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Archive for the ‘Zambia’ Category

10/21/09: Livingstone, Zambia

Today Zhou was given a birthday cake and a card signed by our 20 newest friends.

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These are 20 people who probably wouldn’t have made our wedding invite list if we had expanded it to half a billion guests, yet now I wish a lot of them could have been there. It’s amazing what a difference 40 days makes. Tomorrow we will all go our separate ways (well, six of us will go our way, three will go another and 11 will go a third). It’s a bit of a weird day, because these people are a large part of what a “world trip” is to me. It feels like we have been away from home for a year, and many of these people were there with us from day 1. Tomorrow the six of us join 12 new travelers for six more days so we won’t be going it alone quite yet, but this feels the end of our African overland tour as we know it. As a goodbye celebration, three of the girls on the tour put on an “Acacia Academy Awards” ceremony, complete with over 60 nominations in more than 20 categories.

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Kate, Hatty and Cara, the three award presenters

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The rest of us. Notice the two in the back trying to spell Ohio but failing miserably. It’s not as easy as it looks!

In the spirit of this night, here are the nominees for the award that Zhou and I won: Most Non-American Americans Cutest Couple Happiest Honeymooners Best Looking People Ever And the winner is… Cutest couple! Yes, thanks to Zhou’s ability to sleep in the smallest possible areas on the truck and my ability to stay out of the way, we won this, the second award of the night.

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This ceremony was symbolic of how close we’ve become as an entire group. And as excited I am to continue on to other continents and other adventures, I’ll miss the comraderie of the Acacia Zambezi truck. So although I know in an earlier post I said I wouldn’t name names, but thank you Aaron, Aimee, Anna, Cara, Carol, Filza, Frances, Garry, Hatty, Helen, Imogen, Judy, Kate, Katie, Kwi, Marietjie, Mark, Matt, Mitra, Nick, Richard, Pamela, Sarah, Shaun, Siuha, Tom, Tracy and Zoe. Hope to see you all elsewhere around the world. In a half-hearted effort to end this post on a more interesting note to those of you who weren’t on our truck, Zhou and I were walking the campgrounds this morning when two feet in front of us a packet of vitamins fell from the sky like a stage light on the Truman show. Within seconds, hungry monkeys converged on it from all angles. Apparently one had dropped it from a tree overhead and as they say, one monkey’s clumsiness is another monkey’s treasure. Zhou and I simply watched in silence, then slowly backed away and walked down another path. _____________________________________________

Picture of the Day: Sorry cat, barbecue Fritos are for kids.

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10/20/09: Livingstone, Zambia

What would you do if someone asked you to swim up to the crest of the biggest waterfall in the world and peer over the edge?

I would want to know how far over I can look.

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This morning seven of us piled into taxis headed for the Royal Livingstone Hotel, a facility that rightfully earned its name when the Queen of England stayed there many years ago. If I were the Queen, I would want to stay there as well. Unfortunately I’m not, and the lowest room rate is $850 / night (the Presidential Suite runs $2,509 / night).

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After pretending that we were rich enough to afford to stay at this hotel while we toured its grounds, we piled into a motorboat bound for Livingstone Island, a small mass of land next to the edge of Victoria Falls. Here we wandered from ledge to ledge and wondered why they let us get so close.

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This was all a precursor to the day’s (and thus far, trip’s) highlight: the Devil’s Pool. No one is sure who found it and deemed it safe for tourists, but the Devil’s Pool is not a pool at all, but rather a small area of flowing water bound for a 100+ meter fall to the river below.

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From Livingstone Island, we swam (yes, like slow drowning versions of Michael Phelps) to the rock that was our entry into the Pool That Shall Not Be Named. For safety reasons we would have to crawl slowly and carefully into the pool from the rock, but there’s no such thing as safety in Africa… so we jumped!

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Then we sat on the natural rock wall at the falls’ edge while the rest of our group jumped in, occasionally peering over at the rainbows that hid our potential burial grounds.

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In the past the guides would hold each person’s ankles while they maneuvered their entire upper body over the falls’ edge for a better view, but unfortunately that practice had to be stopped. Today our sight was limited to the length of our upper bodies. Fortunately, mine is pretty long so I was able to see all the way to the crashing water at the bottom of the falls, an experience I cannot adequately describe through words or pictures. All I can say is that the Devil’s Pool is open from late August to mid January (“dry” season) – please plan a trip to Livingstone during these times to see it for yourself.

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Oh, I almost forgot – they serve you a snobby, delicious breakfast of scones and eggs Benedict if you return from the Devil’s Pool.

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Puzzles for Postcards

Rhyme Time! (Solve all three of these Nintendo rhymes)

Donkey Kong’s extremely happy son
What a big, bad castle owner wears to a nice dinner
A carpet cleaner for a dirty, evil mushroom

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Ohio Picture: Gripping the rock wall with our feet, we managed to free our hands for an O H I O.

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Picture of the Day: Life must be tough when all you have is a Segway to get you from one end of the massive Royal Livingstone Hotel property to the other.

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10/19/09: Livingstone, Zambia

My parents asked Kevin to look around in Africa and pick out something for my birthday from them. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), there isn’t really much around here to buy that is really practical for a birthday present. So when Marietjie told us that there would be a really nice spa right next door to our campsite in Livingston, I had visions of me sitting in a nice fluffy bathrobe with clean fingernails and polished toenails sipping a fruity cocktail, relaxed after an hour-long massage. I immediately told Kevin that’s what I wanted as my birthday present from my parents. You can see how well it turned out:

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So instead of a manicure, I decided we should go abseiling.

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And instead of the pedicure, I ran off of a platform into the middle of a gorge while hanging from a wire.

And instead of getting a massage, Kevin and I threw ourselves off of a cliff while attached to a rope.

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This gorge swing was supposed to be the main course of the day’s events. When we got there and I saw the setup, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it at all. I mean, I’m the kind of person who has trouble getting on a roller coaster. But for whatever reason – maybe it was the air, or maybe it was the fact that I had just been hanging from a wire 150 feet over the bottom of a canyon, or maybe it was because I knew Kevin would be falling too (and how could anything bad happen to me if he was going to be there?), I decided to do the gorge swing. Twice. The first time we did it, it wasn’t scary at all, surprisingly – just totally exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping. As soon as we got to the bottom, I decided I wanted to do it again – but still not solo. And I was so excited that I even agreed with Kevin that I would keep my eyes open the second time. So then Kevin and I walked the thirty minutes out of the gorge and back up to the top. We waited our turn and got harnessed and ready to go. The guide gave us the same instructions as before, telling us, “Stick your butt out like Beyonce, bend your knees, chin to your chest. Then I’ll count down and you’ll roll your feet back.” I panicked. “Wait, wait, you’re going to count down – like three, two, one, go – and then we’ll roll our feet back?” I asked. “Yes, three, two, one, go,” he patiently explained to me. “Ok, I’m ready,” I then said (I wasn’t anything of the kind). And then he counted us down for the second time. And we fell back a second time. And I immediately shut my eyes, I don’t care what Kevin and I had agreed. And it was ten times scarier than the first time. I think it was because of all the anticipation that my mind was just more aware of what was really happening to my body. But I’m really glad I did it – I wouldn’t do it a third time, and I am definitely not going bungee jumping, but I’m glad I did it. Thanks for an unforgettable birthday present Mom and Dad!

[Also, I just want to clarify that I know what a countdown is. I just wanted to make sure Kevin knew what was going to happen. That’s all.]

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Picture of the Day: Fearless four gorge swingers

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10/18/09: Livingstone, Zambia

Victoria Falls: the biggest falls in the world. It’s not the tallest falls or the widest falls or the falls with the most water falling over per second or the most powerful falls but the biggest falls. I suppose that means by area? I really have no idea.

Anyway, since this is the dry season, Victoria Falls is only a miniature version of itself at its most majestic. Walking four feet from the edge and looking across at the gorge, which had water flowing over in just a few places, I could only imagine how amazing it would look with water coming across over the entire sheet of rock and crashing into the canyon below.

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I think looking at the falls must have affected Kevin’s head, as he literally threw good money after bad, buying worthless Zimbabwean billion and trillion-dollar notes with good US dollars. I didn’t fare much better at the market; while Kevin was haggling over these worthless pieces of paper, I accidentally bought a stone soap dish with a little giraffe in it. It really was an accident, I thought I named an absurdly low price. Luckily, I did manage to barter Kevin’s blue dress (“It’s a party dress! It’s really very nice.”) for a small wooden mask. Now the only question is what we’ll do with all this stuff. I really have no idea.

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Scrabble Picture: While we set up this picture, one of the locals stopped and asked us about the game – we are Scrabble evangelists!

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Picture of the Day: I never break the rules – never

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