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Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls at dawn -- the "Smoke That Thunders."Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Victoria Falls at dawn — the “Smoke That Thunders.”Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

If you’ve been following the news out of Zimbabwe of late, you know that the country’s long-time president, Robert Mugabe, may finally be nearing the end of his repressive regime.

Mugabe, now age 93, has been placed under mostly house arrest by the country’s military, who have denied that they are engaged in an actual coup — a good public relations move, but probably not very reflective of reality.

The idea seems to be to head off  Mugabe’s much younger wife, Grace, from succeeding her husband as head of state. Mugabe’s own political party, ZANU-PF, has withdrawn its support for him, and he now finds himself without any real authority.

Under Mugabe, who came to power in 1980 after leading the resistance to Ian Smith’s white nationalist regime in what was previously Rhodesia, much of Zimbabwe had… Continue reading

Sydney Greenstreet in "Casablanca." Peter Lorre was in it, too.

Sydney Greenstreet in “Casablanca.” Peter Lorre was in it, too.

I confess: I’ve dined on KFC in Nairobi, Big Macs in China, and A&W in Kuala Lumpur.

I’ve watched Bob Newhart reruns in Zimbabwe, ordered bacon and eggs in Mumbai, and visited the Holiday Inn in Swaziland.

There are times when seeing a familiar face — even Colonel Sanders — has proved reassuring while traveling in distant lands.

But usually not.

When I go abroad, in fact, I’m almost always drawn to the remote, the exotic, the unfamiliar, the unpredictable. Give me the jungles of the Amazon to the shores of Waikiki, the tea houses of Hong Kong to the salons of London, the ends of the earth to the easily accessible hubs.

When it comes to travel, I’m a hopeless Romantic, spurred by images on old postage stamps and scenes from Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre movies.… Continue reading

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls.  Photo from Mantis Collection.

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls. Photo from Mantis Collection.

Zanzibar…Swaziland…Mozambique…

There’s something about the letter “Z” in a name that says “exotic” to me.  And I’m drawn to every place, geographic feature, form of transport, or travel-related entity that has a “Z” in it.

That’s what first took me to the Zambezi River in south-central Africa, which, naturally, runs between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Zambezi pour over Victoria Falls, one of the world’s great natural wonders, on two occasions — an unforgettable experience.

So I was very glad to learn that this May, Mantis Collection is launching the “Zambezi Queen Collection,”  a four-vessel fleet of river boats — or “floatels,” as they call them — that provide access to the Zambezi and Chobe river systems, which occupy the region where the countries… Continue reading

Victoria Falls at dawn -- no theme park needed? Photo by Dennis Cox

Victoria Falls at dawn — no theme park needed? Photo by Dennis Cox

The news that Zimbabwe is planning a Disneyland-style theme park near Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is yet another example that Robert Mugabe’s corrupt, brutal and clueless rule is ruining that beautiful central African country — for both its citizens and tourists.

One writer has likened it to building casinos next to the Pyramids in Egypt, and I can’t disagree. (Cairo has enough tacky papyrus shops near the Pyramids as it is.)

I’ve been lucky enough to twice visit Vic Falls — also known in local tradition as “The Smoke That Thunders” — and consider it among the most stunning places I’ve ever seen, on a par with Arizona’s Grand Canyon or China’s mist-enveloped, multi-peaked Mt. Huangshan.

The last time I visited Vic Falls, I saw Mugabe speak, shortly after he… Continue reading

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