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Kevin Dispatch

Our Meating Was Not A Coincidence!

Jedis Monica and Kevin
These were the words that Jedi Qui-Gon Jin told Anakin Skywalker's mother just before the young lad freed himself from slavery by winning the pod race, allowing him to leave the desert planet of Tatooine. Quoting lines from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is quite popular among the creatures that travel through this side of the galaxy since it recently opened in Harare a couple of weeks ago. I've seen the movie no less than four times, Monica saw it three days in a row, and though Jonathan, our roommate at the Hillside Lodge, has only seen it twice, he has a 24-megabyte movie trailer stored on his laptop that he's undoubtedly watched at least a few dozen times. Between the three of us, we've got nearly all of the [bad] dialogue committed to memory but are still working on the choreography for the climatic two-on-one light-saber sequence. What else do the three of us have in common besides annoying others by reciting Jedi prophecies? Well, we all like to eat a lot of meat (unlike the other three Trekkers, who are vegetarians).

After being in Harare for over a month, Jonathan and I decided to take a week-long trip to see the game-filled Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls (see Monica's dispatch). Through Jonathan's connections, we were set up for a couple of nights at the Hwange Safari Lodge, a five-star hotel on the edge of the park. At first, we found it odd that our room was lacking a television, but when we swept aside the curtain and slid open the glass door onto the balcony, we saw why no television in the world could reasonably be placed in any of the rooms.

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A group of impalas (members of the antelope family).
Just beyond the freshly trimmed green of the hotel's official grounds, we saw the edge of the Hwange National Park, the two areas separated only by a thin rail and narrow mote. On the other side of the barrier lay a vast field with one lonely watering hole and beyond the field a dense wall of trees and bushes that continued deeper into the park. And if that weren't beautiful enough, an entire herd of elephants then emerged from the forest toward the small pond for their early evening drink. Wandering about in all directions were smaller groups of impala (miniature antelope) with their bright black and white stripes on their hind legs as if to say "follow me" to other impala bringing up the rear. Perhaps they were all moving as a group to join the six zebras huddling around the huge baobab tree. Or more likely, they were making way for the 300 or more buffalo that were also crossing the field. The movement of all of these animal bodies was enough to keep my eyes shifting from one end of the field to the other.

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I'd recommend an ostrich feast to anyone...
It was also more than enough to make me hungry for dinner. Although Monica helps me, I think the team would agree that I personally eat enough meat for all five of us. I've already written about eating cuy (guinea pig) and llama in Peru, but I've added several new dishes to my repertoire since being in Zimbabwe. Wild animals don't usually let you approach them, especially while they're eating, so the best way to see them up close is to have them come to you while you're eating... served on a platter. I began one of my nightly rituals with a crocodile salad as an appetizer. This meat has a chewy enough consistency resembling chicken, but tastes more like fish than chicken. It was mixed with greens and topped with a tangy, peppery dressing. I've also tried main courses like fillets of both impala and eland as well as kudu stew. Eland and kudu are the largest members of the antelope family. I'd have to say that my personal favorite so far has been the lean and tender red meat of the ostrich. I ate strips of sautéed ostrich with slices of green pepper and onion, which were marinated in a port wine and garlic sauce with a side of white rice and steamed vegetables. It was one of the most tender and delicious meals I've ever eaten anywhere!

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I'll get you Mr. Warthog...and eat you up too!
While cruising down the road one day in a taxi, Jonathan and I pulled over for a typical Zimbabwean lunch at a braai stop. We walked into one of the butcher shops, but the only thing left in the selection was goat, since it was late in the afternoon. Actually I should say "the goat" since the butcher opened up the freezer box and pulled out a whole goat in its entirety that was missing only the head and innards. In fact the head was still sitting in a bucket on the floor. I had never seen anything like it before. The butcher was a woman who was incredibly skilled in the use of an ax, which she managed to swing swiftly enough to cut straight through the goat's frozen ribs. We actually were able to cut our own piece of the goat to buy, purchasing an entire rack of ribs for only $30Zim (less than US$1). Braai is one of the easiest ways to prepare meat. You simply dump loads of salt all over it and then place it over an open flame until it's a bit burnt and crispy. This meat, although chewy is still tasty when typically eaten along with sadza (see my dispatch about Shona religion).

Not only have I seen the many animals of Zimbabwe, but I've also really been able to get a taste of the country... literally! However, Monica and I have been told that we really shouldn't leave Zimbabwe without having tried warthog. I'm glad that we're still staying around here for a few more weeks of breakfast, lunch and dinner!


Kavitha - Survival Skills
Monica - Rapunzel, Rapunzel...
Abeja - Anger at an Unfair World
Kavitha - Children Coping with the Aftermath of AIDS in Africa
Abeja - A Friend in Need...

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