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Archive for December, 2010

Here we are in Livingstone, Zambia, 2 days into our super epic “trip of a lifetime” road trip through Namibia/Zambia/Malawi/Mozambique/Botswana! “We” are a group of 7-10 (or so, it’s hard to keep track) Namibian VSO and Peace Corps volunteers. My goal is to post regular “updates from the road” througout the trip, but considering my past blogging track record that goal is unlikely to be reached. You’ll at least get this one post though, so here it is.

We departed Otjiwarongo, Namibia early Friday morning (6:05am to be exact) in Ant and Julia’s Rav 4 and got into the Christmas spirit right away – Julia put Christmas carols on the car stereo, I put our Christmas garlands up around the car and we christened our Singaporean elephant-in-Santa-hat “Malik” (after the trip: Malawi/Mozambique). After a quick stop in Grootfontein to meet Celia and her car and then another quick stop in Rundu to pick up Lindsay we headed to Katima Mulilo – a town at the very eastern tip of the Caprivi strip. About 13 hours and 1 road side elephant sighting later we arrived there at Cheshire home. This is the home of VSO voluteer Jesse, as well as of many disabled kids from Katima (who we sadly didn’t get to meet as they were already back with their families for the holidays) and 2 disabled dogs. We had a lovely evening chatting with Jesse (and each other) at the local pizza place then crashed out early, tired from the long drive.

Jesse and one of the 3 legged dogs. He was really sweet!

 

The next day our trip officially began. The first order of business for the day was to cross the Namibia-Zambia border. It was a typical African border crossing – exactly like many of the ones I encountered on my trip through East Africa: crowded, confusing, hot, and full of men with big guns. An extra complication on this trip is that we’re crossing borders with our own vehicle which means lots of paper work, fees, confused border officials and time spent getting everything done correctly. Luckily all this is Julia and Ant’s job 🙂 I get to just sit in the car patiently and people watch.

After a short drive through some Zambian villages, then another short drive back through the same Zambian villages we got on the correct road to Livingstone – gateway to Victoria Falls. According to Lonely Planet “Victoria Falls is the largest, most beautiful and most majestic waterfall on the planet, and the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World. A trip to Southern Africa would not be complete without visiting this unforgettable place. This place is rare and extraordinary. Victoria Falls is to be seen, heard, tasted and touched: it is a treat that few other places in the world can offer, a Must See Before You Die spot.” Blimey! We checked into a hostel/campground, set up our tents and headed for this remarkable wonder! (This was also the place where we met up with “Dave” the 3rd car in our group.)

I won’t bother describing the falls here. I’m sure contrived first impressions of it are available in abundance on the interweb, so if you’re interested just google “victoria falls” followed by majestic, breathtaking, wow, “once in a lifetime” or any some such variation and you’ll get plenty such descriptions. I will say that it was certainly beautiful, I was very impressed and I do recommend it to anyone planning a trip. And this is despite the fact that we visited it from the Zambian side (supposedly not nearly as impressive as the Zimbabwean side) and during a season where water levels are quite low (again meaning that the falls was not completely in all its glory). (I’m hoping to come back to the falls just after the rainy season when my mom comes to visit at which time we will surely visit the Zim side).

As is common to many big tourist attractions Vic Falls is also chock full of activities that tourists can spend their money on. You can take a helicopter tour over the falls and have a picnic nearby for $400 (helicopter tour, no picnic costs $270 – I wonder what they feed those picknickers!), go one a “booze cruise” for $40 (unlimited alcohol included) and do a slew of “adrenaline activities” such as whitewater rafting, bunjee jumping, or ziplining across the gorge. I put my brave hat on and went for the wussiest adrenaline activity: the zipline. They strapped me into a harness, pushed me off a cliff and sent me sliding 250m across the big gorge. At a snail’s pace. It was crap. Utter crap. I’ve had days at the climbing gym way more thrilling then this. Oh well, the views were nice and Ant got some cool photos of me.

I ziplined from here to the other side.

All in all it was a fantastic day and a great start to what is sure to be an amazing trip. (Assuming we can keep up the comraderie we’ve had thus far for the full 3 weeks. A big topic of conversation and jokes yesterday was how we’ll all get along with each other throughout the trip and whether we’ll all still be friends afterwards! I’m thinking definitely not!)

Joannawanders Bonus Post: Baboons!

After seeing the falls close up we decided to walk over to the big bridge that goes over the river to have a beer and so I could do my zipline. On the walk over I was eating a most delicious apple – a Granny Smith, big, juicy, just perfect on that hot day. As we were walking one of the patrol men we walked past said to me “You’re asking for trouble from the baboons with that apple!” I replied, in typical overconfident Joanna fashion, “I’ll be fine” and walked on. After this Lindsay started telling us her story (which I’d heard before) of the last time she was at that very spot. She had been carrying a slice of pizza (I believe it had mushrooms and sausage on it) when the biggest baboon she’d EVER seen walked right up to her, stared her right in the eye and pretty much grabbed the pizza from her. Just as she was about to give us the punchline of her story the biggest baboon I’ve EVER seen walked right up to me and looked me straight in the eye! I knew what he wanted; he wanted my apple. I panicked and did the only thing I could do: I chucked my apple as hard as I could. At Lindsay’s feet (not intentionally I swear)! Baboon was happy. Lindsay was not. Luckily for her, and for my chances of remaining on this trip, she escaped unscathed. She does now question my trustworthiness though.

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