The getaway car broke down …

What a bummer, man! That is what we would have said in the old hippy days about a disappointing experience. Like the time the getaway car broke down.

Our getaway car, a VW with bells on it and joss sticks inside, sped away from the norms of the day before it eventually spluttered to a halt and we returned to the status quo.

For those who might not know, a hippy was a person of different appearance in the 1960s and 1970s, typically having long hair, bright shirts, bell bottom jeans, unconventional views and a desire for enlightenment through certain substances.

I’ll call him Joe, an inveterate hippy who made it through to beyond middle age but never fully conformed. Before cancer took him, he converted to Catholicism and sought redemption through confession of his sins. He wanted to go upstairs, not downstairs. Will it work? “My life’s last great trip,” he said. “I’ll let you know.”

I’m still waiting. At his cremation, the priest, himself a former hippy, told mourners not to be surprised if Joe exploded when the coffin was drawn into the furnace. Joe had stoked his body with every drug possible all his life but still raised a loving family and held down a good job.

There used to be a polo field where the Zimbabwe president’s helipad is now. The pavilion had a bar where gin and tonics were famously served – tonic (one part gin, three parts tonic water, in theory,) quinine in the tonic, good for malaria, you know.

You could jive up the G and T by putting in a sprinkling of crushed Mandrax, a meth based hypnotic sedative pill. Any Mandrax mixture, imbibed, swallowed  or smoked, was known as ”riding the elephant,” but when you came down the elephant kicked you in the head.

Bad downer, man!

Joe and friends, the country’s prototype hippies, occasionally meandered into the poplar trees at one end of the polo field for a smoke, right on the edge of then prime minister Ian Smith’s garden. They flicked the seeds, which … er … grow wild like weed, into Smith’s vegetable patch in hopes of loosening up the political situation in the old country.

Polo was the archetypal sport of the white landed gentry who sneered at Joe and his friends. But polo was a good getaway for both them and us. It still hasn’t ground to a stop, but the polo set is diminishing.

Polo is better known nowadays for sports shirts by Ralph Lauren, not to be confused with Lacoste’s crocodile logo.

Far out, man!

Past and present, it’s a fascinating world out there.

Here are pictures++ of Mexico by multilingual, much travelled, much loved and much respected Zimbabwean journalist Michelle Faul.

Mexico has huge troubles of its own, killings, cartels, the whole nine yards. Yet there’s always beauty and charm somewhere. Two sides to everything.

Psychedelic, man!






++ Photo No 4) These pots of black clay at Oaxaca have designs almost exactly like the wooden vases carved by the Congolese artist Pot Pey.Extraordinary. Who borrowed from whom? No 5) The ubiquitous jacaranda, native to middle and southern America. No 6) The pre-Colombian (before the arrival of Christopher Columbus) Aztec-occupied city dating back to about 600 BC at Monte Alban, Oaxaca. It existed for 1,000 years before the Europeans arrived and collapsed native civilisations. The city is believed to have been named after a Spanish soldier-conqueror called Montalban. The original name used by its Zapotec people isn’t known. There are no “ethnohistorical” records going back that far. No 5/6) Art on the theme of the local pottery and beliefs through the ages.

In the present day, some trip! Some getaway, man!









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