Array ( [total] => 2 [pageSize] => 24 [page] => 0 [results] => Array ( [187] => Array ( [iID] => 187 [tTitle] => Great Zimbabwe [tSlug] => great-zimbabwe [iTime] => 1087423200 [iUpdate] => 1087423200 [tDescription] => It appears there are two types of visitors to Great Zimbabwe. There's a group of people who are awed and very impressed by the site and there's a group who find the stories a bit overrated. I belong to the latter. Sure, the stone ruins, built entirely without mortar, are reasonably impressive but, besides The Great Enclosure, to me most of the ruins just looked like a neat stack of bricks. We toured the grounds with a reasonably good but too talkative, guide, Philip, we had picked up at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel. Apparently, over the last couple of years, almost the only people still staying here are South Africans on organized tours, visiting Victoria Falls, Matopos and Great Zimbabwe in one go. Nevertheless, when leaving, we managed to get a ride with a Zimbabwean couple traveling Zimbabwe on their honeymoon. Getting there, we had taken a commuter from the edge of town, which was one of the worst commuter rides in my life. Although this one bus was a bit bigger than the commuters that drive through Harare, it's easy to see why the popular name for these vehicles is 'chicken bus': people transport everything with these buses but, for some reason, there always seem to be several chickens on board. It was so busy, I had to stand but, as the bus filled up, I slowly had to bend backwards more and more for luggage that had trapped my feet and people with backpacks or bags being pushed towards the end of the bus by others embarking. The whole ride, I made a 60 degree angle with the floor. Well, as they say, there's always room for one more in a chicken bus. From the commuter stop to Great Zimbabwe is still a couple of kilometers, so we broke our journey at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel, where we had a well deserved coffee and snacks. Almost immediately, a baboon came down from one of the trees and started circling us. Soon, however he left. Then I went inside to arrange our guide. I heard a scream and walked outside, to have Betsy tell me the baboon just had jumped up to her, had stolen the small packs of sugar we got with our coffee and had run of quickly. Apparently, this other baboon at Betsy's table, now gone, was reason the baboon took it easy earlier on. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 6944 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 177 [iOldID] => 290 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462180081 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 18 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -20.2768 [fLongitude] => 30.9289 [tLocation] => Great Zimbabwe hotel [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20040617 ) [186] => Array ( [iID] => 186 [tTitle] => Southern Africa tour [tSlug] => southern-africa-tour [iTime] => 1087336800 [iUpdate] => 1087336800 [tDescription] => Darlington was going to drop us of at Mbare bus station. For some reason, some days before, he had, temporarily, changed his battered Renault 4 for a newer but less sturdy Daewoo. It meant that we had to wait a while before leaving, Darlington first having to fix the cooling system of the car. If you've ever been to an African bus station, you know about the chaos. Mbare was no exception. It took a while before we found the 'platform' to Masvingo where three big buses were waiting to fill up. After some deliberation, we selected the least dirty one. I was expecting to have to wait hours for the bus to fill up but to my surprise, ours was the first to leave, before it was even half full. A pleasant surprise, considering how packed a bus these people are still comfortable with. Great Zimbabwe Our first stop was going to be Masvingo, close to Great Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe are the largest ruins in Africa south of the Egyptian pyramids. Masvingo, however, is uninspiring. We stayed at the Backpackers rest, a hostel run by Zimbabweans in 'downtown' Masvingo. Mildly clean but cheap and a mini English breakfast was included in the price. When, in our room, we opened the curtains, we stared right into the next room, a dorm for girls who all wanted to use the bathroom at the same time, before going to bed later in the evening, running around and screaming like a bunch of headless chickens. Basically your only other option in town is the Chevron hotel, no doubt built in the 70s with too much dark wood, a sterile environment and way too expensive, but with an affordable bar and a reasonable restaurant where some arcane leftover sign still forbids shorts and slippers after 7pm. It's where we waited the next evening, after visiting Great Zimbabwe, before heading out to Shell City, some six kilometers out of town, from where our bus to Johannesburg would depart, just before 12 at night. We made it our first priority to arrange our departure, obtaining bus tickets for the next leg of our journey. Walking on the street, a young schoolgirl asked if we were, perhaps, willing to sponsor her. She was carrying a tattered piece of paper with a small list of people who had given her some money to get through school or by stationary: 50 dollars, 100 dollars, another 50 dollars. One euro, then, was worth some 6500 Zim dollars. I gave the girl 500 dollars, some 8 cents, and she thanked me by making a little bow and clapping in her hands. Earlier, the girl posing as receptionist at the Backpackers rest, told us we could get tickets at 'the Pink Pigeon', something of a chicken restaurant, very close to the hostel. Inside, we asked a waiter about this and were directed to a table, occupied by what looked like four huge thugs eating rice and chicken. They turned out to be bus drivers and we could leave immediately for Johannesburg if we wanted to. Still wanting to visit Great Zimbabwe, we thanked them and decided to go for the slightly more organized option of getting our ticket at the towns (only) travel agent. 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