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2016 Africa Adventure – Mutare

May 16, 2016

Harare map

I arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe in the evening and stayed at the Holiday Inn in Mutare. I bought a dual country visa at the airport because I knew I was going to Zambia a couple of times and purchasing now saved me $30 USD. Or so I thought. I also bought a sim card thinking it would bring me cell service.  Another so I thought!

zim airport

The car I had rented arrived the next morning and after a bit of lesson on driving the English way, (“remember passenger in the ditch,” meaning keep the passenger side on your left!) I embarked on the 3 hour drive to Mutare, where I had used Airbnb for accommodation.


I have had excellent experiences using Airbnb in the U.S., so when I discovered rentals available in Zimbabwe I did not hesitate to see if I could find a unique place to stay.

The lovely cottage was indeed unique. Built in 1925,  it was in the Vumba, the highlands of Mutare. You could see Mozambique from the front yard.Mozambique in back 1

The cottage came with Harry the caretaker, who made sure the fire was going and the generator came on when the power went out.

harry and Cathy

Power outages are common in Zimbabwe because of electricity generation shortfalls, decreased imports, and breakdowns at the country’s major power stations. The magnificent infrastructure the British left when they departed in 1980 (when Zimbabwe declared independence)  has not been maintained. I saw deterioration all over the country with the bridges, roads, buildings, trains, and transport.

Dirk's inside

Owned by a South African gentleman, this place was delightful for a couple of nights.

Psunset in Mutare

The owner had a stylized elephant that I loved so much I tried to find one similar on my trip, but no luck.


On Sunday morning when I left to go to Old Mutare, Harry let me out the gate and onto the dirt road.

Harry 2

This is what I saw. Smack in the middle of the road. No one around. It took me awhile to get around the bus because of the ditch on the left. Could be a scorpion on the back of the bus! Thankfully it was gone when I came back.


Old Mutare Mission Station and Ehnes Memorial Church

On Sunday I made my way to Old Mutare mission station where my parents and grandparents lived and worked in 1948-1950. [You can read their story here.]

The trip was 40 miles on very nice highway, going through the city of Mutare.



mutare walking

I discovered, since my sim card was not working, that my standalone Garmin with the Zimbabwe map was priceless. Thank you to the Zimbabwe Forum on Trip Advisor for that piece of advice. I honestly do not think I would have had such a great trip without that gem of satellite direction!

I arrived before the church service.

People going to church on Sunday morning. The woman on the left at the gate was charged with security and lifting the gate.

Going to church on Sunday morning. The woman on the left was charged with lifting the gate.


going to church

More people going to church on Sunday morning. Babies are carried like this all over the country.


Mutare Letterhead

I met the minister, Reverend Makawasha, who was very welcoming. His wife was going to be leading the church service this morning because he had to preach at another church. Cathy and the minister.

On the wall in the church office were two pictures of both the Methodist bishops who were important to my parents. This is the moment I almost lost it, so the pictures are pretty bad.


Newell Booth, the Bishop who married my parents and is on the left of my grandfather laying the cornerstone for the church. in the picture below.


Bishop Springer, who was the Methodist Bishop in Africa for fifty years. My father travelled with him for two years.

Rev. Makawasha asked to keep the pictures I had brought of my grandfather laying the cornerstone.

And he wanted the one of my father holding up a piece of the rose window that he made for the sanctuary.

Inside before service

I took a picture of the school where my mother and grandmother taught.


Hartzell and Cathy

And took pictures of the church.

Lovely Sophie showed me around. She was a student at Africa University which was across the street from the mission.


I captured a bit of the church service.

I shed a few tears realizing that I was here in the place that had been the star of the powerful family story of my childhood.

Even though I had been in Africa only 48 hours, I was starting to understand why my parents and grandparents said that being here was a significant time in their lives.

Next: Masvingo and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.








  1. ron hoppe permalink

    what a great story of your trip, I am so glad you went, I have heard so many stories from your dad and mom about Africa. Wow, I can see why you were so moved by the experience.

  2. What an emotional experience that must have been! Your dad would be happy to know that you have seen it, and your mom will love the pictures. How great that the church is still there and part of the community.

  3. Africadayz permalink

    Really enjoyed reading this, Cathy. It’s wonderful that you were able to retrace your parent’s and grandparent’s footprints in this way. Many people would have been daunted by the mere idea. It’s especially wonderful that the church is still functioning and obviously plays an important part in the community.

  4. Jacqui, thank you so much! It is quite an experience writing about it, and I am so glad I did it. I hope you saw the picture Eric took of D’Arcy and me wearing your lovely beads. And I do hope to visit you and Kevin again – and bring those two!

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