Lithuania, Zimbabwe and more...
Updated: Jul 28
Andrew Andersen Victoria, BC / July 28, 2023
«And started his story swart guy with wide nose: I am from the Northland where pineapple grows...» (An excerpt from a poem by an unknown author about the hard life of Austrailan aboriginal peoples) It was in the mid-nineties, in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. My friend, Saulius, a Lithuanian, owned a tiny photo shop right in the heart of our beautiful coastal town. The older generation surely remembers that back then almost all cameras were film-based, and after taking pictures, the film needed to be developed and photos printed. Well, Saulius was in charge of developing films, printing photographs, handling minor repairs of photo and video equipment, and also selling cameras. On that day, it was Saulius' 35th birthday. A solitary man who had been divorced twice. To celebrate the occasion, I dropped by his little shop and brought a bottle of French wine and a gift - a large Lithuanian flag with the coat of arms in the middle. We opened the bottle right away, and Saulius adorned the wall behind his counter with the flag. After that, he returned to his business routine, standing behind the counter, waiting for customers, and I sat down on the side at his computer to check something on the internet. And precisely at that moment, two young, slender American girls walked in through the door, fair-haired and blue-eyed, with a cheerful expression on their almost doll-like faces... These two cute American ladies asked to reload their cameras, a request that Saulius promptly fulfilled... and then... their attention was drawn to the Lithuanian yellow-green-red flag occupying almost half of the main wall in the establishment. "What an interesting flag you have!" exclaimed one of the guests. "Is it perhaps from an African country?" asked the other. Saulius was just about to open his mouth to give a brief lecture about his homeland when I decided to preempt him, playfully teasing the not-so-erudite girls, a habit I had picked up from my student days. "Absolutely right," I said with a smile, "this flag does indeed feature typical African colors (which is actually true), and it belongs to a small African country called Lithuania, from where my friend standing before you came to Canada. By the way, I'm originally from a neighboring country - South Africa... the Republic of South Africa." Saulius generally shares my sense of humor and approves of my jokes, so this time he decided not to interrupt and let our conversation flow naturally. "Hmm," said one of the American beauties, "I haven't heard of such a country!" "No, there's something like that - Li... Lithuania!" added the other girl, trying to recall. We exchanged glances with Saulius, who just winked at me, and I decided to continue the game. "Of course, such a country exists," I continued, "and it's not surprising that not everyone remembers its name! You see, that's what it used to be called. But then, when the black majority took power there, and my friend had to flee, the country became known as Lithuania-Zimbabwe, or simply Zimbabwe!" "Ahh, now we remember!" exclaimed both charming blondes in unison. "That's right! Lithuania-Zimbabwe! How interesting to meet two cool Africans here in Western Canada!" The girls giggled, while Saulius and I had a hard time trying not to burst into laughter. The playful banter continued. "By the way, lovely ladies," finally interjected Saulius, who managed to keep a poker face standing silently behind his counter, "do you have any plans for this evening?" The conversation shifted to practical matters, and the charming ladies shared that they were returning to the States tomorrow morning and didn't have any specific plans for tonight. We kindly offered to take them on a car tour to the most beautiful spots in our city and then suggested going to the exotic bar, "Big Bad John's." Our proposal was enthusiastically accepted. On that warm summer evening, we cruised in my convertible car through the beautiful resort city of Victoria, with the top down. Then, we headed to the "Big Bad John's" for some cocktails, as previously mentioned. Around midnight, we decided to continue the fun and have more drinks at Saulius's cozy two-bedroom house, located almost at the city center, right by the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The romantic evening smoothly transitioned into an equally romantic night... On the following morning, we drove our two charming guests to the airport and bid them farewell with hugs and kisses before they boarded the plane that would take them back to California. The brief encounter left a pleasant feeling and tender memories. And we still hope that the girls also had fond impressions of Canada and the two cheerful white Africans they met here. Victoria, 16.05.2021