A traveler through Zimbabwe nearly a decade ago recalls how hyperinflation made a penniless student book-rich.
In 1922, the German mark was shedding value so fast that anyone who visited the country holding a stable foreign currency could live like a kaiser. Ernest Hemingway crossed from France into the German town of Kehl and saw that economics was not wasted on the young. Students had figured out that their francs could take them a long way across the border. "This miracle of exchange makes a swinish spectacle where the youth of the town of Strasbourg crowd into the German pastry shop to eat themselves sick and gorge on fluffy, cream-filled slices of German cake at 5 marks the slice. The contents of a pastry shop are swept clear in half an hour."
In Zimbabwe, almost eighty years later, the swinish student was me, and I was gorging not on cream pies but on books. I have never known a more enchanting place for a penniless
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