The Eastern Highlands

Trip Start Jan 10, 2006
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25
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Trip End Jun 02, 2006


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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Finally, some more mountains after four weeks of flatland. And they are incredible. We left Harare on Thursday morning and made a stop in Rusape, where Kufunda is working with a group of women to facilitate their self-facilitation. These women are strong and motivated and so grateful for the bit of help that Kufunda has provided. They have started some amazing clothes making projects, and they have started an herb and food garden near their preschool. We got to hang out with the preschool kids and sing some songs before a quick lunch. I got to see some incredible fruit gardens (banana, citrus, papaya, monkey orange) stradling vegetables, with rabbits and chickens on the fringe. It seems about anything will grow here.

Rusape is at the point east of Harare where the land is becoming mountainous. The granite boulders which are scattered around Kufunda are absolutely everywhere here. They protect from wind and moderate the climate in addition to harvesting the rainfall. I can't stop thinking of the Chancellor brothers and what fun they would have here, with the people and the rocks. I hope my photos can entice them.

After this quick stop, we headed on east to a great little bunch of cottages at Punch Rock. Now we were in the mountains, and the granite boulders stand in front of granite cliffs. We stayed among an old stand of acacia abyssinica (the Nyanga flat-topped acacia) that made a lawn at the top of their crown, and had ferns, moss, mushrooms and even other trees growing from their branches. We took hikes and made one large ascent.

The diversity of flora of these mountains is unbelievable. Sometimes it seems no two plants are the same. Some are very nice fragrant and the visual show is stunning. Plus, besides the nettles which I noticed immediately, I didn't meet a single plant that would hurt to step on with bare feet. I'm happy to have been here in the wet season, while everything is thriving, especially the mushrooms.

We ate well, too. On the way we had picked up a few bags of apples and an enormous (2 kg at least) bag of fresh wild mushrooms (chantrelles and waxy caps [Hygrophorus, right? I've been away from my mushroom books for too long.]) that cost the equivalent of 75 cents. On our way up the mountain I collected some usnea (an antibiotic lichen) and put it to use immediately on my athlete's foot, which is now much better. I just chewed the usnea (it's fairly tasteless) and rubbed it on my foot. It started tingling instantly, and the itch went away for good.

We also had some nice learning circles and played the flowgame, which I can't explain right now. One downer was our oldest sister, who's from South Africa, Bonnie, took a fall on our first short hike and cut her head on a rock. We took her to the mission hospital where they stitched her up for free, and gave her a tetanus shot for about $1,000,000 Zim dollars ($5.00 US). She has an amazing sense of humor and was laughing immediately after it happened with blood dripping into her hands. She was right with us the whole rest of our time in Nyanga (minus the big ascent, of course) and back at Kufunda.
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