Two days in Berlin, twenty hours in Doha.

Goodness me. The only thing being talked about, written about – worried about – of late is… I don’t even have to name it it’s so obvious to everyone except cave-dwellers…

Sure, seasonal viruses are commonplace, but this one sure looks anything but commonplace-or-garden. This ain’t just a kind of flu. But this also ain’t something so pandemically awful as the Spanish flu or the 1968 flu outbreak. I wonder – would today’s medicine have been able to nip those two in the bud early? Well here’s hoping today’s medicine will do so for today’s coronavirus. Btw, curiously, outbreaks like these occur almost exactly every 50 years. Spanish flu – 1918; then there was the 1968 outbreak; now – just over 100 and 50 years later, respectively – corona. Spooky coincidences.

As the world enters panic mode, with quarantines, economic downturns disasters, cruise ship passengers locked-down, frenzied bulk-buying, face-masks, gloves and hazmats… what’s to be done? Get to work, I say. But extremely responsibly: social distancing, working remotely if possible, checking your health regularly, and reporting to the doctors if you suspect anything wrong. Exactly what I’m doing at the moment. But before things got really bad I had a very long business trip. Thus, as per, it was: suitcase > airport > takeoff > …Berlin!

Read on…

Corona cancellations, plus my 100th country – Angola!

As you’ll know perfectly well, I love to travel. Far. More often than not I travel for work, but two or three times a year it’s for R&R and tourism. Anyway, toward the end of any year, normally I’ve totted up more than a hundred flights throughout the year or, if not, am not far off. I long ago became accustomed to living like… a rock star on a world stadium tour (the traveling bits, not the rock ‘n’ rolling excess:), or… George Clooney in that film where all he seems to do is live onboard planes up in the air. For me, ‘on tour’ is all about conferences, exhibitions, business meetings, new acquaintances, exchanging ideas, discussions – and all in different towns and cities and countries across the world. In-between there are of course the airports with their inevitable passport controls, security checks, lines, all of which I fairly hate (and you don’t get fast-track lanes everywhere on the planet). Once on the plane I don’t mind it at all: an ideal time for catching up on reading or viewing or emailing. But I digress…

Now, normally come almost-April, I have at least 25 flights under my belt so far in any particular year. But this year, I’ve a mere 17. Which is rather surprising given that I’d gotten in a full nine flights just in January on just one vacation – our Africa-2020 jaunt. So I wanted to get to the bottom of this – why the slow start? After all, this nasty coronavirus can’t have been the reason – its impinging on everyone’s travel plans has only just fully kicked in…

It turns out that, actually, I have been becoming less and less active during the early months of a year. Here’s how…

First: I’ve stopped going to Davos. I used to go every year (since 2012), but no more. Why? Well, it used to be the World Economic Forum. Then, somewhere around 2016–2018, it turned into the World Geopolitical Forum. In a word: cancel. Shame though. It was a rather useful get-together (maybe I should reconsider? I just don’t know).

Second: I’ve stopped going to the yearly winter Munich Security Conference. Sure, it’s a very cool, elite event. But besides useful meetings and acquaintances… there’s a rotten feeling one gets while there. Alas, like with Davos, the inroads politics has made are just too much to bear. Nah. Nyet, spasibo. Not off there again.

Read on…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Zimbabwe000,000,000,000,000.

I couldn’t write about Zimbabwe without a post on the country’s legendary currency now could I?

It goes like this: An economic crisis and consequent mega-hyperinflation kicked in the early 2000s. It seems Zimbabwe is a world champion of price increases, with prices doubling at one point every hour-and-a-half (according to Wikipedia)!

The reasons for the crisis are often put under the overarching title ‘land reforms’: confiscations of land and farms from white farmers in favor of the black population, then hounding farmers out of the country (any who didn’t agree were murdered), then practically the whole white population leaving the country. These transformations, and the country and its economy being run by ineffective folks led to the mega-economic crisis. This saw the country go from one of Africa’s richest countries to one of its poorest – fast. Incredible really. And all topped off with the hyperinflation.

Now, remember the photo I showed you in a recent Victoria Falls post together with the question ‘how much cash is here?’? This one ->

Well, it’s a lot. No – practically zillions…

The largest denomination in those there notes is for… wait.. ten TRILLION dollars! That’s just one note, remember. Imagine a wad of them? Or a pile – like this one ). And notes like these are sold on every corner to tourists for next to nothing today!

Look at the prices on a menu from 2008:

When things got just too silly – zillion-zillions become a reality – they switched to the US dollar. Then they added the South African rand. Then there were plans to bring back the national currency, but that hasn’t worked out yet – it’d only go hyper-inflational once more…

And that was that Zimbabwe-wise for us. It was time to fly over to… Madagascar! All about which I’ll tell you in an upcoming post.

More pics from Zimbabwe are here.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

Victoria Falls: 2008 vs. 2020.

I’d been to Victoria Falls before – in May of 2008. Back then it was high water season, and much of the time practically nothing was visible – all shut off by a white shroud of spray. I decided then I wanted to return when the water was low. And 12 years later – here I was again: during low water season. Time for some photographic comparisons. And the differences, as you will see were sometimes like night and day. Check them out!…

Read on…

Victoria Falls 2020.

Across desolate desert we drove, down Skeleton Coast we cruised, over dusty dunes we danced. All a bit… dry. It was time for something very wet. And it can’t get much wetter than the Victoria Falls in Southern Africa, so that’s just where we were headed next – on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls aren’t the largest or tallest waterfalls in the world. Nor are they the most powerful in terms of flow rate. However, they do come out the clear winner in another category – the area of the falling water: around 1.8km at ~100+ meters. Which adds up to a most grandiose body of falling water – especially when the level of the Zambezi River is high during rain season. Meanwhile the mid-level water looks like this:

Read on…

Namibian quivering aloes and hungry cheetahs.

Enough about dead nature (rocks). Now for some nature that’s alive. And let’s begin with trees.

Yet another absolutely wonderful tourist attraction in Namibia is the aloe Quiver Tree Forest. It comprises around 250 specimens of aloidendron dichotomum, known locally as the quiver tree. And it’s amazing (just like so many other things in Namibia, an amazing country)! The quiver trees here are huge and, according to internet, live for 200-300 years (how does the internet know? It’ll only turn 30 soon:).

But let’s get back on topic. Wanna see the photos of the mentioned above aloidendron dichotomum?

Read on…

A playground for giants’ children.

Don’t hope there won’t be any more Namibian stories :).

Last time, I promised to elaborate on a rock theme. Well, here you go!… in the Giant’s Playground.

It’s the perfect name for this place. Just imagine – giants that once inhabited our planet arranged here a playground for their children, where they frolicked as all children do, and played with toy blocks. Well this is what’s left of them:

Read on…

Swimming pool in the desert.

It’s time I wrote a few things about Namibian ‘lodges’. I’m afraid I’ve practically no photos thereof as we’d check in late in the evening and leave at dawn. However, at the Fish River Canyon, we planned for an early night and late rise, since our next day’s trip was going to be quite short – only 270km. The place was pretty good: Canyon Lodge Gondwana. Reception and the restaurant and bar are in one building, while the guesthouses are set in a most picturesque landscaped setting:

Read on…