After Masvingo we left the main road towards the Eastern Highlands (Chipinge, Mt. Selinda). Just before arriving at the village, we had the first police stop, driver’s license, TIP, no enquiry about 3rd Party insurance. But after inspecting the car for 10 minutes and asking us for the purpose and destination of our stay, the young police officer, who introduced himself with name and rank and description of his job (namely looking after serious offenses against traffic law) he got us. Missing paper stripes as reflectors, penalty 5US$ each, total of 20US$ and he would let us go. Needless to say, that our car has in build reflectors, as all modern cars have, no internet guide for visitors to Zim recommends these plastic stripes as mandatory, he wanted to punish us and we didn’t want to pay. So I asked him to stop a local car to check, if they would comply to the law. The next car was stopped, a local friend of the police man, no reflectors, not even lights on the car. I asked for his punishment, but the police man said, this guy has no money, so he has to let him go. We didn’t pay either, I promised to buy reflectors in Chipinge and we got away with one can of Coke, which he gratefully accepted. Indeed we bought some plastic stripes for 8US$ at a local hardware store, the dealer found it strange to put them on a car, which doesn’t need it, but confirmed, it would be the cheapest way to escape this very normal tourist trap, of which many more will come.
To find our camp/lodge (Kiledo) turned out to be not that easy. I had a name, landmarks with post signs, etc. through the internet, but simply couldn’t find it. Local people wouldn’t know anything about this lodge (former famous birder’s place), but indicated a lodge close by (Catsiba), where we could ask or even stay. It turned out, Catsiba was the place, we were looking for, just renamed after having been taken from the former owners, now operated by the son of a local Harare business man. Anyway, the staff was friendly and busy trying to renovate. Immediately we decided to stay a night longer, because no other guests were expected, but we had not seen our “luxury” chalet yet. Unfortunately these guys couldn’t have changed the beds/linen since the revolution, cold water was not working in toilets and baths, but we found a working hot shower in one of the other chalets. 220V working, great expectation rising for my first moths night. And we had a TV, although this was not connected to any antenna or satellite dish (meaning complete useless). It might be understandable, why SA birders have not recently been here. We negotiated the room rates down from 70US$ to 45US$ pp/night and opted for breakfast & dinner (another 20US$ pp/day). After our first dinner experience we skipped the others. But we saw lots of butterflies and moths. My beloved wife forced me to waive my daily glass of whisky by hiding the bottle. I always take this as my personal precaution against any kind of diseases, but not this time. Maybe, my body simply couldn’t stand the combination of bed bugs, rotten food, malaria and yellow fever prophylaxes and sun. When we left, I was covered with rows of insect bites, big areas of rashes on my chest and had to spend 30% of my time behind bushes because of the most explosive diarrhea, I ever had. Claudia’s treatment, based on our mobile pharmacy box, was without success. But who the hell knows, that 20-30% of all travelers to this area get Giardiasis.