Calendar   Home
Previous Day August 20, 2001 Next Day
Skyrocketing inflation grips this country, which has created interesting consequences for us. Never has comparison-shopping been more important, luckily, Jill has trained her entire life for these situations - she's a professional shopper. First, money exchange - the banks offer $55 Zim for $1 US, however, street changers offer up to $300 Zim for $1 US. Consumer prices vary widely. A box of cereal can cost $500 Zim or $50 Zim. Our rafting excursion cost $35 US, the other people paid $100 US. Most things are much cheaper - the US dollar is five times more valuable than last year. Pay for everything in Zim dollars. Entrance fee for Victoria Falls overlook: $20 US or $1100 Zim (equivalent $4 US). Paying with Zim money, we can eat steak dinners for the equivalent of $2 US. Whole pizzas costs $2 US and Jill bought a nice hat for $1.50 US. We're amazed at the difference one year can make. We see a lot more beggars in the streets, a said sign of the current economic crisis. What's the problem? A struggle between rich farmers and landless peasants, called war veterans in this drama, overseen by a president who is using the conflict to stay in power. Also, add a heavy dose of racial tension. Sound like a party? Basically, President Mugabe's term is over, yet he uses promises of wealth redistribution to prolong his power. Since wealth redistribution involves taking as well as giving, conflict erupts; in this case between the rich farmers who are white ancestors of the Imperial British and therefore undeserving since their lands were ill-gotten, and 'war veterans,' black freedom fighters of Zimbabwe's war of independence (a marketing label since most of these people were too young to be in that war) that demand land as payment for patriotic service as well as the return of land to the 'original' owners (meaning black ancestors of the natives who lost their land to British colonizers over 100 years ago). During this ongoing conflict, the government serves corruption as its main meal, foreign investment flees, and inflation as well as food shortages run rampant. No wonder we don't see many tourists and our truck, fitted for 25 people, only has four passengers.
No signs, no railings, not even a bungee cord: you can walk to the edge of the falls.
Friendly tour guides will offer their services for a small fee of peanuts or bananas.
Wet overlooks