As time passed the cottage at Drifters was too small for our growing family, we moved in to a large thatched house at the bottom of Wood Road. Ironically we landed up living in the very house on Wood Road where Russell and I had met back in 1996. Tana referred to our new home as a House of Straw, it was only years later that she confessed to having spent many sleepless nights dreading the arrival of a wolf from little red riding hood, to huff and puff and blow it all down. During these years the supply of electricity within Zimbabwe was erratic and rolling blackouts were the order of the day. Ross was known for his unintended puns and achieved moderate fame with our friends with “lessatricity” when trying to wrap his tongue around the word Electricity. His unintended pun to describe electricity or the lack thereof went viral in Zimbabwe!
My brother Pierre who at this stage was working in Tanzania stopped to visit my parents who lived in the cottage in our back garden. A welcome break after his long road trip back from Tanzania, where he visited the Island of Zanzibar and bought Dad a gift of a couple of pounds of various spices for his pickles. Dad got a delivery of some very fine cuts of venison from Matetsi and was excited to try out his fresh Zanzibar spices to make Biltong.
Their house on the farm had no electricity so all their cooking before had been on either gas or wood fire stove which we jokingly referred to as a “Mopani microwave” When they had moved into Victoria falls, we had given them a real microwave for the first time, which my father was itching to use. Upon closer inspection, he decided that the dried chilies could benefit from a bit of microwave rejuvenation and popped a handful in the microwave and pressed the button for a 30-second burst.
If you have never microwaved a chili you just haven’t lived! Within a few seconds, the chili oil vaporized and the extractor fan on the back on the microwave spread a cloud of pepper spray throughout the cottage. Within 10 seconds, Mum, Dad, and all the dogs were outside gasping and fighting over the garden hose while inside their little cottage the microwave merrily carried on doing its thing. By the time it pinged to a halt, our eyes were burning and our house 100 yards away but my father swears to this day that he had invented the most effective budget fumigation plan on the planet!
During this time my folks spent time working at Masuna, an Island on Lake Kariba with holiday homes, there was a severe drought and to assist the locals, Dad established a large vegetable garden. Water was abundant and with a little fertilizer and his green fingers soon, every staff member was going home at the end of the day with food for his family. On departure he discovered that some of his tools including a spoke-shave that was a family heirloom were missing. Ever the physiologist he lined up the staff and told them that it was most unfortunate that these tools had gone missing since they were guarded by the spirit of his great grandfather and whoever had taken them was going to face a day of reckoning. We were not aware of what had transpired and a few weeks later I got a call from Judy Cummings to say the staff had given a large box of vegetables for the Madala , I opened the box to find Dads missing tools with a peace offering.
After patiently waiting 13 years for change … in 2009 Mugabe’s Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority forcing power-sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC which lasted until 2013 after which it was a return to ZANU PF and we came to the conclusion that since Leopards do not change their spots, it was time to move on to greener pastures.