August 24, 1998

Zimbabwe: Hitch Haven, Victoria Falls

Zambia: been there, done that. In one day no less.

Here in the adrenaline-cum-tacky-tourism capital of Africa, I make preparations to leave.

On Wed. 19th, had dinner with George & Amalia and went thru old pictures & brief family tree in old family Bible: found both, surprisingly, fascinating. Hopped on night train and plans for an early night were torpedoed by a many-beer drinking session w/Jim the world-weary Aussie & Tom the flamboyantly-gay fellow-countryman.

Woke, somewhat hung over, to a lazy day in Bulawayo: saw a movie (US MARSHALS), wrote postcards, ate venison pie, drank real coffee, visited the railway museum. Night train to Vic Falls, where plans for an early night were torpedoed by a many-beer drinking session w/Sebastian the Brit and Mike the Dutchman.

Woke, came to Hitch Haven - here - and dropped stuff, headed out to town and promptly booked a bungee jump. A nervous hour later, was on the Zambezi Bridge, looking down spectacular Batoka Gorge, attached to a giant rubber band, about to fling myself off.

What I hadn't expected was the sheer acceleration: the gorge-sides blurred like the stars in STAR WARS when the Millennium Falcon went into hyperspace. The lightning-bolt adrenaline rush I was expecting but not prepared for. Still buzzing hours later.

Drank & played pool with Sebastian, ate pizza, eventually booked rafting with Seb & Mike & Vanessa & Joanne after repeated clusterfucks, called it an early night.

Saturday, rafting day. Minibussed across to Zambia, brief instruction & indemnity session, and to the river. Our whole crew was catapulted into the water at the very first rapid: water pulled me down, down, down, before reluctantly releasing me. Amazingly, I was relaxed during the whole thing. But I guess I'm used to water.

Waves pounding, crashing, rearing like liquid mountains in front of us; paddling like crazy to our guide Alf's commands, half-heard over the surf; hanging on two-handed as a wave casually flips the raft at rapid #7, and the current trying hard to tear me away. Switching rafts to take the grade V "Star Trek" on #8, flung off as the raft double-flips, swept away by the irresistible force of the river. Walking around the seething boiling cauldron at #9...and watching a kayaker dance through it with ease.

Tons of fun.

Yesterday, did absolutely nothing except wander thru Vic Falls national park. Decent views at the falls, and one outstanding one: looking down the gorge, spray-induced rainforest crowding around, water tumbling down on the left, a standing rainbow connecting the gorge walls halfway up.

Today, rented a bike and cycled to Zambia: poor, dirty, small town of Livingstone reminded me much of West Africa. Incredible paperwork - had to sign my name 3 times to exchange cash. Nice hostels, Gecko's and Jolly Boys. Cycled back, sat at Zambian VF park for awhile, returned.

Tomorrow, Namibia: 8-day minibus safari.

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