cheers to imperialism?

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This post is about a 12km walk from Drusenheim to Staedly. We see a bunch of old trucks and hear some drunk Germans rant about politics.

The night in the pavilion had been great: a light buzz from the vodka, no need for the outer tent, no issues with morning dew, a nice view over the river, and somehow, for some reason, the mosquito situation hadn’t felt so bad this time.

old trucks

We said goodbye to the other campers in their mobile homes and started walking. At first we stayed on the riverbank, then we took a road that led to a nearby town. There was a supermarket where we bought some hummus, and next to it, there was a long line of abandoned trucks. They looked like they were out of the 1950s or something.

We had our bread with hummus in the shade of a tree next to the trucks, and then, as we walked on, we finally noticed a sign that said CLASSIC GARAGE. I was trying to imagine the trucks being refurbished and possibly electrified, but it was a bit difficult. Who would want to have them, and for what purpose?

to the lake

We didn’t get very far today. At about three in the afternoon we arrived at a campground next to a lake. Apparently the Sunshine Reggae Festival took place there every summer, but now the vibe was a bit different: when we set up our tent we were surrounded by camper vans and mobile homes, most of them inhabited by old Germans.

One guy carrying an oxygen tank yelled at me for moving a plastic chair. The couple in the van next to us had a few drinks with their neighbors and then went on a rant against migrants. And about how Russia was so misunderstood and so great.

the question of what to say

I didn’t want to be rude. So I said nothing.

But the next morning, when one of them asked me about my experiences on the way back from China, I told him that people wanted to leave countries where life was difficult for them. And I told him that life was generally difficult in places where Russia had once ruled. Central Asia had been colonized and fucked over by the Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, and the same went for the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.

And it wasn’t even just about bad roads and corruption.

I remembered the weeks when I was in Almaty in 2016. It was at the time when the Uzbek dictator Karimov finally died. The news didn’t come from Uzbek sources, though, no. It was the Russians who broke it to the world. They were still there.

the thing with maps

Actually you could tell simply from looking at the borders that something wasn’t right. Generally, when you see weird lines between countries, lines that are too straight for example (think USA/Canada, Egypt/Sudan, or Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan) it’s almost always a border that was created by imperialists on a drawing board. And when you see lines that create odd enclaves and exclaves (the Ferghana Valley comes to mind, as well as Gibraltar), it’s often the result of some shenanigans.

Russia, in the same way as other European powers, in the same way as Spain and Portugal, as the Netherlands, as Britain, France, Belgium, and later as Italy and Germany, had colonized other places and “brought civilization” to them. It had kept a lot of those places. It was trying to get back others.

And the fallout was still terrible.


the walk from Drusenheim to Staedly:

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