Childhood haunts in Bulawayo
Today we had a car restored so we set out on a quick circuit around the city to visit some of my favourite places as a child.
First stop was the National Museum of Zimbabwe, the rotund building near to the fountains and Centenary Park. I’d always enjoyed this place for the entry foyer, with loads of stuffed animals and the gemstone halls which had a replica mine to walk through. In fact that mine earned me two cuts with the cane once as I’d run ahead of my school group to get to it. (My justification was that I went to the Museum so often I was hardly going to get lost – my Principal and his schambok didn’t buy it).
Morag had talked the place down before we went, claiming the stuffed animals were so old they stank and nothing would have changed since I was last there. The lack of change didn’t matter to me as I was really pleased to go through the facility looking exactly as it did when I was ten. And contrary to Morag’s advice, the exhibits are still in excellent shape and the building retained its sense of magic.
In the end we had to drag the kids away, especially Joseph who declared the Museum much better than anything he’d seen in Australia. Not bad for 40 year old displays.
Next stop was a final jaunt to Anne’s favourite shop – Jairus Jiri curio shop. We offloaded a lot of camping gear and presents here in Bulawayo but its place has been taken by lots of presents. I think Anne’s intending to buy something for around 50 people?
Onward to the Bulawayo Railway Museum – absolutely my favourite place as a kid. It is not far from where my Dad worked and sometimes in the school holidays he would drop me in there in the morning and pick me up on the way home – I’d spend the day clambering all over steam trains, carriages and anything else with handhelds. The BRM is also in good shape, beautifully maintained by a very dedicated team of volunteers. So my boys got the opportunity to do the same today, and loved it!
The special surprise today was that they are now allowing people to get into the famous carriage built for Cecil John Rhodes. This used to be a closed exhibit, and the carriage is nearly 120 years old, but it is still the ultimate in luxury. It must have been wonderful to clatter around Africa in such a carriage.
Final stop was my former Primary School Whitestone. It’s one of the elite Bulawayo Schools and is in good order and clearly they have a bit of money to spend (if the revolving LED noticeboard at the front entrance is anything to go by). Great to see my old classrooms, the marble patch, the dining room where we had lunch and the chapel where we had our concluding service in Year 7 (and probably the last time I was ever at Whitestone).
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the rugby field where I’d represented Whitestone 1st XV in every game of their first two years after reincarnation – 1982 and 1983. Good memories.
Tonight we’re heading to Hotel Rio for a party with the SJMV girls to celebrate its purchase, and tomorrow we get on a plane to Cape Town via Jo’Burg for Chapter Three of this trip. Hopefully our next brush with OR Tambo Airport is more positive than our first one.m