Bulawayo and Masvingo, Zimbabwe

There are two things that Zimbabwe is generally known for, at least in the past 15 years: Robert Mugabe and hyperinflation.

It’s a little unfair. Well, yes, Mugabe is 92 and has been clinging onto power in such a way that it’s caused political instability, and by late 2008, transactions were conducted in quadrillions of Zimbabwean dollars (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000) with prices of everything doubling per day and zeros added by the week, but we can put that aside for now. (Not to say I didn’t help myself to a $10,000,000,000 bill!)

What should Zimbabwe be known for? These people are the most smiley I’ve ever seen. It goes beyond pleasantries and politeness — I’m never met with just a gentle smile, but a teeth-bearing beam, and conversations extend and extend as neither party wants to stop talking. They’re super warm and super friendly, and they really, really laugh a lot. People on the street randomly ask me how I’m enjoying Zimbabwe. Some go well out of their way to help me along with directions. They really love their country and any visitors they get — and that number is thankfully beginning to increase again, outside of just Victoria Falls.
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