Monthly Archives: July 2005
July 21, 2005
Awesome Experiences: Victoria Falls, Livingstone
We had an opportunity for the whole family to go to Victoria Falls together. It’s a 5 hour drive south of Lusaka and afforded a number of impressions. People walk immense distances to get to the nearest town or city. There are local buses which operate only on the major roads, sporadically…you may end up spending several hours waiting for the bus, and of course you can only take the bus if you can afford it. You really understand why Africans are long distance runners…they may traverse considerable amount of miles just getting to the main roads. Bikes are the next favorite mode of transportation and you can tell they are valuable property.
The countryside is unbelievably gorgeous and you can see for miles and miles and miles. As we were driving I noticed that many of the fields, most of the countryside, were spotted with 3-5 feet high red or grey mounds. From a distance it all looks like an intriguing pattern…but it turns out that those are termite or ant mounds…all I could say is ohhhhhh!
Outside of the city you mainly encounter small towns/commercial centers and see many thatched-hut villages. There are rare places with bathrooms that we can use so it was a matter of holding it for 5 hours or use a bucket filled with water to flush. When you enter and leave the towns you have to go over speed bumps… in LA they will slow you down a tad, in Zambia they are little hills folks and will break your axles! 🙂
There quite a number of custom/police stops you have to go through on the trip down but the most unusual stop was to be treated for “foot and mouth” disease. A barrier was set up so that all cars had to stop and everyone in a car had to get out and have a soapy mixture poured over their hands and walk on specially treated bamboo with their shoes before continuing on the road! Wow…was that a mind-blowing experience!
Livingstone is a major city like LA because it is the hub for tourists visiting Victoria Falls, which is the 7th Wonder of the World. We stayed at the Zambezi Sun Hotel which is located on the grounds of the Mosi-oa-Tunya [“smoke that thunders”] National Park. It is a wildlife preserve with signs that say “Beware of crocodiles crossing.” Needless to say that when we returned from the restaurant after dinner we were truly mindful of where we stepped! We had a chance to eat crocodile and kudu [wild game] meat and it was absolutely delicious.
The best part though was walking down a path and encountering a baboon walking towards you…believe me, we stepped aside! Later that day we were walking through the grounds to go to an evening boat ride and looked over and there was a whole pack of zebra. What a truly gorgeous sight! Monkeys are also quite prevalent and will come to your table and steal food or anything shiny…can’t leave your cameras on the table!
Last, but not least, Victoria Falls is unbelievably, spectacularly, fabulously AWESOME!!!!!!!. Mere words cannot truly describe the hugeness [!], vastness and stupendous sight of falls that must be 7 times the height and breadth, at least, of a Niagara Falls. Hopefully the attached pictures will give you an inkling of a wonderful visit.
Fyi… Zambia’s borders touch on Zaire, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola!
It’s so different…the hustle and bustle of a pretty large city that is more urbanized than I expected…our first stop was the supermarket which offers most of what we are familiar with just different brands. Only question is can the average person afford it. The exchange rate is 4700 kwachas to $1 US! This means if a household staffer earns 700,000 kwachas monthly, which is VERY good, then they are earning $170 dollars [approx]. We were told that to save $3000 to visit the US would take a person about 25 years to save all the money necessary. The people are so nice…everyone wishes us a good visit and are pleased to know that we will be here long enough to enjoy their country. The cosmopolitan, multiculturalism is fabulous…my seat mate at one point was a Kenyan who was taking her son to visit her mother and learn about Kenya because he’s growing up in Sweden.
The weather…the prices aren’t unreasonable for our standards…a nice sweater costs about 185,000 kwachas or about $40. Right now we are in the winter season, which means maybe high 60’so and low 70’so and definitely cold/cool at nights and in the mornings. This will change by August…thank God. I’ll blame it on Bo J he misled us so we do not have enough layers of clothing.
Slow down and be patient…ok, the left-handed drive is unnerving! Can I say anymore…believe me it would take a bit of doing to familiarize myself with this. So far it’s the circles that get me…I haven’t guessed the correct lane yet! J Also have to be patient [ye olde American child] because [surprise, surprise] they do things at a completely different pace. This was truly noticeable as soon as we hit Nairobi. We really had to set aside our American expectations for quick action quick! They don’t get on the plane’s in order then everyone fusses because by the time they get to their seating area most of the overhead luggage space is gone and then they start rearranging stuff…which causes more aggravation, etc., etc. grrrrrrr