People here often ask me what I expected Zimbabwe to be like before coming here. I didn’t have many expectations, and when I found out I’d be living in a city, I pictured something similar to how Harare actually looks. Many of my friends and family, however, pictured huts and dirt roads, no electricity, and no plumbing. Well, I finally saw that side of Zimbabwe when I went on a short trip to the countryside last week.
During Christmas time in Harare, everything closes down (unfortunately for the Jews, even the Chinese restaurants and movie theaters). Many people will take trips or go back to the villages where they grew up since there is not much to do around here. I was lucky enough to tag along and travel to Modreck’s parents’ farm in a village called Bedza about three hours from here (which, in Zimbabwean, actually means about five hours) in an area called Buhera. Although we only spent three days there, it was such a wonderful experience.
I was definitely an outsider in this village, but around the house, I felt incredibly welcomed. Some of the relatives made sure that everyone spoke English around me so that I wouldn’t feel left out of the conversation. I was asked so many questions about where I’m from, my family, my time here in Zimbabwe. People made sure I understood the traditional customs of greeting one another and I learned a few more words in Shona here and there. I was really treated like this was my own extended family.
I spent some time exploring the area, hiking up a nearby mountain, and seeing rock paintings from many years ago. I was able to hang out with some cows and chickens, taste African beer (definitely not my cup of tea), meet tons of very distant relatives, all of whom are referred to as mother/father/brother/sister, so I am still not sure how everyone is related, and listen to traditional singing in Shona and African drumming. All in all, it was a nice few of days off, away from the city, finally getting to see, as someone referred to it as, “the real Africa”, baboons and all.