Assignment: Zimbabwe

The dog had woken me to go and pee…at 3:00am. The cat thought it was time to play. This woke Jean up, and as she compulsively checked FaceBook for updates from her A-100 class members about their assignments…people were posting! Bogota! D.C! London! She pulled out her Blackberry to check for her assignment email and….HARARE, ZIMBABWE!!!!!

Waves of excitement kept us from sleeping at all, and for the next couple hours before she went running, Jean and I did the frenzied post research that one can only do when learning they’ve been assigned to a place.

Now it’s been a couple weeks since we’ve learned this and I’m in “hurry up and wait” mode. I have to remain focused on the here and now. The water tanks that need replacing on top of our Nepali/Miami Mansion. The metal grinding and construction going on next door. The dinners that need making, holidays and parties that need planning, vacations too.

That said, there’s a lot which to anticipate about Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe in the AU.  Source: WikipediaGeography
Zimbabwe is below the equator, in the Southern hemisphere, meaning the seasons are the reverse of what I’m accustomed. Harare is about the same elevation as Kathmandu, but flatter. Check out the comparative topos. The country is 390,757 km2. (Nepal is 147,181 km2)

comparison of harare and kathmandu
comparison of Harare and Kathmandu

Zimbabwe is decidedly not the same shape as Nepal, nor does it border anything like the Himalayas. It’s much further south (Heck, it’s in the southern hemisphere), but with its elevation, it’s very temperate as compared to Kathmandu’s, just a bit hotter at times, and definitely drier. I’ll look forward to the lack of mold. I know the image is obscured here, click on it to see the full scope. Note the low temps in July, ie “normal” summer. Jean is excited about swimming at Christmas.

The country is bordered by two major rivers, has some other ones inside it, but is otherwise landlocked. No surfing or SCUBA.

Demography
Though english is primarily spoken, Shona is (one of?) the tribal language. No language training. The population is between 12 and 13 million (compared to Nepal’s roughly 30 million), meaning the population per capita is MUCH less in Zimbabwe than Nepal. Nice.
The ethnicity of Zimbabwe compared to Nepal is crazy opposite, as is religion. There have been some real issues in the past decade, and life expectancy is roughly half for native Zimbabweans compared to Nepalis.

Economics & Politics
Political struggle has led to the devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, and so a few years ago a mixed currency system was adopted; South African Rand and USD are used. I wonder if that means the price of goods fluctuates? We’re not supposed to have a real opinion on political situations of our host countries, but I’m sure most of you have heard of Robert Mugabe.

Technology & Infrastructure
I’ll be able to use my iPhone there (food, clothing, shelter, iPhone), but I didn’t figure that internet can get any worse than in Nepal in 2011. It can, and we’re going to where that is. Perhaps something will have changed by next year 🙂 There are a few options here for internet. There are actually major highways and sky scrapers in Harare, compared with very little in Nepal. I’m sure the comparatively flat landscape helps a lot here.

Diplomatic Life
Ah. This is where it gets awesome. An excellent international school. (Probably) a large house with a swimming pool, maybe even a tennis court. Probably going to buy a RH drive car locally. People we know who are living there, will be living there and who have lived there. Pretty decent security situation. Outdoor activities. Expat community. Manageable distance from out-of-country vacation destinations (two R&R’s!) and amazing in-country vacations! Two years? Happy to.

Our Thanksgiving Turkey in 2012 will be cooked in Africa…bring it on!

One Reply to “Assignment: Zimbabwe”

  1. this is sooo exciting! i love africa and I know I will love hearing your stories there!

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