The Mouse and I went to Bulawayo over Easter. A friend was getting married, so we took a long-ass, bumpy, dusty, roadblocky, roadworksy drive down for the weekend.
First of all … ZRP. Three roadblocks before Norton … really? That seems a bit excessive to me, but hey. Okay. Whatever makes you happy, chappy.
There’s lots of work happening on the roads, and I was pleasantly surprised to see dual carriageways and bridges and new tollgates and stuff. Seems like some of the money’s going somewhere, sometimes.
We stopped for a while in Kadoma, which, honestly, looks like shit. The roads are crap, traffic’s crap, it’s dusty and rundown and dull. That’s a shame, cos I went to high school in that town, and it’s truly, madly, deeply gone to shit.
Stopped in Gweru next. There was no water at Chicken Inn, so the bathrooms were closed. But … why were they serving food when they have no water? Hmmmm. Fifteen roadblocks later, we entered Bulawayo late on Friday night, went to our (new, hidden, possibly unregistered) guesthouse and collapsed.
Now, I have nothing against Skies. In fact, I’ve been bleating about how I miss the place. Not so sure anymore, actually.
By lunchtime, it was 33 degrees in the shade. At lunchtime, I was playing masterchef at the braai-stand. The wedding was at two, and we had to dress the fuck up for that. In 33 degree heat.
We passed by (what we were told was) a sports bar “Pub & Grill” for a peep at the rugby and a snort of whisky. Londoner’s, on its grimiest, dingiest night, is paradise compared to this place. Oh, and the (admittedly wall-mounted, large-screen) TVs were off anyway. Next.
And then there’s Econet. Our dearly beloved Econet. No data, at all. There were extremely rare, momentary instances of Edge in two particular places, but no. Nothing. Total bullshit, for someone who needs email, live scores and twirra to stay sane (notice I didn’t mention WhatsApp, because WhatsApp is annoying and I hate it I hate it I hate it).
After the wedding, we decided to hit the town. The moment of truth, in my opinion. Is Bulawayo the way I remember it? Is Skies still the place to be for joy and kicks and shits and giggles?
Drove past BAC, cars were parked in the middle of the road all the way round the curve. Flashbacks of Kebab Center, so we immediately fucked off. Finally went to Horizon, the bar every Harare person screams about.
Not bad at all. Five dollar cover, nice location, good views. The two barmen seemed to be struggling a bit, but after my customary Big Initial Tip, we didn’t have much trouble getting our drink on.
It’s possibly the nicest nightclub I’ve seen in the country, but eish … how much fucking house music can you possibly listen to in one night? Neeeext.
Went to club Fourty 40. Formerly Visions, the bar of bars, the joint of joints, bhawa rangu chairo. What a load of crap. It’s really Just Another Nightclub, and a bit on the dingy side of things, too. Pretty damn ordinary.
All in all, Skies isn’t the same place I stayed in and thought I missed. It’s really just another reminder that the memories you have of a place aren’t based on the location, but the company. The times you recall aren’t made special by the places you had fun in, but the people you had fun with.
Objects in the rear-view mirror may appear closer than they are.
Without my friends Satanus, Kuda, Rachel, Gondo, Dhongi, Karlos and everybody else, Bulawayo is but a hot, dry, unexciting shadow of its former glorious self.
I’m done with you, Bulawayo. Thanks for the memories, but that’s all they are. You’ve changed, and I’ll accept that. I’ve moved on too, so it’s okay that we’re done.
Good luck with the