DEEP IN THE HEART          - 10/4/2006      <--Prev : Next-->


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 year.

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 Beautiful Brigit.

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 Dairiboard !!

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 around us.

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 beloved country.