We sat by on the verandah of the somewhat dilapidated lodge on the Hunyani Hills and surveyed the countryside with binoculars. There was not much farming to be seen so Gary and Jo told me stories of previous land issues between the former white owners of the farmland below us. They were often over access and use of water – a perennial problem in Zimbabwe.
My first job after returning from my overseas backpacker stint had been in this area of Chinhoyi, a 1.5h drive north-west of Harare on the Kariba road. It was not a happy work experience and I left when my mother became terminally ill but I did make some good friends, Gary and Jo amongst them. I love the bush there and have great memories of exploring the area, meeting the local wildlife and happy hours with my first two dogs who originated from local breeders. Kim was my first Rhodesian Ridgeback whom I got from Gary and Jo and after her came Tina and Jenni (see Dog Chronicles page). Nearly every weekend I went riding with Jo and often one of her young daughters all of whom were keen polo players. Gary represented the country at polo for many years and there are still ponies at the farm though he has retired from active playing. There were always people coming and going and the house was a vibrant, welcoming place for me – away from the stresses of a job going badly. Today it is a sad shell of its former self. The children have grown up and left (though are still in the area). There are few carpets and decorations and the garden has fallen into disrepair. The floor tiles have been mostly removed. It is now just a house, no longer a home.
Gary has lost some two-thirds of the farm to so-called A2 farmers – i.e. semi-small scale farmers who do at most little (one has done nothing for the past 10 years). He mostly co-exists and does what farming he can but a new arrival is making his life extremely difficult and Gary says he is really after his house which is why, I presume, it has been allowed to fall into disrepair. Still, it was a good break and nice to reconnect with old friends. Kharma fitted in easily too.
I spotted these 2 signs advertising worms for sale on the road near the small town of Banket (20km from Chinhoyi) en route to a popular fishing spot. Marketing skills are apparent by their absence! I hope.