After staying at Dugong Beach Lodge any readers of this blog will believe that being able to stay in such places is greatest benefit of this vocation. What drove me to start my business was encapsulated in the meal I enjoyed last night. The people of Africa have an ability to take on daily challenges that most westerners would wilt under if thrown in the same circumstances. More impressive is their persevering attitude about working towards a solution while never losing the attractiveness of being overly hospitable.
Last night proved to be a snapshot of what I have described above.
Pat Rezlaff and his wife, Mandy, own Mozambique Horse Safaris based just down the beach from Archipelago. The couple became friends with Mike Moye about 3 years ago when Mike was here for a few months. The Rezlaff story, like many a Zimbabwean, is tragic but yet also reveals the resolve of its people to keep plowing forward.
Farm owners near Harare and horseback riders specializing is game viewing in the African bush, the Retzlaffs were forced from their land about 6 years ago by the current Mugabe government. Their trek east to the coast of Mozambique was not an easy one requiring a yeoman’s effort to get their horses and a number of other horses into a safer haven. They have since setup again started over like so many Zimbabweans and watched their families get torn apart. Their son has since moved north into Tanzania concentrating on serving as support staff for nature programming shown on National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery. Their daughter currently resides like many Zimbabweans, in London.
Pat invited me over to extend our prior discussion of my desire to head north into Gorongosa National Park where his son served as a game ranger for a few years. Gorongosa was once held on the same level as the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania in regards to pristine wilderness and prolific game viewing. The civil war from 1975 – 1990 witnessed a wholesale slaughter of the big game in the park as the military and locals culled in order to feed themselves. Since those dark days the road back to where it once stood has been long. With the help of Gregory Carr, a wealthy US businessman who has pumped many millions of dollars into the park of his own money, the management of the process has begun to see some success. I am eager to head that way as I have been told the park is not visited very much and remains a throwback to the way wildlife parks were created in the early years of conservation.
Fred and Janie Wallace gave me a ride over to Pat’s house. Mandy left for London a couple nights ago. The story of their horse rescues from Zimbabwe reached the British press and subsequently there has been a book deal in the works. The final draft is close to being finished and some meetings between Mandy and the publishers in London must take place so off she has gone.
Fred and Janie’s story is yet another living current history of the plight of Zimbabweans. They also fled Zimbabwe in the mid 200’s when the inflation was the highest in all the world. With their 3 boys, they left for Australia where Fred began work on a farm for 2 years. Thereafter he worked construction and Janie took on what she could fine along the way. Their boys were all about between the ages of 12 and 18 and the Wallace’s left to give their children a chance to start over. Fred and Janie stayed for 5 years, got their children settled into a new country, gained their citizenship and have since come back to Zambia to make a go of it again. I have found those that are African born and bred find it hard to leave for good. The children have stayed behind in Perth and are all now between about 17 and 23 and on their own. Lots of sacrifices are made by these Zimbabweans to make a new life for themselves.
One of the volunteers helping Pat and Mandy, Kathryn from England, was with us this last night before she boarded her plane for home.
We all chipped in an helped prepare a mighty fine lamb curry. Janie did the cooking as my culinary skills are lacking. I served as prep cook and southern raconteur. Two bottles of wine and a bottle of port into the evening we have covered a myriad of subjects from the Middle East to servicemen and casualty losses in WWII to the finer parts of accents and word choices in our varied dialects of spoken English. Good company all the way around.