Sunday, August 29, 2010


Took my first trip to Zimbabwe for a communicators conference (my first conference!). Wasn't sure what to expect in Zim given all the media, but there were some surprises. Being in a conference meant that from morning to dinner we were sitting in a cramped conference room, so we didn't get to see much of the city of Harare or the country.

First impression at the airport: clean, beautiful and way nicer than Lusaka...People told me that it used to be really ratty - so luckily, I saw it after the renovation!

This is a park across the street from our hotel, it took up one city block! This is not only shocking because of the size - but again, comparing to Lusaka, there are virtually no parks here, so just seeing one was awesome.

Downtown Harare has some super modern looking buildings (more so than Lusaka). Zimbabweans say that the Harare of today is nothing like the glory of the city 20 years ago.

Here's the amazing thing about the Zim has been devalued so much that they now trade in US dollars... I found TWO 50 BILLION dollar notes on the ground and when I asked someone why they didn't pick up the money, they said, "it's only paper... it has no value."

So, now Zimbabwe is using the US dollar for currency. The top bill was one that I received as change - nasty, grimy...and as you can see, about ready to fall apart. The dollar bill below was one that we had in our stash - used, but nothing like the one from Zim. The single dollar bill is the most traded in Zim and they can't take them out of circulation and print more, so they must keep using them until they fall apart (or people like me buy stuff with newer bills and take the nasty, ratty ones out as change). Also, for the poor, there are difficulties because Zim doesn't have any coins for change, it means that people who can only afford one loaf of bread (at 30 cents) are now forced to buy two or three and rarely get full value out of the currency.

Obama tshirts are everywhere!

This was an amazing mural on the side of a building.

Was this intentional - or a typo?? :-)

Trash by one of slum areas we visited. The good news is they have a trash can...

This building was originally built for manual laborers who came into Harare for work - with so many people coming into the city for work, each of the rooms that used to house one man now houses 4-5 people.


Our friends took us to one of the most popular spots in Zim for BBQ (or braai as they call it here). When you drive up, many ladies (and some men) ask you if they can be your cook.

Step #1 - before we even could get off the bus - we were accosted by people who wanted to be our cook. Pick a cook.

Step #2 - walk across the dirt parking area to the meat markets - and pick out what you want to BBQ. Beef, pork, chicken - all cut in various ways. Thank goodness the meat was kept in refrigerated units!

Step # 3 - take your bags of meat to the lady you selected to do your cooking. The lady we used is the one on the left in the white tshirt. The guy who picked her comes to this place on a regular basis and she's his regular cook (but you can see that there are lots of braiis set up under the roof).
We practiced good hygiene by washing our hands before we ate (since we did all our eating with our hands, this was essential). Our cook was the one who poured the water and offered up the soap.

Next - we belly up to the table. Big plates of hot, nicely seasoned beef, chick and pork...and some veggies on the side. Although I was a bit skeptical, it was a really delicious meal - and BONUS: no one got sick!

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