Since my return from Zimbabwe, one question has been asked predominantly: "What was it like?" I'll spend the next few days trying to respond.
Others who traveled before me kept saying, "I'll never forget the way Africa smells," so naturally, I wondered.
Well, maybe I went at the right time of year--early spring. Or maybe I was congested from too much dust in the air. At any rate, I struggled to put it into words.
But I was struck by this:
In September Zimbabwe smells like smoke. Smoke from a million cooking fires. From fields being burned in preparation for the planting season. From grass fires raging through the parched countryside. From vendors roasting maize on the street corners.
It smells of sweet blooming trees, climbing vines, and bushes. Of unwashed bodies and henhouses and boiled chicken.
It smells of fresh laundry washed in a tub outside and draped over fences or bushes to dry. Of dank shops and crowded classrooms-turned-churches, earthy breeze blowing in through open windows.
It smells of hard-to-explain hope in the midst of hopelessness.