DEEP IN THE HEART
- 10/4/2006 <--Prev : Next-->
DEEP IN THE HEART
A trip to the Chimanimanis is always such a refreshing delight.
Apart from the stalwart little community who remain steadfast and
enchanting, the little village was very quiet and there are no
tourists visiting the most beautiful mountains in the world.
The Chimanimani area was due to be given World Heritage Status but a
recent upsurge in gold panning activities in the mountains will no
doubt put a stop to that plan for some time.
The district offices have menacing armed guards there now, to protect
the gold stocks, which are being bought quite openly from the panners
by the Government authorities (Who said gold panning was illegal ?)
The trip from Bulawayo to Chimanimani was spectacular, thatching
grass will be abundant in all areas this year. There were crops,
crops and more crops growing in profusion all along the roads as the
rains have been way above average this year, but a serious absence of
fertilisation was obvious.
Sorghum, rapoko, maize, millet, sunflowers, groundnuts, tomatoes,
potatoes, cotton, sugar cane were being sold in all lay-bys and vast
sacks of produce were awaiting transport to the city markets all
along the way.
Giant sacks of baobab pods which yield the coveted powder cream of
tartar were everywhere in the lowveld areas where the cattle and
goats were eating their unaccustomed gourmet meal in great delight,
as that area is usually dry and bordering on desert for most of the
Crude bundles of makamane, pumpkins, squashes of all shapes sizes and
varieties and loads of succulent water melons were balanced
precariously on top of the many buses, ready for despatch to the
hungry folk in the towns.
All the rivers we crossed were running furiously, the Save, The
Runde, the Muturikwe, the Mtshelele, the Ngezi, the Devure, all
thundering happily down to the Limpopo where flood warnings are being
announced as the rivers gain momentum.
In the little village, which has probably had the most unfair share
of trials and tribulations in the history of this country, the mood
was festive, as the "locals" gathered to celebrate the birthday of
A long table was set on the veranda of the house, which was balanced
precariously on the side of the hill, and the heavy guests were
advised to sit on the house side of the veranda, after the two pretty
heavy earthquakes had created some interesting ventilation holes in
the walls !!
It was a veritable orgy of eating as Shane the Chef had planned a
seven course meal, all cooked beautifully in spite of the frequently
irritating power cuts.
A dazzling array of delicious dishes, mostly caught on various
fishing trips to Mozambique, followed by incredible mature cheddar
cheese from the Chipinge Dairiboard which to date has not lost the
cheese making recipe unlike the it's counterpart the Bulawayo
We ended up with the delightfully aromatic Chimanimani coffee,
hopefully not the last of a crop that used to bring vast amounts of
forex into the country, but which now seems to be fast disappearing
as maize fields have taken the place of the coffee crop.
There were no beer supplies in the village but fortunately some
intriguing brands of red and white wine were discovered in one of the
enterprising little stores and great fun was had by all.
The guests at the little birthday bash were an eclectic crew. There
was even a smattering of aristocracy whose next important function
would be to attend the birthday of HRH Queen Elizabeth at the palace
in August !!
As we ate, the amazingly abundant bird-life kept us entertained. The
Gurneys Sugarbird did his rounds of the proteas on the mountainside,
the paradise fly catcher did a very good job on the unusually high
plethora of insects thanks to the high rainfall, and the shy Cape
Robin and the ubiquitous Red Chested Cuckoo called sweetly from all
Way in the distance we could hear the peculiarly distinctive harsh
call of the Purple Crested Lourie and all the while, the brilliant
flashes of the abundant yellow bellied sunbirds caught our eyes and
the speckled mousebirds darted in and out of the thick undergrowth
seeking delicacies that only they know.
Somehow it is this special little village, with its devoted group of
compassionate, caring inhabitants, that brings a quiet assurance to
life, that normalcy will someday soon return once again, to our