Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

Monday 8 August 1960 - Birchenough Bridge en route to Fort Victoria

This was an African style bus with a compartment for whites in the front.

We had quite a long stop at the Nyanyadzi area and I wandered round. Apart from the vendors at the bus, there were covered roadside stalls selling fruit, sugar cane (trimmed of all leaves except the terminal bud, and not a cash crop, only for chewing); baskets and table mats from grass fibre; sleeping mats or mats for sheltering gardens and cupboards from split reeds.

... Before reaching Nyanyadzi, we stopped at the Hot Springs which were the source of one of the lots of irrigation water. This had been developed as a spa and was full of whites lazing, bathing and ‘taking the waters’ – huts, hotel, bar, restaurant and three different bathing pools in which stood old men – only their trilby-hatted heads emerging above the water. The walled in spring where the water first emerges has a temperature of 133 °F and an imposing array of minerals accumulate to the placard alongside. Some was piped up to an aerial water tower and cooled to supply the hotel. The residue after the spa had finished with it went for irrigation. The spa was being enlarged but was very unfinished at present – a lot of parched earth still where later would be gardens.

Birchenough Bridge – a vast hemispherical steel affair across the broad sandy flats and shallow water of the half dry river; where our route bent from south to west.

A local boy sat on the parapet of the approach to the bridge twanging the string of a musical instrument – bow-shaped, with half a gourd fixed to the wooden arc. It looked like a twisted string of bark fibres on an ordinary shooting bow. An old man plodded across the bridge with a rolled sleeping mat on his shoulder. I did not see any of the resident crocs or hippos. A little way from the bridge, out of sight, was a game department camp; all I saw was a water pumping station and the hotel, which the bus driver did not recommend.

... Got to Fort Victoria at 5:15 p.m.. Booked into Fort Victoria Hotel, bath, laundry, dinner and out for a stroll in the featureless wide main street which was almost all the main town consisted of.