There is an audible sigh of relief when a jurassic Boeing 737-200 pulls up to the boarding gate in Harare. I have learnt that flying Air Zimbabwe is an act of blind chance.
I called them weeks ago, still in Europe, trying to book a seat on their Harare-Victoria Falls morning flight. Air Zim has gone bust so many times in the past decade that Wikipedia hasn’t able to keep accurate track of whether they are operational or not at any given time. Sure, there is a website. The website shows a sort of schedule, and a ‘book’ button. No, it doesn’t do anything when you press it. So I called. And I called and I called and I called.
And it rang and it rang and it rang. For two days.
Nobody picks up the phone at Air Zimbabwe, until eventually they do. A very friendly lady informed me that she wasn’t sure if the airline was flying at all at the moment. She suggested I tried to call again the day before I wished to fly. She then suggested I checked the bus.
There are buses, wonderful buses or so I am told, zipping between Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, and on to Vic Falls, doing the job that the national airline should be doing but can’t under the crippling weight of being Mugabe’s alleged private plaything. So I called. And I called and I called and I called.
And I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote and I wrote. My friend in Harare called. And she called and she called.
And so that’s how I end up having to fly out of the country back to South Africa and then back in into Victoria Falls this morning. And that’s why the people gathered in the adjacent boarding gate are so relieved to see an actual aircraft appear.
It’s the simple things.