Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 12:56:15
From: Claude Marthaler firstname.lastname@example.org
Harare, Zimbabwe, km 95O7O
Riding through the unending African rolling savanna, the people make the difference, not the landscape, especially on a long journey. But there is a way to see mountains inside people's lives too: summits, ascents, descents, passes, sun, tempest and whatever you'd like to see. And crossing Africa opens to you the dusty history books of European colonization, French, German, Portuguese and mainly British, with their legacy of roads, administration, beliefs and languages.
"The new born chicken used to cost 1O cents when Zimbabwe was Rhodesia, now it cost 1O Zim.$! The Rhodesian money unit used to be worth 2 British Pounds," said a Black grandfather, who kindly took me home and added "Whites know how to do and maintain things. There used to be a huge variety of fruits here", forgetting easily about the then discriminatory political situation.
"We have been conquered a second time, this time by our people and it is worse for sure" he hurried to say. "The first person to know that is the president himself", Robert Mugabe, who in 19 years broke at least one Guinness Book record:-The most traveled Head of State in the world, but a trip out of his country might be his very last one as, among megalomaniac manners, he just increased officially by 12% the price of petrol and by 182% the minister's wages.
The Zim $ which is eroded daily, has never been so low in history. Zimbabweans whose main food consists of "Satza" (mais flour at 115 Zim$ = 2,5 US $ for 1O kg. = food for 2 people for 2 weeks) start to have less and less money, but enough of their "Independence" leader, definitely to independence. In fact, a megalomania virus has long spread among African leaders. In villages, farmers refer often to Mobutu, the ex-dictator of the ex-Zaire, who used to say "Apres moi le deluge!" (After me the nightmare). They told me he was worth 49 billion$ judging that it was unnecessary to specify US or Zim$. Mobutu had a huge palace in the middle of the rainforest with his private cargoplane airport in the backyard, gold covering its stairs and bathrooms.
The next night a Dutch couple, the head of a 38O employee farm who harvest beans for exportation to the Netherlands, invited me into their home. It looked to me a bit like a Russian Komsomolsk. I first cooked spaghetti on my stove in a Black-owned home and I served a part of it to three laughing women. They soon asked me to eat my boiled eggs and joked, saying: "If you cook like that, you can stay a week more!" I could feel strongly that behind the joke, there was the Zimbabwean economic dark landscape and a tempest loitering round the corner. Later on the way, I slept at an Indian-owned grocery store, whose boss filled my panniers with food. The grandfather, whose father had emigrated from Mumbai to Rhodesia, invited me for a cup of Masala tea. As I asked him about the future of Zimbabwe, he said: " God only knows. In India, every single home has a temple", conceding finally, without mentioning openly names, that "Blacks were better at having than at doing things".
I could easily picture all these far away destinies and it brought back to me memories of countries which crossed before me and truly still do. And then, from a "TRANSEARTHING" to a "TRANSURFING" there was little difference in writing, perhaps even less in spelling it. If like a postcard, words betray always the reality by traveling inside the travel itself, they remain essentially transmitters of life. 12 September 99: after 51/2 years on the road, the yak is still in an EARTH TRANSE.
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