The World's Worst Vacation: Zimbabwe

Amid disease and starvation, a tourism industry clings on
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 10:32 AM CST
In this Jan. 27, 2009 file photo, a young girl jumps over a pool of water after been turned away from school in Harare, Zimbabwe.    (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, file)
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(Newser) – Zimbabwe's currency is worthless, its population is almost entirely unemployed, and a thuggish government uses intimidation, censorship, and torture to maintain an iron grip on power. Why would any tourist want to go there? For Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, writing in Gourmet, a trip to Robert Mugabe's ruined nation is eye-opening—exposing both the horrors of the regime and the goodness of its citizens, who are trying to maintain a normal life.

In Harare, writes Zuckerman, you can order a cappuccino and send emails back home—but, as a journalist, she risked having her laptop confiscated and placing her contacts in danger of arrest or worse. At a hotel near the Zambezi River, Zuckerman finds employees eager to please and owners valiantly struggling to procure food and fuel. "You may take issue with my having gone," she writes, but for the economic basket case that is Zimbabwe, spending a bit of money there "does more good than harm."