Monday, October 15, 2012
CRAZY TIME IN ZIMBABWE
Yesterday we were going to go to the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia and watch the bungee jumpers. 3 of our ladies were going to jump. We got there and there was some kind of construction, so we walked around at a little market instead, buying a few things. People in Zimbabwe are desperate for ANYTHING! Steve traded the socks off his feet for a stone sculpture. It was pretty funny to watch. I traded a crappy pen for a copper bracelet. They wanted the clothes off our back or anything, even our tiny bottles of hand sanitizers. The begging was hard to take, but they would bargain down quite a bit. Most people know that Mugabe has totally trashed his own country, killed countless people, taken fertile farms and lands, which are stripped barren and dry, left almost a million people homeless, and suspended the national currency. I felt the tension and fear everywhere. We could not even have a decent conversation about any of this because people are so afraid. You cannot even take a picture of a picture of him. Or discuss him or photograph ANY government building or soldier, etc.. Because of the economy, the banks were printing money as fast as they could and raising the amount of the Zimbabwean dollar. When things collapsed, the people were stuck with "billion dollar" bills, and there was even a few trillion dollar bills printed. If we ever stopped our van to get something, we were swarmed...literally, by young men desperate to cell copper,AND this worthless money. So, we all decided to buy the junk currency as a souvenir. Man! You would have thought you were in the NY stock exchange! Bids and buys were being yelled out, US money(usually 1 $), and defunct Zimbabwe money were being traded at a rapid frenzy. I was sitting by door and was trying to take pictures, but it was hard to even move with these guys trying to get in our van and make trades. So, I guess their worthless dollar wasn't that worthless, since most of us bought the big bills for souvenirs. Crazy fun!