By Philip | 10 May 2018

After a rather negative and skeptical blog entry last month I must confess that things have changed and I am happy to announce that things are back on track with regards to the spirit of exploring southern Africa.

We have crossed borders twice and are currently (8th of may 2018) in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe after a rather eventful and fulfilling 3,5 weeks spend in Kufunda (learning) village near Harare.

Traversing through southern parts of Botswana has healed our wounded souls dramatically and infused a new spirit of humility and humbleness for us to continue. We visited the Goo Moremi Sacred Gorge Reserve near Palapaye, Khama Rhino Sanctuary and were leaving Botswana in the west near Francistown at Pontdrift Border post.

The Goo Moremi Gorge is a sacred Valley that you can only enter with a guide and the beauty of it is exhilarating. The campsite voted by Go magazine as the best in Botswana shows a Wildstyle soul at its best. We were more than thrilled seeing the beauty of the layout of the generous stands with open air showers and a native but stunningly beautiful design.

We parked our caravan and explored parts of the country to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary just with Gypsy.

We were aware of the fact, after seeing numerous Rhinos being preventatively dehorned, that Rudy and Una might not see much more horned rhinos in the near future. The military controls this park to prevent poaching and over the years they managed to get a strong population of white rhinos with enormous horns and in many ways one feels that Botswana seems to be in peace within and therefore things are working accordingly.

We were on our way to Zimbabwe and didn’t quite know what to expect. Meeting fellow travelers we were told many stories of roadblocks and habitual bribing and so on and while staying in Francistown and getting ready I especially feared whether going to Zim was a good idea in the first place.

We weren’t facing any problems whatsoever after traveling about 1300km on Zimbabwean, badly maintained roads so at least this warning proved to be insignificant. Also our border experiences and visa extension visits were more than pleasant and it seems there’s a serious shift going on with regards to petty corruption in Zimbabwe.

The project (www.kufunda.org) we were about to visit, near Harare seemed to be promising with regards to getting a real impression on life in Zimbabwe and it proofed to be the right decision.

It took us, Regina and myself a while to adapt to a more rural setting and the fact that Regina was about to leave on a 8 day Germany fun and fundraising trip didn’t help to make things much easier for me.

We adapted well and very quickly took on our old roles Regina as a designer for a new logo and cooperate identity and myself treating various patients with interesting and all forms of diseases. I also produced a short soccer passion documentary about the village youth by film and with our drone and was able to edit in on site, which added so much more meaning and fun, e.g. me time and passion to our visit.

Gary Wingate is the first truly wild person that I met in my 42 years of life. He taught us – especially Rudy so much during our stay. He lives in a flower camouflage igloo tent in the village for a longer period of time and grew up all over Zimbabwe, his father being a cartographer and engineer for the road building agencies. All his life he was a wildlife guide and is full of tricks and tips and nature-life wisdom and jokes. Thanks to him we were brave enough to visit Mana and Kariba.

Kufunda village turned out to be a great experience, like much else on this trip it taught me to appreciate so much what I have with me and lucky a man I am today having this opportunity to discover parts of myself, of ourselves as a family that would otherwise not be seen or recognized. The fact that Zimbabwe as a country left the impression of post communism regimes like in the German DDR in the 1990s after the wall went down, makes you somehow feel guilty or suppressed. As I write they are even playing a music video of Pink Floyds epic “the wall” from the East Berlin live show.

A very interesting feeling as its obviously only in my mind. Somehow people lost the sense for beauty for any detail whatsoever and it’s a very function oriented society and infrastructure, which is more than understandable bearing in mind its recent history. I guess as much as the song from Beyoncé “ survivor” that now fills my ears (its Dstv Vh1 classic channel), the Zimbabwean nation needs to heal a lot of cracks in their interpersonal integrity and regrow their believe and sense for a united independent nation and we witnessed some hope along the way and it has been a great decision to be here at this precious time in recent Zimbabwean history. I just had a beer with two white Zimbabwean farmers who returned from Australia to farm tobacco and wheat and corn in their beloved home country. They were positive for their future and laughed and spoke accent free Shona with the local Barmen, that’s a positive sign indeed and made us feel happy. And they also drove the same Land Cruiser that made me even more confident.

Our children met very dear friends in the village and despite the big poverty that is present everywhere we managed to maintain the focus of interaction on the personal level. That is where we introduced our plan of moral education or teaching the values of life to our children through actual experiences. Educational values like peacefulness, being friendly, empathy compassion and community, truthfulness, respect, sensitivity and love we felt are difficult to learn just as a concept. So we try to introduce some of them in our daily routine as a theme of the week and emphasize their meaning in everyday encounters. This works at times well, but often we struggle to remain calm and centered and realize how much it takes to implement a conscious respectful togetherness when you are literally glued to each other and being observed at every step you take.

We are pleased to be given the opportunity to find ourselves in a total different environment in Zimbabwe, although it was challenging at least our well preserved habits of thoughts and everyday routine behavior.

For example we were just sitting in this nice bar at our campsite in Warthog Bush Camp in Lake Kariba, when the barman pointed to the entrance and there was a elephant standing there feasting on the pot plants in front of the entrance. And he is probably right to do so as there are not many pot plants in front of any Zimbabwean building

Kariba isn’t a National Park but in the midst of a wildlife area and animals roam free. He was a single bull and I was slowly fast making my way back to the kids in the rooftop tent to check on them as we left them around 50m from where we were sitting. As I am approaching the camp the elephant rushed towards us and I was as quick up the ladder as Rudy would be if I told him there’s a new Ninjago Transformer waiting for him. Adrenaline and happiness pumping through me when I recognized that Una forgot to use the loo (or I forgot to remind her, however) which is quite a disaster in a 1,4 m wide rooftop tent with 4 people. She woke up and obviously wasn’t listening when I told her that an elephant is just outside the tent chewing on our black bag looking for fruit.

When hearing her mumbling he turned again and was now direct in front of us waving his enormous snorkel.

To keep your calm and being mesmerized by the fact what is going on, those value system teachings seem far away – although this weeks “peacefulness” fitted quite well and a new element of mere trust in the natural forces arises. Which made us stay as cool and still as ice, actually enjoying the entire experience.

In the first week of May we spend 4 days in the very remote Zambezi escarpment on the Zimbabwean side in the Mana Pools National Park and we embarked on a real wildstyle journey. It couldn’t have been wilder than this Nyamepi Rest Camp where we were basically alone but the wildlife within the camp was rather scarce due to the rainfall in recent weeks. This worked well for us as I have experienced just now after the elephant story.

Maaianne from the Kufunda learning village told us before we left that Mana Pools and the Zambezi somehow unites the two worlds and that the wall is thin to the spiritual aspects of nature. And somehow this feeling set in when we were all on our own in the BBC Camp, knowing that a prey lions were around in the afternoon and a elephant waiving goodnight, meanwhile hippos grazing on the banks of the Zambezi.

It was a happy and intensive time for all of us and we are strengthened and thankful for the experiences in this eventful different month. The beautiful wilderness of this park was new to us and we feel somehow initiated into the african bush and cannot wait to see more en route ahead. We are planning to embark now from Lake Kariba through the Eastern Highlands into Mozambique and then Southern Malawi to make our way up and bring Gypsy and Forty and ourselves closer to our destination: Dar e Salam.