I went to Harare this weekend for a wedding. I haven’t been there in more than a year, yet, I was a little apprehensive after the drama I had getting into the country the last time I went there.
Not sure if you remember, but the last time, I stupidly argued with the passport control person about the fact that I didn’t need a visa because the Zimbabwe website said I didn’t as a wedding photographer, and no matter what she said I was NOT a journalist! Anyhoo, that all resulted in my passport being taken away while she added me onto some list. Stressful!
You can imagine how worried I was about entering the country this time.
So in light of that history, here are my 5 things from this weekend:
- Don’t travel there with big photography bags! They just look too suspicious, and they break your back carrying them. This time, I decided I would travel light. I only took 1 camera body, 1 flash and 3 lenses. The bare minimum for a wedding. And I used my Kelly Moore handbag looking camera bag for the camera body and my passport and wallet etc, and a small camera bag for my lenses… I did not look like someone that had a load of camera equipment on me. It worked!! I didn’t get asked strange questions even though I was truthful, like always, on my visa forms and said I was a wedding photographer there on business.
The customs guys were also searching every single persons bags on the way out the airport and scanning everything. The queue was endlessly long. But we’d struck up a conversation with an older lady in the queue and she was telling us about her trip. Turns out the customs officials thought we were harmless, and let us walk on past the backlog! So unlike one of my other trips where I had to explain to the n-th degree that my equipment was my own and that I wasn’t going to sell it while I was there!
- I learnt that I can take photos of a big wedding with one camera body. However, I also learnt that I need to be more careful changing lenses quickly… because right at the very end of the night after quickly changing from my big zoom I was using for speeches to my workhorse 24-70mm lens, my lens fell off the body and smashed onto the floor!! It’s a little broken 🙁 so I’m going to have to contact my insurance tomorrow.
- I met a guy on Saturday who told me that I must have a trust fund because I’m white and I was born in Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa. Bwahahaha what a laugh! He was dinkum serious. I won’t go into the rest of the crap he believed, but I hope he listened to what I had to say to him.
- I was so thankful that I didn’t need to get more USD for the trip, I still had USD bills in my wallet from the last trip I took. Even so, paying $2 for a coke and seeing that the breakfast was $10 a pop was mighty eye opening considering our exchange rate was almost R16/$1 on Friday night!
It’s a funny thing actually, I hardly drink the stuff, but coke is the only beverage, other than water, that I drink at weddings. For energy and to reduce the wedding hangover the next day.
- I laugh at anyone who thinks these destination wedding trips are glamorous. Half the time is spent waiting for some form of transport, and you rarely every get to see anything or anyone. I wish we’d had the time to see my family while we were there, and one day it would be really amazing to show my boys the place… and to explore it a little too! We drove quickly through the city on Friday evening, and I mentioned to Lerika that I’d love to walk around there one day with my camera and just take random photos… without getting arrested though! LOL!