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Day 95 – Redvers Anniversary

26th December 2011


Two minutes before we awoke I was still dreaming of moored canoes and hippos splashing in the river. But no more, today we would see if four days convalescence had improved Redvers’ squeak. We wanted to see the Kariba Dam wall, (cue “Are we going to see the Dam Wall?” “No need to be terse dear,”) and go up to the lake viewpoint. Pulling out of our lodge and driving up the muddy rutted track the squeak was as present as ever, at least animals get better or worse, Redvers just squeaked. Still, we’d drive him until he collapsed.

The Kariba Dam wall was one of the biggest in the world when it was built by an Italian engineer in the 1950’s. He built seven massive dams in his career and the fact that six of them subsequently fell apart caused him to find solace in suicide. Somewhat fittingly his son is now the engineer in charge of structural stability at Kariba. At around three hundred kilometres long by forty kilometres wide the dam isn’t small. When they started flooding the valley they created ‘Operation Noah’ trying to save the animals from the islands created by rising water levels that would soon be submerged. The operation enjoyed moderate success but by all accounts there were certainly a few ‘Rhino-fish’ and other exotic non-aquatic species briefly created. The dam wall allows a hydroelectric power station to do its thing, but in comparison with the Dam we saw in Lesotho, the Katse Dam, this one was a bit rubbish. It was too steep, no wonder the others fell over, and not very tall either. As always with these things the dam had also served as a concrete burial chamber for the misfortunate souls whose concentration lapsed whilst building it.

The garage workshop in Kariba was open on our way out and so we stopped in and spoke to guy called Kevin about our squeaking. We went for a quick spin so he could hear our pain and when we returned he reckoned it was the UJ. He got underneath while Somers and I went to get refreshments. We returned with his coke and I had a look underneath with him. The UJ did have some play in it, where it had previously been solid. He wanted $35 for him to grease it; he apologised and said his boss had a minimum charge. I gave him a thank you for his advice and we set off. I could get a grease gun and grease and still have change from $35 in Harare, only 380 kilometres away.

Five and a half hours later we arrived in the run down capital of Zimbabwe. We hunted for our backpackers which turned out to be the least signposted accommodation in the world and the Lonely Planet had conveniently labelled it in the wrong place on the map. They are geniuses, or is it genii? We found our humble abode after an hour of doing laps around Avondale in Redvers and checked into their finest room, en-suite, no mosquito net, double bed and even a TV with rubbish, I-made-this-on-my-home-camera-and-intentionally-used-actors-with-no-ability soap operas. I watched a man dressed in a leather bomber jacket talk about AIDS for a half an hour in dull, dreary monotone. Even the show-hostess’ eyes had glazed over ten minutes in; she was barely even nodding by fifteen minutes and had lost all interest at twenty. Just one western producer would have sorted it out. It was a five minute piece that stole thirty minutes of our lives.

We spent the night turning on the lights once an hour and going mosquito hunting.

Posted by ibeamish 02:47 Archived in Zimbabwe

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