A view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter.

Z is for Zimbabwe

The guy read my paperwork. I filled it out on the plane like all the other passengers before we landed in Victoria Falls.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I’m a journalist,” I said.

He left his desk and consulted with his co-worker, who had waved through the last of the plane’s passengers. I was the only person left.

“What do you do?” the second man asked.

I sensed this was a problem, but repeated my answer.

“You need special permission to come into the country,” the first man said. “We’re not supposed to let journalists in without a permit.”

All the “no one told me this” cries bubbled into my head. “I’m here to see Victoria Falls,” I said. “My whole trip revolves around this.”

The two men whispered for a moment. The first said, “She clearly looks like a tourist.”

I could see the safari company’s guide lurking through the open doorway.

“I’m sure the guide would tell you. I’m here on holiday,” I said pointing to the woman.

They looked back, read my paperwork once more and allowed me through.

I should have known about the political issues in Zimbabwe. I mean our bags were limited on one the plane due to fuel issues. Robert Mugabe liked tourists in his country, but didn’t want journalists to snoop around.

While missionaries and workers in Zimbabwe shared stories of the problems, others — market vendors, van drivers, hotel clerks and waiters — begged us to say it was a safe place to visit. They needed tourists to return, so they could keep their jobs.

During my years as a journalist — from high school to adulthood — I’ve seen and experienced plenty of adventure, triumph and tragedy. My ability to ask questions has helped me in a million and one ways.

My advice to journalists on holiday in Zimbabwe? Just say your occupation is a writer.

Thanks for following along during my A to Z Challenge this month. I’ve shared some silly and sad stories. I appreciate your friendship and look forward to returning to a normal schedule in May. I’ve felt a tiny bit “challenged” this month. — Stacy 

On another note: 
Don’t forget the Wish You Were Here Giveaway.