Yesterday afternoon we left the fun of Antelope Park for the 2+ hour drive to Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. With its colonial era architecture and boulevards wide enough to allow an ox drawn cart to complete a full u-turn, it's not hard to see that this was Zimbabwe's capital back when the Brits were calling the shots. Driving through the city one could definitely notice more prosperity than existed in Masivingo or Gweru. The super market we stopped at had considerably more name brands, especially where toilitries were concerned (things like Edge shaving cream or Crest toothpaste were available). However I did notice that there was a limit of 2 cans of powdered baby formula per customer so they were not totally exempt from the economic hardship.
We stayed at a great hostel run by a very nice older couple, Norman and Christine. The hostel's main building was a converted mansion located on over 20 acres of sprawling grounds that included a pool, sauna and another building with more rooms. Upgrading from our tents to a shared double room was a whopping $1 US per night. Needless to say all of the tents remained on the truck for the 2 nights we were here. After dinner i got to hear firsthand from Norman just how out of hand land reform policies in Zimbabwe had become.
Like I said in my introduction to Zimbabwe, nowadays much of this "land redistribution" is simply government officials and their friends scoping out the best land (usually with very nice houses coincidently located on it) owned by whites and basically claiming it for themselves. While this is most common in and around the capital city Harare other parts of Zimbabwe are not immune to this gross injustice. Evidently the wife of a former mayor of Bulawayo took a liking to the house and lands Norman and Christine's hostel now inhabits and had recently filed a Section 3, the first step to overtaking someone else's land. I asked Norman what they could do to stop it and he said that all they could do was file a form at the local court stating that such a seizure wold be unjust. After that the reality is that there is very little they can do but wait. Again, keep in mind that this land would not go to building more homes for Zimbabwe's growing destitute or producing crops to feed these people. It would simply be another stolen home for another corrupt government official hiding behind the guise that land reform is necessary to bring true equality to the races. Quite frankly, it's pretty sickening.
Anyway, without making this too depressing, we enjoyed this place immensely and I hope all works out well for Norman and Christine. On this night we retired early to be fresh for our day of rhino trekking in Matopos National Park.