Sunday, June 22, 2008


It's been a full week since arriving to Jo'Burg and even reflecting on what we've done in the past week, I'm still speechless. The people we have encountered and the stories we've heard make you think twice about everything.

The trip to the border was a lifetime experience. I can't say the actual 7 hour bus ride was something I want to write home about but seeing the amount of goods people take back with them to sell in Zimbabwe is just astonishing. Currency in Zimbabwe is printed weekly because of the inflation. Immigrants from Zimbabwe come to South Africa with briefcases full of Zimbabwe dollars to exchange it for maybe R20. We were able to trade R6 for about 10 50 Million Zimbabwe dollar notes that expired at the end of June. We were told the highest note is 75 Billion Zimbabwe dollars.

The run-off election is supposed to take place on June 27th and ask anyone here and they will express their uncertainties that it will not happen. Mugabe has all of his bases covered to ensure he still takes the presidential position, which could lead to civil war in Zimbabwe. All of the immigrants we talked to along the border have lost hope in their country and are thankful they are trying to make ends meet in South Africa. A few we talked to said they would go back to vote but many said they would not go back to Zimbabwe unless the had to. We met a 17 year old boy who has illegally crossed over the border 3 times. Every time they arrest him and take him back he just finds another way to cross back over. He lived in the mountains for a short period of time before he crossed over the last time. This was also where he crossed the Limpopo river, which is infamous for it's crocodiles and their appetites. He now works at one of the market stands in Musina, a city just past the border where in exchange for food and shelter he helps sell food and clean up the stand. This kid looked exhausted but he's just happy he's found opportunity in South Africa. He's not worried he'll get arrested again because he'll just come back over.

Last night I got into a political debate from someone who is from Cape Town. Hearing what he thought about Zimbabwe's situation and what would happen in the future was eye-opening. It was at that moment I didn't feel like a foreigner. I felt like I was sort of a South African in living history. I hope civil war doesn't break out in Zimbabwe and I hope for the best for that country, but right now things are so shaky no one knows what could happen.

I suppose we'll have to anxiously wait until June 27th.

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