Il Diario di Tinton

{2001-06-09}   Day 16 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Wake up, as one of the first. Me and Mani decided to go for a coffee at the reception area restaurant and Kamal eventually joined us for what was a great experience. The restaurant had something like three terraces, at three different levels. The view was about 60km into the savanna onto a small pond. One could just sit there with binoculars and observe. Sureley one would be able to see animals. So one ponders: Why drive around like crazy on safaris when the same “one” can stay in a restaurant, eating drinking and chilling and seeing the same animals? One cannot answer the question as it was not just one who went for a trip, but a number of people, namely 14. So it is not upto the one to make the decisiions. And this was a true fact.

At any rate, the restaurant, and view were fabulous. The whole lodge, as I said is a dream. But after the breakfast, Mani stopped by the gift shop and purchased a box containing 4 hand made paper cards (that is the paper was hand made as well) just like the paper Olga makes. I thougt they were very pretty and bought one myself. Then I also bought a notebook made out of the same paper. I thought I wanted to draw. yes, draw. I am writing a lot, but I am not drawing, and while it is true that I have a camera (my indistructable Canon Snappy 20) it is also true that I do not have all the equipment to take the pictures I would like to take. So drawing would be great. Then this idea evolved to a better one, one which would let me have a goal: Why not prepare this drawing notebook as a gift for my good friend and artist Jeff Vincent? So that is what I decided to do. As soon as the book is full, as soon as I run out of paper, I ship it to Jeff. I know he will like it a lot .Then, when I get back to Cleveland, I will scan it, and put the whole lot on my webpage, along with these notes.

I separated from the group to have a bite to eat. I found this white local who walked me to a little store space. It had a lady in it, and a bar.. It was a kitchen, basically. He said I could eat local food there. But it was too late, and the lady said that she had finished all the food already. I was say, as that looked pretty good to me. So I proceeded, and found myself between a bunch of sculptres on wooden or concrete pedistals. they were on a grass in display by 3 different galleries. all of them really nice. With crazy prices, or at least, crazy for there. But then again, you were paying for the best of the local art. There was some Soma and some contemporary. More contemporary, though. Soma I found more on the streets. Then I had a sandwhich at this shag that said something like “get-together”. The lady who served me was fabulous. She sold me aslo some tomato flavored chips, and a Coke. While sitting there enjoying my drinking and drawing a little fo this scene, i was approached by several men, the first one who claimed to be a boy scout (he was in uniform) and was asking me either for money or work. Since I was not alone, and could not give him work, I gave him some money. Very little, but it was the change I had in my pocket, and he seemed to appreciate it. I signed a little piece of paper, which looked a little shady, but not too much, and all was good. He was nice,though. He was telling mehow they sometimes engage i different projects like buying some chicken and then selling the eggs, or like what they were doing now, which was collecting some money for a camp where they would train young boy scouts to do stuff.

We all met again to go downtown and do some shopping, and some getting-used-to-africa activities, which included but did not seclude, being able to deal with 5-6 people talking to you at the same time, showing you art that is very similar from which you have to choose from while at the same time not loosing your temper. Not easy. But the curios (curious objects in the form of curious shapes) they had were many. I turn a conrner and all I see is stone statues on the ground. A huge field of them. Hundreds, thousends of them. And behind them, a moltitude of artists, brothers of artists, sisters of artists, friends of… you get the picture. And as soon as you step in front of their space they start. And this is the funny part! Only if you get close to them they start. Then, as soon as you leave, the leave you in peace. Then if you come back that way, no matter how much you bought or didn’t buy, they start all over again. It’s crazy, but among that moltitude of artists, there are some that have really cool stuff. The question is, how am I going to get this stuff to another continent? Stone is heavy. So I didnt’ buy any, thinking that I would be in the continent for a while, so I might as well take it easy with shopping.

It was now time to go to the balloon, which was a tourist attraction to get a better view of the falls. The balloon was attached to a strong cable to a motor onthe ground and was filled with helium mixed with air. It was pretty interesting to see thetechnology and how they have done ti, but it was not too great. You get to stand in a narrow octagonal corridorfor about 20 minutes as it goes up and down.

After the balloon we went to a restaurant at the kingdom, which is a really big hotel with casino and a whole bunch of activities which have as their primary goal that to make you want to exchange money for them. Very touristy, and very western. The food was amerinca style diner food. But after that, some members of the group stayed at the kingdom and went to its disco. I did not go, as I was really tired. I went back home with Mani and Vijhung, which was getting very impatient getting onthenerves of many members of the Vengans (this name was given first to the bus, then to the whole group. I believe its origins stem from some kind of cinematographic prodution, but I am not certain of that). At one point, he decided he had enough and told everyone he was going to leave and left. At which point, I stood up, called him, he stopped, I showed him the keys to his lodge and he stopped and came back. The evening ended with us goig to bed, with my attempt to draw some constellations being defeated by overcast, and with the rest of the gang coming back from the disco drunk, tired, yet with the intention of staying up all night, as we had to wake up at 5.30am the next day.


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