I love Zimbabwe. The people are warm and friendly, the climate suits me well, even in winter and I love the scenic topography of most of the places I have been to.
A couple of personal tragedies dampened my excitement as I made preparations for my second journey to Zimbabwe. About a month to my departure, I lost a childhood friend who had gone to India for a corrective surgery. It was painful traveling to Asaba, Delta to witness his burial in the first week of September. I couldn’t get over the fact that he was gone just like that.
I got back from Asaba on Saturday, and the following Thursday I got another rude shock when I saw posts on Facebook about the sudden passing of another friend. To think were both in church the previous day for midweek service, with her dancing her heart out as usual. Her burial was for the following week, the very day I was traveling and I couldn’t be there.
I left Lagos for Harare on a Wednesday on an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET900. We had a stopover in Addis Ababa and I spent the night at Blue Sky Hotel. I think this had to be the coldest I have ever felt in Addis. Right from the airport, it felt like winter. By the time I got to the hotel, I knew I was not going to explore anywhere that night.
The next morning, I had a rushed brekkie only to find out the bus had gone and was going to return. It did and I got to the airport and after proceeded to check in. We left Addis at about 11:45 and touched down in Harare some fifteen minutes to five – we had a brief stopover in Lusaka, Zambia even though we didn’t have to leave the aircraft.
It felt strange sort of, as I paid for my visa and finished with immigration. It was early morning the last time around. It was past 02:30hrs and freezing cold, because it was winter time in Zimbabwe. The thought of Kuda and Belinda flashed across my mind – good friends we had, good friends we lost.
As I came out of the arrival hall, there was Lizzie waiting for me. Lizzie was my chaperon along with Eniel on the post-Sanganai tour the last time. Good to see her. She was with a couple of faces I did not recognise, but there was a particular young one with an innocent face I took notice of. She introduced herself as Chido or something like that, and she was in charge of my group. I shrugged and said bye to Lizzie as Chido took me to the waiting bus and we drove off to good old Rainbow Towers.
I checked in and went to my room to relax. Around supper time, I checked my WhatsApp and found a message from Mark, my South African buddie. Turned out Mark had left a message at the reception to let me know he was around and they somehow forgot.
We met at the lobby and went to have dinner and we just did some catching up after. The planning for the fam tours was different this time around, as media was separated from tour operators, which means Mark and I will only get together when we arrive Bulawayo for the expo.