A trip from Helsinki to Cape Town takes some 20+ hours from door to door. Regardless transfer city, the long flight (from Europe to Cape Town) takes 10+ hours. It’s a long time to sit next to a kicking toddler. Shame on parents not placing the kicking ones in between them, but next to an innocent bystander! It’s also a long time to sit next to an oversize snoring German, or a wine-stealing sweating Russian. Every single time I kinda envy the UN employed friend of mine who “always goes left” (=business class).
Still, hearing this boarding music always makes me emotional. Or something. Happy and sad at the same time. It’s the sound of going somewhere, and leaving something behind. The brief state of not here and not there.
What always makes me smile, is landing at Cape Town International Airport. Firstly, because it means the 10+ hour torture is over. Secondly, it’s more often than not sunny. Thirdly, I know soon I’ll get to take an Uber ride to Hout Bay.
Uber drivers are all foreigners. “Because South Africans don’t like working” said one from Zimbabwe. Most of the drivers are from Zimbabwe. Actually, I think all my Uber drivers in Cape Town have been Zimbabwe.
It’s great fun to chat with these smiling young chaps. After “where are you froms” I have a chance to tell I’ve been to Zimbabwe, not just to Vic Falls, but driven all the way from Vic Falls to Bulawayo and Masvingo, and Beitbridge. 1000+ kilometers, thousands of potholes, at least five police stops per day. Respect instantly earned, as very few South Africans would think about doing anything like that in Zimbabwe. We have something in common: both are foreigners and both have been to Zimbabwe.
Anyway. The latest Uber chap was quite something. In half an hour he made me laugh more than I think I laughed during the whole month of November. He told stories about selling dollars on black market, getting into jail, and his army father bailing him out. About losing all his savings with buying fake diamonds. Plans of buying 2 acres of land, planting almonds and becoming rich. Buying another piece of land and having cows and pigs and a house there. Because “that’s where the money is, in land”. So a Zimbabwean Uber driver in Cape Town with an engineering degree, with contacts in diamond dealing and father in the army, wants to become a farmer. This is set to happen in January 2018.
Well. Everybody who has lived in Africa, the ones who have seen it outside expat circles, knows that truth is a variable concept. It’s always the story that matters. No need to take everything so seriously. Just laugh, smile, and enjoy the ride.
Below some old photos from Zimbabwe. From the scenery most visitors see “as Zimbabwe” (Vic Falls) to the harsher reality: no petrol, everything is broken, charities and UN everywhere (remember Mugabe was recently appointed as WHO goodwill ambassador…), campgrounds with us being the only customers.