Friday, December 02, 2005

Time flies

When you are having fun, so they say. Well, this week has zapped by alright. Monday was basically spent trying to put a 2-day working trip to Southafrica together. After much calling, emailing and booking via internet it was up around 4.30 am to get ready and then off to the airport.

Air Zimbabwe (who now flies on most routes again) is the only airline at Harare International where the aviation authority does not allow the "airport tax" to be paid via the ticket. This because they never got paid from Air Zim... so after (or before) checking in you stand in another queue to pay the "service fee" as it is for some reason called. It now stood at 1.8 million (or USD 30) which meant a good pack of 20 000 notes.

Off to Johannesburg and what proved to be problems. On drawing some money from my visa-card it was refused - by a forex bureau, not the ATM. I sadly did the mistake of punching the wrong PIN too many times a while ago. But has used the card since with no problems.

To cut a long story short it took phonecalls to Zimbabwe and a looong call to customer service in Sweden (thanks Gustav in Göteborg) to sort this out and I was already 1 hour late when I finally drove from Joburg airport in a rented Kia Cerrato. A thoroughly boring but perfectly pleasant car if you see what I mean.

Off on a +350 km drive to Pietersburg on very good toll-paid highways. Not much to say, was in Pietersburg round 3 pm and did some scouting around. Then off to a littel b&b called Eagle's Nest some 5-10 minutes on the Tzaneen road.

Spent the night almost sleepless since I forgot to close 2 small windows. Something like a million mosquitos must have tried to feast on my blood and still have bites everywhere. Hiding under a thick duvet doesn't work for me, I overheat too much. Not even under a sheet helped.

So woke up tired and started driving to Tzaneen. Beatiful road through mountains with lots of forests, small lakes, tea- and other farms. But damned slow progress thanks to up-and-down hill, fog, traffic and whatever. Took over an hour to get there.

Where I had a roughly 1 hour long meeting with SA Avocado Growers ( that was both good and fruitful. Then back in the car and a nonstop (almost, bought a Snickers and a drink around 1 pm) drive back to Johannesburg. Handed in the car at around 3 pm and went straight to the check-in counter.

Shopped a bit in the Taxfree (Laphroig whisky, hurrah hurrah), had a bite to eat and a beer (so tired my hands were shaking) and then time for boarding. Back in Harare around 7 pm and the normal confusion around Immigration and Customs. Home to family and a very early retiring to bed.

Life is sometimes a bit absurd.

On my drive to Tzaneen I heard on the radio this awful story about an armed robbery. I know that poverty creates crime etc. but some are just too much. These guys had robbed a creche (daytime care center for kids if you don't know) at gunpoint, forcing the kids to lie down with arms on the back of their heads etc. They then stole all the money they could find including what the place had managed to collect for the kids Christmas party. This was a place run by volunteers for parents/children who are poor in other words. Now that is just TOO damned dirty low down for anyone, no matter how poor or high on drugs or whatever they might be.

Thankfully the radio channel had found a donor (a casino actually) who not only replaced the money but invited all kids for a free fun day in their childrens area. Good someone still cares!

It often baffles me how poor people hit out at each other more than at more well off people. During the food riots in the late nineties here in Zim what was looted, burnt etc. was the shopping centers in the poor areas. Now that will make food cheaper??? Note the riots were over food prices.

In SA some weeks ago disgruntled train commuters BURNT over 20 train coaches. They were angry over the delays. Now I am SURE their actions meant the trains will go on time from now on - or?

I know logic and anger does not go together well but some sort of "is this really gonna improve the service" reasoning must have hit at least quite a few of the involved persons. Still they go ahead and burn. Why anyone??
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