It's been warming up here, to the point that swimming is now a nearly daily activity. We started when it was bracing, but couldn't swim long due to lips turning blue. For the last week or so, it's been so nice we've spent an hour or more in at a time.
At a recent party at a friend's, the boys were swimming when William performed a tricky twisting backward drop into the pool from a seated start...a bit too close to the edge. We took a quick trip to the local hospital/clinic for a couple stitches.
It was our first real test of the medical system here and we were quite pleased. William was wiped out afterward, to nobody's surprise.
Later in the week (in fact, starting the next morning) he returned to his usual chipper self.
We're looking forward to Thursday, when the stitches come out and he can get back in the pool.
Later, we had lunch near a small reservoir. Our leftovers were investigated by a baboon; the students had a bit of fun chasing him away before we calmed them down.
And finally, we climbed to the top of a large basolith and had an amazing panoramic view. These hills are truly unique in my experience.
Then we drove another 20-25 minutes, first on one-lane paved and then on dirt roads, until we arrived at the lodges.
The lodges themselves are quite nice, with electricity, indoor plumbing, and fabulous catering by Chef Matthias and his crew.
The roofs are traditional construction and quite geometrically interesting.
But what interested the students most as we arrived hot off the busses was the large pool, created in a natural granite basin.
Matopos is about a 6 hour drive from the school, depending on traffic and how many police stops there are. Around lunchtime, we stopped briefly for bathroom breaks and a cool drink.
Along the way the scenery was both familiar (sere grasses, dried by sun, with an occasional wildfire burn) and new (dotted not by sagebrush nor pine but by flat topped bushes/trees called thoi).
Today we walked with a friend about 2 kilometers (a little over 1 mile) to what we call the "Gucci" Spar. It's bigger than any other in the area and has the largest selection of foreign goods. As you might expect from our nickname for it, it also tends to have the highest prices (though it also has deals, you just have to comparison shop).
Our friend pointed out a display I was about to walk past: the milk company is giving away...cows!?! I read it twice before I really believed it.
On my birthday, Juana took me out to a great dinner and we noticed a really beautiful lamp. Juana found a local shop that sells similar, but smaller, lamps and they also had low-wattage bulbs. Eureka! The boys now have a beautiful glowing cheetah to protect them from the dark.
We had a small party with our staff and their families: Elizabeth, our housekeeper and nanny, her daughter Patience, and her grandchildren (Patience's children) Takudzwa and Tanai; Itai, our gardener, and MoreBlessing, his wife. The cake was pretty sugary (the kids loved it) and the ice cream was delicious.
It was a wonderful day!
Electricity here in Harare often goes by the name of the company that provides it, Zesa. As in "oh, blast, Zesa is out again," or "Papi, do we have Zesa?"
It's not unknown to have Zesa for an entire day, but it's rare. More often, electricity will be off for some portion of the day. Entire days without Zesa are also rare, fortunately.
We do have a generator for when Zesa is out. It's a big diesel beast, quite noisy, but invaluable when we loose power just before dinner, for example.
To run it, we just turn the key, just like starting a car. The there's a switch in our breaker box that toggles between Zesa and the generator. (In the middle, labeled Z/Off/G. There's also a switch that activates a buzzer, so we know when the power is back on and can shut off the noisy beast (lower right in the picture).
We're getting pretty used to this routine; even William isn't much phased when the power drops any more.
On Friday, Michael had a sleepover at a friend 's house, so Juana and I had a nice dinner out. William figured out how to make a fairly stable hat out of his bread, which I didn't even know was possible. The other couple in the restaurant were quite amused.
My favorite part of the walk to school is the path just outside the school gates. There is a double-line of tall firs on either side of the gate, so the final bit before school feels like the Forbidden Forest from the Harry Potter stories. Fun! :-)
Today the school took the new staff members to a local historical park called Dombashava. It's set around a giant rock outcropping in which historic cave paintings were discovered and are preserved. We hiked around, on and over, admired the cave and paintings, then headed back for lunch.
For lunch, we were taken to a restaurant on a small game preserve. After a fantastic meal, we walked out to see kudu, impala, zebra and I don't know what all. Up close (at least, as close as the animals felt comfortable with, which was plenty close).