Vimpy’s battered old drilling rig is back to drill yet another borehole for the elephants and wildlife at Gwango. This time, it’s at Gwango Heritage Resort near Gobelo Bar & Grill.
There is so much I can say about Vimpy, our “grumpy looking” friend with a heart of gold. The first time I saw Vimps was at restaurant we like to go to for breakfast when we’re in Bulawayo. He was sitting alone and instantly, he seemed like a familiar face.
I couldn’t help stealing a look every few minutes. I just couldn’t figure out how we knew him. After several peeps in his direction, our eyes locked – and there it was, what seemed like meanest stare ever. He looked so so “unfriendly”.
It was only a few weeks after we had made the huge leap from city life to bush life. We were desperately trying to get our first borehole drilled and I had been hounding several contacts who had been recommended for borehole drilling in the Hwange area. We had no water source at all, and this was crucial to the start of Gwango construction. Vimpy Lawrence was at the top of the list of prospective drillers – but he just never seemed to be available. I must have phoned Vimpy 50 times before this moment when I locked eyes with a total stranger.
Now – if you know me, then you’ll know that I’m not one to back down when curiosity strikes (poor Danny can tell you all about it). The “mean” stare of a stranger across the diner prompted me to stand abruptly and make my way over to his table. “Do I know you” I asked. “You look familiar.” Unexpectedly, the peculiar gentleman’s mean looking face altered to a shy smile. “I’m not sure.”
We talked about what schools we had attended and where we grew up. I did not know this man at all and surprisingly I didn’t think to ask his name.
A few days later, I received a phone call from Vimpy Lawrence, “Elisabeth” he said, “I’ll be in the area tomorrow, can we meet?” I was going out of town at the time BUT didn’t dare say no. After all Danny would still be in camp and could perhaps meet with the man and pin down the details for the borehole drilling – it had been so difficult to get hold of him!
When I returned to camp I expected there’d be an update on the meeting that had occurred between Danny and Vimpy. To my surprise, I instead found a battered old green rig planted just beyond the makeshift shed we had set up. It’s engine was running and what looked like a massive pipe was pounding the ground. Had drilling already begun????????
It was a cold day, and I could see Danny sitting near the rugged fire, then I saw beside him – the shy man from the restaurant (his face still as unfriendly as ever). Danny introduced him as Vimpy and I was instantly full of questions, the most important one “what’s he CHARGING US for the hole?????” to which they both answered, “we haven’t talked about that yet!!!”
Vimps in his usual casual, uncomplicated manner had arrived, chatted for a bit with Danny about the forest and somehow, they had agreed upon where the hole should go, and next thing the rig was parked in place and began drilling. There would be many many more stories to tell about Vimpy as we spent countless evenings sitting with him beside camp fires. A true bushman, he so easily adapted to our meager beginnings - in the days when we had no flushing toilets, no refrigeration and no electricity. Vimps has turned out to be one of our most precious, unpretentious friends. Since then, we have also had many more cups of coffee in that restaurant in Bulawayo - no longer as strangers.