Masvingo – Mutare, Zimbabwe, 1995
Hitching on a Sunday in Africa! My journey had begun with a bus ride from the national park where I’d been camping into the town of Masvingo, where I walked across town and had a cool beer before heading to the main road eastwards towards my final destination of Mutare. It was early afternoon and there was not much traffic, in fact I was rather nervous about making it to Mutare by evening.
The first lift I got was with a local man who was on his way home from town. He told me that although he was not going far, it would be worth taking the lift as my chances would be enhanced by being on the actual Mutare road where all passing traffic would be a possible lift, rather than on the edge of the town. Made perfect sense. After a journey of about 20 minutes we reached his turn off and it was time for me to get out. We had enjoyed a good chat during the drive and, totally unprompted, he gave me a card with his number on and told me that if it got to late afternoon and I was stuck there, to go to the local shop and give him a call. He would be happy for me to stay with him and his family on their farm for a day or two! Another example of the hospitality and friendliness that I found everywhere in Zimbabwe.
To be honest, I was very tempted to sit in the sun and read a book for a couple of hours, then give him a call, say I hadn’t managed to get a lift and take him up on his offer! After several days’ camping, a nice bed and home cooked food sounded very appealing. But I was too honest for my own good, and decided I should actually at least try and hitch a lift the rest of the way. Although I made my mind up that I would only take a lift that was going all the way, as it was better to be stuck here where I had a fallback option rather than elsewhere on the road. Before too long, a truck pulled over and the two chaps in it said they were happy to take me all the way to Mutare. After pulling in at the next service station for cold beers and snacks, it became a truly memorable journey. While the two men were in the cab chatting, I was in the back of the truck, chilling with a couple of cold beers in the sun, listening to Springsteen on my Walkman as we drove the 200km or so through the African countryside to Mutare. I enjoyed it so much, I was almost disappointed to arrive at my destination!
The combination of a challenging journey, with nervousness about getting there banished by kind strangers, culminating in a wonderful relaxing drive made it a very special day.