Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bachelor Pad...

After saying goodbye to friends in Harare we took the short (5ish hour) drive down to Bulawayo. The highway down is PAVED and actually getting a new coat in some areas! Except most of the roads are just 2 lanes, so Zimbabweans learn the art of passing vehicles at an early age. Trust me, in places in America you can just be patient and wait for a passing lane. But here, some people drive 40+ks under the speed limit! Anyway my trusty escort got us there in no time so we could begin the unpacking process!

But first a geography lesson:
  Bulawayo is about 445 kilometers (270ish miles) southwest of Harare, around 5 hour drive. It only takes 41/2 hours to get to the South African border. Coastal Mozambique to the east and north, Botswana to the west, and Zambia to the northwest!

One of the first familiar faces I saw when we arrived back in Bulawayo was good ole Charles. Charles is our garden boy/pool boy/housekeeper/laundry man/cook when we need it, etc… basically anything that needs to be done he will do it. He even changed my flat tire last time I was here and I didn’t even have to ask! It is not uncommon for an individual or family here to have hired help like that. I know it seems backwards. And this just may be the white person’s view, But before we hired Charles, he was working in a factory, with ridiculous labor, for half the pay. With just Cu and I, he has a fairly relaxed schedule and really has such a good heart he can’t wait for the next task to help out. Hell, he even irons my underwear! No joke. He has his own living area in the back of the property, so he is always there when we may need him. In any household with a “Charles” the male is “the Boss” and the female is the “Madame.” Cu said Charles was very happy when he told him that “The Madame” was coming back. And he showed it with a grin from ear to ear when we first saw him. 

Charles and his wife who works just down the street!

Took a few days to settle in, but its nice moving back into the same house, it makes it feel more familiar.. I got everything unpacked, pics of the fam set up, did a HUGE shop for food, cleaning supplies, etc. But the house still needs a little bit of a female touch… 

One difference in moving back now it that last time I think I felt like I was living in someone else’s house (which essentially, we are.. just renting). But this time I want to make it my own! Cuan did some great things to the garden while I was away. Something I will probably never be good at, Mom’s green thumb must have forgotten about the youngest… 

But seeing as I can’t exactly picture Cu going out and buying wall d├ęcor and throw pillows, the inside is like a blank canvas. (Except for the dining room Cu, I love the things you put in there.) Even then I feel like Mom could fix it up and have it looking fabulous in no time. But as much as I would love to, I can’t exactly afford to fly my personal decorator out for a week. SO its my turn to see what I can come up with! On a budget. In Zimbabwe. 

Believe it or not there are shops.. furniture, linen, etc. in Bulawayo. But with it being such a remote city in land-locked, tiny country, you can imagine the selection is a little less than I’m used to. I did find some beautiful pieces I would love to see in my house. However, the price is also an issue. Going to try a few auctions around town to see what they have to offer. I love unique, do-it-yourself pieces. But I think my best option will be going to South Africa. -- The country. 

I know most of you reading know the difference in southern Africa and South Africa. But please allow me to indulge in Geography lesson #2, as its something I would not have really thought much about before meeting Cu. 

South Africa with a capital 'S' is its own country in the very bottom tip of Africa. First-World, feels like it could be somewhere in America. Southern Africa just describes the region. I know it's different especially for us Louisiana folk where South Louisiana is just an area, but according to Cuan, its like calling Canada part of America when they are two totally different places.

Okay enough of the side-note.. the plan is to go to South Africa sometime soon and do a big shop! I’m looking forward to it. So I have included in this blog the “before” so eventually when we get to the after, you can see how great I did. The outside obviously won’t change much, which is honestly one of my favorite parts of the house anyway, but maybe I can conjure up some of mom’s talent and transform the inside! 

And now for the official tour. I did my best to get angles so that you could get an idea of what it looks like..

My attempt at getting a panoramic... this is what the house looks like from the front gate

Left: the patio, you'll see in a minute what that door leads to. Right: The "front door" that never gets used, so we converted it to the bike garage...

Top left: the bar where many a pool game has been played, bottom left: that door leads out to the patio from the
 above picture, Top & bottom right: the dining room that runs just off the bar, and archway into the living room

This pic really captures the main area of the house. Everything is pretty open, the only room not really showing is the living room which you can sort of see in top left and bottom right of the above pic.

The living room. We did have the TV on the right wall but just took it to the bedroom so that Cu could set up the projector. And it works! Got it hooked up to the satellite box with the surround sound. NCIS last night was INTENSE.

And last but not least the kitchen!

 The house is a 3BR, 2 Bath, kitchen, dining room, living room, and game room/bar. The whole area is fenced in with 10 foot concrete walls. Which is the general layout of a house in Bulawayo. For safety reasons everyone has tall walls surrounding the entire house with electric gates to get in. And electric wire on top of the walls another 3 feet. So needless to say when I am at the house alone I feel pretty safe. And if nothing else I have Charles to protect me!

Our pool and beautiful Cuban Royals are one of my favorite features of the house. The pool is actually in the front of the house. It seems weird but with the walls and foliage all around the house its difficult to tell which way your facing. The street is on the other side of the wall behind the palms..

 In the back yard, I’ve got my veggie garden (still a work in progress…), lemon trees, orange trees, banana tree, and my own home-grown Avocado tree! Still going to be a few years before it actually produces any fruit, but it began as the pit inside an avo I ate 2 years ago! Find out how to grow your own here

The back yard: Veggie garden complete with the BIGGEST rosemary bush
 I have ever seen (that might have to go soon), our banana tree,
and one of the orange trees!

Top left: MY avocado tree! Lemons, a tiny little pepper in the garden,
and yummy bananas!

So that’s the house! Picture overload, I know. But just wanted all the fam and friends to get an idea of where they are going to stay when they come visit! ;)  Will keep you posted on any updates I attempt to make, if you have any ideas please let me know!

Our little street...

Until next time my friends!


  1. Leslie! Is that an African country club you are living in?!? An avocado tree? I am as green with envy as the trees surrounding your pool :) You have your work cut out for you in that den though- time to girl it up in there!! love you.

    1. I actually forgot to include the disclosure in this one. All those were just taken from the internet... I just live in a one room thatched hut you caught me! ;)

      no but seriously I'm going to need some deco ideas asap. the walls are just so taaaaall. kloveyoubye
      check whatsapp sometimes goober.

  2. LOOOOVE this view into your world! Miss you but soooo happy for you! I can't wait to visit.