Sunday, May 5, 2013

Yea, I know. A bit late !

Sorry if I drift in and out of present and past tense !

Zim trip March 2013

March 18th:

I had a wonderful but brief visit with most of the Polskin family of NY. Thanks for the great company and the fantastic dinner. Also, thanks for the amazing amount of clothes you donated to Zimkids. I have already started giving some away. So many people will benefit thanks to you all.

The New York to Joburg flight was very long but I was as comfortable as you can be in Business class. The flight was delayed out of New York because of a mechanical problem. I thought that I would miss my connection to Victoria Falls but as it turns out I made it just fine. Robyn was on standby as my booking agent.

I managed to totally bamboozle the customs guy at Vic Falls Airport by giving him a small gift and taking my bags and "fleeing". Tinashe and Philip (from Zimkids) were there to pick me up and drive me to Bulawayo. 5 hours later, 2 tolls and 7 police checks we arrived in Bulawayo. Having received a speeding ticket (66kph in a 60kph zone) and a fine for having no radio license. TIA.

Loveness (the Solomon's housekeeper) made me sadza, nyama and chamoolia for my first night dinner. It was great. Silvi and Lee are well but after about 10 minutes of post dinner conversation we all went to bed. A quick shower and (ultimately) a 10 hour sleep for me. It was so great.

March 20th :

Got up late after a well deserved long sleep. Thank you jet lag and chemo.

Happy Birthday Howard and thanks for hanging out with Bobba in Boca.

It seemed like the day went really quickly. I had a coffee and juice for breakfast, a guava yogurt for lunch and then Silvi and I went to the Cattleman's for a great filet steak dinner. Sadly we were the only customers that the restaurant had the whole night. Business seems so slow for everyone ! Lee was having a girl's night out and after dinner, Silvi and I crashed the party. We talked about nail files, mani pedis and general yenta stuff.

Things seem status quo in Bulawayo. The weather is sensational. The water situation seems worse. In any given week the water is shut off at least 4 out of 7 days. If you don't have a borehole you are sh*t out of luck. On the positive side, it seems that the electric power cuts are fewer. I don't want to jinx anything but we haven't had one yet.

More later..............

March 21st :

Back to the old crap sleep routine. The sun is so bright in the morning and the weather is so pleasant how the hell are you supposed to sleep in. Ya, I know......drugs.

I did my Thursday morning visit to Savyon (retirement home) to have tea with the residents. I took the ingredients for Bread and Butter pudding with custard to the cook the day before and she made this especially for me. I had to share it with all the others ! Freeloading old rif-raf. I also met this lady who was 102 years old. Bloody hell. What an honor.

I had lunch with a friend who used to run the Hide in Hwange. Anyone wanna buy his share in the lodge ? And you think I'm kidding.

I dropped off the stuff I had for Dennis and Eli and it was good to see them again. Chickens wandering the garden, puppies running around. What a tough life ! They both are well.

Shnitzel dinner at the Sollies and then had to help Lee with her new iPhone. F*****ck. iPhone rookies - I hate them. Just kidding.

March 22nd :

Something happened to "my" car (Silvi's Jeep). All of a sudden shit stopped working so I took it to the local mechanic. The guy can fix anything and he did. Some switches shorted out.

I did my donut purchase for the staff at Solomons. Got a few extra just in case. Had to try the cream filled one. Very nice. I'm still on a sugar high.

Lunch with Silvi at a little French bistro. Yes, A French Bistro and no, I'm not gay........not that there's anything wrong with that !

The back to the Batcave (Solomon's house) on Hall road to relax at the pool. It was short lived because Lee came home with a friend and well, there we go !. But how is this for something very weird. The friend's mother was diagnosed at the exact same time as me with the exact same cancer and died 4 months later. What the .........?

Went to Shul and as usual it was wonderful to be able to make up the Minyan. For all you heathens the service took about 20 minutes.

Then off to one of the biggest birthday bashes in Bulawayo. An ex school mates 60th. Booze, dames, food and more dames. It was actually fun. Shit, can Zimbos drink. Did I mention there were dames ?

Tomorrow is the Center bash. I'm pretty darn excited. I'm just a bit verklempt that non of my family are here with me.

I hope Bobba is mending well. Thanks for all doing your part to help her while I kuk around in Africa.

March 23rd :

I had breakfast at Deja Vu and then did a couple of things. Then it was back to the Solomons to chill by the pool before heading out to the Zimkids Center.

Today was definitely one of the best days of my life. The naming of the Zimkids Center. I felt so proud, honored and emotional. The kids arranged such an amazing program. Pictures have been posted.

As a famous English lady once said: "I'm gobsmacked".

Sorry I couldn't talk longer to Bobba as I was driving to the Center. The police really freak out if they catch you driving and on the phone. But at least you can drive drunk ! Not really.

When I arrived at the Center Dennis was waiting at the gate. He had me wait just about a minute and then beckoned me in. As I turned in the gate all I saw were the kids lined up along all the pathways holding little hand made signs. I parked, got out and the whole scene was quite overwhelming. I was desperately trying to keep my emotions in check while I walked along the path to the courtyard. It was really difficult (gulp) as I read the signs and looked at the kids holding them.

I was led to the performance gazebo where there were lots of other kids waiting and was seated in a chair of honor. All the while, I was escorted by a "Zulu Warrior" who was chanting, dancing and singing in Ndebele. I finally realized that the Zulu Warrior was Shaka our Art and Garden teacher. I was joined by a number of my Bulawayo friends who were in the audience.

Different age groups of kids all did various dances and performances. One of the most touching was when a really young group spelled my name and announced what each letter stood for. I was presented with a couple of gifts from the kids. One was a doll of me - probably a little too life like. The other was a book with an art cover front and back and multiple pages of comments from all the kids. Also a large poster sized hand painted picture of an African scene. I then spoke a bit  and thanked so many different people for a wonderful event. Not least of which was Dennis.

We then all moved to the courtyard where we unveiled the carved stone (boulder) where the inscription reads "Zimkids - In Honor of Adrian Suskin - Simunye". The meaning of simunye is Ndebele for together. Pictures posted.

Then it was party time. Everyone lined up washed their hands and got a piece of carrot cake and some mazoe orange juice. Chef Gaboury was responsible for some of the most awesome carrot cake I have tasted. Not easy to bake for about a 100 people ! No sooner had the cake gone down, the dancing started. This is where I discovered a few things. Firstly, I need to raise funds for a defibrillator. Just in case and yes, for me. Secondly, don't try and keep up with the kids. I'm not the prime physical specimen I used to be. I can hear Rob and Mike chuckling already.

I finally left the Center exhausted and emotionally drained. I will remember this day well beyond my "Best Before" date runs out.

That evening the Solomons, the Sommers and I went for an Italian dinner at the restaurant that was formerly Maxi's. It wasn't too bad but was missing the personality and company of Maxi.
March 24th :

After a bit of a Sunday morning sleep in, I went on my own to Chipingali Wildlife Sanctuary. After the previous day's event, I needed some alone time and could not think of a better place to hang out. Viv Wilson passed away a while ago and the animal orphanage is now run by his son Kevin and Kevin's wife Vicki. It's not in pristine shape but they still do wonderful work with injured and orphaned animals.

On the way home I was dying for a meat pie so I texted Silvi to meet me for a pie or two. Next thing I get a text back saying come home the meat pies are waiting. Yummy. In the afternoon Silvi and I took the Rabbi and Cantor on a Jewish tour of Bulawayo. No, it wasn't visiting every deli in Bulawayo ! We showed them the cemetery, the old burned down shul, Carmel school etc. The reason the Rabbi/Moyel was in town was to perform a Bris on Monday morning. The Cantor was in town to help with Pesach.

That evening the Solomons and I ordered take out Shnitzel rolls and chips from Bon Journee

March 25th :

Monday morning was the first bris in Bulawayo for over 15 years. This community is so used to funeral after funeral that it was fantastic to finally have a joyous celebration. Afterwards I went out to the Center to give them the donated clothing and to hang out for a while. I also had gifts for a few of the people there. There was a representative from The Discovery Channel that was also at the Center. We may become part of their teaching program. I spent a bit of time with the "new" young kids. So sweet. Among them were a Mike and a Michael. Such a common name :-)

That evening we had first night Pesach (Passover) at the Sommers with about 25 people in total. What chaos, but it was really nice.It was so difficult to do the service as we were using about seven different Hagadah's. The dinner and company were great.

March 26th :

Tuesday was Shul, shul and a bit more shul. Over these past few days I have been to so many shul services. But you know what ? It's always my pleasure to help them out with a minyan. Lots of running around doing all sorts of things.I took Opah and her 2 grandkids for ice-cream at Eskimo Hut. Yes, it's still going. Second night Pesach was at the Feldmans but with a much smaller crowd.

March 27th :

Wednesday was also spent running around looking busy. The weather has been amazing. 80 (25) during the day and 60 (15) at night. The mosquitos haven't been too bad. I don't think they like chemo blood too much.

March 28th :

Thursday I..................never mind. I just woke up. Hasn't happened yet !

I went to see the new Spar supermarket in Kumalo (Kumalo North). For those in the know it's near the church close to 10 Burnham Road. It was very clean and bright but seemed quite pricey. They were even selling live lobster ! For who ???

I picked up a whole bunch of books from the Shul to take to Zimkids. I'm not quite sure why these books were at the Shul but they should be very useful for the Center library. It included a lot of different grade teaching books. I decided to get some "Shul credits" so I invited the visiting Cantor to come out to the Center with me and deliver the books. For those that don't know about "Shul credits", they allow you to skip services at your time and leisure :-) The Cantor was very impressed with the Center.

In the evening I treated Dennis, Eli and Philip to dinner at 26 Park. They gave me a CD of the pictures that our photographer took at the Center dedication. There are some amazing wonderful pictures that have already been shared with you.

March 29th :

Yes, it's true. On Friday I did simply nothing. Spent lunchtime at the Laskers in Burnside. Friday evening shul and then a bunch of us went out for Shabbat dinner.

March 30th :

I have also spent so much time on trying to restore Lee Solomon's new iPhone 4S that I brought her from the USA. It is impossible to download the needed updates (restoration) files here. So the message to you all is enjoy your FAST internet and quit whining !

OK, so Saturday morning I went to shul and got a double aliyah. It's quite a mitzvah so I was truly honored. They always do a blessing for me and my health so I asked them to do one for the Boblitz for a speedy recovery.

Silvi, Lee, a friend of Lee's and I went to Matopos. It's still a really peaceful and magical place. We hiked up to Cecil's grave and I was able to not have a coronary on the way up. I wish I had taken my inhaler. I always laugh when I look out to the east and picture my nephews (on a past trip) with their pants down facing the beautiful panorama. Ahh the memories. Do you remember the resurrection weed ? It grew all over Matopos. I have no idea what the real name is but it looks like bone dry sticks until they get a bit of water. Then they bloom green. I brought some back to Bulawayo and put it in water over night.

We came back into town and went for Indian food. Almost burnt my sphincter off ! But we did have nan (Indian matzo) bread.

March 31st :

Well it's Sunday morning and the resurrection weed is in full green bloom. Simply amazing. Today was also my last full day in Bulawayo.

April 1st :

I took the Pathfinder bus service to Vic Falls. Not too bad. Reasonably comfortable, fairly priced but a bit longer than a normal car drive.

It's always so nice checking in to The Victoria Falls Hotel. They treat me so well and I'm usually given very comfortable suites to stay in.

April 2nd :

A day in Botswana cruising the Chobe river and driving through a part of the Chobe game reserve. Fantastic.

Dinner at Mama Africa with a few friends that were also at the Falls. Nice dinner and good company. On the way back to the hotel I had to dodge a 10 ft African Rock Python crossing the road and could not pass up the lure of the casino at the Kingdom Hotel. In a space of 4 minutes I made US$110, cashed out and continued on to my Hotel. Keep in mind, things at this part of the town of Vic Falls are very close together.

April 3rd :

USA bound. Til next time..............chemo awaits !

Carpe Diem.

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