Even though our 3.8cm self-inflatable camping mattresses, sadistically called ‘Comfort Light’, are crucial items to minimise the bedsores, they signify the epitome of a love-hate relationship. Big Boy, our poor 150cc delivery motorcycle, heaves twice his own weight around to deliver us to the day’s brand new way point on this Trans-African honeymoon adventure. After a full day’s haul, which in actual fact is but a stone throw away for anyone with a half decent suited vehicle, ‘Comfort Light’ is not quite the remedy ones blood deficient buttocks are screaming for. It is because of this fact that I struggle to understand why I am incapable of falling asleep tonight. With extremely heavy rains and thunder, we have treated ourselves to a normal bed in an empty backpackers after a month of travelling behind us. This weather combined with a soft bed is normally the perfect condition to cast me into the deepest of sleeps.
My mind wanders through the experiences gained in the last 30 days, 3000kms and 5 countries. The contentment, wild and wonderful sights and experiences, friendships, laughter and freedom.
I finally venture outside to watch the thunderstorm directly above us, bursting down with all its might. I don’t know who were startled the most, me or John, as I ran into the pitch dark outside kitchen. John has been the night security guard for the Victoria Falls Backpackers for the last 3 years. We chatted and laughed at the different wedding traditions in our culture. John was amazed and correctly stated that I am extremely lucky that I may ‘take’ a beautiful woman for free and her father pays for the wedding! He had to pay five cows for his wife. If I had to cough up the dough for so many cows, I would never have been able to contribute to this trip!
The conversation inevitably moved to the serious complications and every day difficulty of life in Zimbabwe. For the next half an hour I listened to John relating his experiences of policemen and other officials, who will be skipped pay every so often, leading to desperate, sometimes even violent, bribery and corruption. Village after village filled with a lack of education and medical facilities, hungry orphans, semi-fatherless families as the men seek work in the blinding greener pastures on the other side in South-Africa. The thunderstorm eventually turns into a light rain for a few minutes, then abruptly stops completely. I thank and greet John, returning to resume my attempt at a good night’s rest.
This past month my being has simultaneously been filled with absolute joy and sadness. Joy and gratification for this opportunity to travel. Sadness, sympathy and respect for all the suffering of so many innocent inhabitants of this beautiful and wild continent. The contradictory feelings simultaneously experienced when travelling.