Skimmers & Evaders

I have been asked to tell more pothole stories. I am not a funny Professor of Potholes. Potholes are serious business and can cause brain damage, Potholetenites, destroy vehicles and a country’s economy. I have just realized that my European Face-book friends may not know what they are. So in German a pothole is a ‘schlagloch’; in French a ‘nid de poule’ and in Spanish a ‘bashe’. Some years ago I was travelling to Chipata on one of the planet’s worst roads. Zambia, once Northern Rhodesia, achieved independence from the British in 1964. Most of the country’s tar roads were built in the 1950’s and have not been repaired since then. Potholes that appear on asphalt surfaces become very deep with jagged edges. In Africa there are two kinds of pothole drivers: the Skimmers and the Evaders. The first kind are the maniacs who skim over the potholes at top speed. The latter are the drivers who try to evade and circumvent the largest holes and sometimes cover twice the distance. A Skimmer and an Evader meet in the Hallelujah Bar in a village on the Chipata Road after a long day of travel. It’s quite late because the Evader took a lot longer. So how do you tell the difference between the two?  The Skimmer’s head continues to shake in a vertical manner and the Evader’s head shakes in a horizontal way. The Skimmer gets drunk before the Evader because his mouth is always hanging open and it can find the glass easier. The Evader, however, is always more talkative because the lobes of his brain are slightly less damaged. One of my greatest dreams is to meet a female Skimmer. Locals in the Hallelujah Bar thought that female Evaders were less fun. Photographically, I believe that Evaders, with their probing horizontal eye movements, are visually more alert than Skimmers. Just remember that in Zambia most people have bicycles, which makes travelling on most of the Zambian roads much easier. I even heard that the Zambian president has a bicycle. I don’t think that my president, Jacob Zuma, has a bicycle. I believe that he has a huge compound with a number of dwellings, five wives and a big limousine for each one of them. He’s our glorious leader: a Skimmer and Evader in one.  He’s a great singer and dancer, because he can move his head and body all over the place simultaneously. My weirdest pothole experience was when two men and two pigs passed my bakkie along the Chipata Road.

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