All I knew about Zimbabwe before we arrived in Africa was that it was the country of the evil Mugabe. Shortly after starting the trip we met two travelers who had actually been there who told us when they left the government was unveiling the $750,000 note. We’d eventually heard the country had dollarized and was “more or less” safe but that still didn’t stop the majority of people from asking “why would you go there, you’ll be killed for your shirt!”
The concept of hyperinflation is interesting enough. When our friends traveled through, it was phase one of the hyper-inflated currency…a few months later the government knocked 12 zeros off the money and then started all over again before topping out at $100 trillion notes less than a year later. It was only when a new note came out that people understood the value of money…for that new note was generally the value of a loaf of bread.
Throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe is generally considered to be a nuisance. The very first border we crossed on this trip, between San Diego, USA and Tijuana, Mexico, was and is the busiest in the world. The crossing from South Africa to Zim, number two, as jobs and supplies push Zimbabweans toward South Africa in much the same way. You can tell from this picture, which was taken inside the ladies room on the South African side of the border, what people think of Zimbabwe’s Dollars!
Those same travelers who first told us of the hyperinflation of Zimbabwe back when we were in Guatemala had their own wonderful story of the country as well.
Although most people warned us away from this country, those who had been all told us the same thing; that it is stable, interesting, and filled with wonderful people. It is rare to hear comments regarding a “people” so often and so given that the best information we had suggested that it was safe…we decided to enter. Besides, there was no way I was coming all this way and NOT going home with $100 trillion to my name!