“But we have lived enough to know, that what we never have, remains; It is the things we have that go.”
[“Wisdom”- Sara Teasdale]
The holiday weekend served to be the perfect end to an unforgettable experience. Seeing the largest waterfall in the world was a life changing moment in itself. My journey to and from was a growing and learning experience to say the least. If I wasn’t convinced before that I would come back to Africa, I surely am now.
We began our trip to the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls with a 12 hour bus ride to Kasane, Botswana. With below freezing temperatures, bad headphones, and rock hard seats, there was little room for sleep let alone my legs. It seemed as if we took the most inconvenient route to get to Kasane, while making multiple pit stops in the bush, with surprisingly the smallest amount of bushes to pee behind. To make the trip even better, we were stopped at 2 in the morning to walk in a chemically treated puddle to treat for foot in mouth disease; the first of many instances.
We arrived an hour and a half late and just outside of Kasane with no sense of direction. We picked up a combi to the bus rink, where a bus from our hotel picked us up to go to Vic Falls. A 35$ visa and 60 minutes later we arrived to the center of Vic Falls, where we could see the spray from the water in the distance. We were dropped off at Shoestrings Lodge, which is the night club/backpacking centre/hostel/rosta joint of the town. I finally felt like I was on vacation.
Our rooms were camp styled hostels, with two bunk beds and leg room. The lodge had an outdoor restaurant and bar, spa, and pool. Most of the people staying there were backpackers and saunterers (reference from “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau, which I began reading on the bus ride). We took a sunset cruise that night, which had unlimited drinks that we took full advantage of. We were able to see hippos, crocodiles, and an elephant. The ride reminded me of home on Lake Minnetonka; all it needed was 100 more boats and an Al & Alma’s charter.
We spent the rest of the night waiting for dinner and then catching up on sleep. We began the next day with shopping in town and in the open craft market, beginning my home sickness for Gabs. Zimbabweans are relentless sellers. They will accost you on the street, and will not leave you alone until you are either outrunning them or deemed ignorant and unable to speak English; we settled for the latter. After 20 minutes we were all irritable and uncomfortable, but we still trekked on to the holy land of craft markets. Imagine the State Fair grounds flooded with wooden carvings, small kiosks, and sellers screaming at you to come and see their work. Multiply that by annoying, and you have the open craft market. To make matters worse, I felt like my stomach was at war with my intestines and was on the verge of throwing up the whole time. Maybe throwing up on a vendor would give them a hint that I didn’t want to buy their unoriginal wooden carvings. By the end of the trip we high tailed it out of the market yelling “no hablo ingles” and never looked back.
The afternoon was unforgettable in so many ways. We took an elephant back safari, which was the most amazing thing I have ever done so far. I got to ride Tatu, who I originally named Thor, with Steven the driver. It was surprising how rough her skin was and how coarse her hairs were. She was the oldest of the women and was a mother to the other elephants. Still, she had little manners and had no trouble ripping down branches and veering off track whenever she pleased. We were able to see two lions, buffalo, kudu, and wild elephants throughout the trip. At the end we got to feed the elephants and take pictures. I don’t think I stopped smiling once, I felt like a kid at Disney World. I was able to buy Tatu’s footprint, the proceeds of which go to the anti-poaching organization.
The rest of the night was spent at Shoestrings dancing and people watching, and moved to the Hunters bar until 2 in the morning. I met some interesting people throughout the night, but can honestly say that I can do without a repeat. When given the choice between clubbing in Zimbabwe and sleeping, I’d much rather sleep.
We went to the falls the next day, an experience pictures and words cannot possibly do justice. Standing at the edge of a cliff looking at the falls was breathtaking and overpowering; I have never seen something so unbelievably beautiful. We were soaked from the spray, but that only made our time there more enjoyable. I was able to stand just inches away from the falls, and with rapids and a double rainbow behind me, I felt invincible. I’ll leave my descriptions at this, because you just have to go there to see it yourself.