Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Zambia - Part 1: Victoria Falls
When you dream of traveling the world, what do you want to see? I’ve wanted to see Victoria Falls since I learned about it in Culture Club way back in the 4th grade. The world’s longest waterfall, Africa and rainbows – who wouldn’t want to go to Victoria Falls?! While I was on medevac in South Africa I met PCV’s from all around Africa. When I met two girls from Zambia I knew my opportunity was coming. Over many enthusiastic conversations about Zambia the invitation was given and I readily accepted. I was going to Zambia.
I convinced my good friend Celeste to travel with me and using our precious vacations days we set off to see a wonder of the world and connect with my dear friends there.
Victoria Falls is breath taking! They are so long you cannot see them all at once. They span space in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. It’s the dry season right now so the falls were not in their fullest glory yet I still found them astounding. They are a true wonder of the world.
Since it was the dry season we had the opportunity to swim on the very top, right at the edge of the falls over the Zimbabwe side. This was by far one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. We took a boat to Livingstone Island, hiked a short ways then were told to swim across the Zambezi River to an out cropping of rocks. Now, when I signed up for this adventure I wasn’t expecting to swim across a raging river that drops off into some of the biggest falls in the world. Where we were to swim was right after a patch of rapids and right before another patch which then became the edge. I watched the first person jump in and get swept by the current far down from our intended goal. I turned to Celeste and blamed her for this hair brained idea and accused her of trying to get me killed. Truth be told, it was my idea but I really didn’t know what I was getting into.
We managed to make it across the river swimming with all the fear of God in us. Then we climbed up the rocks and could see a small pool of water. We also could see the drop of the falls. Our hearts were staccatoing at a rapid speed and we turned to each other hoping one would back out giving the other the excuse not to make the plunge. Neither backed down. Celeste went first jumping over the rapids into a “calm” pool and swimming right up to the ledge of Victoria Falls. When I saw that she didn’t go over and a natural lip was keeping her there I also jumped in. Together we glanced over the edge and shivered in fear, excitement and amazement. We were at the top of Victoria Falls!
There were experienced Zambians leading us through our adventure the whole time. They even stood on the lip keeping us safe. I had bruises on my shoulder afterwards from where one of them held me down firmly in the water because I kept floating up and almost over. We joked that at least our families would have a good story line of how we died, “My daughter died when she fell over Victoria Falls.” But don’t worry Mom and Dad, there is no need because we lived and now are here to share our great adventure. Now you can say, “My daughter swam on top of Victoria Falls!”
A surprising addition to the falls were pesky baboons. Celeste and I did not like these. Maybe we were biased from the beginning because way back in training a volunteer had told of us of her vacation to Zambia where she was bit by a baboon and had to get lots of rabies shots. With the story still in our heads we avoided paths with baboons, walked quickly and never made eye contact. Again, we lived to tell of it.
Victoria Falls is a beautiful natural wonder of the world. I hope to see it again someday.
Posted by ajr at 8:32 AM