Liquid gold

Read / lees in : Nederlands

Victoria Falls / Zimbabwe
If the president would have had any influence on it the Victoria Falls would’ve ran out of water a long time ago.

After almost a week of off-roading and camping in our little tent in National Parks, we took a much needed break in Kasane. That also gave us time to have some minor repairs done to the car and prepare ourselves for the next country: Zimbabwe. That country is mostly known because of the period of hyperinflation during the reign of good ol’ Robert Mugabe. At the height of the situation inflation peaked at ninety seven billion percent per month, or over thirty thousand percent per second! Because of that at some point they were forced to print one hundred trillion dollar bills (a one with fourteen zeros). And that after they had introduced new Zimbabwean dollars with a lot less zeros a couple of times already! So in 2014, to solve the situation, they switched to government bonds which were pegged to the US dollar at a one to one rate. But I had already heard that on the black market the going rate was three to one, so things were going in the same direction again. So our preparation consisted mainly of amassing US dollars in small denominations.

The price is right

Bulawayo / Zimbabwe
I knew it wouldn’t take them long to blame it all on me.

The night before we were going to cross the border I just read that the new president of Zimbabwe had raised the prices for gas and diesel from one to over three bonds per liter (300% inflation in one day). And he did so just before boarding a plane to go and buy weapons in Russia and party in Davos with the rest of the 0,1%. So all of a sudden fuel prices were not so cheap anymore in Zimbabwe. Obviously I topped of my tank just before the border. A smart move, because it proved that there was not a drop for sale in the entire country. Riots on the other hand were started in all the major cities because everything had become spectacularly more expensive from one day to the next. Prices in any economy, as everybody knows, are based for a large part on the price of energy. And it goes without saying that salaries weren’t raised to maintain buying power. This explosive situation forced us to think about our next move.

Black market

Hwange / Zimbabwe
Buying black market diesel with black market bonds.

What should we do? If we’d drive deeper into the country, would we be able to buy more fuel? The gasstations didn’t have any after all. On top of that important road connections had been blocked and the police were shooting at protesters. We decided to wait in Victoria Falls for a couple of days and then take our chances. It proved to be an advantage that my car only drinks diesel. Because almost everybody in Zimbabwe drives a gas fuelled car, the demand for that fuel is far greater. Besides that, truck drivers sell a part of their diesel to black market vendors. The brutal police force had calmed down the atmosphere in the cities too, so in the end we were able to enjoy our holiday in peace. All is well that ends well, especially given the fact that our dollars gained value over the bonds day by day and gas stations were resupplied after a couple of days as well. Although the queues in front of them were terrifyingly long (for gas fuelled car owners that is).

UPDATE: Only a month later they’re running out of human fuel as well.

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