I'd been looking forward to the Saturday outing for days when the rain began to fall, slowly at first, then turning into a downpour. My activity would have to wait. Back in America, I'd curse my bad luck, but this is Africa. I couldn't have been happier.
Rain isn't an inconvenience in Zimbabwe. It's a saviour.
Life is difficult enough in Zimbabwe under the best of circumstances – unemployment perpetually hovering around 90%, widespread disease such as malaria and AIDS, a crumbling infrastructure and economy.
To make matters worse, the country is in the midst of the worst drought in decades, putting millions of people at risk of starvation. Rain – or a lack of it – literally determines life or death in Zimbabwe.
Earlier in the week, my groundskeeper/security guard Shadreck shared his fears about whether the crops he planted behind my house would make it. Growing food isn't a hobby for most. It's a necessity.
In 2002, Shadreck and his family faced another severe drought while living in the countryside. "It was so bad we had to let our animals die so we would have enough water to survive," he said. Both of Shadreck's elderly parents perished in the drought, a fact he shared sullenly, before immediately brightening up and switching to another topic. Several Zimbabwean authors I've read say with the amount of tragedy in the country people have to learn to let things go or they'd go insane.
And so on Saturday, rather than bemoaning the rain, I found myself outside celebrating with Shadreck – two grown men chatting giddily in the rain unconcerned about getting drenched.