Sue had signed us up for Priority Pass, an airport lounge service. The lounge in JoBurg and it was very nice – the first good wifi we’d had in a week, comfortable quiet surroundings and plenty of quality food and drink. Sated and stocked for our onward journey we passed one of the giant double-deck Airbus A300’s on the tarmac in route to our Zimbabwe flight.
Landing in the Victoria Falls airport I haggled us a taxi through the small namesake town to a three night stay at the expensive but comfortable A-Zambezi Lodge. The middle market is underdeveloped here, and cheaper digs close to town don’t feel family friendly. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe lacks opportunity for most, so there’s too many unemployed young men wandering about selling nick-nacks and worthless currency by day… by night I expect parts of town are unsafe, so we’re happy to be tucked away in our riverside lodge a few kilometers out of town.
The lodge entry feels a lot like a Mexican coastal resort, with high thatched roofs over open wood beams at the entry and restuarant, waxed wood floors leading to a large reception area where attendants bring juice while you check in. These spaces face a large central pool surrounded by a broad grassy area which is in turn surrounded by two concentric perimeters of 2-story guest rooms… like a traditional African village enclosure. Our adjoining rooms are comfortable if crammed, and we’re glad to see mozzie nets over the bed, as we’re now in malarial lands.
Stopping at the activities desk I get a price sheet for rafting, fishing, sunset tours etc, but we hold off on booking until we can examine alternatives, anticipate weather and settle our schedule. The menu is ridiculously expensive so we elect to take the shuttle back in to town to price some excursions, grab dinner and some groceries for our stay. Upon exiting the shuttle we’re immediately and regularly approached by Zimbabwean youth – the approach is numbingly standardized:
“Hello Friend. Enjoying your stay? Where you from? What your name? How long you staying? What adventures you doing? I can get you good rate, come with me. You want $50 billion note? Look. $5. I like your hat (or shoes, or shirt). Give me your hat? Give me something?”
We’re used to touts and approaches; it’s easy for me to politely shrug them off, but the pitch and persistence here is annoying and more uncomfortable for a family, and by the 5th approach we’re getting hardened. We find a pleasant, overpriced corner restaurant for dinner, then gather some rafting and touring info before seeking out the local grocery store for some water and snacks to take back to the hotel room. It’s a very low-end grocery store with too many people loitering out front, so we get our business done and skedaddle back to the shuttle stop. Dusk is setting in and we can’t quite agree on where the stop is, so I grab us a taxi and we’re out of there.