On how Zambia grows on you and the Red Cross "black sheep".

If I knew what I was getting into before I left home...
image
 
In hindsight everything stands so annoyingly clear. I should have done that...I shouldn't have said that...I should have kissed her...I shouldn't have kissed him...I should have invested...I wish I said, I wish I did, I wish, I wish, I wish...
 
What has the Saga become? Something else than what I imagined for sure! Do I regret? Not a thing! Would I do it all over again? NO WAY!! NEVER!
 
I'm grateful to be in Zambia. I've been through quite a few countries by now and I know a thing or two. The last few countries have been surprisingly gentle and pleasant to visit. Zambia is no exception. I love a culture which finds it easy to smile. And while Zambia has a lot to offer, I don't feel like the locals are hassling me to buy or try anything. And if they do then I simply reply "no thank you" and smile. That is most commonly returned by a smile.
 
image
Thank you very much!
 
I feel like I just wrote a blog? I don't think I did anything since the last one? Or perhaps I did too much? After my girlfriend left I spoke to the general manager at the Best Western Plus in Lusaka. He likes the Saga and offered me 2 nights complementary! Boom! Thank you sir!
 
I turned my room into an office and attacked the piles of administrative work I had neglected during my girlfriends visit. A huge part of my work is in connection to the Red Cross and the all the social media. This blog e.g. has taken 5 hours to write, edit, upload, edit and post. It may be read by up to 3,000 people over time. But likely no more than 800 within the first few months. That makes you special ;)
 
Obviously the journey it self takes a ton of work: Transportation, cheap but healthy food, accommodation and naturally visas!! I don't know most countries in advance so research takes up a lot of my time too.
 
image
 
Could you do this? Perhaps you could. But if you want to increase your chances then cut out the Red Cross and social media and do it for you.
 
The social media is in place for me to come across with my not very well hidden agenda: The world is a far better place than we give it credit for and a stranger is a friend you've never met before. When someone shows me that tattooed on their body then I know we are going somewhere ;)
 
But seriously, our social media and the mass media is misleading us and while we know it does create our reality. And the perception of reality is in dire need of a boost upwards.
 
image
Soooo, it turned out that Lusaka was much nicer than I first thought. And the national museum is spectacular. There is a lot of music and good restaurants too.
 
Why does the Red Cross take so much of my time? And why does nobody know? This is strange indeed! I never intended this much involvement of the Red Cross within the Saga. But on average I think the Red Cross swallows around 2 full days in each country. That would amount to more than a year on this project before the end. It's substantial.
 
Originally I just wanted some affiliation with the Red Cross for the Saga. And it made sense: I'm going to every country and the Red Cross is found in nearly every country. There is obviously great synergy.
 
image
 
Someone within the Danish Red Cross came up with the idea that I should write an "always present" story about the Red Cross or Red Crescent for each of the 190 countries where the organization is found. And I agreed. Nobody thought that decision through. Neither I nor the Red Cross.
 
How do you write 190 stories about the same organization? Well, my solution was to visit them individually. And I've mostly done that. But how easy do you think it is to get in touch with the Red Cross globally by email? Especially in Spanish and French speaking countries which I have visited a lot of? And to top it off then my emails are often regarded as spam. Because as they told me in Nigeria: "We didn't think anyone would be dumb enough to travel the entire world without flight and offer free promotions of our work!" Good point Nigeria...
 
image
I was invited to visit the western province which is on the other side of Kafue national park (coming from Lusaka). We saw a single elephant near the road and a snake which tried to cross. That's it. The trip took 8 hours! But what a sky!!
 
Also as it in hindsight seems abundantly clear: You can't walk into a Red Cross office in a foreign country and request information about what they are doing without offering anything in return. The stories I write have all been in Danish so no one has had a chance to read them which adds to the tension. 
 
Then at some point during the Saga I started to have something to offer. At this point where the project has more than 100 countries behind it media became a natural part of the project. It's not front page stuff most places...but the media always has interest. And with that I could offer the Red Cross exposure to create more visibility. Something which is clearly needed many places. It's the worlds largest humanitarian organization but honestly; how much do you really know about it? ;) Right...me neither a few years ago...
 
image
Genius! Someone at a primitive roadside toilet clearly got tired of turning the water off after people have washed their hands. Add a rubber band and it closes itself! ;)
 
Well if you know this then I'm happy: It was founded in 1863, it's found in 190 countries, it's completely neutral and it's in place to alleviate human suffering within basically all its forms.
 
Then they slowly began asking me to meet with the volunteers. Or translate my stories. And visit programs and projects. And much, much more... And I don't mind. Often I even enjoy it. But here is the thing: I can't make myself say no. If the Red Cross anywhere in the world is asking me to do something, then how can I say no? Especially if it's something relatively small and within my grasp. So it adds up and builds up and becomes a lot of work.
 
image
The western province is "sand country". Although there is much green I figure those roots must then go deep!
 
Nobody told me to do it. It just kind of became that way. So now what? Quit it and go back to "just writing stories"? The stories alone take me around 8 hours each if you calculate everything including getting in touch with the Red Cross, locating the Red Cross, visiting the Red Cross and writing the story. Especially if I want an original angle so the stories do not all resemble each other. 
 
So who manages the Red Cross part of this project? No one does. Because it's mostly invisible and largely nobodies while everyone's business. The individual Red Cross countries I've visited see it as a Danish Red Cross project. After all the stories are in Danish. The International Federation of the Red Cross also largely views it as a Danish project. The Danish Red Cross views it as my project and all the social media of the Saga is about something else than the Red Cross. The only exception is the "RC Sunday" post every week.
 
image
Ever tried riding a bicycle in soft sand? Good luck! But it doesn't faze the locals.
 
Project for sale? Hmmm... It's odd that no one takes ownership? After all: Who can imagine a larger internal and external promotion of the Red Cross Red Crescent than what this could be? 
 
But everyone seems to be busy and nobody wants more work. So the bulk of the Red Cross work I carry out is lost behind the scene. As an example I can mention that the Danish Red Cross recently spent several days on social media promoting their work in Malawi. Guess what my next country is? ;)
 
image
On the 3rd day of the Red Cross training the villagers heard about the 3 P's: Proper Preperation Prevents Poor Performance ;)
 
Perhaps I'm too dangerous for the Red Cross? After all I do break nearly every rule there is in terms of transportation. Humanitarian workers are most often well protected with a thick book of rules to conduct their behavior. I'm free to travel as I please. And admittedly it's not all safe. But it's all legal. Everything I have done has been legal and by the book. Some book... :)
 
The Danish Red Cross fitted me with a letter of intent before I left Denmark. This letter has enabled me to legitimize my presence at the Red Cross or Red Crescent in other countries. So they have initially created the link. And it is true that the Red Cross in some countries has in some situations has been key to certain logistical matters. Although not many...and mostly none I couldn't have solved on my own. E.g. when the Ivory Coast Red Cross enabled me to cross the border from Liberia to the Ivory Coast I probably couldn't have done that in that specific situation without their paperwork. But I could have spent two days backtracking to Liberia's capital Monrovia and have found a boat to bypass the Ivory Coast to Ghana. From Ghana I could easily have entered the Ivory Coast as that border was open. Perhaps even faster. Problem solved? 
 
image
A part of my extended family :)
 
Another thing which has come up is my knowledge about the Red Cross Red Crescent. What do I really know about the organization? Well first of all I know it doesn't want to be called an organization. It's a "movement" ;) Furthermore I obviously know far more about the Red Cross in the individual countries than what I put into my "happy go lucky" stories. After all I can't fit everything into a story and also not all I know is fit to be mentioned. I think I'm in one of those situations where I can smugly say: "Listen son: I've forgotten more about the Red Cross than you will ever know" ;)  
 
image
Just added this to remind you all that there was this top modern and quite huge supermarket just a short drive from the villagers in the pictures above. Diversity at large ;)
 
It's an odd situation to be in? Almost all the Sagas social media is reserved for the journey it self, the countries, the people, the food, the culture, the history etc. And yet I'm accumulating all this organizational knowledge along with a massive network which I can't seem to place anywhere? I'm the black sheep of the Red Cross. Baaaah :)
 
image
Mongul town center really reminds me of a movie set. I figure they covered everything in asphalt to avoid the sand blowing about. Smart move!
 
Okay now, enough about that. But I hope you enjoyed that journey through an odd little situation. The big news this time is the one of my 2 amazing sisters is coming to visit!! Yeah baby!! She will touchdown in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) on June 2nd so that's pretty sweet! Haven't seen her since 2013 when she drove to Luxembourg to meet me there (country number 5). We will have more than a week together and I plan on having some quality time with her while I search for a ship to Madagascar. Also we want to have a look at Zanzibar since everyone is talking about it.
 
I have a bus ticket in my pocket which is for this Sunday from Zambia to Malawi. I have a feeling that's going to be a loooong drive since it starts at 04:00am. Meanwhile I'm in Bongu which is 8 hours in the opposite direction of Zambia. I'm in the western province and Maliki is east. But I'm here in connection to a joint Netherlands/Zambian Red Cross project. See what I mean ;)
 
image
 
It comes with its perks though. I got to see more of Zambia and meet more of its people. Zambia: You do not disappoint! Well done Zambia, well done indeed.

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - the black sheep.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga
 
Add a comment

From Zim to Zam (Zimbabwe and Zambia)

Shakespeare wrote: "Parting is such sweet sorrow". I do not disagree...
image
 
Perhaps I'm slowly becoming African? I've certainly been here long enough!! It's been far more than a year since I planted my feet in Morocco thinking that Africa's 54 countries would take me only a little more than a year. But look at me know?
 
While in Iceland I met an American woman effectively called "Twinkle". She was the first person to critic the Saga. With frowning eyebrows she asked: "I wonder how all of this will go down in Africa?" Good on you Twinkle...good on you...
 
image
 
Today I can answer that question. Most people think I'm crazy in the original sense of the word. Others ask if I'm being punished for something? However that is only at first. Because most people I meet slowly begin to understand what all this "madness" is about. Yet some might never get it... Africa is a very large continent. Much larger than what it appears to be on a map. Take a look at a globe instead and you might find yourself scratching the back of your head.
 
I have honestly been going as fast as I could! I had malaria for a while which held me back a bit. But really that was only the least of it. Being stuck on islands or trying to get to them...along with the struggle for visas and the heavy bureaucracy of Central Africa (not all of Africa) has taken its toll. Mentally I feel the weight as well. 
 
image
This is what a supermarket looks like in a country where 4 million people go hungry to bed due to the drought. Food for thought.
 
So yes, perhaps I'm becoming slightly more African than I intended? Perhaps I'm starting to see the madness...the punishment...and perhaps I'm also starting to ask: What is it all for? Why not just marry my girlfriend, start a family and watch the Sunday sports in the comfort of my home?
 
image
 
...a problem I'm trying to solve with this project is that the media refuses to focus on the good...of which there is most. The outcome of, nearly all media, having a negative angle is that people start to believe that the world is worse off than what it is. 

I believe that perception is reality and I have so far observed that most people's perception is rated below the actual reality. So I'm trying to adjust that.

 

image

I do not close my eyes to corruption, decease, poverty, terror or any other harmfulness to our societies. I merely do not promote it within this project.

As a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross I do in fact deal quite a lot with the unfavorable side of life for many. I observe, read, listen and try to understand it. After that I write a story about the Red Cross in each country, describing how the Red Cross is combating this and improving life for millions of people.

 

image

 

The reality for me is that society is improving almost everywhere. More girls attend school than ever, natural disasters claim fewer lives, new cures for deceases are being invented and released, the middle class economy is growing globally and no matter where I have gone (110 countries), I have met friendly and helpful people.

Any balanced person must be able to contain information of both good and bad and not only focus on one side. It is strictly within this project that the positive is promoted one sided. And frankly I believe it is needed.

World media is taking care of the other side....you should know that. You probably do. Just as you should know that looking at a rectangular map is also a manipulation of the state of our world ;)

 

image

 
I was carried through Zimbabwe along with my girlfriend. It could not have been much easier! When I first arrived I was staying with Stu...he found me through the Saga's social media (which has now reached more than 22,000 active followers). Then my girlfriend arrived and after a few days in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, we continued to the city of Kings and Queens: Bulawayo. In Bulawayo we stayed with Tina who is a friend of Stu's family. 
 
image
 
Tina is a real power-woman who juggles all sorts of activities while taking care of her family. Her husband Reinhard is a funny man of German origin who speaks like a waterfall. I was willing to listen and he said a lot of wise things. I think most people who have lived and survived the economic rollercoaster of Zim has something wise to share.
 
image
Tina and I enjoy a beer at Matobo national park. 
 
Dayne and Baye were also home. They are Tina's children and they were equally impressive to meet. Dayne is an outstanding chef and Baye managed to create a very impressive wildlife sanctuary at the age of 22!! She's 24 now and it's truly impressive. We had a chance to visit and it's beyond me how someone that young can do something so impressive. I'm trying to remember what I was doing at 22? Probably eating dirt and chasing cars...woof :)
 
image
Our home for three nights at Hwenge National Park.
 
After a few days of royal treatment at Tina's place we continued on a safari (organized by Tina) at Hwenge safari park. True luxury!! Relatively low cost. Totally worth it! On arrival at the safari lodge we were straight away able to see elephants, baboons, kudos, impalas, birds and warthogs only a hundred meters from where we were going to sleep. And that was with no fence between us and the wildlife! Welcome to the real world :)
 
image
 
You know, long ago someone observed that we used to build fences around our settlements to protect us from the wildlife. Now we build fences around the wildlife to protect it from us.
 
In fact I have been shaking my head for a while. Because as mentioned, I have been in Africa for more than a year, and the majority of the animals I have seen have been: Cows, horses, chicken, sheep, cats, dogs and birds. No giraffes, no lions etc... If you want to see the elephants, gorillas, lions, giraffes, zebras and so on - then you need to go to where they are. Typically in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
 
image
 
Having said that, I have already had my fair share of stories in Zimbabwe regarding traffic interrupted by elephants, workouts interrupted by elephants - and Stu was once chased by a hippopotamus (at lake Kariba). Seriously! It's 2016 now. Who gets chased by a hippo? ;)
 
image
 
Tina's son Dayne had a friend while we were staying in Bulawayo. Her name is Sandi and she is the daughter of Muffy who lives in Victoria Falls - at Victoria Falls (I didn't know that the town was called Victoria Falls until we went). Sandi called her mother, passed the phone to Tina and said "Talk to her" :) Later on Tina sent me Muffy's phone number and informed me that Muffy would host us when we got that far.
 
image
Muffy on the far left - the Zambezi River down below :)
 
Muffy came to pick us up at the bus terminal in Victoria Falls. She is a petit woman who I would first describe as a fragile flower with very deep roots. She is amazingly spirited and showed us no lack of hospitality during our short stay. So there you have it: Carried through Zimbabwe's hospitality. Hosted by Stu in Harare, by Tina in Bulawayo and by Muffy in Victoria Falls. Big love everyone! :)
 
image
 
I originally had the impression that Victoria Falls was a tourist trap. But it isn't at all. It certainly caters to tourists, but it's a really special place at the same time with lots to do and see. It's even inside a national park so you have monkeys and elephants among other animals walking freely about. Something which is sort of strange in an otherwise modern town? But fun!
 
image
Visiting the Victoria Falls can be a wet experience! The spray from the waterfall can be seen 50km away!
 
After a night in Victoria Falls we crossed the impressive Victoria Falls Bridge which was built in 1905. It connects Zimbabwe with Zambia and is 128 meter high! It used to connect Cape Town in South Africa with Cairo in Egypt. What an impressive train ride that would have been?!? But those days are gone although I could easily imagine it rivaling the Trans Siberian Railroad!! Maybe some day...
 
 
 
WELCOME TO ZAMBIA!!
image
 
Across the border from Victoria Falls we easily made our way into Zambia and were greeted with smiles. This part of the world is truly a pleasure to visit. Muffy's friend Sue was waiting in her 4WD to pick us up. After a short drive we found ourselves in Livingstone, which is a former capital of Zambia. Today it's what I would describe as a tourist trap ;) Sue dropped us off and told us to call her if we needed anything - then she left again and we were on our own. Easy though...everything comes easy for a tourist in Livingstone. Just bring money. We had some Indian curry that night and decided to head straight for Lusaka, Zambia's capital, the next day. With only a few more days left together before my girlfriends flight, we simply wanted to rest and be together for a few days.
 
The Zambians are lovely people as far as I can tell. Everyone has been really easy to deal with and conversations come easy. 
 
image
We wanted to go by train to Lusaka...but we were told there were too many accidents.
 
The next morning we made our way to the bus terminal and found 2 seats on the "FM bus" which advertised itself having free wifi. It was a 22 seat bus so nothing big. I'm 193cm (6'4) tall so I struggled with legroom as we put Livingstone and the Zambezi River behind us. The landscape opened up and when the roadsides weren't facing trees, we could enjoy beautiful fields on both sides of the bus. 7 hours later we reached Lusaka...
 
image
What is a grown man to do with his legs?!? :)
 
Walking around Lusaka isn't exactly super interesting. But there is plenty to see for a first time visitor. It's ironic that a country with so much wildlife and nature hasn't really left any parks inside the city. When asking the locals what there is to see they often refer to one of the malls as an attraction. But being in a mall isn't like being in Zambia. The inside of a top modern mall could be equal to being anywhere in the world. So we walked about for several hours and eventually found a college campus which was shielded somewhat from the busy traffic. Inside the campus students were walking about as students do...we spoke to a few of them and enjoyed the much calmer ambiance of that environment compared to the busy streets. 
 
image
A massive amount of construction was going on all over Lusaka - here at the college campus.
 
From the campus we walked out past the endlessly long cargo wagons of Zambia Railway (downtown). They are fit to transport coal, but weren't moving anywhere when we crossed the tracks. Again everyone we met were friendly and accommodating. We weren't supposed to be on the tracks, but people made it possible for us anyway and we met nothing but smiles. Finally we reached Kafue road which is definitely an attraction to a visitor. It's a very long road which is packed with stores on each side and lots and lots of people...on the road in between the traffic buzzes on. Looking at traffic you can tell something about a countries economy. Is there much traffic? Are there many modern cars? Is it well organized?...in fact I can't remember the last time I visited a country were 99% of the road vehicles weren't roadworthy in Europe...it must have been somewhere in rural Central Africa... 
 
image
 
Eventually we ended up in a mall anyway... ;)
 
My girlfriend booked us into a Best Western Plus hotel called "Lusaka Grand" so there was no lack of luxury. We had a few good meals and spent the last of our 12 days together savoring each moment together. We met each other about 3.5 years ago and I've been out on this project for 2.5 years now. She has been out to visit 9 times already.
 
image
 
I left her in the airport and returned to the hotel where I met the general manager. He told me that he likes the project and offered me an extra night for free. So the Lusaka Grand is now my favorite hotel in all of Zambia!! :) No kidding, it's a really nice place and the staff goes the extra mile to accommodate you. I feel welcome and it comes with a huge breakfast buffet :) https://www.tripadvisor.dk/Hotel_Review-g293843-d2148756-Reviews-BEST_WESTERN_PLUS_Lusaka_Grand_Hotel-Lusaka_Lusaka_Province.html
 
Coming back to my room I pulled out the magnetic key card and open the door. I walked into the room and looked at the bed. Her side of the bed was empty and her bags were gone. That's when it dawned on me...I'm alone again...
 
To all of you who constantly write me about how "AWESOME" it must be to travel the world and ask for tips on how you can do it too...just know that EVERY COUNTRY in the world is a lot! It's not always fun. It's a lot of hard work. No really: A LOT of hard work!! But it certainly comes with its perks as well.
 
I feel myself changing. I know so much more, about so much more, then when I left home. I am more confident having overcome many obstacles and I have more friends than when I left. And I will never look at the world in the same way again. 
 
Trust me when I say: While the world is not by any means picture perfect, it is certainly a much better place than you can ever imagine. Let's keep on keeping on.
 
And check out this 0.34 sec video about how I got my new hat: https://youtu.be/w0bBZ2okCko
(My good friend Lasse Pedersen put his genius into it)
 
image
 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - still moving forward
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga
 
Add a comment

Zimbabwe - the land of opportunity

Positively promoting every country from a positive angle - because I can
image
 
I'm still looking at Mozambique on the map. There was so much to see and yet it is now behind me. On the other hand I had an important date to reach in Zimbabwe. One I wasn't going to miss.
 
As I mentioned last week, Mozambique is mostly peaceful, but due to a localized armed conflict I couldn't travel north to Beira and cross into Zimbabwe straight from Mozambique. I had to go back to South Africa and enter Zimbabwe from there. But I got a ride so it was quite comfortable. On top of that, going through another part of South Africa was yet another testimony to the beauty of the landscape of that country.
 
So how much time does it take to cross these borders? Exit Mozambique: 20 minutes. Enter South Africa: 20 minutes. Exit South Africa: 30 minutes. Enter Zimbabwe: 3 HOURS?!? What, what, WHAT?!
 
image
 
Yes, getting into Zimbabwe wasn't difficult. It was just enormously time consuming. And we had left Maputo in Mozambique at 04:00am so standing in line and observing the line growing in front of us(?) was frustrating. How was that even possible? But eventually we had reached the end of all the lines, received all our stamps and passed all the checkpoints...we were in!
 
 
 
ZIMBABWE 
 
The roads were good and the driver got me as far as Masvingo. From there we were going separate ways. I thanked the driver and found a guesthouse/hotel. It was now 02:00am and they still wanted $65 from me for a fairly simple room? But that price included breakfast. It was cold outside and I had been traveling for 22 hours straight. I took the room.
 
image
You can clearly see the fish in the background - right?
 
The next morning I had breakfast and made my way to the bus stop. It was a dusty dirt patch on the side of a road. I got into the queue behind everyone waiting for the bus. There was actually already a bus there, but the queue was too long and the bus left without me (and a lot of other people). Then we waited in the sun...waited...waited... Finally a new bus arrived and parked 50m behind us. The queue broke up and people started running to the bus? What was going on in this country? A woman fell and the dust around her lifted into the air as a cloud while her luggage landed next to her. Nobody helped her as she laughed and got back on her feet.
 
image
 
Unfortunately that bus wasn't taking passengers at all. So everyone slowly returned to the original queue. After some time a new bus arrived and parked with its entrance near the beginning of the queue. Good - right? Well...apparently the queue didn't really count as plenty of people moved out of line and in front of me and others. Some struggled to get into the bus and I clearly remember an old mans face, twisted into a grimace while he held on to the door, as someone tried to push him aside. Was I going to get onboard this bus?
 
I did. Suddenly it all became more civilized, someone took my bag and placed it in the compartment under the bus...I got inside and was given a seat. We then proceeded to the petrol station, filled her up and left for Harare.
 
image
 
Stu is a 4th generation Zimbabwean. He lives in Harare with his mother (Caroline), father (Macky), sister (Casey) and their 3 dogs: Oscar, Fergus & Ziggy. A long time ago Stu wrote me on Facebook saying that when I some day got to Zimbabwe, then he would take care of me. He has been following the Saga since November 16th 2014, so it was really cool that he wrote me. 

After about 4 hours in the bus I had reached Harare. I bought a simcard and called Stu straight away. We agreed where to meet and a minibus later we were face to face for the first time. A short drive from there and we reached his home, where I got Stu's room and he took the guest room for himself. He wanted for me to be comfortable. How outstanding was that?

 

image

 

Over the next few days I got to know Stu and his family a lot better. Stu and I went to see a movie, we went sightseeing, he held a braai (local for bbq) and he even arranged for me to see the newest Starwars movie, projected on the living room wall, via a portable projector! Cool stuff!!

 

image

They REALLY like their meat in Zim!

 

It's quite interesting to see how someone who has grown up in Zimbabwe, so far from my home in Denmark, still shares so many similarities with me. Our cultures are vastly different and yet we share so much.

 
In fact Zims recent history has been a blow to many. Macky, Stu's father, had been putting away money for his pension for 20 years. But when Zims economy spun out of control and the government opted to adopt the USD as their official currency, Macky's (and many others) pension vanished into thin air. Macky is now 60 years old and will stay on the workforce as he sees no other way.
 
image
 
Zimbabwe is something else. It has a colorful history to say the least. Before independence in 1980 it was known as Rhodesia (after Cecil John Rhodes). It was a prosperous British colony which connected the entire region through a web of railways. There are vast amounts of gold underneath the ground. And much like in neighboring countries there are actual diamond fields! If you do not know what a diamond field is...then just imagine a large open area with diamonds spread out all over it as pieces of glass. Geology pushes the diamonds up to the surface over time. Sounds crazy right? Before people knew what it was locals collected these "pieces of glass" into buckets and traded them as "special stones". Today these fields are heavily guarded by armed men.
 
image
Stu brought me to Star FM's radio host Nikki the day after I shaved my beard off. Good fun. Nikki is really good at what she does and I've heard her voice on the radio several times since :)
 
Zimbabwe used to be known as "the breadbasket of Africa". It was a farmers paradise and export was at large. But a change swept over the nation and many farmers were forced to leave. Later on the economy collapsed and these days people struggle to get money out of the ATM's. There is a shortage of money. Sounds like a complete disaster right? Sounds like it couldn't get worse?
 
image
 
Well, the situation isn't great. But there is a very unique spirit among the population. They somehow always find a way. Education is valued very high among the Zims and as a result you have a very bright population. I spoke to a taxi driver who was struggling to pay for his child's school fees. But he would rather go hungry than miss out on paying it. As he said: "Why should I rob my child's future?" 
 
AMAZING?!? Isn't it?
 
image
I wanted to travel by train - but there was a strike due to unpaid salaries.
 
A lot of the roads look...tired. There is currently a drought which is effecting at least 4 million of the countries 15 million people. Harare (the capital) looks like a busy place and in Harare you wouldn't necessarily notice the drought. It's a very green city with nice parks and lots of trees. Not so many cars and therefore not as much traffic as other places - but the cars you see are roadworthy in any modern country. People there do a lot of walking like in New York - and they are dressed fashionably.
 
image
 
Once you start to speak to people then you will quickly realize that everyone knows that there is a future. I haven't experienced the hopeless attitude of some other countries I've been to. Isn't that extraordinary? An educated population which knows that nothing comes from nothing. If you want results then you better work for it. A large part of the population is impressively creative when it comes to making ends meet. You might be an attorney...but can you also do landscaping? You might know how to weld...but can you also sell rocks? Start a restaurant? Plan weddings? Nothing comes from nothing.
 
image
Baye went to work on her dream when she was 22! It's nothing less than amazing. Pay attention to Baye! Follow her and her animal sanctuary here: https://m.facebook.com/freetobewildanimalsanctuary/
 
Zimbabwe adopted the USD in 2009 at a time when their own currency was being printed out in 50,000,000,000 notes! For some people life has gone back to its financial origins. A chicken is worth a chicken. So you trade whatever you have to get exactly what you need. Who needs money? ;)
 
image
 
Have you ever heard of Robert Mugabe? Chances are you have. He is the president of Zimbabwe and he is both smart and well educated. He is also 92 years old which makes him the oldest president in the world. That leaves everyone wondering: What comes next? 
 
image
 
 
image
New shoes! The old ones lasted over a year and were 1 size too small. It feels soooo good to have the new ones now!
 
The important date arrived for me: May 2nd 2016. That was the the long awaited date when my girlfriend finally arrived from Denmark. She is smarter than me; she flew. We hadn't seen each other since December 2015. With her she brought me some new shoes, some chocolate, books, magazines, clothes...and a new hat!!! The new hat is slightly different from the old one. It's bigger and made by a different manufacturer, but bought in the same hat store for men's hats in Copenhagen - just like the old one was 10 years ago. It was picked up by my sister, paid for by my father and delivered by my girlfriend. That is a good beginning for any new hat ;)
 
image
Alick Macheso is well known in certain circles. He is a musician who sings, plays the guitar and dances! And he has a heart of gold!!
 
The first couple of days with my girlfriend were spent with the Red Cross. Remember that drought I mentioned? The Red Cross is naturally deeply involved with that. But that's just a part of the work carried out by the highly active volunteers and employees throughout Zim. After I said farewell to Zimbabwe Red Cross - Stu, his fiancée, my girlfriend and I went out for sushi. And the day after that my girlfriend and I boarded a bus and ventured southwest to Bulawayo; the city of kings and queens.
 
image
This is Tina, a wonderful woman who keeps herself busy and took VERY good care of my girlfriend and I! :)
 
In Bulawayo we were met and greeted by Tina. She is an amazing woman who knows Stu's family. She took us in for a few nights. Crazy - huh? Zim has been so incredibly easy due to the kindness of strangers. It's a safe, friendly, kind and beautiful country to visit. It should be flooded with tourists but it's not? Why not? There are plenty of outstanding sights to enjoy. They are experts on meat here! There is plenty of game and game reserves so Safari is widely available...and so is fishing. You'll find cave paintings, fortifications from ancient cultures and naturally also the world famous Victoria Falls.
 
If all of the above doesn't interest you, then come for the people! They are polite, friendly, genuine, smart, funny and smiles come very easy!
 
Oh well, I'll tell you more about our adventures in Zim next week. We are far from done here ;)
 
image
 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - doing pretty well these days ;)
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
 
Once Upon A Saga
 
Add a comment

More Articles ...

Once Upon a Saga
Made by Kameli