(Hey, she quickly detected I'm no kiwi...)
"The states. I'm from the Chicago area. My old boss was from Zimbabwe" I answered. I thought about my old boss Sean who has lived in NZ for over 10 years. Last year he went back to Zimbabwe to meet up with friends on a house boat vacation.
Would you vacation in Zimbabwe? I'm amazed at New Zealanders who routinely visit dangerous foreign countries for vacation. Kiwis apparently haven't experienced millions of poor, unhappy people who might be armed and want to rob or shoot you... (yes, NZ, this actually happens sometimes, perhaps not to you, but everywhere in the world is not a kind and happy place - remember Sir Peter Blake?!)...
Anyway, I digress... no, my old boss from Zimbabwe wasn't afraid at all to travel back there - just as I wouldn't be afraid to travel in Chicago. In my home area, I know exactly where all the fun is - and where the danger is. African safari trip for you? Ha! Sounds cool, but not for me, no way... I would be way too terrified to travel anywhere in Africa. There are even parts of Chicago I am too scared to visit: poor, downtrodden neighborhoods - with liquor stores on every corner and unemployed youth roaming around armed with weapons. Downtown Harare or west/south sides of Chicago? Which is more dangerous? ...
"So, how long have you lived in New Zealand?" I then asked her.
"Three years" she responded.
"And how do you like New Zealand?" I further probed as we both glanced out towards the parking lot and drizzling rain.
"It is OK... but I miss the dry heat... its very humid here".
"It sure is" I agreed "... but at least it doesn't snow! We get a lot of snow in Chicago winter. Have you ever lived in a snowy climate?" I asked her.
"No...!" she answered with a giggle. She asked "have you been back home?".
"Yes" I said "I try to get back every couple years to visit family... but it sure is expensive to travel anywhere from way down here in NZ."
There was a few seconds pause as she continued taking my goods, one by one, over the price scanner. My thoughts drifted back to a snowy Chicago... maybe she was pondering the dry heat of Africa.
"I'll probably move back... My sister and her husband just moved back to Africa, but not Zimbabwe...they moved to South Africa" she then offered almost apologetically... I wondered if the Mugabe regime bothered her... but time was quickly running out for our short conversation.
"...I miss home" she continued. And there it was. Even though she was from a tyrannical country with a severly oppressive government which has opponents silenced or killed... It was her home, it was what she knew and she missed it.
"yes, I understand..." I said trying to empathize while readying to swipe my card and pay my bill.
I started to push my trolly away. "At least there's no snow here..." I suggested to her with a smile and "Enjoy New Zealand!" I chirped.
"You, too..." she answered with her pretty smile and friendly face.
I drove the 20 minutes back home noticing some dark skinned African people walking on sidewalks (footpaths) going about their daily business. I wondered...
Were they from Zimbabwe? Did they flee the Mugabe regime? Did they miss the hot African climate? Do they enjoy their new life in New Zealand?
Later that evening, I wondered how long checkout girl would she stay in NZ. How many refugees come to NZ from Africa? Were they happy here? Do they miss the dry hot weather, the lions, the zebras, the elephants...despite the tyranny of their homeland?
I occasionally miss life in America but at the moment, I like living in NZ more than I miss the USA.
I have a terrific husband. We are 'nesters' and enjoy a small, beautiful, peaceful home. We have great jobs in IT... mellow climate here is nice, we have pretty scenery, decent people around, cool stuff, pets, cars... just not quite as many friends as we did in Chicago.
Will we live the rest of our lives here in NZ? ... Dunno. I'm not sure I would move back to Illinois. There is a huge exodus of people leaving Illinois and guess I'm one 'em ("Illinois’s high tax ways have already prompted a net of 1,227,347 residents to move to other states between 1991 and 2009, or about one resident every 10 minutes.")
Robert Mugabe is now 88 still refusing to cede power. Well who would? He has raped his own country for years, he relishes the power and loves the life of riches and luxury. I'm sure he's just fine and dandy ... happy as Larry.
Things won't improve much in Zimbabwe until Mugabi is dead. When that happens, Zimbabwe will hopefully turn things around for themeselves.
I never thought I'd meet someone in NZ who missed Zimbabwe... Perhaps she will move back one day... back to hot, dry Africa... and hopefully her home country will free itself of tyranny and welcome her return.
|Cynthia Muvirimi ... Miss Zimbabwe in 2008|