10 hours of flight leave clear traces in my CO2 balance.
We want to see something of the city, we tell the receptionist and eat something. Imagine going to the center, where we will find cafes and maybe a fancy restaurant.
The Uber she ordered takes us to a shopping mall.
We eat a pizza at the Italian restaurant. In addition local red wine. Afterwards in a taxi still into the center. While the mall was dominated by whites, we are now the only whites in the center.
No, there are neither cafés nor restaurants. But quite a lot of colourful life.
The next 1,600 kilometers on the train. For the first time in Africa, this train journey seems to me to be a good entry into a continent unknown to me.
I don’t mean to say that my life is no good to anyone anymore. After all, it still brings me a lot of pleasure.
Lie in our Pullmann compartment on the bed.
Outside, the savannah passes by, flat land, which on the horizon is separated from the cloudless sky by a sharply drawn line.
Discover Sophie Hunger thanks to Apple Music. I’m impressed.
Swiss, I admit, hardly master the high art of small talk. In contrast to the Anglo-Saxons, who just get started.
Well, I’m not particularly interested in where all the people have been already and where they’ll go after the train journey. Which doesn’t exactly make a conversation like that any easier.
As an exclusive small herd, we are locked together for two days in this train, called three times a day to be feeded in to the dining carriage.
When leaving the train in the evening, and yet this feeling of farewell.
You got closer than you had anticipated some hours ago. Fifty people together in a train form some kind of a clan after 1600 kilometers.
We can’t help it.
Life in this city follows the rhythm of office hours. After five o’clock, people leave the centre, where hardly anyone still lives.
One should retreat to the higher quarters at this time. It is still safe there, we are told.
The business district is taken over by homeless people after sunset, i.e. after six o’clock, who push their belongings in shopping carts.
The short distance from the restaurant to the hotel is covered by taxi.
What the white concierge doesn’t say, because he assumes that it’s just as natural for you as it is for him: In this city, you’ll never be attacked by a white man. Danger emanates from blacks.
The first Europeans, our ancestors, were blacks.
It’s cool and it’s drizzling. Winter is coming. The flat mountain is covered with clouds.
South African National Gallery: Inspiring photos and video works. Expressive pictures by African artists. Instead of wildlife unagitated political manifestations.
Sunshine and pleasant temperatures. With the tourist bus once around the mountain.
Learn in the Botanical Garden: there are plants that need a bush fire for new shoots. Local scientists have found that it is sufficient to expose these plants to strong smoke.
Notice (amused) humans are now also fooling plants.
The flat mountain above the city is a flattened heap of sand pushed here in millions of years and it took another millions of years before it was formed into a tourist attraction.
It should take another ninety million years, an information board teaches the traveller, until he is completely eroded away. Who calculated that so accurately?
Lunch – a sumptuous plate of seafood. The white wine is excellent. The check’s high.
Note: Smoking ban in restaurants is the norm worldwide. Anyone who smokes between courses goes out onto the sidewalk.
I like airports. And train stations. Just sitting there, watching people. And you know you’ll be leaving soon. This one has the charm of this global architecture – massive steel struts in white, arched roof, free view on the runway. The cafeteria offers Danish flounder and cappuccino.
If it wasn’t written, you wouldn’t know where you are right now.
Read: For centuries the Europeans were constantly dazed. Big and small. Because the everywhere cultivated wine was preferred to the mostly bad water. Until the Little Ice Age. The vines froze to death and in Northern Europe people changed to beer. Hops and malt are cold resistant.
So the showering could go on until the 90s of the last century when it signaled success to drink mineral water instead of alcoholic beverages for lunch.
Back in my youth there was no talk of light smog. So you didn’t only see all this stars, you also searched the night sky for the few satellites.
How much we have lost in the meantime became painfully clear to me at the sight of this night sky over Africa, out in the middle of nowhere.
The sky seems to be covered with LED lights. (In former times there were other comparisons.)
I haven’t read the news in ten days. Going surprisingly well. Feels like the end of a bombing. And suddenly silence reigns.
The area here also lacks advertising posters.
On the menu they offer Greek salad: crunchy Iceberg leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and feta.
The Italians gave pizza to mankind, the Greeks their salad.
And the Swiss contributed the muesli for breakfast.
At least the game, the juicy springbok steaks, is local. The local beer is brewed according to the German Purity Law.
In the desert one eats, with even in the shade clearly over thirty degrees, internationally.
The rule is: Swiss people avoid each other on the road. It is a good idea to stick to this rule.
I just collided with a militant vaccination opponent from Schwyz, whom I stupidly greeted at the next table.
After a few harmless sentences about from where and where to go, the woman in her fifties said that she had not been vaccinated for this trip to Africa.
She didn’t get vaccinated at all in her life.
She said she knew someone who had died after a vaccination.
What do you want to answer? That also people who are strapped on die in car accidents? But that many more people wearing seat belts survive a car trip?
It hardly ever rains in this area.
And when it rains, it’s like a torrential downpour, says our guide.
Like this night last January. At that time a tourist was surprised by the floods in his sleep and washed away in his tent. He was later found dead hanging in a tree.
What an irony of fate: You drown in one of the driest deserts in the world.
Left front tire burst, drove in the wrong direction, got stuck in the sand.
Late dinner at nine.
Further north. A Swiss couple drives a longer distance behind us. As reinsurance, because without spare wheel.
Five hours ride on extremely bad track.
New tyre fitted.
Meet on our track later in the day again the two Swiss, changing the front tyre of their car.
The country is huge. Nevertheless you meet the same people again from time to time.
Not only the game moves on trails.
Interesting thesis by Peter Frankopan (“Light from the East”): The First World War was pushed by the British as a relief strategy in the west because they feared that the Russian Empire, which was expanding into Central Asia, would invade India.
Pulling a tip trail across the country.
This country is nothing but a landscape in abundance. It is sometimes breathtaking what awaits you behind the next bend.
You’d do well to fill the tank again at half the level of the display.
The nearest gas station is not five minutes away, but three hours.
This country is Africa for beginners. What seemed to be an original sentence turns out to be the everyday wisdom of the tourist guides.
Pepper has been a valuable commodity over the last 2000 years, bringing wealth to a few. And for which the heads of the competition were smashed.
People of all cultures seem to have been crazy about pepper.
Today it can be found on every table with the salt shaker. Is that progress?
When you arrive at the lodge in the afternoon, you’ll be the new guy.
If you leave two nights later, you’ll be one of the veterans.
We’re back on the group travelers tramp path.
Sloterdeijk has summed up everything there is to say in a single sentence: “What could be worse than having to be together with a travel group, who puts up with everything.”
Why should one want to meet again just because one has spent a few enjoyable hours together in an open vehicle?
So avoid exchanging addresses.
Passing a new factory, as suspected a Chinese investment.
A few kilometers further on, a new housing estate is almost completed. “Buy now” says the advertising poster on the street.
Of course, without tourists there would be no game reserves in Africa. Without air traffic there would be no tourists.
Wonder about the obviously widespread sexual impotence in China. Because how else can we explain that they eat everything that rises up to have productive sex?
For example the horns of rhinos.
Read that there is to be a donkey emergency in Africa. Because the Chinese also eat donkey skin to increase their potency.
First countries have reacted with an export ban. Without donkeys, goods traffic collapses in many countries.
It is said that a Chinese factory manager shot down a local employee because he wanted to have the remaining salary paid out after his dismissal. There had been a violent exchange of words beforehand. The Chinese ambassador had to travel to the factory to reassure the locals. The manager was sent home.
It is said that the Chinese send prisoners to Africa to build roads, factories and railway lines. Those who prove themselves can expect a shorter prison sentence.
Flying three hours late. Whereby the term “delay” is wrong. The departure time 14.15 o’clock means simply “afternoon flight”, which is why the time indication on the display remains in the hours afterwards.
Consequently, no one apologizes for what only to the European seems to be a delay.
The slow flowing Zambezi stops the galloping time.
For a while.
May has resigned. I hope for Boris. With him the next season of Brexit will remain entertaining.
In terms of transport, Africa was developed by game.
Reading in the FT: “More than 90,000 ships criss-crossed oceans last year, burning nearly 2bn barrels of the heaviest fuel oil made from the dirtiest dregs of a crude barrel.
Shipping fuel contains sulphur concentrations more than 3,500 times greater than the diesel that triggered the emissions testing scandal at carmaker Volkswagen.”
A single Chinese rides with us on the Sundowner boat (solar powered). The lenses of his two cameras are as big as grenade launchers. He shoots at every animal that shows itself on the shore.
According to estimates, 200 million Chinese will travel abroad next year. Almost all of them by plane.
By 2035, the number of air passengers is expected to almost double from today’s level to 7 billion.
Basel officials are no longer allowed to fly to save the climate.
Oh, holy simplicity.
We’ve joined the collective. Drink now like the others gin and tonic at sunset.
Sunset is on the agenda every day.
Speaking of photos – I left my Leica at home. All good pictures of elephants, lions and sprinboks are already taken. I have the feeling that people would be bored, if they couldn’t take pictures all the time.
They shoot game don’t they?
A herd of perhaps sixty elephants arrives at the waterhole just before sunset. The animals, weighing tons, walk silently – if it were cats one would say: on gentle paws – and without haste.
In this area you have to control your energy consumption wisely.
Whoever makes it to adult here is a real survivor. Applies to both animals and humans.
Our guide tells us about his time as a child. Because the school was far away, at seven he was entrusted to an uncle.
Sometimes he had been away for days and had simply left him and his cousin a five kilo sack of corn.
But it was not only the hunger as a constant companion, but also the cold in winter. Many of his comrades had therefore turned back home on their way to school. And they never came back.
He had left after sixth grade and could have become a criminal – “we stole a lot to survive”. But only with relatives. You don’t steal from strangers.
We’re chasing a pack of African wild dogs in an off-road vehicle chasing antelopes and kudus for breakfast.
Because they lost their hunting luck today, they lie down in the morning sun. The young animals are fooling around.
For days we have been getting up early in the morning at five to drive into the wilderness before sunrise.
It’s really cold now. Two woollen blankets plus a hot bed bottle protect us a little from the draughty cold in the open off-roader.
Around ten o’clock we stop for a coffee break. I stand in the sun to warm up.
We’re starting our 24-hour trip home. Change planes three times.
Arrival in Zurich shortly after six in the morning. It is warmer than in Africa at this time of day.