Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 01:46:50 PDT
From: Claude Marthaler

Subject: "No Time To Waste!"


Dear Redfishes!
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, km 94O24

"So, after your journey, they are going to pay you a lot?!" say and repeat young and old people on the road. "They?" "Your government!" "No, nothing." "Why then?" "For the experience" "For the experience only? You're a brave man!" As if the nonchalant African atmosphere could only be moved by a hard currency, an American $ being at the moment worth over 36 Zimbabween ones.

A week ago, overnight, the entry price of national parks doubled. The statue of Livingstone, the "great british explorer", who gave the name of his Queen to the Victoria Falls, is still there more than hundreds of years after his "discovery". Today, Vic Falls is flooded by transafrican fully-equipped trucks, bungee jumping, rafting, pubs, safaris agencies, but the impressive Zambezi river (though not full at that time of the year) still plunge strongly into a deep canyon. The steam comes up, giving birth to a sub-tropical vegetation.

The human traffic jungle was mixed in the purest safari tradition, from the buisenessman to the photographer "look", via the cool traveller, everybody was on the go, effervesecent like a vitamin tablet. Vic Falls is a traveller's crossroads and therefore a reservoir of stories. I met there Jean-Christophe and Paul (pbross@po-box., two french cyclist riding throughout Zimbabwe for a month. We rode on together towards Bulawayo, passing numerous wood sculptors, creating girafes, hippos, masks, all the savanna fauna and, to make them more real, paint them with brown shoe polish creme. Along the way, we would stop at isolated trading stores, playing soccer with kids and their self-made plastic bag balloons, running after them, spreading water on their smiling faces with our water bottles, juggling with oranges sold here and there.

It was Sunday and a policeman was washing his broken car, like a swiss would do too. Beside, a group of children played with their wired-made cars, whose front wheels were moved by a real steeringwheel attached to elastics. Yellow, orange and green painted old German army trucks packed with tourists passed us constantly. An entire human world on wheels. Women walked back to their villages, invisible from the road, heavily loaded with woods or water backets on their heads. Groups of men began, spend and never ended their days with two liters Tetra Packs "Chimbuku" mais-based beers. "No time to waste" written on a T-shirt, a young one came up to me: "Give me a beer!"

Beer is money, not time and you have to drink to learn it. Just look around yourself: in the entire world, breweries and tobaccos factories are the very first industries to be created and to last - in time and money. Under the bright African sun, the notion of stress was ignored magnificiently, like the snow. You can't cross Africa in a hurry as you can't cross Russia without drinking plenty of vodka. Among the numerous billboards to drink Coca-Cola, use a condom, make a safari, an invisible and ironical one, with no hurry to be written, was always missing: "No time to waste!"

The YAK_



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