February 27, 2020, Day 573
Goaba is an early bird, so she’s up before me this morning and steps out to bath. I keep sleeping because this girl is T-I-R-E-D. I slept like a log last night nestled underneath the bed net.
Why didn’t we have bed nets in the USA??? I can’t count how many times I have been kept up all night hearing mosquitos buzz in my ear, only to discover this late in life that it could have been solved with a bed net and some ear plugs. It’s never too late to learn, I suppose!
I stumble out of our hut to look for coffee and see Goaba talking with Cindy. They’re sitting on a swing together. Cindy and Karin are ready to start the day, and I stop to say hello as they depart for whatever adventure they’re up to.
Must. Have. Coffee.
I make some instant coffee and boil water for oatmeal while Goaba and I decide our plan of action for the day. We decide that we will walk into town to explore the area first before going to Victoria Falls later this afternoon.
I eat my oatmeal and then gather my things for a shower. A SHOWER!! And they have hot water, too!!
Take a look around and realize all of the bathrooms are in use. I find one shower stall left over and turn on the water. No hot water today, oh well, but I don’t mind taking a cold shower in this heat. It feels glorious.
We get changed and lock up our room and then stop at the front office to ask for directions to walk towards the downtown area. The person at the front desk gives us great directions.
Walk through the beautiful neighborhood and I dream about what it would be like to own a house around here. These look like expensive houses, but maybe not a lot compared to the US and it would be a good quality of life in this village.
We follow the directions and it’s about a 2-mile walk to the downtown. We find a street with many shops lined up and prepare ourselves to be harassed like everyone warned we would be.
It doesn’t happen.
No one harasses us.
In fact, they greet us!
A few people walk up and ask if they can sell us stuff, and we tell them we’re not interested and they walk away. Everyone is very polite.
It’s Goaba’s birthday this month, so I plan to take her to dinner tonight to celebrate. She LOVES country music, and we find a bar that plays country music and make plans to go to a restaurant for dinner tonight.
We pick out the nick-knacks we like and explore the village a bit more. Soon we realize it’s becoming late morning and we should head back to our hostel to get ready. I also realize it’s becoming very hot out and I forgot to drink water before we left. Ah!
We walk, and walk, and walk. Why does this walk seem longer than it did before?
A few men catcall at us.
“Looking good, ladies!” one man yells.
“I’m single!” Goaba yells back.
And we walk away laughing. As we round a corner, we hear another man yelling to us and see a van approaching. It’s our taxi driver who left us at the Zim border yesterday, Greg.
“Come on, ladies! I will give you a ride to your hostel,” Greg says.
We climb aboard and chat with Greg while he drives us back. I didn’t realize he lived in Zimbabwe because he was driving for Mr. Boat Cruz yesterday in Botswana. He tells us he lives in Zim and just crosses the border for work sometimes. Goaba asks if we can hire him to drive us to Victoria Falls this afternoon, and he says he can’t, but has a friend who will drive us. His friend’s name is Greg, also, so we save both of their phone numbers as Greg #1 and Greg #2.
Back at the hostel, I drink a boatload of water and change into comfortable clothing suitable for a lot of walking. Goaba gets changed, and we call Greg #2 to pick us up and wait by the front gate.
Greg #2 arrives and is just as lovely and professional as Greg #1. He drives us to the park.
In front of Vic Falls is a setup of various tents and tables with people selling things. The men call to us to come look at what they have, and we tell them we will come by after we go inside the park.
We enter, and OH. MY. GOODNESS.
The falls are spectacular. Breathtaking.
I remember a few years ago reading an article on CNN that was about how the Northern part of Botswana has been linked to DNA evidence for the first time proving that it was the birthplace of humanity.
I believe it.
Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall, flowing from the Zambezi River that divides Zimbabwe and Zambia. You can also see the falls from Zambia, as well. The Zambezi ultimately flows from the Chobe River, in Botswana.
Seeing the falls, I can sense that we are standing in the cradle of humankind. It has that kind of force. It feels important. Goaba tells me that she teared up by its beauty the first time that we saw it.
We take a few pictures and stand and take in the beauty of the park and the waterfalls. Thank goodness we brought along ponchos to wear because towards the end of the falls, it is very wet in the air. In fact, the moisture looks like smoke and is hard to see!
We decide we want to take a picture together and ask a man to take the picture. He introduces himself and tells us he is an albino man from Ghana who is a doctor.
He continues to stand there talking, holding my phone, while it is pouring rain from the waterfall all over my phone.
“Sir, would you mind taking the picture now?” I ask.
He laughs hard and tells me not to worry, and then snaps the photo.
Goaba and I keep walking and find a dry area at the end of the trail that faces the bridge that divides Zambia and Zimbabwe. We decide to take off our ponchos and dry them in the sun while we stand and watch people bungee jump off the side of the bridge. These people are nuts!
Soon, a crowd of other soaking wet people also decide to stand with us, and within a few minutes we are all yelling “Woooo!” “Awwwww!!” “Yeahh!!” to all of the people jumping as encouragement.
Goaba calls Greg #2 and lets him know that we are done with the falls and to come pick us up. We walk out back to the parking lot where the men who want to sell us earrings and other touristy items are waiting for us. I buy two pairs of handmade earrings that I live for $5.
Greg #2 arrives and takes us back to the hostel. We decide to relax by the pool and rest before dinner. I go for a swim, Goaba is terrified of the water (Botswana is a landlocked country) but goes in up to her knees and sits on the edge to get used to it.
The girls from the USA are by the pool, so I start chatting with them and ask where they’re from. They are two best friends from Arkansas who decided they wanted to take a vacation and leave their husbands at home, so they came to stay here and have had a blast for 3 weeks. They are really sweet, lovely ladies.
I notice that the English gals have cozied up to the Swedish guys and they come out of their rooms all dressed up.
“We are heading to Shoestrings tonight! We heard they throw great parties. Do you want to come?” they ask us.
“Oh yes! I read that Shoestrings can get rowdy at night. Thank you for the offer, but we are celebrating Goaba’s birthday and plan to go to dinner tonight,” I tell them.
They all leave together to have a wild night.
Goaba and I get clean and dress nicely for dinner tonight and call Greg #2 to pick us up and take us to the restaurant. We are seated outside by a man singing on his acoustic guitar, and for a minute, I feel like I’m back in the USA again. And there’s seafood on the menu!
I decide to try the prawns and fries, and Goaba orders a steak. Delicious.
We walk over to the nearby bar that plays country music. There are people outside at tables and we sit inside where we can hear the music.
Annnddd…. They stop playing country.
The woman outside who is very drunk has apparently made a request to turn off the country music and play pop instead.
No! No no no no. NOT on Goaba’s birthday. Goaba is more cowgirl than anyone I’ve met. She deserves her country music!
We have a chat with the bartender, and he agrees to turn the music to country and does.
Annnnddd… five seconds later, the owner comes inside at the request of the woman outside and turns off the music.
We ask the bartender to please let us play the song. He tells the owner, and the owner comes to apologize at our table and says she didn’t realize we wanted country. She is from England but apparently still loves country music. We are grateful.
I am still hungry from dinner, so I decide to splurge and order a few tacos. I can’t believe they have tacos on the menu here!!!
The tacos come and, well, they taste like tacos made in Zimbabwe, not Mexico. At least we tried them!
Annnndddd… then my phone dies. We are completely relying on my phone for pictures at this point, and I’ve got nothing. My phone now refuses to turn on and I’m convinced it’s from when that man from Ghana had it out in the rain earlier today.
But, between seeing tacos on the menu and hearing country music, I am in heaven so I don’t mind. We decide that we will try to have it fixed on Sunday when we go back to Botswana in Gaborone. I don’t see what other choice I have. Apple is NOT a thing in this region of Africa and there aren’t many places to fix an iPhone.
We have a few more drinks and then head over to another bar down the road. There are several taxis parked in front of the bar, and we feel completely safe walking around at night.
Would I wear my best jewelry and prance around? No. But, do I feel safe at this moment walking in downtown Victoria Falls? Yes I do. I’m still waiting for all of this danger that everyone warned me about!
We go into the bar and then realize people in there are way more drunk than we are and we are really just tired.
So, we walk back down to the road and meet a nice taxi driver who drives us back to our hostel. He escorts us into the hostel gate just to make sure we are safe and gives us his number in case we need a taxi again.
I change into my pajamas and we talk until we fall asleep, reminiscing on what a good time we are having.