Before travelling, there are a couple of things you do – pick a destination, research on it, and so forth. This will help when you arrive at your destination as you will be aware of the dos and don’ts. It’s only natural! Gone are the days when people would just travel and see where the journey takes them. In the information age, it is important to read up on your destination before you go. To create expectations! Here’s a simple “How not to” Guide for when you visit Zimbabwe:
Have your mind influenced
There are a lot of articles posted online on the daily and in the age we live in, it’s hard to determine what is true and what is not. This will affect your decision making when it comes to Zimbabwe. Like any country, Zimbabwe has its problems. These cannot be hidden! But the reality is, Zimbabwe will surprise you with its beauty. It’s natural, well kept and magical. Walk through the city, travel through the country and explore the land. Zimbabwe has something for you that you will cherish forever.
Rely on Google Maps. If you are not about that life, each city or town has a major road. Find that road and work your way from there. If your memory is hazy, speak to a local. Zimbabweans are polite and friendly. They’ll be able to assist.
Eat traditional food
Forget dining etiquette and use your hands. Cutlery isn’t found in all homes or establishments in Zimbabwe especially in the rural areas. We are used to eating with our hands so when you go out to eat at a traditional food establishment, do not look puzzled when they don’t hand you cutlery. It’s customary to dig in.
Staying indoors is an opportunity missed. Explore the city you are in! Take a walk and see the city for yourself from the ground. Being chauffeured is ill-advised. You miss out on the little things that make Zimbabwe unique. Being in a tour group is similar to being in a human herd – you follow each other and miss the surprising beautiful features around you. Take a walk, get lost and explore. Be a tourist!
Drink traditional beer
There are no beer mugs for traditional beer neither is there a pint you can order at the bar. Drinking out of the bottle is common so don’t be shy holding a litre bottle and drinking from it. If you are not a fan of drinking from the bottle then I recommend a cup. Preferably one that is not transparent. Traditional beer ain’t the most attractive thing to look at but the taste is one to savour.
Pay for public transport
Large notes are an inconvenience so please use coins or small denominations. Hopping onto a kombi and hoping to get change from large denominations is a fantasy. There was a time, people used to pay with $20 for a 50c trip. Do yourself a favour, keep it low and keep it light. The last thing you want to do is wait for your change. It may take a while.
Impatience or hostile behaviour will not make the line move faster. Have patience! It’s most likely the queue is going to take longer than it looks. Should you be in a rush, the best thing you can do is call ahead and say you’re going to be late or vacate your spot in the queue.
Attend a braai/barbeque
Expect a gas grill. Should you stay over a weekend, 9.9 times out of 10 you will be invited to a braai or a braai will be made apparent to you. You must go prepared – wear something that you won’t mind smelling of smoke, contribute to the gathering (meat, alcohol, etc) and most importantly, all conversations happen around the fire. Find your spot early!