In the year 2000

Wed Aug 26, 2020

Well, I’ve been in isolation and working at home for six months now, and it isn’t feeling like a temporary thing anymore. Also, a second wave of covid is starting to build - just in case, you know, anybody thought it was over.

When I first started working from home, I missed my dual screens, my co-workers, and the free coffee. Now I’m like “you can’t chain me to the office, man”.

I’ve also started dreaming more about travelling - probably because, let’s be honest, people always want what they can’t have. Sure, the “dreaming” is more like clicking through YouTube videos on top ten terrifying swimming pools and twelve hidden secrets in Central Park, but please don’t judge.

From Krasnoyarsk, Siberia to Fukuoka, Japan - I’ve become easily fascinated by the mesmerizing drone footage that can make anywhere but here look amazing.

International travel is a great way to destroy your routine, reboot your expectations, and sway your perspectives. Our lives become smaller when concerns become hyperlocal.

I have, for example, been disturbingly obsessed with random small things like how all apples just taste bad right now. Where’s ‘dem sweet apples? Before now, I’ve never even thought about there being a bad apple season. Is Fall a better time for apples?

So, this last month - in lieu of actual travel - I’ve time travelled back to the year 2000. Twenty years ago, I backpacked alone through Zimbabwe for a couple of weeks. It was a trip I’ll never forget. But what’s even better is that I took two rolls of film (kids, I’d love to explain all about analog life before digital photography, but I don’t have the patience) and a dog-eared journal with me.

To bring this content into the digital fold, I painstakingly transcribed the journal entries and scanned the pictures. These transcribed entries have now become the oldest entries in this blog.

Ha, you thought I was being hyperbolic with that “painstakingly”, didn’t you? Well, you try removing twenty-year old photographs out of a photo album when they seem to have melded with the cheap plastic cover sheets. And if you love transcribing pages of handwriting, well, good for you - just be sure to invest in an ergonomic workstation.

Regardless, the real joy of the process was in accompanying the younger me through the trip of a lifetime.

Too bad I was such a whiner.

But it makes sense - this diary was never meant for the public eye. It was more of a cathartic thing. Besides from some salty language and mild references to alcohol and marijuana, there’s nothing in there that will get me fired one day. I think. Weed is legal now in British Columbia anyway.

So, if you’re going to read these entries - be warned. Not about the PG stuff. I’m warning you about the writing. It’s truly terrible.

I’m not blowing my own horn here, but my writing has almost certainly improved in the last twenty years. That’s a fair amount of extra practice, so there’s nothing to brag about, but still. Try look past the many run-on sentences, comma splices, and overuse of ellipses. Bear in mind that these journal entries were all handwritten and were completely unedited - I only crossed out a phrase once the whole time. Think of these entries as more of a stream-of-consciousness type deal.

Also, language has evolved somewhat in the last two decades. In particular, the concept of hooking up with someone has a vastly different connotation these days. So, when you read about me hooking up with all these guys, it’s not what you think. The phrase used to literally mean “hanging out” or “meeting up with”. For authenticity, I’ve left all archaic phrasing in there.

Along those lines, please don’t be offended by the politically-incorrect thoughts and opinions of my younger self. I’d like to think I’m a more mature and better person now.

So, can you trust “the narrator” or did I bend the narrative to present an idealistic picture of my trip through Zimbabwe? From what I can recall of my travels, it is fairly accurate. Although I did leave out some things. I remember feeling quite ill at some point, curled up in bed, and a fellow traveller gave me some charcoal pills. Odd that I never mentioned this even once in my journal. I don’t remember where or when this time of illness happened, but there is a huge chunk of missing time in Masvingo with no journal entries for three days. I’m guessing I was down for the count during this time with little memory of what occurred. Weird.

None of my meals were particularly memorable, but I have a fleeting impression of sitting in a hostel dining area alone eating some sort of preserved meat out of a can.

And I never really admitted to myself that I’d been mugged as soon as I got there, or at least, couldn’t even write the word “mugged” - I think I placed most of the blame on myself. I just spent most of the rest of the trip complaining about a lack of funds. I didn’t have a credit card back then.

I also complained a lot about the rain, despite knowing full well it was the rainy season. My whining was somewhat justified, however, by the arrival of Cyclone Eline, the longest-lived Indian Ocean tropical cyclone on record. It caused a lot of flooding and homelessness with the Limpopo River reaching its highest level in 15 years. Epic timing for my trip.

Despite all this, I was hellbent on completing my mecca to Great Zimbabwe, an archaeological site that I had previously written a paper on. I was still determined to become an archaeologist at that point in my life and seeing the ruins firsthand was truly inspiring. I never did become the next Indiana Jones, but twenty years ago, I was living the dream.

For your convenience, here are links to the journal entries:

Zimbabwe trip, Day 1: On my way to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe trip, Day 2: Bulawayo - City of Kings

Zimbabwe trip, Day 3: Art, photographs, and butterfly wings

Zimbabwe trip, Day 4 and 5: Splashing out in Masvingo

Zimbabwe trip, Day 6, 7, and 8: From the ruins to the highlands

Zimbabwe trip, Day 9: I am not the Rain King

Zimbabwe trip, Day 10: A cracking good day in Chimanimani

Zimbabwe trip, Day 11: Amber and Andy

Zimbabwe trip, Day 12: Heading to Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe trip, Day 13: The quintessential African wonder

Zimbabwe trip, Day 14: Sorrow of the Nyama Nyama

Zimbabwe trip, Day 15: Hello my friend

Zimbabwe trip, Day 16 and 17: All is well that ends well

Now, excuse me, I’ve got some YouTube videos on the Devil’s Pool to watch.

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