Nyanga Odyssey

26 10 2009

I am sitting typing this at 2200m in what is possibly the highest holiday cottage in Zimbabwe. It belongs to a mate who is only too happy to get people to use it. I am in the guest “house” which sits on a very steep edge of the World’s View escarpment and when the air is clear it is possible to see 100km quite easily. It was clear this morning but now it is very hazy again.

It is always cool up here, sometimes very cold, but that’s in winter. Now it’s the end of October, sometimes called the “suicide month” because of the oppressive heat at lower altitudes so it’s a relief to get up here. I left Harare and took a leisurely drive up, stopping to photograph some wild flowers by Headlands. It was an easy trip, the Landcruiser performed flawlessly with its “new” turbo charged engine – this was after all an excuse to test it within the warranty period. In Rusape I was stopped at a police roadblock and after the usual greetings the older policeman said “Have you just come from Salisbury?” grinning hugely (there was a momentary pause before “Salisbury” as he sought the long disused name). “No” I said, “I have come from Harare, it has not been Salisbury for some 30 years!”. For some reason this was a huge joke and I was bid safe travels.

Jenni on the World's View escarpment

Jenni on the World's View escarpment

Taking Jenni for a run yesterday evening she revelled in the cool air and spent a fair bit of time looking over her shoulder wondering why I was being so slow (a very bad road). The wind picked up and soon it was rather cold and last night was spent listening to the wind moan about the roof.

Behind the house to the south is a massive granite rock slope that drops off to the Nyanga village some 700m lower. It’s just begging for photos with boulders, lichen, aloes and at other times of year, flowers. I spent a happy hour or more this morning while the sun was still low, taking photos and daydreaming. Some company would have been nice (Jenni is an uncooperative model and let’s face it; a doggy expression is a doggy expression!).

Looking south towards Nyanga village

Looking south towards Nyanga village

The only property I own is a half share in a 10ha plot on the northern flank of Mt Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest mountain. My mother bought is for some 600 pounds in 1960 (way over priced) with the intention of using it as a retirement property (she apparently had more money than my father!). It became obvious that it was just too far out of the way to be practical and what with the deteriorating security situation the only investment they made was to plant a few thousand eucalypt trees of varying species.  I had not been there for several years so this morning I set off. It took and hour of appalling roads that have had no pretence of maintenance for the time I have been away. I was surprised to find the km long track down to the property quite passable for a high clearance vehicle. On the way I stopped to chat to a personable black man who has set himself up on the southern boundary. Cephas claims to have known my father and also remembered my mother visiting in her small white sedan. Thinking it good sense to have a good neighbour I bought 2 litres of honey off him – it smelt really good but I think I’ll resieve it when I get home to get the bee parts out!

The plot is now almost entirely covered by trees. Most are still the original and are now giants of some 50m or more. They are too big to harvest safely and even then the transport costs will eat up any profit margin for the timber. We scattered some of my parents ashes at the place where we used to picnic as a family so I was a bit emotional as I reflected on two lives that ended way too prematurely; my father murdered in 1978 and my mother from misdiagnosed melanoma in 1992. I have no idea what I will do with the property. The other partner lives in Europe, I have no progeny and I don’t see any chance of developing it any time soon; it will still be out on a limb no matter what the political situation of Zimbabwe.

Butterfly on Helichrysum ("Everlasting")

Butterfly on Helichrysum ("Everlasting")

Part of the property where I am staying burned down last year. Derelict buildings are just loaded with photo opportunities and I have been watching the sun move down a rather photogenic wall while I type this. I must go and check it out.

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5 responses

26 10 2009
tuppit

Just think what it was like sitting in the back of a pick up three years ago going down the same road? It was fine in the front!!!!!!!!!!!! I have e,mailed some photos from the plot as I couldn’t find a way of attaching them here. did you do any flying this time, didn’t you achieve an incredible altitude the last time you flew from world’s veiw? I take it you gave up rebuilding the old Toyota engine.

30 10 2009
gonexc

Ironically it was a good day for flying but I was the only person there. I eventually gave up on the old engine. It probably is repairable but not worth the hassle. The “new” engine is the turbo version. No idea of the mileage but it has not been touched and goes really well. I was too busy watching the road to look for arum lilies!

26 10 2009
tuppit

Did you see the arum lilly in the fork of the cabbage tree on the left heading for the plot, the tree was still there three years ago!

29 10 2009
Big Blister

Poignant memories and bittersweet present….
How did you know that M bought the property? I’m surprised no one has taken over the property already.

30 10 2009
gonexc

I still have the title deeds with her name on it. She paid something like 600 pounds! It’s wall to wall gum trees so not very attractive.

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