by Beryl (nee Staples) Unger

This beautiful, perfectly natural beauty spot in the 1950's was our
favorite place to be on a warm Sunday.   I believe it was located on the
Shumva Road and was some distance from Salisbury.  It  was eventually
"improved" in the late 1960's with the addition of bar and restaurant,
etc. and consequently spoiled.    I understand it has now been abandoned
and is gradually going back to its beautiful natural state.  But when I
was a child, it was pure paradise.

It is a waterfall actually, that has the water dropping  down over a huge
rounded granite boulder rather than straight down over a sharp edge.  The
water forms a large pool at the bottom,.   An exiting stream bordered by
ferns and lillies meanders off into the countryside on the opposite end.

There were swings and seasaws, and a slide, a tuck shop (I think a Fanta
cost 4d.) and a baby pool, and eventually a railroad carriage we could
pretend to travel in, but the main attraction was the large pool, and the
natural waterslide into it.   I remember the water as clear, though one
could not see much below the surface due to the minerals dissolved in the

On my first visit there, I came unprepared for a morning of creeping out
into the stream of water and then sliding down the rock into the water
and completely wore out the bottom of my cozzie.  I remember laughing at
someone ahead of me who was standing in line for lunch because she had
large areas of white hiney showing through where her swimming costume
used to be, and how humiliated I was when someone pointed out that mine
was just as white!  We were wiser at subsequent visits, and took along
gunny sacks to sit on.  

As we got older, we ventured higher up the rock, and eventually to the
top where the big boys took off, using inner tubes pumped up  hard inside
grain sacks as "water sleds".  We'd hold the sack by
the two empty upper corners, then run along the slippery rock and flop
down onto the water as it began its descent and whizz down to the pool
below. Once I held the sack too low and smacked my face into the rock and
remember spitting fragments of my two front teeth out as I went down. 
The big guys used to wax their sacks and jerk upwards on them as they hit
the pool surface, causing the "sled" to become a "surfboard" on which
they'd skim across the top of the pool.  But I never got the knack of

On another occasion I remember slipping and falling or perhaps not
steering correctly and getting too close to one of the rocky ledges in
the water one did better to avoid, knocking myself out temporarily.  My
body continued down the waterslide under its own direction to the deep
pool below.  Fortunately I came to about the time I hit the pool, as my
father and a friend were oblivious to my plight as they contemplated
chess moves in the shade of nearby trees.   My mother and her friend
meanwhile were seated on the opposite side of the pool and had seen what
was happening and started running around the pool screeching at the top
of their lungs.  (It was a very wide and deep natural pool--as I recall
one could have fitted at least two Olympic-sized
swimming pools in it.)   I don't recall ever touching the bottom.  

I don't remember my parents appearing to worrying too much about our
safety.  We kids/young people were often down at the pool and slide on
our own while the old fogies stayed up closer to where the cars parked so
they would not have to lug the picnic chairs and food too far..... or lay
stretched out on a rug to have a nap.  There were no life guards or
people with whistles to keep us
from doing whatever we pleased, so we tried some very stupid things, but
fortunately all lived to learn from them.....   

One lesson I learned was that when a number of people come down the slide
sitting on a tractor tube, various parts of the tube travel at different
speeds once the tube begins to touch the pool surface.  This lesson came
as somewhat of a surprise when I, who was sitting on the back, suddenly
found my teeth and nose smashing into the back of the head of the chap
who had been sitting directly opposite me. 

The pool had a foofie (spelling?) slide across it.  To get on, one
climbed up onto a high wooden platform built on the side of the pool. 
Once launched, you could either zip all the way across the pool, or you
could drop off or even dive off into the water as you were transported
across.  (I never heard of anyone breaking their necks doing this but I
am sure there must have been some awful accidents there over the years.)
Rhodesians were obviously not a litigious people!   The only drowning I
recall was that of two dogs that got into a fight one Christmas day near
our picnic party.   Unable to separate the dogs, the men eventually
pushed them off the bank and into the water, thinking they'd then have to
let each other go.  They didn't, and sank beneath the
surface to everyone's horror!)

Grasping onto the handle of the foofie slide was always a heart-stopping
moment for me.  Up on my tippy toes and slightly off balance, and I was
always fearful of not having a proper hold before it took off .  The
weight of the wet rope with which one retrieved the handle/pulley
contraption from where it stopped at the other side of the pool, always
seemed to be tugging the handle and pully contraption away. 

Another heart stopper arrived when one neared the end of the cable and
knew one would soon have to let go as the tops of one's feet skimmed
across the top of the water and one tipped forward. 
Trees grew all around the edge of the pool, and the waves the
foofie-slide riders created had worn away the earth around the edge of
the pool.   So to exit the pool one encountered all sorts of slippery
tree roots in the water and had nothing solid to push against as one
clambered up and through and over them to get out and onto the bank.
What made it worse was that we occasionally met up with snakes in and
around the pool, so there was plenty to fire up my ever-lively
imagination as I approached the landing area.  I expected to find a snake
waiting for me, or even a hungry croc or a gape-mouthed hippo.  (No crocs
or hippos lived there--but I believed there was always a first time!) 
My sister Vivienne would come down the line looking like a ballerina with
toes pointed gracefully, while I came down like a load of bricks--but our
joy of accomplishment was the same as we clambered out of the water and
onto the bank and ran all around the pool, up the bank and through a
stand of trees to get to the platform to torture ourselves once again!
There were other "Tarzan" swings etc. we would play on, but these were
tame in comparison.

On at least two occasions as I recall, our family, in the company of
another, stayed overnight in the primitive thatched huts (rondavels ?)
one could rent for a few days at a time.   They had no
running water or electricity, but they did have beds for which one had to
bring linen.   I don't know how my father ever persuaded my mother to put
up with the inconvenience of cooking over an open fire, no refrigeration,
etc. but they were absolutely marvellous times for the rest of us.  What
delight to be able to stay when all the other people had to leave before
the gates were closed!   Paddling about in the now silent pool on a tube,
along the silver pathway created by the moon's reflection, the water
pitch black beneath me, gave a special thrill.   Finally herded off to
bed and onto the lumpy, musty mattresses,  sunburned and exhausted we
fell asleep listening to a thousand frogs in chorus,

David, my husband to be and I did some courting at Mermaid's pool.   We
liked to go upstream above the slide -- away from the inquisitive looks
of our families and my tattle-taling little brother Rodney!  There were
lots of little pools we could dabble in and little waterfalls to sit
under if we got too hot from sunbathing on the rocks.  I remember getting
a dreadful fright once when we were we were dozing on a rock in the sun
with the stream gurgling and splashing just feet from our heads, when
suddenly a great reptilian head with flickering tongue shot out of the
water beside me.  It turned out to be just a Legevaan, but before the
legs emerged my horrified brain took it for a python desirous of making
me its next meal....   

I expect it was up there that we contracted bilharzia.  I did not think
so at the time I was receiving the dreadful treatment for the disease
("If it doesn't kill, it cures" said the doctor!) but would do it all
again now if I could!