Monday February 2nd ~ Driving to Bulawayo and Natural History Museum
Today was one of those days that are necessary, but not particularly enjoyable. We spent a large part of the day on our small tour bus driving from our hotel near Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.
This is where our tour guide’s (Brian) mother lives and he is excited to see her.
With little or poor air-conditioning, and rather cramped quarters, we welcomed any stops along the way to be able to get out and stretch our legs, use the toilet, and get a quick beverage or snack.
When traveling abroad, one quickly learns to keep extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse as often restrooms are far from “western” standards. In fact we would celebrate if the toilet stalls had doors (locks were a bonus), toilet paper, flushed, and/or there was soap to wash our hands with. Towels to dry your hands on were almost nonexistent.
Here we are at one of our stops, taking our time before loading back on the bus:
Finally we arrive at our destination, Bulawayo.
We were broken up into two groups for a guided tour through what is billed as one of the best museums in Southern Africa. The museum is divided into several distinct sections. The ground floor showcases the immense variety of animals, reptiles and birds, including the second largest African elephant. (Just FYI, the largest is in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.)
Other sections include the geology area that covers the vast mineral wealth, and the paleontology section for prehistoric life forms.
The upper floor includes exhibits on the development of man from rock art up through the more modern colonial period, as well as an invertebrate gallery.
King Mzilikazi is considered by some to be one of the greatest military leaders of Africa, second only to the Zulu king, Shaka.
Our itinerary showed us staying at the Flame Lily Lodge, but a last-minute change was made and we checked in to the Mpala Boutique Hotel instead.
On first impression our room was OK, and certainly would be comfortable enough for a couple of nights. The staff was very pleasant and helpful. What we had not planned on was a HUGE thunder and rainstorm that night, that resulted in us putting out pots to catch the leaks in our ceiling, water running down the walls, and putting our suitcases up in the closet, instead of on the floor to keep our clothes from getting wet.
Thankfully Tim and I have gotten pretty good at going with the flow. Seeing the differences and embracing (most of) the things that make that location different or unique is a big part of the travel experience. If we wanted everything to be just as it is in the USA, we should just stay home.
Sadly one of our tour members has not been feeling well for several days and has decided to go home early.
Gratitude Moment: Today I am once again grateful for so many of the comforts we take for granted here at home, especially toilet paper, clean running water, and toilets that flush. I’m also grateful that arrangements have been made to get Verene home. It must be frightening to be in pain, and so far away from home. I have not had any news, but am certainly hoping that by the time this is published she is fully recovered.