Drifters

We received our” Section 8 notice” from the Zimbabwe Government and lost Karna Block through the farm invasions, a devastating time where we had to pick up the shattered pieces of our lives and start all over again , Victoria Falls seemed the logical place to go. In 2001 we hastily packed up what we could fit on our Land Cruiser with a trailer and with Rusty the faithful Landrover drove the faded tar road through the coal mining town of Hwange and onward towards a mighty waterfall at the edge of our country Zimbabwe. We were relieved to finally the sign “Welcome to Victoria Falls”. It was a cold day and the the smoke from a thousand cooking fires in Chinatimba township blanketed the low valley towards the Batoka gorge, I had driven this road many times while working at Masuwe Lodge and while it was not the future we had planned, as we loved living in the bush , I knew we would find a way forward.

This was an uncertain time in our lives, where we no longer had the security of our own home and although it was hard to come to terms with not receiving one cent of compensation , life has a way of teaching you lessons. I did a lot of soul searching at this time of my life and came to realize the love and support of family and friends is the most important gift you will ever have. We moved into a tiny cottage hidden in a glade of shady teak trees at Drifters Lodge .

Our life came to revolve around the constant arrival and departure of big green “monster trucks” as Ross called them. Each week we welcomed young travelers from all over the world who arrived off self participation camping trips from Botswana and Namibia , some left heading North through Zambia to Malawi to Mozambique , and others even further north to Kenya and Tanzania. The kids loved to spend time in the kitchen with the patient Chefs Rachael and Simon , helping to bake bread rolls for the arriving clients, they got to eat their favorite desert Crème Caramel and Malva Pudding every night of the week and and fell asleep to the rhythmic drumming of the traditional Dancers which where part of the welcome dinners every night. We had many a laugh at the antics of the young Drifters guides who became part of our lives and it was a wonderful work environment that felt like we were all part of a big family.

Our dog Bugsy loved this place and soon started to look quite rotund thanks to all the scraps the tourists dished out to her at breakfast. She loved to accompany the Guides and their guests on nightly forays down to the nearby Backpackers known as Shoe Strings, providing an invaluable service at the end of the evening leading home weaving groups of overindulged Scandinavians, through the confusing labyrinth of Victoria Falls streets. We would occasionally receive a call from Shoe Strings to say she had stayed over curled up with their Grate Dane and had been given her breakfast and was on her way home. She also took on the roll of tour guide taking clients into town and if they took a wrong turn would sit at the corner letting them know silently they were heading the wrong way. On one occasion she even make it through the border onto the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia ,where one of the Taxi drivers recognized her and kindly picked her up and gave her a lift home! She enjoyed her life at Drifters so much that when we finally moved on we had no option but to leave her in the care of Bev Gates who replaced us, because every time we opened the gate at our new home she would dart out and head straight “home” She had decided that this was her place in the world and who were we to argue with her?

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