries north of Zim), we only encountered three--and one cow. She also mentioned people begging along the roadside, we saw none. She warned of cholera victims with their IVs at the border crossing. We missed the melodrama. But Zimbabwe is on her knees nonetheless. Anything we wanted to purchase including the many taxes we pay at the border: (visa $45 per person, road tax $10, carbon tax $21. bridge tax $20, gov't "insurance" $30) all had to be paid in US dollars or SA rands. Zimbabwean money has no value and most shops will not accept them.

It was heart-breaking to see the normally jolly, extroverted Zimbabweans listless and exhausted from the toll of their brutal dictator. Believe me, the relief of entering into South Africa was palpable. Also noticeable was that we were charged no taxes and other trumped up fees to support a gov't in free fall. But we did wait several hours in the noonday sun (and have the burns to prove it) in the lengthy line of people eager to leave Zim behind. The line meandered out the immigration door, around the courtyard, through another leg of the building and out into the parking lot where we began the vigil.

Late Monday afternoon we arrived at where we would enjoy the four days of conference: a resort with warm baths. Aahh. But better than the pools was the fellowship with our Zimbabwean missionary friends who have been through many crises this past year.

More later. Must post this and get going on lunch. (Had an interruption I wasn't expecting.)

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