Another Unexpected Journey, Part A

Sometimes, things don’t go as one plans it. This past week, we experienced unplanned journeys. Allow me to share.


The journey began last Monday. We were headed from Chiredzi to Harare. Our goal was twofold. We had some x-rays to deliver to a doctor for our friend Meghan Burbidge and second to get to our friends, Bill and Julia McDonald, to spend the night to meet a plane on Tuesday.

It is about seven hours from Chiredzi to Harare and for most of the journey it was simple and straightforward. As we approached Harare, however, things got a little dicey. Our Map.Me program directed us to a roundabout that did not exist. It had been totally removed and a construction site for a flyover was in its place. There was a detour in place, one we had taken before but from the other direction. Against common sense and the recommendation of my wife, we went straight at one point instead of following traffic to the right.

We found ourselves in the middle of the construction zone. We worked our way along, hoping to find our way out and back to where we were supposed to be. But alas, the map only tried to get us back to the non-existing roundabout. After several unsuccessful attempts, we finally stopped at a gas station (I should add that some of the areas we ended up in were not the best places for two lost Americas to be) to ask for directions. 

I showed the first young man where we were trying to go. He started, then said, “No, not that way.” Then there was another alternative offered, but that wouldn’t work either. He asked if I could move forward so he could fuel another car. So, I moved. The owner/manager came over and ask us what we were doing. We showed him on our map where we wanted to be. About that time the first young man came over and the two of them had a 3 to 5 minutes discussion of the best He way to go. He rattled off the directions and Sherry said she understood them. So off we went. And we did, in fact, follow the directions and we intersected with the road we needed and away we went. (4A was the highway if you are following along at home.)

We headed into the city, looking to drop off the x-rays. Meghan said it was simple, and had we followed her directions it would have been simpler. She said, “Stay on Prince Edward and turn on some street and it is between 3rd and 4th.” Well, those were great directions, but the road signs here are not clear and we did not know we were on Prince Edward. That same GPS program said turn so we did. Right through the heart of Harare. Once we found the block we were supposed where the office was supposed to be, we struggled to find the right place. Again, we stopped and ask for some help, and found the place, dropped off the packaged and headed to McDonald’s house. And we had no issues finding that, as I remember.


Tuesday had a couple of purposes. One was to do some shopping for the team that was landing later in the day. And the second was to pick up the said team. Both those items went off without a hitch, well maybe a wrong turn or two, but all was well. The only problem was one member of the team’s luggage was lost. Late afternoon, the airline called, and the bag was ready to be retrieved. Going to the airport was fine. The bag was found and after some time (I would say an hour), we started our way back to the motel. That is when things went South. And it was not my, or the GPS this time. It was raining hard and traffic at 5:30 is terrible. We worked our way along, in the dark and rain until we came to an intersection.

I have twice been in loggerhead traffic jams. Those are moments when cars and truck get so mixed and out of their lane, trying to cross, turn, or just go forward but no one can move. So, there we sat, for a while, hoping to turn right, a fool’s dream to say the least. We finally gave up and made a left went down a block and did a U-turn. (FIY – we drive on the other side of the road here.) We drove up to the jam and there we say. Our two-lane road became a six or seven lane road. But at the intersection, all those lanes had to funnel down to a single lane to get past the six or seven lanes from the other direction. Cars from the that direction had done just what cars did on our side. (May I add here that I hate comby (not sure of the spelling) drivers. They only think of themselves and make big messes. Finally, after almost an hour, the police arrived and slowly untangled the mess. And we were on our way, until we came to the next big intersection, where police, in the pouring rain, directed traffic. 

Our adventure ended about the time the rest of the team finished eating most of the Chicken-Inn chicken and fries. After some goodbyes, we followed Bill and Julia to their house with only minor issues, like one missed corner. Our night was over. And surely the next day would be better. That story has to wait until Tuesday to tell.