Monday May 14- Great Zimbabwe

We skipped out on anther date with the lions in favour of visiting the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.  Great Zimbabwe which literally means "big house of rock" is the 2nd oldest prehistorical ruin in the world (the first being the Pyramids) and Zimbabwe is the only country to be named after a land mark (usually a land mark is named after a location)

The 'mountain' where the King lived
In typical African fashion, we left Antelope Park a little later than planned, but were ready to make up for lost time.  However, to make up for lost time, luck needs to be on your side in a big way, and on this day, luck was definitely taking a vacation.

Any who, several police check stops and toll booths later, we arrived at our destination about an hour later than we should have (4 hours as opposed to 3).  Our destination was a valley with a mountain (by African standards, but more of a large hill by Canadian standards) on one side.  We met our tour guide who explained to us that our tour would be divided into 3 stages: the King's accommodations, the village and the first wife's accommodations. 

So off we took towards the mountain where we were told that we were going to take the traditional route up, like visitors to the King would have taken.  The path is designed to start out wide and narrow as the path gets higher up the mountain.  The path way also gets steeper and is long (with the help of winding up, down and around).  The path was designed this on purpose because it was believed that as the path narrowed to allow one person through at a time, that the threat to the King would be lessened.  Also, as the path gets steeper and longer, it is supposed to wear down the visitor so if in fact he was coing to threaten the King, he would be too exhausted from his climb to be able to cause harm.

Well, after doing almost nothing in terms of hard exercise for a while, doing what was essentially a 'stair master' was a rude awakening.  Luckily, despite the aging rock steps, our group all survived the climb (although there was one particular lady who we were honestly worried that she was going to pass out, but that's another story) and made it to the top of the mountain to be greeted by an extraordinary 
You can see so much!

At the top of the mountain was the official entrance to the King's home.  This served as the home to the succession of kings, and with every King, they would each add on to the work of the previous King.  Ultimately what resulted was a labyrinth, with multiple levels, with a maze at each level.  We proceed to wind our way through the home where we passed through multiple levels and openings and were treated to different views on the valley below.  

The King, who strategically built his home on top of the mountain, did not live with his wives (yes, they all had multiple) and from his home, you could see the first wife's home and the village where the commoners and other wives lived. We then made our way to a cave built into the side of the mountain which we were told was strategic because if you yelled, the cave amplified the sound and it would echo through the valley.  So after we got all nestled into the cave and found our seats on some rocks, our guide let out a wicked cry which echoed forever.  Literally.  Well, almost literally.

Following our visit to the cave, we navigated our way back to our entrance and found another, and thankfully, less frightening path back down the mountain.

The valley where the village was
Once back on level ground, we proceeded onwards towards the village where there was currently a family living.  The village which is located on top of an enormous, flat rocky expanse, welcomed us and treated us to a couple traditional songs and dance, complete with drums.  We did not spend much time at the village, because we were heading to the main attraction: the first wife's home.

The first wife's home is a series of concentric circles that creates a huge structure.  The concentric circles were due to the fact that each wife would always add onto the previous wife's home, much in the same fashion as the King's would add onto previous King's work.  In the middle of the inner circle was a tower.  Freud would have a heyday here because the tower looked like a penis.  Some speculated that the phallic tower was to remind the wife that she had a husband (which lived across a valley and up on top of a mountain).  Whatever the reason, it was still completely structurally sound which is architectural genius.

Following our visit to the tower and the wife's accommodations, we moved onto the museum which was our final stop of the tour on our way out. We proceeded through the museum, which had far too many things to fully absorb and appreciate in the limited time we had, and we moved back to our vehicle to a crowd of monkeys.

The 'tower'
The maze that was the wife's home
Side note- monkeys are everywhere, and some of them are little devils.  They were at Antelope Park and would creep around and jump out when you least expected it and would try and stel things from you when you were absentmindedly looking around or sitting around the pool.  These little devils were also at the ruins and would bolting out of the bushed, with little babies gripping their backs.  Celine hates monkeys.  Seriously hates them, and they were everywhere here, so needless to say, if you did not enjoy the tour of the ruins, Celine was providing entertainment. 

The first wife's home

After chasing away the monkeys, we got back into our vehicle and headed back for home at record speed so that we were home before dark... no one likes to drive int he dark there because animals start popping out of nowhere.

Once home, we enjoyed some down time around the fire and headed to bed early, yet again.  You wouldn't believe how exhausted you are at the end of every day.  I got away with my early nights to bed because I kept telling people that our room was going to watch a movie, when truthfully, the same movie had been playing for 4 days and we kept falling asleep before the opening credits were over.  Oops!

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