It is pouring down rain in Vic Falls. This is a season that I find magical in Zimbabwe. Tonight it is dark, except for the occasional bolts of lightning that light up my neighborhood. I have my rain coat on and I find the gold flip flops that my grandma sent me for my birthday sinking into the mud puddle that is usually my driveway.
I pass by my neighbor’s house, whose yard I need to pass through and manage to chat with them for only 2 minutes…a miracle by African standards, but they are trying to contain some leaks in their roof and I am standing in a downpour. I love this country.
I wade through their yard and wonder how their chickens can still be alive as the standing water is touching above my ankles. I realize at that point, #1 that I am concerned about the animals that I will be slaughtering next week at their son’s birthday party and #2 that I am ankle deep in a puddle of mud, water and chicken poop. So I keep walking.
I remove the thorny branch that is serving as their back gate and pass into the neighbor’s yard. I manage to only make myself bleed in 2 places from the thorns and wonder if that would really deter someone from breaking in… I decide that a metal gate and pad lock might serve them better, maybe I will get them one for Christmas.
I am now entering the yard of the family that keeps my food in their freezer. I knock and am forced into their house at dinner time, I am somehow able to get out of eating sadza with them, but still must chat for a few minutes before I can remove what I need. This time I am taking everything… not just one piece of meat or one bottle of water!
I pass back through the yard and close the thorn bush gate, run past the Nyati-Ncube’s house trying to move unnoticed, when Mai’Bridget hands me some chicken and says, “put this in our freezer!” with a huge smile on the face that I have loved since the moment I moved into my house.
I race back through my muddy yard and open the door. What is that humming noise that I can hear over the rain on my asbestos sheet roof? Ah, that is my very own freezer. I no longer have to use the freezer of anyone else. Today my veggies and my 1 kg of beef are secured under my own roof. I am settling in. I am making a home.
The first time I set foot on Zimbabwean soil was 3 years ago yesterday, I would say that it is about time.