// ZIMBABWE Zimbabwe was in a perilous state of economic spiral when my sister and I arrived by train from neighboring Botswana. Lines into the gas stations could be as long as mile, ATMs and banks were often empty of cash, and the US dollar was the only currency anyone trusted. We stayed in the guesthouse of a local business man in Bulawayo, who offered to take us the ancient ruins of Khami near the outskirts of town. Leaving Bulawayo turned out to be an adventure in itself. The train station hall was locked, with people camped out front waiting for the ticket window to open. How long they'd been there, I have no idea, but I was so far back in a line down the sidewalk that I knew there was no way my sister and I would get a cabin, or likely even a seat on the once a day train to Victoria Falls. I stood in line alone as my sister and host waited elsewhere. I don't remember why. Perhaps my host feared my sister would draw too much attention. And then a security man walked down the line, to where I stood, and grabbed me. He pulled me to the train station, with what felt like some uncomfortable urgency. He unlocked the door and pushed me inside before quickly locking the door back behind me. Completely bewildered, I was one of only three people buying tickets in the great train hall. I had the pick of any cabin I wanted. Why? Because my host had apparently bribed the security guard before we arrived - and as the only European on the street, it probably wasn't hard for him to find me in line. The crowd outside grew angry (understandably so) and I worried there'd be a riot. But just when things reached a fever pitch, the doors were opened, and the crowd was so concerned with swarming the ticket booths to get tickets before they sold out, that they hardly noticed as I slipped away.
KHAMI RUINS BULAWAYO
VICTORIA FALLS Matabeleland North Province
TRAIN RIDE ACROSS ZIMBABWE